Expert Picks: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2013, 6:22 pm

This week marks the second event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season as TPC Summerlin hosts the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner. They are joined by former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm Macdonald, who will serve as a celebrity guest.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese phenom has been on a roll, finishing tied for third last week at the Open following a solid debut at the Presidents Cup (1-3-1). He also has the added motivation of making the most of this week's start, since he skipped the Japan Open back home to play in Las Vegas.

Group 2: Robert Garrigus: Slimmed down and motivated, Garrigus posted a 63 on Day 2 at CordeValle and has the long game to compete at TPC Summerlin.

Group 3: John Peterson: Just for future reference, we plan to pick Peterson every week he is available. Think Jordan Spieth with a Tour card and a veteran caddie.

Group 4: Andres Gonzales: It's been an eventful few weeks for Gonzales, having narrowly missed his Tour card at the Tour Championship and a top-10 finish at the Open. But he landed a last-minute sponsor exemption into the Last Vegas stop and is due for a change of luck. 

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Zach Johnson: Making only his second start at TPC Summerlin - he tied for 10th in 2008 - but he hasn't finished outside the top 30 since June and has seven top-10 finishes in his last eight starts.

Group 2: Brendon de Jonge: The biggest birdie machine on the PGA Tour makes his 2013-14 debut at the course where he finished second last year. He has a string of four consecutive top-20 finishes on Tour.

Group 3: John Peterson: Closed out the Tour with five consecutive top-five finishes, then finished T-21 at the Open in his first start as a PGA Tour member.

Group 4: Spencer Levin: Plagued by injury last season, he returned to the big tour last week with a T-12 at CordeValle. He has finished in the top five in his last starts in Vegas. 

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Scott Piercy: Few in this weeks field, if any, have played as much desert golf in their careers as this Vegas native.

Group 2: Charley Hoffman: Two picks, two hometown homers. Hoffman played his college golf at UNLV and has been a resident ever since. 

Group 3: Kevin Na: In his first appearance back after injury, the former Vegas champ finished T-3 last week at CordeValle.

Group 4: Spencer Levin: Another solid talent who spent much of the 2013 season rehabbing injury, but enjoyed a successful week in the opener. 

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.