Expert picks: True South Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2012, 5:55 pm

With the British Open in England, the PGA Tour tees it up in the opposite-field True South Classic in Madison, Miss. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Brendon de Jonge: Finished tied for 13th last year in Mississippi and would be a leading candidate for “best player without a Tour title” following top-20 finishes in three of his last four starts.

Group 2: Heath Slocum: Something of a home game for an original son of the South and he’s won at Annandale Golf Club before (2005).

Group 3: Brendon Todd: After a fast start, the second-year PGA Tour player has cooled, missing 13 cuts in 21 starts, but he finished strong at The Greenbrier Classic and, as a former University of Georgia player, could follow Chris Kirk to the winner’s circle in LA (Lower Alabama).

Group 4: Jason Gore: This would count as a heart, not a head, pick, but after a dismal season on the PGA Tour (he’s 0-for-6 in cuts made), the big guy would be a true Cinderella story ... again.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Tommy Gainey: Not having the greatest season, but it’s about time Gainey started contending.

Group 2: Roberto Castro: Rookie has been coming on strong lately, should benefit from weaker field.

Group 3: Lee Janzen: Two-time U.S. Open champ is attempting to regain his PGA Tour card.

Group 4: Luke Guthrie: Recent Illinois grad is showing he can hang with the big boys.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Bud Cauley: Believe it or not, one of the highest-ranked players in the field. It's one he can win.

Group 2: J.J. Henry: Seems like a J.J. Henry-type week doesn't it? Former Tour winner could find form.

Group 3: Duffy Waldorf: Just because I like to type Duffy Waldorf. Makes me happy.

Group 4: Shaun Micheel: Just hoping to collect some cash with a trip to the weekend.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Ken Duke: Believe it or not, Duke has six top-10s this year, five of them T-7s, the most recent at The Greenbrier Classic. Last year he finished tied for eighth at this event.

Group 2: Colt Knost: He hasn't made a cut in nine starts and won't extend that streak to double digits. His game can't be too far from reach; he had two third-place finishes earlier this year and has not suffered injury.

Group 3: Billy Horschel: He tied for 18th last year and has chased four consecutive PGA Tour paychecks. 

Group 4: Will MacKenzie: If the 2008 winner can channel his game this week he wins what's most important or him these days, a return trip to play full-time on the PGA Tour. It's time this motivation works to his advantage.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Ken Duke: Aggressive veteran has recorded a top-10 in six consecutive months. Strong record at Annadale includes a pair of top-11 finishes.

Group 2: Dicky Pride: Continues to maximize on his limited playing time. Last week’s T-25 at the John Deere was his fifth top-25 in 11 starts this season. He’s also logged four of his 18 career top-10s at this week’s host track.

Group 3: Lee Janzen: In addition to last week’s T-8 at the John Deere, he’s posted a trio of top-20s in his last five trips to Annandale.

Group 4: Luke Guthrie: He’s off to the races as a touring pro, with two top-20s in as many starts. Low non-winner at the John Deere Classic, tying for fifth place.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Blake Adams: Remarkably consistent this year, Adams is due for a breakthrough.

Group 2: Dicky Pride: His best finishes this year have come when scoring goes double digits under par. That'll be important this week.

Group 3: Billy Horschel: With limited opportunities, Horschel has cashed an awful lot this season.

Group 4: Luke Guthrie: Taking a chance on the new guy. He finished T-5 at the Deere in just his second pro start.

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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”