Expert Picks: Waste Management Phoenix Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 30, 2013, 3:25 am

Note: This week the Experts are proud to announce they have been joined by Norm MacDonald. The former 'Saturday Night Live' star has already gotten his fantasy golf season off to a hot start in 2013, and will continue to provide his picks for Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge participants throughout the year.

This week the focus of the fantasy world is split. Our experts share their picks for the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic here, while their picks for the Waste Management Phoenix Open are below. 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 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, staff writer Ryan Lavner and former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm MacDonald.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Jason Dufner: He tied for ninth twice in the desert coming into this week over on the European Tour. Add to that his playoff loss to Mark Wilson in 2011 and that he ranked fourth in proximity to the hole last year and fifth in GIR percentage from 100+ yards. On a course where distance control on approach shots is going to be key, he's my guy.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: I was going to take Vijay until the news came out about the banned substance abuse. Piercy missed the cut last week, but had back-to-back top-15 finishes to start the 2013 season. He finished T-8 here in 2010 and T-6 in 2009.

Group 3: Charles Howell III: He's finished inside the top 10 in all three starts this year and has a track record of stringing together strong finishes, especially during the West Coast swing. He doesn't have all that many dazzling finishes here, but he tied for fourth in 2010 which is enough evidence for me to give him another start on my fantasy roster.

Group 4: Brian Gay: After his win at the Humana Challenge, he took last week off to soak it in and is back out this week in the desert, where he has finished inside the top 25 in four of his last six starts.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Rickie Fowler: From last place after Round 1 to a top-10 at Torrey, Fowler found a groove and should be confident entering this week.

Group 2: Robert Garrigus: Big hitters have been known to overpower TPC Scottsdale over the years, and Garrigus is among the biggest hitters around.

Group 3: Jimmy Walker: Keeping with the hot hand, as Walker owns three top-30 finishes this year and a top-five this past week.

Group 4: Josh Teater: Sensing a theme? Another carryover from the Torrey Pines leaderboard, as Teater pulled a career-best T-2 finish last week.


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Jason Dufner: Perhaps it's not the best way to start a season (Hawaii-Abu Dhabi-Qatar-Scottsdale), but the results speak for themselves. Dufner hasn't finished outside the top 20 since September, and he was runner-up at the Phoenix Open in 2011.

Group 2: Nicolas Colsaerts: The 'Muscles from Brussels' got off to a slow start in his first Tour start as a member (T-44 at Torrey Pines), but the Belgian has the game to become a household name in the United States.

Group 3: Y.E. Yang: After a difficult 2012 on Tour, the South Korean found some form late last year playing in Asia and tied for 20th in his 2013 season debut at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Group 4: Trevor Immelman: The South African finished tied for 12th at TPC Scottsdale last year for his best finish, and has played solid in Arizona in the past (third at the WGC-Accenture Match Play in 2007, just down the road in Tucson).



Norm MacDonald

Group 1: Keegan Bradley

Group 2: Jason Day

Group 3: Charles Howell III

Group 4: Brian Gay

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.