Expert picks: Wells Fargo Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 1, 2012, 5:00 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads to Charlotte for the Wells Fargo Championship, where an elite field will tackle one of the toughest courses on Tour - Quail Hollow Club. 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' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Gary Williams

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: I think his T-40 at Augusta was an aberration, not the start of a trend. Prior to that the 2010 Wells Fargo champion had 12 straight top-11 finishes in starts that counted toward the OWGR and he has a chance this week to regain the top ranking with a strong finish.

Group 2: Johnson Wagner: Not only does Wagner call Charlotte home these days, he also calls Quail Hollow his home course. He's had an unbelievable 2012 so far and although he hasn't played that well at this event in the past, his four top-10 finishes in 12 starts this year suggest he has a lot of good golf in him at his home course this week.

Group 3: Henrik Stenson: After a period where his game seemingly went into the abyss, Stenson has shown signs of life. He has four top-21 finishes in six starts on Tour this year and he would have been better than T-40 in the Masters if not for a final round 81. This former Players champion has shown he can succeed on tough courses.

Group 4: David Duval: Just like the Journey song, don't stop believing in David Duval because I haven't. He has played well at Quail Hollow and his two made cuts in 2012 came in his last two starts. Duval is a major champion and a Players champion so he has shown he can compete on demanding courses.

Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: It doesn't matter what the OWGR says, McIlroy is the best player in the world right now and I am not holding his T-40 finish at Augusta against him. Before that aberration, McIlroy had 12 consecutive top-11 finishes in events that count toward the OWGR, and I think he is motivated by losing his No. 1 ranking to Luke Donald.

Group 2: Retief Goosen: Goosen got off to a strong start in 2012 with a pair of top-3 finishes in his native South Africa and although he has cooled off a bit recently, he has shown he can play well at Quail Hollow. Goosen finished T-10 here in 2006 and T-11 in his last appearance here in 2009. Don't bet against this guy.

Group 3: Pat Perez: Perez started 67-65 in this event last year before weekend rounds of 70-75 dropped him to a T-6 finish. That, along with a T-12 finish here in 2008, shows he can play well on this Charlotte course. He has five top-25 finishes in 10 starts on Tour this year, including a T-12 showing in Houston.

Group 4: Billy Mayfair: Mayfair has quietly put together a couple strong finishes in 2012 with a T-12 finish at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and a T-4 finish at the RBC Heritage. He has a pair of tenth place finishes here in 2005 and 2007 while in 2010, he held a two-stroke lead after 54 holes before a Sunday 76 dropped him to T-14. I think he is a sneaky strong Group Four pick.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: When you look at the illustrious list of names this tournament boasts as champions, Mickelson is one key name that is missing. He's been close, though, with six top-10s in eight starts. Lefty loves this place.

Group 2: Cameron Tringale: You're probably sick of me touting Tringale for three weeks in a row now, but why wouldn't I? He keeps delivering top-10 finishes. Last week's T-7 was his third in a row and fourth overall this year. He survived the cut on this difficult course in 2011, and I think he's going to break through soon.

Group 3: Bobby Gates: While this event sees names you typically know well rise to the top, Gates managed to tie for sixth last year. Add to that a finish just inside the top 25 last week and you have a solid selection for Group Three.

Group 4: J.J. Henry: For a pick in Group Four, Henry should have no issue making money this week. He finished T-33 in Charlotte last year and T-52 last week. One of the best past performance/current success combos in the final category of players.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: He has already won this year. in eight Quail Hollow starts, he has six top-10 finishes.

Group 2: Kevin Na: Had been on fire before withdrawing in San Antonio. He was fifth here a year ago.

Group 3: Pat Perez: Perez was excellent through 54 holes here a year ago before a Sunday 75. He has been very consistent to start the year.

Group 4: David Mathis: Riding a hot hand here, as Mathis has gone T-18 and T-10 in his last two starts.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: Lefty shows he's still the hottest lefty in the game by winning Wells Fargo. He has finished in the top 10 the last three times he has played Quail Hollow.

Group 2: Jonathan Byrd: This is his part of the country, and he looks comfortable at Quail Hollow. Finished 2nd there last year and T-5 three years ago.

Group 3: Ken Duke: The man keeps dancing into contention...

Group 4: Jason Bohn: That third-place finish at Quail Hollow four years ago is still in the memory bank.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: In eight starts at Quail Hollow, Lefty has a place (runner-up in 2010), a show (T-3 in 2007) and six top 10s. The only thing missing is a 'W' and after the way he performed at Augusta, it's difficult to imagine that breakthrough is far off.

Group 2: Jonathan Byrd: Last year's runner-up was solid from the first tee in 2011, opening with a 66 and holding the third-round lead before Lucas Glover forced extra holes. The Carolina native plays his best golf in the south.

Group 3: Pat Perez: Tour's preeminent bad boy was nearly perfect through three rounds at Quail Hollow last year before unraveling with a closing 75. He's off to the most consistent start of his career (just two missed cuts in ten starts).

Group 4: Vaughn Taylor: Veteran has pieced together a solid spring and he has played well in Charlotte in the past (top-10 finishes in 2005 and '06).

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: Despite a tie for 40th in his last start (Masters), he's been the most consistently strong golfer over the last six months. Plus, he's won at Quail Hollow and owns the course record.

Group 2: Kevin Na: Not worried about his withdrawal in San Antonio, where he's more of a punch line than a fighter. He had posted three consecutive top-15 finishes entering that week and he finished fifth at last year's Wells Fargo.

Group 3: Chris Stroud: Rolls into Charlotte having cashed in his last six starts, a stretch that includes five top-25s. Also love how he matches up with Quail Hollow. His short game is sublime, and that will matter considerably this week.

Group 4: Mark Anderson: Leaning on his eight consecutive cuts made, which is a valuable resource in this group. The PGA Tour rookie plays an aggressive game that he backs up with above-average putting.

 **Join Fantasy Expert Rob Bolton for a live golf chat Wednesday at 12:00p ET at**

Tune in to Golf Channel this Thursday-Friday from 3-6PM ET for live coverage of the Wells Fargo Championship.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.