Expert picks: WGC-Accenture Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 21, 2012, 6:00 pm

This is another double week for fantasy players! experts offer up their fantasy choices below for the WGC-Accenture Match Play, and their selections for the Mayakoba Golf Classic can be seen here. 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.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Luke Donald: Right now there is not a more solid, dependable, consistent player. Not only is he the defending champion, but I admire the way he gets things done when the pressure is on.

Group 2: Matt Kuchar: He made it to the Final Four last year in the same bracket as the same seed. He doesn't have an easy road, but he's navigated it before.

Group 3: Ian Poulter: Despite his not-so-comfortable flight to Arizona after oversleeping on Monday, he has the attitude, swagger and game to go one-on-one with anyone. Won this event two years ago and will defend his Volvo Match Play title later this year.

Group 4: Bill Haas: After his playoff win, I see him riding the momentum into this week the way Phil did last week in LA. He did go out to Bubba last year in the first round, but that was before his stellar summer.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Kyle Stanley: One of the best on the PGA Tour to start the year, his combination of length and touch makes him lethal.

Group 2: Bubba Watson: A semifinalist last year, Watson hasn't finished worse than 18th this year on the PGA Tour.

Group 3: Rory McIlroy: He's the best golfer on the planet right now.

Group 4: Tiger Woods: A three-time winner in the match play, Woods' weakness - putting - may actually be masked by the large, rolling greens of Dove Mountain.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Luke Donald: Last year's champion is a tough out in this format due to his propensity for getting up and down from everywhere. A final round at Riviera that saw six consecutive bogeys at one point should be cause for concern, but expect the No. 1 seed to figure things out in a hurry.

Group 2: Kevin Na: Slow and steady wins the race - or something like that. Na has been known to play sublime golf in the desert, once nearly winning his first PGA Tour event at the now-defunct tournament in Tucson.

Group 3: Sergio Garcia: It took quite a while, but this just in: Sergio has learned how to putt. If he continues rolling his rock as he did on Sunday at Riviera, expect him to carry some momentum deep into the weekend.

Group 4: Nick Watney: He faces a potentially tough out in Tiger Woods on Thursday, but Watney stays surprisingly calm when thrown into the fire. If he gets past that match, he could have smooth sailing to the Final Four from there.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: Tough to bet against Luke Donald at the Match Play, but DJ has looked surprisingly staedy the last two weeks and has the game to dismantle Dove Mountain.

Group 2: Jonathan Byrd: He lives for these types of head-to-head matchups and it is apropos that the man whose modern swing most resembles Ben Hogan's would emerge from 'the Hawk's' namesake bracket. 

Group 3: Rory McIlroy: In what could be arguably this week's deepest bracket, the Ulsterman is the default pick and he should have little trouble advancing past the Elite Eight.

Group 4: Tiger Woods: In a faceoff between two superstars with frigid putters, we went with the guy who has been bounced in the first round just twice in 11 Match Play starts vs the guy (Lee Westwood) who has four Day 1 exits in 11 attempts.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Luke Donald: The guy's won eight of his last nine Accenture matches.

Group 2: Steve Stricker: Not his favorite golf course, but his short game and wedge work make him formidable in match play.

Group 3: Geoff Ogilvy: At 20-4 in this event, it's hard to bet against him, regardless of form.

Group 4: Webb Simpson: Simpson is confident and consistent, which puts him 1-up on the first tee.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Luke Donald: Short-game artist whose game is rewarded at Dove Mountain. The defending champ is 16-6 in seven appearances.

Group 2: Matt Kuchar: Went 5-1 in last year's edition. Only loss was to the eventual champion, Luke Donald.

Group 3: Rory McIlroy: His bracket is a bear, but he's the top seed and has nine top-10s in his last 10 starts worldwide.

Group 4: Nick Watney: Either you're all-in or you fold before the bet with birdie machines. This bracket is wide-open.

You can watch complete coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Wednesday-Friday live on Golf Channel from 2PM-6PM ET.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.