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.

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.

Getty Images

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.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.