Fantasy Insider: Hyundai TOC

By Will GrayJanuary 4, 2012, 9:33 pm

Believe it or not, the 2012 fantasy golf season is officially upon us. Before the first tee shot is struck at this week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions, though, Golf Channel sought to provide you with some inside numbers as you get ready to set your first lineup of the year in Fantasy Challenge. Here’s a look to see which players may help get your fantasy season started on the right foot:

Drive For Show. At 7,411 yards with more than its fair share of elevation changes, the Plantation Course offers players achance to get a workout with their driver. Bubba Watson and Gary Woodland are the more notorious long-hitters in the field, but Scott Piercy, Jhonattan Vegas and Scott Stallings are all names you will find in Group 4 who ranked in the top 11 in driving distance on the PGA Tour in 2011. On the other hand, David Toms and Kevin Na may be hitting first into the green more often, as they both averaged less than 280 yards per drive last season. With wide, firm fairways throughout the course, though, the price paid for a poor drive will be less than players might incur in future events.

Power Rankings: Top 10 favorites at Kapalua

Video: Hyundai TOC Fantasy Challenge picks

Island Adjustment. With the exception of Daniel Chopra in 2008, most of the recent champions had already played in the Hyundai event prior to their win. With nearly half the field (13 of 28) making their debut in this event this week, an edge should go to the players with more experience playing events on the Hawaiian Islands – either the Hyundai or Sony Open. K.J. Choi, Rory Sabbatini and David Toms all boast multiple high finishes at both events and stand poised to add to those results this week. Among the Kapalua rookies, Chris Kirk and Keegan Bradley both list the 2011 Sony Open as their only past tournament experience in Hawaii.

Bombs Away. The Plantation Course will offer some of the larger greens players will see on Tour this year; as a result, more of a premium will be placed on putting well from distance.  Johnson Wagner finished second overall in 2011 in putts made per event over 20 feet (2.2 per tournament) and Webb Simpson and Lucas Glover also finished in the top 10 in the category. Similarly, Bryce Molderand defending champion Jonathan Byrd were among the best on Tour at avoiding the dreaded three-putt in 2011. 

Birdie Barrage. Typically, this event is a test of how low you can go – as evidenced by an average winning score of 20 under over the past five years. This week should be no exception, as three of the top five in 2011 birdie average are in the field. Steve Stricker, Webb Simpson and Nick Watney all averaged more than four birdies per round in ’11 to rank at (or near) the top of the category and will have a great opportunity to start their 2012 season in similar fashion.

Make The Short Ones. On a course with large greens and long approach shots, the ability to routinely make a knee-knocker putt will be important. In fact, the last four champions here combined to miss only two putts inside of 5 feet, with Geoff Ogilvy going 54-for-54 inside of 5 feet in 2009, following that by going 56-for-56 from the same distance in 2010. When looking for a player who makes the short putts consistently, look no further than the man that made the most lucrative short putt of the year – FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas, who ranked atop the 2011 Tour standings in putting from inside 5 feet.

Sleeper Alert. With such a small field, any player can win this week – even someone you might find in Group 3 or 4. One player to keep an eye on this week is Rory Sabbatini from Group 3. Twice a runner-up at Kapalua, Sabbatini has also finished second twice at the Sony Open and clearly feels comfortable playing golf in Hawaii.  This will be his sixth appearance overall in the Tournament of Champions and he is more than familiar with the style and setup of the Plantation Course. In fact, according to his Facebook page, Sabbatini has been in Hawaii preparing for the tournament since mid-December. Wide fairways should mean that his subpar driving accuracy stats from 2011 will have less of an impact and his birdie stats indicate that he should be able to keep pace with the leaders. The last time he was in this event, he carded a final-round 63 en route to a runner-up finish in 2010.  This week, Sabbatini represents a Group 3 player who could very well threaten for the title on Monday.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.