Fantasy Island: 111th U.S. Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 15, 2011, 1:25 pm experts offer up their picks for the 111th U.S. Open. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from three 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 Charlie Rymer; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; contributor Win McMurry; writer for's ProGolf Talk, Ryan Ballengee; and's Rob Bolton.

You can battle the experts and play along as well. Just click here to get into the game.Compete against the experts and other fans in our Fantasy Challenge.

In parentheses, next to the names, are the participants' 2011 points earned and ranking among the 17 Fantasy Challenge 'experts.'

Rex Hoggard

Rex Hoggard (6,784,872; 5th)

Group A: Dustin Johnson: It's a question of when, not if, he captures a major.

Group B: Retief Goosen: The two-time Open champ tied for third last week in Memphis.

Group C: Davis Love III: Tied for sixth at Pebble Beach last year. Still has that desire.             

Randall Mell

Randall Mell (4,535,889; 15th)

Group A: Steve Stricker: His game's perfect for Congressional, and he should arrive emboldened after winning the Memorial.

Group B: David Toms: Terrific iron player, he needs to find that zone he was in winning at Colonial and in finishing runner up at The Players.

Group C: Gregory Havret: His weekend grit at the U.S. Open a year ago impressed. He'll be looking to make it five major triumphs in a row for European Tour pros.


Jason Sobel

Jason Sobel (N/A, N/A)

Group A: Robert Karlsson: Just like David Toms last month, Karlsson can use a playoff loss as motivation one week later.

Group B: Edoardo Molinari: He’s 27, is ranked in the top-40 and has never won on the PGA Tour. Sounds just like every other recent major champion.

Group C: Will Wilcox: Darkhorse? Absolutely. But at No. 2 on the Nationwide Tour all-around ranking, you know he does everything well.


Charlie Rymer

Charlie Rymer (6,452,088; 6th)

Group A: Steve Stricker: He'll get major No. 1 with his rock-solid putting.

Group B: Rickie Fowler: He's going to win at some point. Might as well do it here.

Group C: Brian Gay: Straight driving and great putting are required. He has both.


John Hawkins

John Hawkins (6,060,041; 9th)

Group A: Phil Mickelson: Rarely a U.S. Open passes without him factoring heavily.

Group B: Rickie Fowler: Just like him. No real reasoning behind it.

Group C: Brandt Jobe: Best of the bunch.


Jay Coffin

Jay Coffin (7,013,276; 4th)

Group A: Matt Kuchar: He fits the bill of the previous 10 majors champions - they've all been different.

Group B: Hunter Mahan: Same for Mahan. He's good enough to win a major now.

Group C: D.A. Points: He's one of the highest ranked players in the C group. Good enough.


Gary Williams

Gary Williams (6,064,938; 8th)

Group A: Phil Mickelson: This is his moment to finally win the U.S. Open.

Group B: Hunter Mahan: Shot 62 at Congressional in 2009 to finish runner-up.

Group C: Kevin Streelman: Some of his best finishes have come at tree-lined courses.


Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias (6,040,264; 10th)

Group A: Luke Donald: Length is not an issue if the course stays dry and he's one of the best short-game players in the world.

Group B: Hunter Mahan: Three top-12 finishes at Congressional in the AT&T National.

Group C: Kevin Streelman: Top-10s at Colonial and Muirfield, both major-caliber courses.


Win McMurry

Win McMurry (8,903,401; 1st)

Group A: Phil Mickelson: This year he gets it done and no better place than the nation's capitol.

Group B: Brandt Snedeker: Has two top-10s in the U.S. Open in the last three years.

Group C: Davis Love: DL3 had a great U.S. Open last year at Pebble where he tied for sixth.


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee (4,529,592; 16th)

Group A: Phil Mickelson: Phil likes this place. Also has five runner-up Open showings.

Group B: Hunter Mahan: He's happily married, in a band, playing good golf. What's not to like?

Group C: Gregory Havret: Finished second last year at Pebble Beach. That's good, right?


Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton (5,814,023; 11th)

Group A: Lee Westwood: Top-3 finishes in five of his last 11 starts in majors.

Group B: Hunter Mahan: Shares course record (62) at Congressional.

Group C: Robert Rock: Ranks 111th in the world entering 111th U.S. Open. Won last week in Italy.


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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.