Fantasy Island: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 22, 2011, 11:20 pm

GolfChannel.com experts offer up their picks for the the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 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 and Randall Mell; contributors John Hawkins and Charlie Rymer; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; contributor Win McMurry; writer for NBCSports.com's ProGolf Talk, Ryan Ballengee; and RotoWorld.com's Rob Bolton.


You can battle the experts and play along as well. Just click here to get into the game.

Arnold Palmer Invitational

*Ranking among the 16 GolfChannel.com experts

Rex Hoggard

Rex Hoggard
Score (Rank*):
3,640,689 (2)
Group A:
Hunter Mahan

Group B:
Brendon de Jonge

Group C:
Gary Woodland

Feels like a toss-up between “H” and Dustin Johnson this week, but Ernie Els lifted the blue blazer last year with ballstriking, and timely putting, and few are hitting the ball as well as Mahan right now.

He’s on the short list of possible “Best Players without a Tour title” and there are few better places to score one’s first “W” than Bay Hill.

We have cleaned up on the shooting guard-turned-Tour-winner this season. It’s probably a stretch to think he can contend this week, but he’s been cashing checks all season and that’s not going to change.

Randall Mell

Randall Mell
Score (Rank):
1,590,341 (15)
Group A:
Dustin Johnson

Group B:
Rickie Fowler

Group C:
Chris Couch


The putter heats up as Johnson finds the missing ingredient in his failure to close out at Doral two weeks ago.

The King likes Fowler’s style, and Fowler will show plenty of it in a big week at Bay Hill, with Fowler enjoying two top-10s in his last three starts.

The warm weather’s good for all the big man’s aches and pains as Couch makes another run in his home state.


Charlie Rymer

Charlie Rymer
Score (Rank):
2,254,260 (9)
Group A:
Graeme McDowell

Group B:
Justin Rose

Group C:
Gary Woodland

It's time for GMac to stop padding his stats and add to the trophy room. Ball striking will be in demand this week and he'll be up to the task.

Rose was close to winning last week and this week he may just finish the deal.

I'm a big believer in momentum and Woodland has plenty after picking up his first career win at Transitions.

John Hawkins

John Hawkins
Score (Rank):
2,170,204 (11)
 Group A:
Bubba Watson

Group B:
Martin Laird

Group C:
Brendon de Jonge





Long is good at the King's house.

Dude spends a lot of time on leaderboards.

Cashes a lot of big checks for a guy ranked 100th in the world.





Jay Coffin

Jay Coffin
Score (Rank):
2,372,440 (8)
Group A:
Tiger Woods

Group B:
Edoardo Molinari

Group C:
Kevin Na
It's not so much that I like Tiger this week, but I'm not enamored with the others in this group. If he wins I can pick up points on the field.

His second-place tie here last year is what propelled the Italian to a huge, successful season, including a trip to the Ryder Cup with his brother.

Take a closer look, he's finished T-2 and T-11 at Bay Hill the last two years, respectively. I'll take those numbers each week from a Group C player.

Gary Williams

Gary Williams
Score (Rank):
1,958,332 (13)
Group A:
Dustin Johnson

Group B:
Martin Laird

Group C:
Gary Woodland

Three top-10s in seven events in 2011 and while he has not performed well at Bay Hill in two starts, if he is playing well – as he is now – the course does not matter.

Four top-25 finishes in his last five starts and two top-10s in two starts on the Florida Swing in the last two weeks. He’s due for a win.

He won last week, has four top-10s in seven starts in 2011, and is playing great golf.

Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias
Score (Rank):
3,561,855 (4)
Group A:
Tiger Woods

Group B:
Justin Rose

Group C:
Gary Woodland



Six-time champion at Bay Hill, recorded his first top-10 of 2011 at Doral, swing could be rounding into form, need I say more?

Although he has only one top-10 at Bay Hill, he is having a solid 2011 as 21 of his 24 rounds are at par or better. When he lost the 54-hole lead at Travelers in 2010, he won the very next week.

Making his first appearance at Bay Hill and his win at Innisbrook last week combined with three other top-10s in 2011 makes him one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour.

Win McMurry

Win McMurry
Score (Rank):
5,224,855 (1)
Group A:
Tiger Woods

Group B:
Steve Marino

Group C:
Kevin Streelman
He has a great record at Bay Hill and it's a home game for him this week. Is this the start of the comeback?

He tied for 11th here last year and hasn't missed a cut in all four starts.

He tied for seventh at Bay Hill in 2010 and his last performance yielded a 15th-place tie at Doral.

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee
Score (Rank):
451,083 (16)
Group A:
Dustin Johnson

Group B:
Martin Laird

Group C:
Gary Woodland

He has been trending up of late and, despite not winning at Doral, has been making a lot of birdies in 2011. He can eat Bay Hill alive.

Have to love the Scot this week. Another top-10 in Tampa for Laird, who is third on Tour in scoring average on Moving Day.

Woodland is a bit of a bargain this week in the C group. He's had a tremendous year, is coming off a win in Tampa, and is young enough to bounce back in Orlando quickly.

Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton
Score (Rank):
2,178,888 (10)
Group A:
Dustin Johnson

Group B:
Justin Rose

Group C:
Kevin Na

Hoping my opposition bites on Tiger Woods’ course history this week while I invest in the fella that finished solo second at Doral.
 
Tough call taking a pass on Martin Laird here, but as he proved after last year’s Sunday fade at the Travelers, JR can rebound immediately. (He won the AT&T National the next week.)
 
Took a look at Gary Woodland, but Na is the chalk. Co-runner-up here last year; T11 in 2009. Two top-5s in 2011.



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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm