Fantasy Island: Honda Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 1, 2011, 8:21 pm

GolfChannel.com experts offer up their picks for the the Honda Classic. 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.

2007 Honda Classic

*Ranking among the 14 GolfChannel.com experts (Ballengee and Bolton are new)

Rex Hoggard

Rex Hoggard
Score (Rank*):
3,149,477 (2)
Group A:
Matt Kuchar

Group B:
Spencer Levin

Group C:
Steve Marino

Won this event in a former life and on another golf course (2002), but the current version is a machine with just one finish outside the top 10 in his last seven starts.

Tough playoff loss last week in Mexico and he’s never played well in Florida (T-25 last year in Tampa is his best finish) but he’s been steady since last fall and is due for a breakthrough.

Neither his consistency nor his record at PGA National are much to look at, but he’s a ballstriker and that matters on the Champion Course.

Randall Mell

Randall Mell
Score (Rank):
1,590,341 (11)
Group A:
Lee Westwood

Group B:
Vijay Singh

Group C:
Brett Wetterich
Former No. 1 motivated to get his top spot back and create some momentum for Augusta National.

His game's coming back, and he's got some history working for him at this event.

Showed some signs of life last week, and he knows his way around those South Florida courses.

Charlie Rymer

Charlie Rymer
Score (Rank):
1,878,765 (8)
Group A:
Lee Westwood

Group B:
Rickie Fowler

Group C:
Charl Schwartzel

Losing that No. 1 ranking may be the wake up call Westwood's game needs.

Fowler now spends time in south Florida, and hey, he's gonna notch his first PGA Tour victory sometime.

Schwartzel has the game and confidence to win on the PGA Tour on any given week. Plus he almost has a really cool first name.
John Hawkins

John Hawkins
Score (Rank):
1,608,309 (10)
 Group A:
Matt Kuchar

Group B:
Heath Slocum

Group C:
Ben Curtis

Playing well, has won here before.

Just a flier pick. This is a good place to keep the ball in front of you.

Good tough-course player, and they don't get much tougher than this one.

Jay Coffin

Jay Coffin
Score (Rank):
1,869,932 (9)
Group A:
Graeme McDowell

Group B:
Rickie Fowler

Group C:
Chris Stroud
Banking that his strong play from the Match Play will carry over to PGA National, a place he didn’t play extremely well last year with a T-31. He should play well with all his Euro buddies watching.

The kid is going to win sooner or later, I just hope it’s a week when I pick him. Like McDowell, I’m hoping that his success last week will propel him to a strong finish here.

A risky pick, even for Group C. He had three consecutive missed cuts but rebounded with a fourth-place finish last week at Mayakoba. Just need him to collect a check this week.

Gary Williams

Gary Williams
Score (Rank):
1,558,119 (12)
Group A:
Graeme McDowell

Group B:
Vijay Singh

Group C:
Trevor Immelman

Fellow Europeans Kaymer, Donald and Casey have all won in 2011, and while G-Mac has been close, it is time to join them in the winnner's circle.

After a couple of years of injuries, has two top-3s in his last three starts and finished T4 at PGA National in 2010.

Showed signs of life at Riviera, but faded on the weekend. However, he is due for a good week as his injuries are hopefully behind him.

Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias
Score (Rank):
3,115,534 (3)
Group A:
Graeme McDowell

Group B:
Rickie Fowler

Group C:
John Rollins



Fourth in the world, three top-10s in three starts in 2011. He just seems to be knocking on the door for a win.

Recorded his first top-10 last week in Tucson and is having a solid 2011. He's ready for a win at PGA National

Has gotten off to a slow start in 2011, but finished runner-up at PGA National in 2009 with four sub-70 rounds.


Win McMurry

Win McMurry
Score (Rank):
3,422,053 (1)
Group A:
Graeme McDowell

Group B:
Vijay Singh

Group C:
Michael Connell
He made it through three rounds in Tucson, a good showing, but had the weekend off. That gave him time to travel back to Florida to prep for his second event after a four-week hiatus. He tied for 31st last year at PGA National after a 76 on Sunday, however he opened strong with rounds of 68-67.

He’s coming off a runner-up finish at Riviera and with last week off Singh is ready to get back at it. The last two times he teed it up in the event he tied for fourth in 2010 and was T2 in 2005. Singh is also a past champ, winning in 1999.

He tied for sixth here last year in his first start at The Honda. So far this season he has two top-30 finishes.

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee
Score (Rank):
NA (NA)
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Camilo Villegas

Group C:
Steve Marino

Donald just came off of a very impressive total game exhibition in the desert and the Honda was his last PGA Tour win before the match play. While it wasn't at The Bear Trap, Donald's precision should play well at Jack's place.

This guy can't seem to catch a break in 2011, but this event loves him. He won last year, should've won two years ago.

PGA National doesn't seem like a place where Marino might do well, but for some reason he does. He hovers around the top 25, which earns well.

Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton
Score (Rank):
NA (NA)
Group A:
Graeme McDowell

Group B:
Vijay Singh

Group C:
Charl Schwartzel
One victory and two third-place finishes in his last three stroke-play starts.

Investment in short game paying immediate dividends.

Five consecutive top-10s in stroke-play events entering this week.


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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x