Fantasy Island: HP Byron Nelson Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2011, 7:46 pm experts offer up their picks for the HP Byron Nelson Championship. 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 (6,161,230; 3rd)

Group A: Jason Day: The defending champion hits it plenty long enough and since this is likely his last event as a Dallas-area resident he’s looking to go out in style.

Group B: Brian Davis: Cruised to medalist honors at Monday’s British Open qualifier (6-under 64) and finished runner-up at the 2009 Byron Nelson.

Group C: Chris Stroud: Texas native plays his best golf in the heat and his T-12 at The Players Championship is a sign that summer may have come early this year.

Randall Mell

Randall Mell (3,758,889; 15th)

Group A: Jason Day: Five top-10s so far this season. Good form makes the defending champion dangerous again this week.

Group B: Brian Gay: Nearly won at TPC Four Seasons last year. Nobody's hitting more fairways this year, not many are scoring better.

Group C: Roland Thatcher: Looking for that T-7 finish at TPC Four Seasons in '08 to spark a run.


Jason Sobel

Jason Sobel (N/A, N/A)

Group A: Jason Day: Hate picking defending champs. It’s like cheating on a pop quiz. But I really, really need to pass this class. 

Group B: Bo Van Pelt: Stellar final round at Colonial gave him solo third. He’ll keep the momentum building this week.

Group C: Brett Wetterich: Five years removed from playing in The Ryder Cup, he already has a Nationwide Tour win this season.

Charlie RymerCharlie Rymer (5,515,388; 7th)

Group A: Dustin Johnson: I'm sure Matt Kuchar is gonna win this week because I'm leaving him and picking Johnson.

Group B: Sergio Garcia: Garcia has been showing signs that he's ready and this may just be his week.

Group C: Steven Bowditch: Bowditch keeps popping up on the radar and maybe he brings it in for a safe landing near DFW.

 John HawkinsJohn Hawkins (5,967,481; 5th)

Group A: Ben Crane – Good golf all year, time for a win. 

Group B: Justin Leonard – Should have won here by now, good ballpark for him. 

Group C: Brett Wetterich – Past champ, why not? Not a strong group of Cs. 


Jay CoffinJay Coffin (5,068,203; 12th)

Group A: Nick Watney: He hasn't had great results in the four times he has played here. Still, Watney is playing too well now not to contend.

Group B: Jason Dufner: I'm going with a trend here of picking people who have played poorly at this event. Dufner has two MCs in two starts.

Group C: Keegan Bradley: This guy has never played this event but he's five spots ahead of Tiger Woods on the money list so he can't be that bad of a pick can he?

Gary Williams

Gary Williams (5,526,357; 6th)

Group A: Dustin Johnson: He has the most wins of any American under 30 with four, and armed with a new caddie, he is in position to win for a fifth time.

Group B: Brian Gay: He has had some recent success in this event – T-7 in 2008 and T-2 in 2010 – and in 2011, he has missed the cut just once in 13 starts.

Group C: Chez Reavie: Playing on Major Medical Exemption in 2011 and recorded a season-best tie for fifth last week at Colonial to earn $235,600.


Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias (5,222,109; 11th)

Group A: Dustin Johnson: This is DJ’s first event with Joe LaCava as his permanent caddie and although he has struggled lately, he has a good history at this event.

Group B: Bo Van Pelt: He finished third last week at Colonial, which is his best finish in 2011 and goes nicely with his tie for eighth in the 2011 Masters.

Group C: Steven Bowditch: He was tied for second after 36 holes last week at Colonial before finishing T-16 and is making his first appearance in this event.

Win McMurry

Win McMurry (7,899,573; 1st)

Group A: Jason Day: Staying on the Day train this week. The defending champ has had a strong season and I don’t see him giving up his first Tour title easily.

Group B: D.A. Points: He is coming off two MCs, but I think that works to his advantage. After winning his season at Pebble, Points is ready to get back in contention.

Group C: Cameron Beckman: After a consistent start to 2011 he’s missed five cuts in a row. He will not make it six, especially at a course where he was T-5 last year.

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee (2,531,005; 16th)

Group A: Dustin Johnson: He has shown flashes of coming back to 2010 form. He has consecutive top-7 finishes in this event, so he must like this course.

Group B: John Senden: He just posted his first top-10 of the year at Colonial and has been consistent all season. The Aussie's best finish here is seventh two years ago.

Group C: Steven Bowditch: The guy is getting married here not too long from now, so maybe he can play some inspired golf and get a discount on the ceremony.

Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton (4,167,223; 14th)

Group A: Dustin Johnson: In a bit of a rut in the U.S. since Doral, but owns a pair of top-10s in his last two starts here and matches up with the course profile brilliantly.

Group B: Brian Gay: Co-runner-up here last year and currently leads the PGA Tour in Fairways Hit and scrambling. Has cashed in nine straight starts, too.

Group C: Blake Adams: Returns to the site of his only top-5 on the PGA Tour (T2, 2010). Also coming off a T-16 at Colonial, his best finish of 2011.

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PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.

Good time to hang up on viewer call-ins

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 7:40 pm

Golf announced the most massive layoff in the industry’s history on Monday morning.

Armchair referees around the world were given their pink slips.

It’s a glorious jettisoning of unsolicited help.

Goodbye and good riddance.

The USGA and R&A’s announcement of a new set of protocols Monday will end the practice of viewer call-ins and emails in the reporting of rules infractions.

“What we have heard from players and committees is ‘Let’s leave the rules and administration of the event to the players and those responsible for running the tournament,’” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status.


The protocols, formed by a working group that included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and the PGA of America, also establish the use of rules officials to monitor the televised broadcasts of events.

Additionally, the protocols will eliminate the two-shot penalty when a player signs an incorrect scorecard because the player was unaware of a violation.

Yes, I can hear you folks saying armchair rules officials help make sure every meaningful infraction comes to light. I hear you saying they make the game better, more honest, by helping reduce the possibility somebody violates the rules to win.

But at what cost?

The chaos and mayhem armchair referees create can ruin the spirit of fair play every bit as much as an unreported violation. The chaos and mayhem armchair rules officials create can be as much a threat to fair play as the violations themselves.

The Rules of Golf are devised to protect the integrity of the game, but perfectly good rules can be undermined by the manner and timeliness of their enforcement.

We have seen the intervention of armchair referees go beyond the ruin of fair play in how a tournament should be conducted. We have seen it threaten the credibility of the game in the eyes of fans who can’t fathom the stupidity of a sport that cannot separate common-sense enforcement from absolute devotion to the letter of the law.

In other sports, video review’s timely use helps officials get it right. In golf, video review too often makes it feel like the sport is getting it wrong, because timeliness matters in the spirit of fair play, because the retroactive nature of some punishments are as egregious as the violations themselves.  

We saw that with Lexi Thompson at the ANA Inspiration this year.

Yes, she deserved a two-shot penalty for improperly marking her ball, but she didn’t deserve the two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She had no idea she was signing an incorrect scorecard.

We nearly saw the ruin of the U.S. Open at Oakmont last year, with Dustin Johnson’s victory clouded by the timing of a video review that left us all uncertain if the tournament was playing out under an incorrect scoreboard.

“What these protocols are put in place for, really, is to make sure there are measures to identify the facts as soon as possible, in real time, so if there is an issue to be dealt with, that it can be handled quickly and decisively,” Pagel said.

Amen again.

We have pounded the USGA for making the game more complicated and less enjoyable than it ought to be, for creating controversy where common sense should prevail, so let’s applaud executive director Mike Davis, as well as the R&A, for putting common sense in play.

Yes, this isn’t a perfect answer to handling rules violations.

There are trap doors in the protocols that we are bound to see the game stumble into, because the game is so complex, but this is more than a good faith effort to make the game better.

This is good governance.

And compared to the glacial pace of major rules change of the past, this is swift.

This is the USGA and R&A leading a charge.

We’re seeing that with the radical modernization of the Rules of Golf scheduled to take effect in 2019. We saw it with the release of Decision 34/3-10 three weeks after Thompson’s loss at the ANA, with the decision limiting video review to “reasonable judgment” and “naked eye” standards. We’re hearing it with Davis’ recent comments about the “horrible” impact distance is having on the game, leading us to wonder if the USGA is in some way gearing up to take on the golf ball.

Yes, the new video review protocols aren’t a panacea. Rules officials will still miss violations that should have been caught. There will be questions about level playing fields, about the fairness of stars getting more video review scrutiny than the rank and file. There will be questions about whether viewer complaints were relayed to rules officials.

Golf, they say, isn’t a game of perfect, and neither is rules enforcement, though these protocols make too much sense to be pilloried. They should be applauded. They should solve a lot more problems than they create.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.