Fantasy Island: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2011, 7:49 pm

GolfChannel.com experts offer up their picks for the the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 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 Zurich Classic

*Ranking among the 16 GolfChannel.com experts

Rex Hoggard

Rex Hoggard
Score (Rank*)
5,665,901 (2)
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Spencer Levin

Group C:
Cameron Tringale

“Luke Donald Disease” may not produce a lot of “Ws,” but five top-10 finishes in six Tour events this year is fantasy gold.

Near-misses in Mexico and Bay Hill only make former wild child want to win that much more.

Tour sophomore proved at Texas Open (T-5) he can put himself into contention, now he has to learn how to convert on a Sunday.

Randall Mell

Randall Mell
Score (Rank)
3,252,432 (13) 
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Jeff Overton

Group C:
Kevin Sutherland
This is all about riding the hot hand and believing Donald remains highly motivated with No. 1 within reach.
 
After a sluggish start to the year, Overton's due to heat up with summer's approach, and he's got some good history in New Orleans.

With the confidence of a good showing in his last start in Texas, and good vibes returning to New Orleans, Sutherland's primed to play well.

Charlie Rymer

Charlie Rymer
Score (Rank)
3,854,314 (10) 
Group A:
Nick Watney

Group B:
Tommy Gainey

Group C:
Boo Weekley
I'm feeling like it's time for Nick Watney to get it going again, after all it's been something like a month since he won.

Tommy Gainey has secured his card for 2012 now he can play like he's on house money, which he is. 

Ol' Boo Weekley hit it great last week. He just needs to find a flat stick that works. Maybe he'll find the heart of a lightning struck cypress tree he can fashion into a putter shaft in Roy Hobbs fashion?
John Hawkins

John Hawkins
Score (Rank)
3,842,883 (11) 
Group A:
Graeme McDowell

Group B:
David Toms

Group C:
Andres Romero



Best player in the field who didn't lose in a playoff last week.

Hometown guy, quietly having a decent year.

He's a past champ. In Group C, that counts for something.

 

Jay Coffin

Jay Coffin
Score (Rank)
3,874,375 (9) 
Group A:
Nick Watney

Group B:
K.J. Choi

Group C:
John Rollins

He's won this event before and he's still one of the best players in the world. Masters performance was a little surprising but he'll jump back on the horse nicely.

I think Choi is a good value pick here. He plays well in New Orleans and was in the hunt at Augusta National. I'd be surprised if he doesn't contend.

By my calculations, he's the best ranked player in this group and he's finished T-21 and T-13 respectively here the last two years.

Gary Williams

Gary Williams
Score (Rank)
4,490,314 (5) 
Group A:
Nick Watney

Group B:
K.J. Choi

Group C:
Tim Petrovic
He won at TPC Louisiana in 2007 and despite a lackluster Masters is one of the best players in the world in 2011.
 
He won in New Orleans in 2002 and played well albeit inconsistently at TPC Louisiana. Strong play in 2011 makes him my B Pick.
 
I am going with three winners at TPC Louisiana this week and Petrovic is someone who has played well at this course along with his win in 2005.

Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias
Score (Rank)
4,834,435 (4)
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Brandt Snedeker

Group C:
Tim Petrovic


I know he is making his first appearance in New Orleans, but when one has five straight top-10s and a chance at world No. 1, you have to pick him.
 
I did not pick Brandt last week because he had not played well at Harbour Town. But when you are hot, you're hot and I am picking him this week.
 
He won at TPC Louisiana in 2005 and has two other top-11 finishes there. Could sneak up on the field.

Win McMurry

Win McMurry
Score (Rank)
7,087,438 (1)
Group A:
Steve Stricker

Group B:
Charles Howell

Group C:
Cameron Tringale

While I believe 2007 champion Nick Watney and last week’s runner-up Luke Donald are good picks this week, the edge goes to Stricker who has a T-7 and a T-11 here since the event moved to TPC Louisiana.
 
He finished runner-up here a couple years ago and despite a MC last week, he has six top-25s this season.
 
In one previous start in NOLA, Tringale tied for 28th and he’s had a good start to his sophomore year on Tour where he’s already surpassed his earnings from last year. He has two top-25s, including a T-5 at the Valero Texas Open.

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee
Score (Rank)
1,526,826 (16) 
Group A:
Steve Stricker

Group B:
Brandt Snedeker

Group C:
Michael Allen
Didn't play last year, but has two top-12s in his last three NOLA starts. His game seems to be coming around after a long Wisconsin winter.

Won last week and has five top-10s this season. He's also the first guy in his 30s to win on Tour in seven weeks.

This event has a history of producing some rather surprising winners. Would Michael Allen finally winning on the PGA Tour at age 52 be surprising enough for you?

Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton
Score (Rank)
3,505,685 (12) 

Group A:
Justin Rose

Group B:
Charley Hoffman

Group C:
Matt Every

He’s cashed in all nine starts this year, with three top-10s and a T11 in his last start (Masters). Also leads the PGA TOUR in greens hit.
 
Rested after a co-runner-up in San Antonio, where he led the field in birdies.
 
Took peeks at Tim Herron (T4 at The Heritage), Boo Weekley (third in GIR) and Jarrod Lyle (3-for-3 here; T10 last year), but I love that Every is making his final start via his Minor Medical Extension. Needs a three-way T5 or solo sixth to secure his card.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry