Golf Channel's inaugural draft

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2012, 1:00 pm

Note: Golf Channel did a mock player draft April 26, 2012. As the 2013 NFL Draft commences Thursday, take a look at how our picks fared.

Once per year, most of the other major sports host a cavalcade of three-button suit-wearing bonus babies, critical and criticized general managers, puffy-haired analysts and face-painted fans shrieking in delight or horror with the announcement of each name.

It's called a draft. And we in golf annually get cheated.

Until now.

For the first time ever, the crack staff here at Golf Channel – made up of editors, producers, writers, reporters and analysts – has put together our own Golf Draft, choosing future prospects based on earning potential, major championship promise and whom we'd most like to have on our 'teams' for years to come.

Some of the selections will have you applauding at home, some will be met with a chorus of boos and a few will leave you more than a bit puzzled and perplexed. (Two Charlies?! Well, at least one of 'em has time on his side...)

So grab the jersey of your favorite Golf Channel staffer, put on your Mel Kiper, Jr. wig and brace yourself for the biggest draft of the year. And remember: If you don't like some of these draft picks, there's always next year! – Jason Sobel




1. Rex Hoggard

Tiger Woods

Last two years aside, Red Shirt proved he still has that winning mojo with his five-stroke victory at Bay Hill and his “up side” is too good to pass.

2. Brandel Chamblee

Bubba Watson

Looks like a guy who should be chasing Snookie but instead has the world of golf in a headlock at the moment. Can’t wait to see what he does next.

3. Todd Lewis

Rory McIlroy

Top 20 finishes in seven of first 11 majors, including a dominating U.S. Open. He’s 22 and getting stronger with a great swing and a better head.

4. Bailey Mosier

Yani Tseng

Five majors by age 22 and three LPGA victories to start this season. She’ll win more majors than anyone else on this list. Bam.

5. Jason Crook

Rickie Fowler

People love him. He won a fan vote to be on Tiger Woods’ video game, comes from a self-taught mentality and has two decades to win majors.

6. George Malone

Phil Mickelson

Still the people’s golfer, he’ll contend in majors for a while and be the mentor to the next generation that Tiger will never be.

7. Jeremy Davis

Luke Donald

His brand is established having reached the world’s top spot and the hunger to discard Best Player Without a Major motivates him.

8. Kristi Setaro

Martin Kaymer

His game hasn’t been up to “Kaymer” standards lately but he’s 27 and his best golf is still in front of him. Tough to pass up the talent.

9. Scott Walker

Lexi Thompson

To use an NFL term, no one has more “upside” than Lexi. She has the wins to back up the hype and the competitive drive to match.

10. Gary Williams

Bud Cauley

Pocket Hercules is going to be a huge star and he loves competing. Some get suffocated by the attention but Bud will breath comfortably in rare air.

11. Mike Lowe

Hunter Mahan

Has cool California marketability and wins to back it up. The 29-year-old’s impressive resume includes five PGA Tour wins (with two WGCs).

12. The Golf Guy

Jason Day

Seasoned player yet only 24 years old. The young Australian has both major potential and major marketability, which is a great mix.

13. Will Gray

Keegan Bradley

With a major already, he’s proving that 2011 was no fluke. Still only 25, there’s reason to think he’ll contend at golf’s biggest events for a long time.

14. Whit Watson

Patrick Cantlay

Division I Player of the Year, low am at U.S. Open and Masters, holds course record at a PGA Tour event and just turned 20. He’ll be here awhile.

15. Geoff Russell

Matt Kuchar

Doesn’t win as often as he should, but he usually finishes in the top 10, makes a lot of money and is a consistency machine.

16. Tripp Isenhour

Harris English

Has all the tools to win a lot of tournaments, plus the calm demeanor to hold it together under the heat of major championships.

17. Jerry Foltz

Jordan Speith

At 18, only player not named Tiger to win multiple U.S. Juniors, and unlike Tiger, already making noise in limited PGA Tour starts.

18. Randall Mell

Charl Schwartzel

Scouts say he can’t block or tackle worth a lick, and his 40 time is no good, but this pick has proved he knows how to win the big one.

19. Erik Kuselias

Branden Grace

In “The Natural” they gave a speech that started “Losing is a disease.” Well the opposite is also true. Winning is a skill and Grace has it.

20. Brian Koressel

Charlie Woods

Granted Tiger’s son is just 3-years-old, but I’m banking on his earnings potential over the next, say, 50-plus years. I like his chances.

21. Byron Fisher

Steve Stricker

Yes, he’s getting on in age, but with his wedge game and putting, he’ll get a major before he’s done. He’s a Cheesehead, a quality I want on my team.

22. Jason Sobel

Matteo Manassero

Didn’t even need to trade up for this 19-year-old two-time Euro Tour winner who has already made the cut at each of the four majors.

23. Jay Coffin

Dustin Johnson

Damn you Sobel. I wanted Matteo. I’ll “settle” for a 27-year-old who is an absolute steal. He can win multiple majors and is the best athlete on Tour.

24. Al Tays

Gary Woodland

He’s a bomber, has awesome physical tools and a Tour victory already under his belt. It won’t be the last one.

25. Ryan Ballengee

Louis Oosthuizen

This is like the Packers committing robbery to get Aaron Rodgers. Louis has the sweetest swing, a major in his pocket and tasted blood for a second.

26. Win McMurry

Ryo Ishikawa

Considered taking Annika’s daughter, but proudly opt for the 20-year-old from Japan. He’s a rock star and his earning potential in Asia is through the roof.

27. Mercer Baggs

Michelle Wie

She’s like a projected top-5 pick who decided to return to school for a senior season and saw her stock plummet. If she finds desire, she’ll win majors.

28. John Hawkins

Kyle Stanley

Showed jumbo Pelotas winning in Phoenix the week after goal line fumble at Torrey Pines. Handsome, humble and hits it a mile.

29. Scott Rude

Ai Miyazato

Since trading pick 29 and a sleeve of balls for pick 25 wasn't viable I pick the LPGA's version of Luke Donald due to her age (26) and less depth on the tour.

30. Alan Robison

Adam Scott

Shocked the 31-year-old Aussie is still around. He has a Players, Tour Championship and WGC in his resume, so a major is the next step.

31. Charlie Rymer

Charlie Rymer

I’m 44, eyeing the Champions Tour, just joined the Y and signed up for NutriSystem. No future in TV because Chamblee uses big words I don’t understand, Feherty has the funny gig locked down.

32. Ben Daughan

Seung-yul Noh

At 21, he’s already a winner on the Euro Tour, won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2010 and has made the cut in five of six majors played.

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Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

Later, he laughed about the moment.

''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

“They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

“Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

“As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

“Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.

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McIlroy, Scott have forgettable finish at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 22, 2018, 11:03 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rory McIlroy and the rest of his group had a forgettable end to their rounds Thursday at the Honda Classic.

McIlroy was even par for the day and looking for one final birdie to end his opening round. Only two players had reached the par-5 finishing hole, but McIlroy tried to hold a 3-wood up against the wind from 268 yards away. It found the water, leading to a double bogey and a round of 2-over 72.  

“It was the right shot,” McIlroy said. “I just didn’t execute it the right way.”

He wasn’t the only player to struggle coming home.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Adam Scott, who won here in 2016, found the water on both par 3s in the Bear Trap, Nos. 15 and 17. He made double on 15, then triple on 17, after his shot from the drop area went long, then he failed to get up and down. He shot 73, spoiling a solid round.

The third player in the group, Padraig Harrington, made a mess of the 16th hole, taking a triple.

The group played the last four holes in a combined 10 over.

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Woods (70) better in every way on Day 1 at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 22, 2018, 8:40 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Consider it a sign of the times that Tiger Woods was ecstatic about an even-par score Thursday at the Honda Classic.

It was by far his most impressive round in this nascent comeback.

Playing in a steady 20-mph wind, Woods was better in all facets of the game Thursday at PGA National. Better off the tee. Better with his irons. And better on and around the “scratchy” greens.

He hung tough to shoot 70 – four shots better than his playing partner, Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner this season and the current FedExCup leader – and afterward Woods said that it was a “very positive” day and that he was “very solid.”

It’s a small sample size, of course – seven rounds – but Woods didn’t hesitate in declaring this “easily” his best ball-striking round of the year.

And indeed it was, even if the stats don’t jump off the page.

Officially, he hit only seven of 14 fairways and just 10 greens, but some of those misses off the tee were a few paces into the rough, and some of those iron shots finished just off the edge of the green.

The more telling stat was this: His proximity to the hole (28 feet) was more than an 11-foot improvement over his first two starts this year. And also this: He was 11th among the early starters in strokes gained-tee to green, which measures a player’s all-around ball-striking. Last week, at Riviera, he ranked 121st.

“I felt very comfortable,” he said. “I felt like I hit the ball really well, and it was tough out there. I had to hit a lot of knockdown shots. I had to work the golf ball both ways, and occasionally downwind, straight up in the air.

“I was able to do all that today, so that was very pleasing.”

The Champion Course here at PGA National is the kind of course that magnifies misses and exposes a player if he’s slightly off with his game. There is water on 15 of the 18 holes, and there are countless bunkers, and it’s almost always – as it was Thursday – played in a one- or two-club wind. Even though it’s played a half hour from Woods’ compound in Hobe Sound, the Honda wasn’t thought to be an ideal tune-up for Woods’ rebuilt game.

But maybe this was just what he needed. He had to hit every conceivable shot Thursday, to shape it both ways, high and low, and he executed nearly every one of them.

The only hole he butchered was the par-5 third. With 165 yards for his third shot, he tried to draw a 6-iron into a stiff wind. He turned it over a touch too much, and it dropped into the bunker. He hit what he thought was a perfect bunker shot, but it got caught in the overseeded rye grass around the green and stayed short. He chipped to 3 feet and then was blown off-balance by a wind gust. Double.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

But what pleased Woods most was what he did next. Steaming from those unforced errors, he was between a 2- and 3-iron off the tee. He wanted to leave himself a 60-degree wedge for his approach into the short fourth hole, but a full 2-iron would have put him too close to the green.

So he took a little off and “threw it up in the air” – 292 yards.

“That felt really good,” Woods said, smiling. And so did the 6-footer that dropped for a bounce-back birdie.

"I feel like I'm really not that far away," he said. 

To illustrate just how much Woods’ game has evolved in seven rounds, consider this perspective from Brandt Snedeker.

They played together at Torrey Pines, where Woods somehow made the cut despite driving it all over the map. In the third round, Woods scraped together a 70 while Snedeker turned in a 74, and afterward Snedeker said that Woods’ short game was “probably as good or better than I ever remember it being.”

A month later, Snedeker saw significant changes. Woods’ short game is still tidy, but he said that his iron play is vastly improved, and it needed to be, given the challenging conditions in the first round.

“He controlled his ball flight really well and hit a bunch of really good shots that he wasn’t able to hit at Torrey, because he was rusty,” said Snedeker, who shot 74. “So it was cool to see him flight the ball and hit some little cut shots and some little three-quarter shots and do stuff I’m accustomed to see him doing.”

Conditions are expected to only get more difficult, more wind-whipped and more burned out, which is why the winning score here has been single-digits under par four of the past five years.

But Woods checked an important box Thursday, hitting the shots that were required in the most difficult conditions he has faced so far.

Said Snedeker: “I expect to see this as his baseline, and it’ll only get better from here.”