Masters Q&A: Chamblee and Nobilo

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 8, 2013, 8:00 pm

Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo each have Masters experience. Chamblee was the first-round co-leader in 1999 and eventually tied for 18th. Nobilo competed four times at Augusta National, finishing fourth in 1996.

The two share their thoughts on the season’s first major, in this Q&A:

Rank these characteristics in terms of importance at Augusta National: driving distance, driving accuracy, ball-striking, ball flight, putting.

Chamblee: Only two players have won the Masters in the last 14 years who weren't in the top 10 in greens in regulation: Charl Schwartzel, in 2011; Mike Weir, in 2003. Compare that with five winners outside the top 10 in driving distance for the same time period, seven outside the top 10 in putting, and 11 outside the top 10 in driving accuracy, and one gets a pretty clear picture of what’s important at Augusta National.

Nobilo: 1) Putting. It is such a high priority week in and week out, but because of the difficulty of the greens (speed and slope), putting is paramount at Augusta National. 2) Iron Play. With so much written about Augusta giving into the bombers, people forget that this is a great second-shot course. To get the ball into the right position on these greens is an art. 3) Driving distance. Going in with a shorter club is always easier and there are a bunch of guys who hit it straight, so all things being equal, you have to favor power off the tee. 4) Ball flight. Equipment has taken a lot away from the high-ball hitter. His distinct advantage in stopping power has been ified by the influx of hybrids that now bridge that gap.

In the past, it's been said that only 10-15 players have a chance to win the Masters. How many players can be considered realistic contenders this week?

Chamblee: To say only 10-15 players have a chance to win the Masters is one of the most fallacious remarks repeated year after year. Schwartzel was ranked 29th in the world on the eve of the ‘11 Masters; Angel Cabrera was ranked 69th the week before he won his green jacket in 2009; and Trevor Immelman (2008) and Zach Johnson (2007) were 29th and 56th in the world, respectively, before they broke through. Any of the top 50 players in the world has a realistic chance to win this event.

Nobilo: Only one player in the top 15 of the world rankings has won the Masters over the last five years. Consequently, the old adage that only 10-15 people can win has changed dramatically. You would say that number is now realistically between 25-30. Equipment and an overall more aggressive playing style have created more potential winners.

Name a top-20 player who we shouldn't expect much from this week? Why?

Chamblee: The only player in the top 20 that is a big question mark is Brandt Snedeker, because of his rib injury. Beyond that, one can make a case for any of the top 20 in the world to contend.

Nobilo: Nearly two months ago, Brandt Snedeker was atop all the important lists. His improved tee-to-green game, in conjunction with fearless putting, would have made him one of the favorites heading into Augusta. Sadly, the he rib injury has more than slowed his progress. He has had two missed cuts and has yet to regain that form, since returning.

Who has the best chance to win his first major this week? Why?

Chamblee: Adam Scott has the best chance of the players without a major this week. In his last eight majors played, he has four top-10s, which includes a second and an eighth-place showing at the Masters. He is one of the longest, straightest drivers in golf. He leads the Tour in par-5 birdie percentage this year, which is of huge importance at Augusta National.

Nobilo: There is a great list of potential first-time major champions teeing off this year, from Justin Rose, No. 3 in the world, to Henrik Stenson, No. 41. As I look down the list, I keep coming back to Dustin Johnson. He is coming into form at the right time with a T-12 and a T-4 his last two starts, and with a game well suited for Augusta.

We may be getting to the point where we can ask 'Tiger or the field?' again. But we'll go a step further. Would you take Tiger, Rory and Phil or the field? Why?

Chamblee: Since 2003, Tiger has won six times at Torrey Pines, five times at Bay Hill, four times at Firestone and twice at Muirfield Village. But he's only won once at the Masters. While his game has returned, Augusta National does not fit his game – or should I say, Tiger doesn't fit his game to Augusta the way he once did. Mickelson continues to get shorter and shorter off the tee and that makes it harder for him to be the player who has won there three times, and Rory struggles with left misses – and left misses at Augusta will hobble a player psychologically. The field is the better bet.

Nobilo: From 1997-2006, six of the 10 tournaments were won by Woods and Mickelson. Over the last six years, only Phil has added to that list. Even adding McIlroy to the group, you would have to take the field.

Which part of Rory McIlroy's game is most important for him to contend?

Chamblee: If Rory hits his driver great this week – drawing it around the corner at Nos. 2, 5, 9, 10, 13 and 15 without missing it left – he will be very hard to beat. He led the field in greens in regulation at the Texas Open and great drives will set him up to attack on the scoring holes.

Nobilo: Adding an event was a step in the right direction for Rory. While some continue to debate the club switch, that ship has sailed and it is more important to realize that he is using the same equipment as the best player in the game, Tiger Woods. Right now, Rory is starting to swing the club very well again and it is about competing – or, as Ben Hogan once said, “controlling that 6-inch fairway … the one between the ears.”

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Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

They were at 7-under 135.

Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.