Golf Channel's second (not-so-annual) draft

By Jason SobelMay 5, 2014, 12:30 pm

When we held our first Golf Draft back in 2012, Tiger Woods was the No. 1 overall pick and Yani Tseng was the first LPGA player off the board.

Our latest edition proves a lot can change in two years - and a lot of us needed a mulligan.

Choosing golfers based on – as the initial guidelines stated – “earning potential, major championship promise and whom we’d most like to have on our ‘teams’ for years to come,” this year’s Golf Draft has a decidedly different look from the original.

Our art is mirroring life, as Woods relinquishes the top spot to Rory McIlroy, just as he once did on the world ranking.

Photos: Golf Channel's 2014 draft in images

Four players (Tseng, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Bud Cauley) selected in the top 10 of the first draft were bypassed this time. A total of 16 players – half of the entire list – is a turnover from two years ago, with 17-year-old Lydia Ko rightfully becoming the highest-ranked player who was previously left off, moving up to sixth after three LPGA wins.

Of course, it remains an inexact science.

Among those still available for a hypothetical second round are PGA Tour champions Hunter Mahan, Webb Simpson, Seung-yul Noh and Brandt Snedeker, and young up-and-comers Matthew Fitzpatrick and Patrick Rodgers. But for now, let’s focus on those who were selected rather than those who weren’t.

Thirty-two Golf Channel staffers. Thirty-two draft picks. Let the debate begin … 




1. Ryan Reiterman

Rory McIlroy

At 25, he’s halfway to the career Grand Slam. When he’s on, no one can touch him.

2. Tripp Isenhour

Jordan Spieth

Spieth and Tiger are only two players to start year with no status and end at the Tour Championship. Enough for me.

3. Ryan Lavner

Lexi Thompson

Awesome power, improved putter, closer’s mentality and fiercely competitive. Nice combo.

4. Jay Coffin

Tiger Woods

I get him here? My guy makes money just by showing up. I win.

5. Ben Daughan

Jason Day

At 26, he has at least a 10-year window to win multiple majors.

6. Jason Crook

Lydia Ko

Just turned 17 and is a rare teen phenom who will actually exceed the hype.

7. Randall Mell

Bubba Watson

We’re going to have fun with the biggest-hitting, most eccentric star in the game.

8. Todd Lewis

Adam Scott

His game suits every major venue even if one is ever played on the moon.

9. Ryan Burr

Patrick Reed

Has never blown a 54-hole lead, a trend that will serve him well the next few years.

10. Mercer Baggs

Michelle Wie

Picked her two years ago. Not passing her now that everything seems to be back on track.

11. Joe Posnanski

Dustin Johnson

May never harness all the talent but has a lot of it. He’s a good high-risk, high-reward choice.

12. Rex Hoggard

Inbee Park

Remember her? At 25 already has nine LPGA victories and won three-fifths of a single season slam.

13. Jerry Foltz

Stacy Lewis

Not motivated by money, but has earned a ton. A fierce competitor with all the tools needed to stay on top.

14. Whit Watson

Matt Kuchar

Young enough to contend for a long time and knocking on the door at majors. Top-10 machine.

15. Gary Williams

Justin Rose

With a major on his resume and consistent production every year, he’s a clean-up hitter in my lineup.

16. John Feinstein

Erik Compton

When he wins it’ll be the best story in the history of golf.

17. Charlie Rymer

Rickie Fowler

So much talent and his best years are all ahead of him.

18. @GCTigerTracker

Cheyenne Woods

Understandably, my meal ticket was gone early, so I have to keep it in the family.

19. Brandel Chamblee

Hideki Matsuyama

Will be the first Japanese player to win a major and, at 22, he will have that powerful, beautiful move for decades.

20. Al Tays

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

The Round Mound of Keeping it in Bounds is my favorite type of player – a heavy dude who can play.

21. Geoff Russell

Zach Johnson

Creeping up on 40 but he has another major in him and a legit shot to get into the Hall of Fame.

22. Kristi Setaro

Harris English

At 24, the Bulldog is just beginning to make his mark. He’s smart with the right demeanor and talent to add wins.

23. Bailey Mosier

Gary Woodland

He’s healthy, working with Butch Harmon, recently engaged and proved last year he’s just getting warmed up.

24. Matt Ginella

Brooks Koepka

Known for being Peter Uihlein’s roommate on Euro Challenge Tour. Within the next year roles will reverse.

25. Alan Robison

Phil Mickelson

Who’s more likely to win a major: Phil or most of the names in the previous eight spots on this list?

26. Scott Rude

Sergio Garcia

Has earned over $100 million off course with nine top-5s in majors. More maturity now after a humbling 2013.

27. George Savaricas

Victor Dubuisson

Just turned 24 and finished sixth last year in Race to Dubai. Could become the first Frenchman to win a major.

28. Damon Hack

Chesson Hadley

Already a PGA Tour winner with a terrific attitude and tons of upside.

29. Jason Sobel

Matteo Manassero

Took him in this draft two years ago and I’ve had no regrets since. Sticking with him.

30. Steve Burkowski

Peter Uihlein

Former No. 1-ranked junior and amateur, Rookie of the Year on Euro Tour, inside top 100 in the world.

31. John Hawkins

Scott Stallings

Any three-time Tour winner under age 30 available this late, you take him. Unless it’s Anthony Kim.

32. Will Gray

Keegan Bradley

Took him at 13 when we did this two years ago, so there’s certainly value at the 32nd pick. He’s only 27.

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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

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

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”