Fantasy Island The Masters

By Rex HoggardApril 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
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There are almost as many storylines as there are contenders heading into the seasons first mens major. Tiger Woods returns to the Grand Slam arena for the first time since Torrey Pines, Phil Mickelson has given the golf world a glimpse of what could be on Sunday, and Padraig Harrington ' in case anyone noticed ' is eyeing his third consecutive major.
 
For the Masters edition of Fantasy Island, we will keep things simple, with each of our experts making a win, place and show pick, with only our winners earnings being applied to the season-long race.
 


 
Win: Tim Clark. Check the card the last two trips around Augusta National, the additional length may seem to favor the bombers but its been the plodders who have ruled. Last year Trevor Immelman was 1, 2 and 4 ' fairways hit, greens in regulation and putting. In 2007, Zach Johnson had a similar card, going 2nd, 4th and 10th. Clark ranks 8th in driving accuracy; 6th in GIR, 18th in putts per GIR and his runner-up finish in 2006 proved he can play the place.
 
Place: Tiger Woods. Because hes Tiger Woods and because since the 1997 clinic hes finished outside the top 5 just four times. The comeback is over, the only question is whether Woods can solve the mysteries of the overhauled Augusta National? Since the 2002 changes, Woods is 2-for-7 at the Masters. Thats a career for most players, for Woods its a curiosity.
 
Show: Mathew Goggin. Every year we pick an Australian and every we are disappointed. Geoff Ogilvy seems to have the game for Augusta National but expectations may have gotten the best of him. Goggin is playing well and could dive in under the radar to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller to win his first Masters.
 
Lagniappe (A little something extra): Bookmakers in the United Kingdom come up with the best side-action, so why not apply that ingenuity to the years first major?
 
Low Singh: Vijay, he is struggling right now, but Augusta seems to bring out the best in him.
 
Low Johnson: Would have considered Dustin before last weeks DUI. But then Zach is hardly a stretch. He was solid at Bay Hill and has a little history in Georgia.
 
Low Hansen: Normally we have two or three too pick from, but this year Soren is it.
 
In addition to my picks, the GolfChannel.com staff will be offering up their picks. A player can be picked to win a maximum of five times. We will be keeping a running tally of the monies earned each week. The participants include: Jay Coffin, Editorial Director; Mercer Baggs, Editorial Manager; Brian Koressel, Senior Producer; Dena Davis, Assistant Editor; Erik Peterson, Travel Editor; Jerry Foltz, special contributor.
 
STAFF PICKS:


NamePlayer PickReasonMoney
Rex HoggardWinner:
Tim Clark
Check the card the last two trips around Augusta National, the additional length may seem to favor the bombers but its been the plodders like Tim Clark, who have ruled. $1,719,550
Contender:
Tiger Woods
Because hes Tiger Woods and because since the 1997 clinic hes finished outside the top 5 just four times.
Dark Horse:
Mathew Goggin
Goggin is playing well and could dive in under the radar to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller to win his first Masters.
Jay CoffinWinner:
Tiger Woods
Havent picked him to win in each of his three starts so now is a good time use him at a place where hes a dead solid lock to at least finish in the top 10.$3,362,752
Contender:
Padraig Harrington
Has anyone gone for three consecutive majors with less fanfare? That plays to Harringtons advantage at a place where hes played well the past two years (T-7, T-5).
Dark Horse:
Nick Watney
Hes played so well that maybe he shouldnt be considered a darkhorse. But he did tie for 11th last year and has been a stud during the first quarter of the season this year.
Mercer BaggsWinner:
Tiger Woods
Id love to go against the grain and take someone else. But cant go against Tiger this week.$2,927,785
Contender:
Ian Poulter
Hell probably play well early and then sneak in a top-10 finish.

Dark Horse:
Andres Romero
This guy always seems to show up near the top of a leaderboard in a major.
Erik PetersonWinner:
Tiger Woods
Tiger is putting with confidence heading into Augusta. Scary.$2,415,517
Contender:
Phil Mickelson
Hes had an up-and-down season so far, but has rallied when it counts.

Dark Horse:
Danny Lee
With the teen phenom hype deflected by Ishikawa, cool-as-ice Lee will hearken back to Bobby Jones.
Brian KoresselWinner:
Geoff Ogilvy
In his return, Greg Norman garners the spotlight on the eve of the Masters and then fellow Aussie Ogilvy steals the spotlight from Tiger and Phil come Sunday evening.$3,037,258
Contender:
Lee Westwood
Flying in under the radar somewhat, look for the Englishman to be high on the leaderboard at the end of the tournament.
Dark Horse:
Nick Watney
A darkhorse probably only in the eyes of the general golfing public, Watney has quietly put together a very solid start to 2009.
Dena DavisWinner:
Tiger Woods
Pick a reason, any reason to take the man. This is like a choose-your-own-adventure book and any script ends with Woods winning his fifth green jacket.$2,330,559
Contender:
Zach Johnson
The surprise '07 Masters winner will contend again, and it shouldn't be a surprise this time. He's a great putter and he goes into Augusta with a win and five top-20s under his belt this season.
Dark Horse:
Stewart Cink
Stewie's a darkhorse simply due to his quiet '09 season. But you have to love that the Georgia local hasn't finished out of the top-20 in the last five Masters, including a T3 last year.
Jerry FoltzWinner:
Geoff Ogilvy
My pick to win for the second week in a row ' and despite the stumble on Sunday in Houston ' I still think he's the only one other than Tiger that makes sense.$1,771,979
Contender:
Kenny Perry
Why not? He hits a draw, has a tendency to get hot with the putter, and it's even a major he's going to play.
Dark Horse:
Tim Clark
I guess Phil and Tiger would be rejected as long-shots by my editorial review board at Golfchannel.com, so I'll go with Tim Clark. Regardless of the stats that my friend Rex Hoggard offers, I still think he's a long-shot.

 

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  • Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    Cook was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back.

    Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:12 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018

    Those plans changed after a few weeks.

    “What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.

    “Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.

    Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.

    The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.

    “I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.

    S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale

    By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2017, 9:58 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Park kept right on attacking.

    The 24-year-old from South Korea added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with a 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap off an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.

    ''To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,'' Park said through an interpreter. ''After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.''

    Leave that to the players chasing her.

    Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and was three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    More importantly, none of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.

    Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.

    So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed a 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.

    The other two players who need to win the tournament to collect the $1 million bonus also had their work cut out for them. Brooke Henderson had another 70 and was eight shots behind, while world No. 1 Shanshan Feng shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.

    Park was in control, only she didn't see it that way.

    ''I don't think it's quite that far of a lead,'' Park said. ''Two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. We will have to see what's in store for this weekend.''

    Park began her big run with an 18-foot birdie on No. 5, got up-and-down for birdie from just off the green at the par-5 sixth, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts from 8 feet and 15 feet.

    ''I actually didn't know that I was going five birdies in a row,'' Park said. ''Come hole No. 10, I realized that I hadn't been jotting down my scores as diligently, and so I realized it a little bit later on. And it felt great.''

    That gave her the lead by one shot over Suzann Pettersen, except that Pettersen faded badly on the back nine.

    Pettersen dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch by getting out of position off the tee and she shot 39 on the back nine for a 70 to fall five shots behind.

    ''I feel like I'm playing good,'' Pettersen said. ''Three bad drives on the back nine cost me four shots. That should not be possible on this course, where the fairways are about 100 yards wide.''

    Park was honored at an awards banquet Thursday night as the LPGA rookie of the year. Now, she has more awards in her sights. A victory would give her the award for player of the year. She would capture the money title, which she leads over Ryu. And depending on how the weekend goes, she might be able to surpass Thompson in the race for the Vare Trophy.

    Thompson did well to recover from two bogeys on her opening three holes.

    ''I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn't a good start to the round,'' Thompson said. ''Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes.''

    Lydia Ko fell six shots behind in her bid to avoid a winless season. She was one shot behind going into the second round but managed only three birdies in her round of 71.

    Park, meanwhile, had everything going her way. Even when she pulled her drive on the par-5 14th into a sandy area with a root next to her ball, she picked it clear and sent it through a goal post of trees back to the fairway. Three holes later, she blasted a drive and had only a 7-iron into the green at the par-5 17th, which she hit to 30 feet and made the long putt.

    Does anything make her nervous?

    ''I hate spiders,'' she said. ''But in terms of golf, I always get nervous to this day on the first tee. I can feel my heart pounding.''

    It's a feeling that doesn't appear to last very long.