Expert Picks: 2014 Shriners Open

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This week marks the second event of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season, as players head to TPC Summerlin for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and John Antonini; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Ryan Moore: The Las Vegas resident was on Tom Watson's short list for a captain's pick thanks to his play this summer, and the 2012 champion lives by the local credo - what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. In Moore's case, the trophy that is awarded in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Group 2: Brooks Koepka: He battled through jetlag last week to finish tied for eighth at the Frys.com Open, and fatigue may be an issue this week but until he slows his prolific pace, it's hard not to pick him.

Group 3: Martin Laird: Although he endured the second-worst season of his career in 2013-14, he opened with a solid T-3 last week in Napa and has finished first or second in Las Vegas in 2009 and '10, respectively.

Group 4: Andres Gonzales: Although he stumbled with a second-round 74 in the season opener last week, the product of UNLV is another local favorite who may be in form at the perfect time.


Jason Sobel

Group 1: Ryan Moore: He lives in Vegas, he went to school in Vegas. If there's one player who won't be distracted by the glitz and glam of Sin City this week, it's Moore.

Group 2: Kevin Na: After enjoying one of the best seasons for any player who didn't win in 2013-14, it would be surprising if Na didn't tally a victory this time around.

Group 3: Martin Laird: Sticking with the hot hand here, as Laird is fresh off a strong performance at last week's season-opening Frys.com Open.

Group 4: Jhonattan Vegas: Sorry, I couldn't resist. It would be too good. Just think of the marketing possibilities, and remember: What happens to Vegas, stays with Vegas.


John Antonini

Group 1: Ryan Moore: The former UNLV player still lives in Las Vegas, and townies have shown a tendency to play well in the Shriners. Moore won in 2012 and also had a top-10 finish at TPC Summerlin a year ago.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: In seven of the eight previous seasons, Howell has had at least one top-10 finish in his first or second start of the year. The only time he missed was 2011, when he was T-68 and T-13 in his first two events. Given that he was T-71 at the Frys.com Open last week, he's a good bet to bounce back in Las Vegas, where he has four previous top 10s and was T-5 in 2013.

Group 3: Martin Laird: Laird didn't have a very good season in 2014, but he did open the new season with a T-3 finish in Napa a week ago. Couple that with a strong history in Las Vegas - a win in 2009 and a playoff loss in 2010 - and he's a player to watch.

Group 4: Jon Curran: If you're going to gamble on someone from this group, why not a player who began his PGA Tour career on a solid note at the Fry's (T-8). He shouldn't have too much trouble with TPC Summerlin the first time around, even if he can't get any pointers from his buddy Keegan Bradley, who has never played Vegas.