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Expert Picks: Sony Open

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GolfChannel.com experts offer up their fantasy choices for the Sony Open. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; RotoWorld.com's Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: K.J. Choi: Won here in 2008, tied for fifth last week and was a rare bright spot for the International Team at the President's Cup.

Group 2: Davis Love III: Captain America may say he has no interest in playing this year's matches, but he burns to make another Ryder Cup team.

Group 3: Jimmy Walker: Fresh off his best year on Tour and finished fourth last year in Hawaii.

Group 4: Jason Bohn: Plenty of experience at Waialae and looking for a rebound year. Plus he still may be celebrating Alabama's win in the BCS Championship.


Jason Sobel

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Let's not over-think this; he contends every week. Take a sure thing when you can get it.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Five top-10s at Waialae in 10 career starts. That first Sony Open win is coming soon.

Group 3: Chad Campbell: Owns three finishes of 13th or better at this event in the last four years. The other time? He forgot to register.

Group 4: Billy Hurley: While stationed at Pearl Harbor, former Navy man played Waialae a handful of times.


Rob Bolton

Group 1: K.J. Choi: Hoping my competition leans on Steve Stricker and Webb Simpson here. Choi won the Sony in 2008.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Chalk. He's 10-for-10 with five top-fives here.

Group 3: Brian Gay: Top-25s in his last three trips to the Sony. Splits fairways and saves pars.

Group 4: Stephen Ames: Wide-open selection. Putting my stock in five top-20s in seven starts at Waialae.


Jay Coffin

Group 1: KJ Choi: He's won here, has three top-10s and played well at Kapalua last week.

Group 2: Mark Wilson: If the defending champ is in Group 2 I think you have to take a chance on him.

Group 3: Jason Kokrak: A lot of people are high on this rookie; we'll see what he's made of right away.

Group 4: Jason Bohn: No real strategy here, just a gut feeling.


Gary Williams

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Possibly the most consistent American in the world right now and recorded a solid third place finish last week at Kapalua.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Whenever you look at someone's record and see five top-fives in 10 starts, it is bound to get your attention.

Group 3: Cameron Tringale: Might be overlooked with two missed cuts at Waialae, but jumped from 179th to 68th on the money list in 2011 behind solid play.

Group 4: Russell Knox: First start of his rookie season after finishing 12th on the 2011 Nationwide Tour money list. Will look to start the next phase of his career strong.


Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Steve Stricker: Seems like a no-brainer. The man won last week and has played well at Waialae, with 6 top-10s in 12 Sony Open starts.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: After a solid 2011, Chuckie Three Sticks is looking for a hot start in 2012. This course seems to fit his eye.

Group 3: Brian Gay: Waialae CC is not a long course and requires driving accuracy and a strong short game. Gay seems to fit that bill.

Group 4: Russell Knox: After watching him in 2011, I know this guy can play and think he will get his PGA Tour career off to a great start this week.


 Win McMurry

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Surprised me with a nice finish at Kapalua. Combine that confidence with a little experience and I think Simpson will add another trophy to his quickly-growing collection.

Group 2: Steve Marino: Tough choice here but I give the edge to Marino based on his pure percentage of success here: three top-10s in four career starts.

Group 3: Chad Campbell: Solid record here with T-13 and T-8 finishes the last two years. He has two other top-10s here as well since 2006.

Group 4: Kyle Reifers: The Wake Forest grad doesn't have experience on his side, but does have the ability to hit fairways - a necessity this week and common thread among past champs.


Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Steve Stricker: Last week's winner has an outstanding record at Waialae, including three top-4 finishes in the last five years.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Since 2005, he has finished everywhere in the top 5 but first.

Group 3: Chad Campbell: Has a good track record at the Sony Open, and had his second-best finish here last season.

Group 4: Russell Knox: Got to the PGA Tour, in part, with a high-pressure win as a Nationwide Tour Monday qualifier. Lots of pressure this week, too.


Randall Mell

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Showed some terrific ball-striking in last week's T-3 finish at Hyundai. Putter should be warmed up this week to complete the mission.

Group 2: Kevin Na: Liked that 64 he put up in the second round at Kapalua. Also like his Sony showings of T-5 in 2009 and T-4 in 2008.

Group 3: Paul Goydos: His Sony victory five years ago still resonates despite three missed cuts since.

Group 4: Matt Bettencourt: That T-5 last year gets your attention, and he should have good vibes in his return this week.