Expert Picks: WGC-Accenture Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2013, 7:45 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads to Dove Mountain Golf Club in Marana, Ariz. for the season's first WGC event. Hunter Mahan defends his title against 63 of the world's best in single-elimination match play format. 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 includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner. They will also be joined by former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm Macdonald, who will serve as a celebrity guest throughout the fantasy season.


Randall Mell

Jones Bracket: Charl Schwartzel: Liking his form after following up a 2nd at the Joburg Open with a T-3 showing at Riviera.

Hogan Bracket: Matt Kuchar: Match play brings out his best, and it will again this week.

Player Bracket: Tiger Woods: Looked formidable winning at Torrey Pines, and all the pieces appear to be coming together.

Snead Bracket: Luke Donald: That wonderful short game will wear out his opponents.

Final Prediction: Donald over Kuchar


Jason Sobel

Jones: Ryan Moore: Former U.S. Amateur champion is obviously proficient in the match play format, and has been playing some very good golf so far this season.

Hogan: Nicolas Colaserts: My bracket has a Colsaerts-Garrigus matchup on Saturday morning. If it happens, bring your binoculars.

Player: Tiger Woods: Truth be told, I don't love him in this event - but I really don't love his bracket. Easily the weakest of the four.

Snead: Scott Piercy: Sure, Ian Poulter is the popular pick, but Piercy hits bombs and plays his best golf in the desert. Watch out.

Final Prediction: Moore over Woods


Win McMurry

Jones: Charl Schwartzel: He has finished in the top-five in all of his last five worldwide starts, including winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship in mid-December. He’s 5-4 at Dove Mountain, yet all four of his losses went at least 18 holes. The toughest match before the semi-finals could be Ryan Moore in the third round. His best recent match play result was making it to the quarter-finals in 2011 Volvo World Match Play.

Hogan: Justin Rose: He tied for second at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and has stayed hot now for months contending at big events, including a T3 at the PGA Championship and T5 at the Bridgestone Invitational last year. He was knocked out in the first round last year, but has made it to the quarterfinals before, back in 2007. He went 2-2-0 at Medinah closing Sunday with three consecutive birdies to beat Phil Mickelson. I believe he’ll channel those feelings this week.

Player: Tiger Woods: Tiger has struggled here recently without making it past round two since he won in 2008. Tiger is back in form, coming off his win at Torrey Pines and he has the best record here, 33-9. Despite not winning a full point for the Americans at the Ryder Cup (0-3-1), he comes into the week after playing golf with the President. If he needs any confidence boost, or reminder of who he is, he has it.

Snead: Luke Donald: He’ll put Michael Jordan’s mind-game techniques to work this week as he tries to capture his second match play title here in three years. Last year as the top seed he went out in the first round, but the year before he won it all. He’s 16-7 in the event. His toughest opponent may be Ian Poulter.

Final Prediction: Woods over Rose  


Ryan Lavner

Jones: Charl Schwartzel: It'd be foolish to ignore his scalding-hot record over the last seven worldwide starts: T3-2-1-1-2-T3-5. With Rory out of the way early - I have him losing to Fowler in the second round - Schwartzel will have little resistance in reaching the Final Four.

Hogan: Justin Rose: This is one of the deepest brackets, so the road to the semis could be an arduous one for Rose. But I see the Englishman squeaking by Keegan Bradley to set up a date in the Final Four.

Player: Tiger Woods: Yes, Tiger is in great form, as he showed at Torrey Pines and, reportedly, in an 18-hole duel with the Leader of the Free World. But Tiger has a relatively easy path to the semis, and I see him only needing to get past Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan to reach it.

Snead: Ian Poulter: Can't bail on the match-play maven, at least not yet. Even with the extended layoff, I expect Poults to be sharp at Dove Mountain, where he won in 2010. He'll take down Luke Donald in the quarterfinals to reach the Final Four.

Final Prediction: Woods over Schwartzel 

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain fired a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).


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Local favorite Yu Liu was in sole possession of seventh place after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


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"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


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"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.