Expert Picks: BMW Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 4, 2012, 10:30 pm

This week the FedEx Cup playoffs continue with the BMW Championship from Crooked Stick GC. Justin Rose defends the title he won last year over John Senden at Cog Hill outside Chicago. 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;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Tiger Woods: I'm sticking with him. He may not win, but he'll contend.

Group 2: Justin Rose: He won the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier this year, so I'll pick him to do well in another tournament sponsored by a car manufacturer.

Group 3: John Senden: I have a buddy that's told me all year that Senden was going to win an event this year. There isn't much time left.

Group 4: Kevin Stadler: Check out his record the last two weeks. Not sure he'll keep it up, but it's worth the gamble.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: His Ryder Cup selection merely validates his good form of late. With a T-3 and a T-4 in his past two starts, respectively, and with the big ballpark at Crooked Stick, there's little reason to suggest that D.J.'s hot play won't continue.

Group 2: Keegan Bradley: With his regular caddie on the bag for the last two rounds at TPC Boston, Bradley shot 63-69 to record a T-13 finish - his third top 15 in his past four starts.

Group 3: Jeff Overton: Crooked Stick is a bit of an unknown for players - except, of course, for the Indiana product. As long as he doesn't try too hard to dazzle the hometown fans, Overton has a chance to build on last week's T-7 finish.

Group 4: J.B. Holmes: His driving distance may be down this year (310 yards per pop), but the Kentuckian still bombs it. That should set up well at rain-softened Crooked Stick, where big hitters will dominate. 

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: With the weight of making captain Davis Love III's U.S. Ryder Cup team off his shoulders, he can free-wheel it at an event he has won before - although that BMW was on a much different (read: longer) track in Cog Hill.

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: The claw/saw putting grip has rejuvenated Lefty, as evidenced by his tie for fourth at TPC Boston and his fourth-place showing in the all-important strokes gained putting category.

Group 3: Greg Chalmers: Australian told his swing coach last week not to worry about coming out to Crooked Stick because he is 'striping it.' At 36th on the FedEx Cup points list, he needs one more solid week to earn his first trip to the Tour Championship.

Group 4: Chris Kirk: He played his way into the BMW with steady finishes at the first two playoff stops (T-46 at The Barclays and T-35 at Deutsche Bank) and hasn't missed a cut since the Greenbrier Classic.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Adam Scott: I picked him to win the FedEx Cup, so at some point that's got to mean a tournament win, too.

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: Finally starting to peak again, thanks to his new claw putting grip.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: Playing some inspired golf over the final two months of the season.

Group 4: Graham DeLaet: Needs one more big push to get into the Tour Championship and claim a spot in the first three majors next year.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Tiger Woods: One of the things that motivates Tiger the most is being the best. In his eyes, he was just beaten by his biggest rival who is making his youthful stake on being the best player in the world. Tiger bites into Rory's moment in the sun with a win this week and a claim that he is still the best in the game.

Group 2: Jim Furyk: He can breathe a sigh of relief this week after getting a nod from Captain Love. With that security, Furyk crushes all doubt surrounding his captain's pick by showing up big at the BMW. Plus, he's proven he's playing well - see his T-13 last week, as well as strong stats for hitting fairways and greens all year long.

Group 3: John Senden: Coming in off a solo 12th place in Boston, which makes it five of seven top-20 finishes this summer. He's 26th in the standings so he knows he needs to keep up his good play to make it to Atlanta and reap all the benefits of a Tour Championship berth.

Group 4: Kevin Stadler: Back-to-back ties for tenth place make Stadler a no-brainer in Group 4. He's on a hot streak and there is no better time to have one than the playoffs. Look for him to ride the wave into the Tour Championship.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Even though Rory McIlroy deserves the investment, I'm hedging for the mere fact that it's rare to win in consecutive weeks. In his consistent attack, Woods had only four bogeys all week at the Deutsche Bank and finished third. 

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: The tinkering is paying dividends. Using the claw grip at TPC Boston, Mickelson finished fourth in strokes gained putting and placed T-4 on the final leaderboard. His sublime short game should also serve him well at Crooked Stick.

Group 3: John Senden: Never sexy, but always steady. Tee-to-green proficiency has led to a pair of top-20 finishes in the playoffs. Overall, he's logged 11 top-25 finishes among 17 paydays. Crafted his schedule early in the year to focus on the biggest events. 

Group 4: J.B. Holmes: While tempted here by Kevin Stadler - one of four golfers with top 10s in both postseason events - I've read that Crooked Stick caters to long hitters, a philosophy that no doubt has roots in John Daly's annihilation of the track in the 1991 PGA Championship. While the jury remains out if that's an accurate statement this time around, this is the perfect spot to hop on a bomber's bandwagon.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.