Expert Picks: Farmers Insurance Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 25, 2012, 3:00 pm

This is a double week for our fantasy players! experts offer up their fantasy choices below for the Farmers Insurance Open, and their choices for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship can be viewed here. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, GC 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' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Nick Watney: Finished in the top 10 in four of his last five starts at Torrey Pines, including 2009's victory, and of Butch Harmon's deep stable of players he may be due for the best season.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: So much for a slow return from the DL. Snedeker tied for eighth in his first event since hip surgery last fall and has been close at Torrey Pines before (T-2 in 2010).

Group 3: Steve Marino: Arguably the best member without a PGA Tour title and Torrey's poa greens mitigate his sometimes pedestrian short game.

Group 4: Harris English:  The rookie is 2-for-2 in cuts made this season and continues to have the look of a breakout star.

Gary Williams

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: Despite a T-49 last week, when you have a 3-time Farmers champion who has 39 wins on Tour and was runner-up last year, you can't bet against him. I certainly won't this week.

Group 2: Spencer Levin: Played well at Torrey Pines the last two years, finishing T-22 in 2010 and T-20 in 2011. If he can keep up his good play on the weekend, watch out.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Playing very well in 2012 with a pair of top-12 finishes and coming to a place where he has a pair of top-10 finishes in the last two years. Following his 5th place finish in 2011, he went on to win at Pebble Beach.

Group 4: Bud Cauley: With all he has done in the last year, Cauley seems like the can't miss kid of the 2012 Tour. Seeking to turn his 2012 start from good to great with a high finish at Torrey Pines.

Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Nick Watney: The 2009 Farmers champion has played quite well at Torrey Pines recently. He followed up his win in 2009 with a T-9 in 2010 and a T-6 in 2011, closing last year with a final-round 63.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Someone who likes Torrey Pines, as evidenced by some strong finishes in recent years. When he is playing well, Snedeker can be a consistent contender and he is playing well right now.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Not only has he played well at Torrey Pines (T-9 in 2010 and 5th in 2011), but he has also gotten off to a great start in 2012 with a T-12 at Kapalua and a T-6 at the Sony Open.

Group 4: Bud Cauley: Off to a good start in 2012 with a T-29 at the Sony Open and a T-30 in the Humana Challenge. While the start has been good, he knows and I know that he is capable and ready to do more.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Nick Watney: The obvious choice at Torrey Pines, where he has three straight top-10s including a win in 2009 and a T-6 finish last year, closing in style with a 63.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Another American coming off his best year as a pro. His runner-up, T-3 and T-9 finishes in five career trips to Torrey Pines make him impossible to overlook.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Points is a player with great value down the board. He's got a pair of top-10s in his last two Farmers events and is coming off a pair of solid finishes in Hawaii.

Group 4: Bud Cauley: How can you not love this guy? Swagger, youth and major game. He comes into Torrey with some confidence and momentum after a T-30 last week.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Nick Watney: Watney won here in 2009 and has finished inside of the top 10 here in four of his last five starts.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Off to a good start this year, he has three top-10 finishes at Torrey in his last four starts.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Hitting greens is crucial to success at Torrey and Points ranks T-5 in GIR so far this season.

Group 4: Bud Cauley: The guy is on fire. What a steal to have him in Group 4.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Nick Watney: Picked him in Week 1 and it didn't work out. Sticking with him.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Like what I saw last week in the desert.

Group 3: Steve Marino: Best player without a PGA Tour win will win eventually. Right?

Group 4: Bud Cauley: Will pick this guy in Group 4 every time.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Nick Watney: Won at Torrey Pines in 2009, one of four top-10 finishes in his seven starts there.

Group 2: Ben Crane: The guy's rolling with a couple top 10s already this season. Plus, he's a former winner at Torrey Pines (2010).

Group 3: D.A. Points: Good start this year (T-6 at Sony) and a good record at Torrey Pines (back-to-back top 10s).

Group 4: Troy Matteson: After back-to-back MCs to start the season, it's time for Mr. Matteson to pick it up. Top 10 at Torrey Pines last year provides good vibes.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Nick Watney: Four top-10s in his last five appearances here, including a victory in 2009.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Shed the doubt over his hip surgery with a top-10 finish at the Humana. Three top-10s in his last five starts at Torrey Pines.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Pair of top-15s to start 2012 and has recorded top-10s at the Farmers each of the last two years.

Group 4: Bobby Gates: Shared eighth at the Humana with a pair of bogey-free rounds. Superb fit for Torrey Pines.

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below:

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Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

Made Cut

Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

Tweet of the week:

Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”

Missed Cut

Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

In a story first reported by, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.