Expert picks: FedEx St. Jude Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 5, 2012, 8:00 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads to Memphis, where players will have one final chance to fine-tune their game before next week's U.S. Open. Harrison Frazar defends his title against a field that includes Zach Johnson, David Toms and Rory McIlroy. 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' host Gary Williams; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.



Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Zach Johnson: Won at Colonial and has a pair of runner-up finishes in his last four starts. Sold.

Group 2: Bob Estes: Former champion in this event; he was T-8 here just two years ago. Plus he just got into the U.S. Open.

Group 3: Kyle Reifers: Reifers has been in the top 25 in his last two starts. He tends to hover around par, which is good for the tough sledding in Memphis.

Group 4: Nathan Green: Sleeper special of the week. Missed three cuts this year, but in the top 25 in Memphis the last two years.


Win McMurry

Group 1: Graeme McDowell: GMac has only played here once before, but that resulted in a T-7 finish in 2009. He has been streaky this season, but I expect a high finish from a guy who has been known to play some pretty good golf in June in years past.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: A fantasy stud earlier this year, Howell has struggled a bit recently. He's returning to a course where he finished T-3 last year, though, and I expect him to return to his money-making ways this week at TPC Southwind.

Group 3: Davis Love III: The U.S. Ryder Cup captain is riding a wave of momentum into Memphis this week. A strong finish at the Memorial was followed by a great performance on Monday to qualify for the U.S. Open, and I expect DL3's strong play to continue for at least another week.

Group 4: Jason Bohn: Showed flashes of brilliance last month en route to a T-9 finish at the Byron Nelson, and his ability to find the fairway (currently 20th on Tour in driving accuracy) should pay dividends this week.


Gary Williams

Group 1: Robert Karlsson: I know he hasn't had the best season but he returns to a course where he has finished runner-up each of the last two years. I think that this is a great chance for him to get his season back on track.

Group 2: Bob Estes: Estes has quietly put up a solid 2012 season and has always played well here in Memphis, with a win in 2001 and seven top-10 finishes in 23 starts. He is a bit under the radar but with a win this week, he won't be there anymore. 

Group 3: Tim Herron: Herron earned a spot in the field at Olympic Club this week and will be teeing it up on a course where he finished T-3 last year. In 14 starts in Memphis, Lumpy has three top-10s and has missed the cut just once.

Group 4: Stephen Ames: Ames has played well in Memphis the last two years, finishing T-15 in 2010 and T-8 in 2011. He enters this week having missed the cut in his last three starts but Tuesday's U.S. Open qualifier performance may have gotten him back to where he needs to be.



Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Zach Johnson: Not a lot of history in Memphis - he's only played the event three times - but in his last four starts he's finished second, T-69, second and first. That's trending.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Improved with each round last year on his way to a tie for third at TPC Southwind (72-67-67-66) and has been as consistent as anyone this season.

Group 3: Davis Love III: The U.S. Ryder Cup captain went on an Ohio tear last week, finishing T-16 at the Memorial for his best showing this season and enduring 36 holes of qualifying on Monday across town to earn a spot in next week's U.S. Open.

Group 4: Shaun Micheel: Hometown event has not always been his most successful stop, but he has had some success at TPC Southwind and is in need of something positive.




Randall Mell

Group 1: Robert Karlsson: The man is due after losing in a playoff at this event the last two years.

Group 2: Henrik Stenson: He hasn't brought the comeback all the way home yet, but he's knocking on the door.

Group 3: Justin Leonard: His form's not good, but there are good vibes in Memphis where he won in 2008.

Group 4: John Peterson: The kid has the moxie to go to the U.S. Open off a win in Memphis.




Rob Bolton

Group 1: Zach Johnson: The only obvious choice in the entire field. Won at Colonial two weeks ago, and posted a pair of seconds in three starts prior to that. Also has a pair of top-15s at TPC Southwind.

Group 2: Tim Clark: Wielded a taut tee-to-green game en route to a share of 19th place at Colonial, his second consecutive top-25 finish. That kind of game sets up nicely for TPC Southwind, where he's recorded top-30s in his last two trips.

Group 3: Davis Love III: Hope to strike while this iron is hot. A day after tying for 16th at Muirfield Village - his third top-25 in his last six starts - he comfortably secured a berth into the U.S. Open at the sectional qualifier in Columbus.

Group 4: Jason Bohn: If I weren't leading the Experts, I'd take a flier on open qualifier John Peterson, but I'll stick with the veteran Bohn. He led the field in fairways at the Byron Nelson where he posted a T-9 finish. Also was medalist at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Georgia on Monday.

**Join Fantasy Expert Rob Bolton for a live golf chat Wednesday at 12:00p ET at www.rotoworld.com**

Tune in to Golf Channel this Thursday-Friday from 3-6PM ET for live coverage of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Getty Images

Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

Getty Images

Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”

Getty Images

Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:33 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.

Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.

“Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”

One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.

“When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “It’s going to be a true test, and we’ll get to see really who’s hitting it the best and playing the best.”

Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.

This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.

“It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”