Expert Picks: Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 25, 2012, 2:30 pm

This is a double week for fantasy players! GolfChannel.com experts offer up their fantasy choices below for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and their selections for the Farmers Insurance Open can be seen 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, 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: Martin Kaymer: On Wednesday a media official only half-jokingly welcomed the German to the 'Martin Kaymer Golf Championship.' The guy owns Abu Dhabi.

Group 2: Francesco Molinari: It seems like one of the Molinaris are always in the hunt in Europe and according to the schedule it's Francesco's turn.

Group 3: Tom Lewis: Young Tom is a star-in-waiting and this would be a solid week for him to take his next step.

Group 4: Pablo Martin: Three starts in Abu Dhabi and he's only made one cut, but he seems like he's due.


Gary Williams

Group 1: Martin Kaymer: 3 wins in the last 4 years here, a runner-up finish the other year, top-11 finishes in 4 of his last 4 worldwide starts...need I say more?

Group 2: Pablo Larrazabal: Earned his 2nd career European Tour win last year and also finished 11th in Abu Dhabi. While many are looking at Alvaro Quiros, I am paying attention to this Spaniard.

Group 3: Tom Lewis: If Bud Cauley is the hot young talent on the PGA Tour in 2012, it can easily be argued that Lewis plays that role on the European Tour this year. Can definitely make a big splash if he plays well here.

Group 4: Chris Wood: This young man who made his name through a couple top-5 finishes in the Open Championship still seeks his first career European Tour win. Has a pair of top-25 finishes in two appearances in Abu Dhabi.


Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Martin Kaymer: I know that Tiger Woods is in the field, but when you have someone who has gone 1st-2nd-1st-1st in the last four years, how can you not pick the guy?

Group 2: Alexander Noren: I am very bullish on Noren to make the Ryder Cup team this year. Does not have a great record at Abu Dhabi but he is motivated this year and someone worth taking a chance on.

Group 3: Branden Grace: Lack of experience means nothing to me when you are winning. Grace is playing against a very strong field but I think he is up to the challenge.

Group 4: Gareth Maybin: Finished T-5 here in 2011 for his best finish on the European Tour last year. This is his first start of 2012 and Abu Dhabi has some good vibes for Maybin.


Win McMurry

Group 1: Martin Kaymer: He dominates this event. Three wins since 2008, including a complete decimation of the field last year.

Group 2: Francesco Molinari: Strong history here with top-10s in two of the last three starts.

Group 3: Rafael Cabrera-Bello: The Spaniard finished 7th last year by turning it on over the weekend. Plus, I really like saying his name.

Group 4: Chris Wood: The 24-year-old Englishman has a pair of top-25 finishes in his first two appearances in this event.


Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Martin Kaymer: Three wins in Abu Dhabi in the last four years. Seems like a no-brainer.

Group 2: Padraig Harrington: Taking a bit of a leap of faith, but Harrington plays well in Abu Dhabi.

Group 3: Branden Grace: The winning streak has to stop sometime, but Grace now has a modest chance to get to Augusta National.

Group 4: Chris Wood: He has top-25 finishes here in each of the last two seasons.


Jay Coffin

Group 1: Luke Donald: Tempted to take TW, but will stick with the consistency.

Group 2: Matteo Manassero: Hope the youngster makes waves in a stud field.

Group 3: Branden Grace: Hottest player in the world is in Group 3. Good enough for me.

Group 4: Chris Wood: This guy has underachieved in his career. Hoping for lightning in a bottle.


Randall Mell

Group 1: Martin Kaymer: The man's high score in his last 10 rounds at Abu Dhabi is a 67. His stock fade is perfect there.

Group 2: Francesco Molinari: Two top-10s in his last three starts at Abu Dhabi. The kid's got game.

Group 3: Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Young Spaniard finished seventh at Abu Dhabi last year.

Group 4: Chris Wood: Former European Tour Rookie of the Year should be ready for a move up in class. Twice, he finished runner-up a year ago.


Rob Bolton

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: Top-fives in seven of his last eight starts, including two victories.

Group 2: Nicolas Colsaerts: Cracked radius in his right elbow has since healed. Finished one stroke outside of the playoff at the Volvo Golf Champions earlier this month.

Group 3: Branden Grace: Gunning to become the first to win three straight events on the European Tour since Seve Ballesteros in 1986.

Group 4: Anders Hansen: Seems like a mistake to slot No. 38 in the world in this group, but I won't second-guess.


You can watch complete coverage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship live Wednesday on Golf Channel from 10PM-3:30AM ET and Thursday-Sunday on from 4-8AM ET.

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'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”