Expert Picks: Humana Challenge

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 18, 2012, 3:07 pm

GolfChannel.com experts offer up their fantasy choices for the Humana Challenge. 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: Bill Haas: Coachella Valley is like a second home for the FedEx Cup champion, having finished 2-1 in consecutive years at the Humana Challenge.

Group 2: Ryan Palmer: Has a solid record at the Humana having finished fourth last year and a fairways-and-greens game that fits this year's rotation.

Group 3: Brendon de Jonge: Sunday 71 derailed his chances at the Sony Open, but could give Virginia Tech back-to-back winners if he continues to putt like he did in Hawaii.

Group 4: Brendon Todd: Different courses, same golf in a dome. Todd took medalist honors in December at Q-School and finished T-13 in his debut last week in Hawaii.


Gary Williams

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Finished runner-up here in 2010 en route to the PGA Tour money title, and finished T-7 here last year. Kuchar has showed that he can play well in the desert and I think he will do so again.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Following his runner-up finish last week in the Sony Open, he seems ready to play strong this week at an event where he finished T-6 in 2002 and T-13 in 2011.

Group 3: Kyle Stanley: Finished 34th on the 2011 FedEx Cup points list in his rookie year. After a T-23 last week he comes in a little under the radar, but that is not a bad place to be.

Group 4: Brendon Todd: Got off to a great start in 2012 last week with a T-13 finish and is making his first appearance in the Humana Challenge.


Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Over the last two years, Kuchar has played well here as he finished runner-up in 2010 and T-7 in 2011. After a consistent but winless 2011, would love to start his year off with a win.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Got off to the start that I thought he would last week - well, almost. I think his strong recent play will push him up the leaderboard this week as he seeks his first win in five years.

Group 3: Brian Gay: Has improved his finish here over each of the last five years, going T-53, T-38, T-19, T-15 and T-5. At the Sony Open last week, he finished T-6 for his first top-10 on Tour in six months.

Group 4: Vaughn Taylor: 6 Humana Challenge starts, 6 cuts made with a pair of top-10 finishes. He is motivated after returning to Q-School in 2011 to get his Tour card back.


Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Bill Haas: In the last two years, Haas was a winner (2010) and a playoff runner-up ('11).

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Finished T-2 last week and was T-8 in greens in regulation and in strokes gained putting.

Group 3: Kyle Stanley: Hits the ball long and makes a lot of birdies. Young guns are on a roll in winning here.

Group 4: Chris DiMarco: He was T-13 at Waialae and I've got an inkling on him.


Jay Coffin

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: My hunch is a lot of people will take Bill Haas, but Kuchar has been on fire here the last two years.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Name jumped out at me in this group. He's going to win this year at some point.

Group 3: Ricky Barnes: The dude makes a ton of birdies, which is what you need around here to hang.

Group 4: Briny Baird: No real reason. In this group you're just looking for someone to make the cut.


Win McMurry

Group 1: Bill Haas: The FedEx Cup champ tied for second last year in his title defense in La Quinta. He tied for 20th at Kapalua, but is the early Tour leader in driving accuracy AND greens in regulation.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Couple the fact he's coming in hot off a T-2 at the Sony Open with his T-13 last year, and this could be the sight of his first win this decade.

Group 3: Brian Gay: His game looks good after tying for sixth last week in Hawaii. He also has finished inside the top-20 here for the last three years, including T-5 last year.

Group 4: Vaughn Taylor: He's a recent newlywed which, for Bill Haas, worked out quite splendidly last year on Tour. Taylor has been consistent here in the past with top-25s in three of his last four starts.


Rob Bolton

Group 1: Bill Haas: One of those times when I'm forced to play defense. Haas has been a monster at PGA West.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: He continues to thrive after a runner-up finish at the Sony.

Group 3: Kyle Stanley: Too many great fits to mention but I'm thrilled that he's in Group 3.

Group 4: Bill Lunde: Going for value here. Lunde makes tons of cuts and has two top-15s in three starts here.

Getty Images

Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

Getty Images

Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

Getty Images

Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

Getty Images

Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."