Expert Picks: Hyundai TOC

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 1, 2013, 11:24 pm

This week marks the beginning of the 2013 PGA Tour season, as winners from the previous year have gathered in Kapalua for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. 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 includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Bubba Watson: No secret here, the Plantation Course at Kapalua is a bomber's paradise. The layout ranked second on the PGA Tour last year in longest drives, and Watson is the quintessential bomber. Enjoy the show.

Group 2: Steve Stricker: Although Stricker likely spent more time in a deer stand than on a practice tee this offseason, he won the opener last year and finished 2012 strong with an eighth-place finish at the World Challenge.

Group 3: Ian Poulter: No, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions did not transition to match play this year, although that would add a measure of intrigue to the opener. But Poults' Ryder Cup romp is still fresh, making the Englishman one of the game's most confident players.

Group 4: Jonas Blixt: He didn't win the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award, but he probably should have. Last year's Open winner is poised for a breakthrough season.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Keegan Bradley: Big hitter on a long course. Most guys limp into Kapalua cold; he'll be ready to go.

Group 2: Ryan Moore: Late-season win may give momentum to produce a big 2013, something we've been waiting on for a while.

Group 3: Scott Piercy: My pick for a breakthrough season and my pick to win this tournament. Watch out, there's lots of talent there.

Group 4: Marc Leishman: Ever since Stuart Appleby was winning here all the time, I've liked going with Aussies playing in what is naturally their summer.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Strong close to 2012, with top-11 finishes in each of his last three worldwide starts. Reason to like him at Kapalua, too - he was T-6 in 2011, solo third in '10.

Group 2: Steve Stricker: The 45-year-old is scaling back his 2013 schedule, but he wouldn't dare skip Kapalua. In his past four starts there, he has a win, a runner-up and two other top-10s.

Group 3: Scott Piercy: Impressed with the way he ended 2012, posting four consecutive top-15 finishes. Was T-12 in his first-ever start in Kapalua last year.

Group 4: Jonas Blixt: Another late-season bloomer who had five top 20s in his last six starts, including a win at the Frys.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Kuchar is comfortable on the Plantation Course, where he finished third in 2010 and T-6 in 2011. Scrambling is also key, as four of the last seven winners led the field in the category and Kuch finished 2012 ranked seventh overall in the stat.

Group 2: Steve Stricker: Three times since 2005 a defending champion has won at Kapalua, so it's not such a long shot to predict Stricker to repeat. He already has a runner-up finish on this track in 2008. Proximity to the hole is a nice stat to have on your side this week, considering the sizable greens, and the Wisconsinite led the Tour in it last year.

Group 3: Ian Poulter: The fierce competitor can shine in the elite field this week where he finished T-6 in his only previous appearance (2011). He's been hot in the 'off' season, igniting a run overseas with his win at the WGC-HSBC Champions. I also like that he ranked second in scrambling last year.

Group 4: Jonas Blixt: The first-timer in Maui brings a solid resume to a course that ranked second-longest in proximity to the hole on approach last year. In 2012 he led the Tour in sand saves, was 16th in scrambling, 14th in par-breakers and second in strokes gained putting.

Will Gray

Group 1: Jason Dufner: Perhaps the most consistent player on Tour last year. His all-around game - and high birdie average - should both help him start his 2013 season on the right foot in his first trip to this winners-only event.

Group 2: Dustin Johnson: One of the hottest golfers down the stretch of 2012. Finished second in par-5 birdies or better, which should serve well on a Plantation Course that features five such holes.

Group 3: Scott Piercy: Quietly advanced all the way to the Tour Championship during the FedEx Cup playoffs last year, and his length off the tee will be a strong asset this week.

Group 4: Jonas Blixt: Made a huge jump in 2012 and may be set for an even bigger one in 2013. Will likely spend much of the early season aggressively pursuing a win - and The Masters berth that goes along with it.

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee birdied the 18th hole Sunday for a one-stroke victory over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship.

Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round around the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18, a reachable par 5. Her second shot landed a few feet to the right of the green, and she calmly chipped to about 3 feet

She made the putt to finish at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. It was the Australian standout's fourth career victory and first since 2016.

Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst shot an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

The 52-year-old Englishman finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).

Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory. He won six times on the European Tour and has three European Senior Tour victories.

BYU men's golf team BYU

Sunday rule proves no advantage for BYU at NCAAs

By Ryan LavnerMay 27, 2018, 10:06 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – For all the kvetching about the advantage BYU would gain by not playing on Sunday with the other teams at the NCAA Championship, one small thing was conveniently forgotten.

What happens if the Cougars were actually disadvantaged?

That’s what appears to have happened here at Karsten Creek.

Because the Mormon-run school prohibits athletics on Sunday, the NCAA accommodated BYU using its “Sunday Play” rule for the first time in the match-play era. (It was the team’s first NCAA berth since 2006.) That meant that BYU played its practice round last Wednesday, before the start of the final match of the NCAA Women’s Championship. The next day, the Cougars played their Sunday round – the third round of stroke-play qualifying – a half hour after the other 29 teams completed their practice round.

Some coaches grumbled about the issue of competitive fairness: What if BYU played in calm conditions for its third round on Thursday, while everybody else competed in rain and 30-mph winds come Sunday?

BYU coach Bruce Brockbank has been on the NCAA competition committee for the past four years, but even he was curious about how it would all play out.

For the practice round, the NCAA informed the Cougars that they needed to be off the course by 1:30 p.m. local time, a little more than a half hour before the start of the women’s final between Arizona and Alabama. All six players got a look at the course in 5 hours and 30 minutes – or an hour and 15 minutes less than the official Thursday practice round – and needed to run between shots on the 17th and 18th holes to finish on time.

Brockbank tried to prepare his players for what they would face Thursday. It’s a different experience without a playing marker – not seeing another shot affected by the wind, not watching another ball break on the greens, not falling into a rhythm with pace – but perhaps no amount of simulated rounds would have helped.

Playing as singles, with only a rules official and a walking scorer by its side, BYU began its NCAA Championship at 4 p.m. local time Thursday. The Cougars got in only a few holes before the horn sounded to suspend play. It turned out to be a two-hour weather delay, and players slapped it around a sloppy, soggy course until dark, with their last single on the 11th hole.

They returned the next morning, at 6:55, and wrapped up their round in an hour and a half before turning around for another 18.

Their final tally? They shot 24-over 312 – easily the worst third-round score of any team.

“We obviously didn’t handle it very well,” Brockbank said, “but it definitely wasn’t an advantage.”

BYU rebounded the next two rounds, with scores of 298-286, putting the team squarely inside the top-15 cut line.

“And six or seven hours,” he said, “we were right there with the best teams in the country.”

But then the third-round scores got posted, and it was clear that they had no chance of advancing past the 54-hole cut.

“It was pretty frustrating to watch our guys,” he said. “We just didn’t handle it very well.”

The same was true for the team’s best player, senior Patrick Fishburn. With just the first and second round counting, Fishburn (67-72) was in a tie for second, one shot off the individual lead, heading into Sunday. Then his third-round 78 from Thursday was posted, and he tumbled down the leaderboard, needing help just to advance to the final round of stroke-play qualifying.

“I’d rather have it this way,” Brockbank said. “If we had shot 5 under par and everyone else is over par, I don’t want to hear that wrath. The coaches wouldn’t put up with that. The fact that we’re not a factor, it’ll go away. But if the day did go well, it would have been a different story.”

Still, it was a strange dynamic Sunday, as a team competing in the NCAA Championship never even made it to the course – Brockbank preferred that the guys stay away from Karsten Creek, if only for appearances.

They went to a local church for three hours, then ate lunch and retired to the team hotel, where they watched TV and studied and played chess. Fishburn has another round to play Monday, but he didn’t even hit balls.

“I don’t think he’s even concerned about that – it’s just a nice, quiet Sabbath day,” Brockbank said. “But as a coach, it’s definitely a little odd.”