Expert Picks: The Memorial Tournament

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 28, 2013, 11:05 pm

The PGA Tour heads to Ohio this week, as Jack Nicklaus hosts a world-class field at Muirfield Village for The Memorial Tournament. 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. They will also be joined by former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm Macdonald, who will serve as a celebrity guest throughout the fantasy season.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Tiger Woods: The last time the world No. 1 arrived at the Memorial with four Tour titles ... wait, he’s never done that. It’s what makes Woods the easiest chalk pick of the year in his quest for his sixth title at Jack’s Place.

Group 2: Keegan Bradley: The ongoing debate over the ban on anchoring will be a distraction – the Tour’s player advisory council is scheduled to meet Tuesday at Muirfield Village – but Bradley’s runner-up at the Byron Nelson suggests he’s game-ready, regardless of his putting style.

Group 3: Sang-Moon Bae: That final-round 77 at Colonial aside, Bae has proven to be one of the hottest players in golf over the last fortnight.

Group 4: James Hahn: He hasn’t been at his best since the Tour bolted the West Coast, but if anyone has the skills, and the steps, to celebrate a victory “Gangnam Style” on Muirfield Village’s 18th green, it is Hahn.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Justin Rose: Everybody else is going to pick Tiger Woods, right? Well, I’ll either pick up ground on the experts field or be in last place by even more. Worth the risk.

Group 2: Jason Day: Two years ago, he skipped this event, much to the chagrin of Jack Nicklaus. Last year, he missed the cut. This year, he’ll contend.

Group 3: K.J. Choi: At the site of his 2007 victory, Choi is always a strong pick to make some noise at his hero’s tournament.

Group 4: Jason Kokrak: Back in his college state of Ohio, the long-hitting bomber should make plenty of birdies in front of some friendly faces.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Tiger Woods: No explanation required as he seeks his sixth Memorial title and third in the last four years.

Group 2: Bo Van Pelt: A consistent record of strong play at Muirfield Village over his last three starts there.

Group 3: Matt Every: Nice T-6 at Memorial last year, nice T-4 at Colonial last week.

Group 4: Jonathan Byrd: Struggling since wrist surgery, but his strong play at Memorial bodes well for rebound.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Tiger Woods: When Woods tees it up right now, it’s impossible to pick against him. Last year’s winner, who rallied down the stretch with birdies on three of his last four holes, won’t be surrendering Jack’s trophy this week. He will lift it for the sixth time in his career and will use the momentum to fuel his fire heading to Merion.

Group 2: Hunter Mahan: He grabbed a top 20 last year by firing a 68 on Sunday despite a 77 in Round 3. He has two top 10s this year.

Group 3: John Huh: Came close to posting top 10s at both the Byron Nelson and Colonial, with a T-8 in Dallas and a T-11 in Fort Worth. He finished T-19 here last year.

Group 4: Jonathan Byrd: This is the week Byrd turns things around. With five missed cuts and zero top 10s, he returns to Jack’s place where a year ago he tied for sixth thanks to consistency throughout the week.

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Aiken, Waring tied at Nordea; Olesen three back

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 5:45 pm

MOLNDAL, Sweden – Paul Waring of England and Thomas Aiken of South Africa share the lead, three shots clear of their rivals, after the third round of the Nordea Masters on the European Tour on Saturday.

Waring was tied for first place with Scott Jamieson after the second round and shot a 1-under 69.

While Jamieson (75) slipped down the leaderboard, Aiken caught up Waring after shooting 67 - despite three straight bogeys from No. 15. He bounced back by making birdie at the last.

Thorbjorn Olesen (67) and Marc Warren (66) are tied for third.

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Koepka: 'Surreal' Woods waited to say congrats at PGA

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:47 pm

Brooks Koepka was moved by the respect shown when Tiger Woods waited for a half hour at scoring last Sunday to congratulate Koepka for his PGA Championship victory at Bellerive.

While Koepka stands as an example of the new athletes Woods has attracted to the game, he laughs hearing people compare his body to an NFL player’s.

Those were among the observations Koepka shared Friday on "The Dan Patrick Show."

“That was surreal,” Koepka said of Woods waiting to congratulate him. “To hang around on 18, I wasn’t expecting it. It was probably the coolest gesture he could have done.”

Koepka credits Woods for drawing him to the game.

“He’s the reason I am playing,” Koepka said.

Koepka said playing with Woods in contention was a noisy experience that went beyond the roars Woods created making birdies in front of him.

“Even when he makes contact, you know what shot he’s hitting,” Koepka said. “That’s how loud people are.

“When they are putting [his score] up on the leaderboard, you hear it three holes away.”

About those NFL player comparisons, Koepka said his parents wouldn’t let him play football when he was growing up.

“I wasn’t big enough,” he said.

Koepka said he marveled meeting former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

“To be compared to them, it makes me laugh,” Koepka said. “I’m about the size of a cornerback, maybe a free safety.”

Koepka said he’s just over 6 feet tall and weighs 208 pounds.

“I saw Brian Urlacher give an interview,” Koepka said. “It was kind of funny. He said he was impressed at how big I wasn’t ... If I stand next to Justin Thomas, I’m going to look big. Golf doesn’t really have many big guys.”

Koepka told Patrick he is impressed at the athletes just now coming into golf.

“I see the young guys coming out of college,” Koepka said. “They are bombing it past me. They hit it so far, they are leaving me in the dust. It’s hard to think of, because I’ve been one of the longest hitters on tour.”

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McIlroy skipping first FedExCup playoff event

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:19 pm

Rory McIlroy committed to playing the FedExCup Playoffs opener at The Northern Trust, the PGA Tour announced after The Open Championship last month.

But McIlroy left the PGA Championship last week saying he might need to skip the opener to regroup, and that’s just what he is doing.

McIlroy wasn’t on The Northern Trust field list published Friday on the PGA Tour’s website.

“I need to assess where I'm at,” McIlroy said leaving Bellerive last week. “I think the best thing for me to do right now is just sort of take a couple days off, reflect on what I need to do going forward.

“The best thing might be to take that first FedExCup week off and work on my game and come back, hopefully, in a better place for Boston.”

McIlroy also skipped the FedExCup opener in 2015, choosing to make his start in the playoffs at Boston that year. It appears he will do the same this year.

“Historically, the first FedEx playoff event hasn't been my best event of the four,” McIlroy said. “I've played well in Boston. I've played pretty well in the other two.”

McIlroy left Bellerive saying he would do some work on his game and see if he felt ready for the playoffs opener as part of a run of big events leading into the Ryder Cup.

“There's a lot of room for improvement,” McIlroy said. “My swing really hasn't been where I want it to be. It was pretty good at the start of the year. I had a couple of months to work on it, but it's just sort of regressed as the season went on and you start to play tournaments, you start to fall back into some of the habits that you don't want to fall back into."

McIlroy has won once over the last two seasons – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March – but he has given himself other chances this year with some frustrating finishes. Overall, he has five finishes of third or better in 2018. He got himself in the final pairing with Patrick Reed at the Masters but stumbled to a T-5 finish. He tied for second at The Open last month.

“Inconsistency with the swing has been the big area,” McIlroy said. “If you look at my statistics, especially with approach play on my irons, and even my driving, even though it's been OK, there's been a two-way miss, with sort of everything throughout the bag, and that obviously isn't a good thing. So that's something I need to work on.”

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Watch: Wagner saves season with walk-off eagle dunk

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 18, 2018, 2:45 am

Johnson Wagner kept his FedExCup Playoff hopes alive on Friday at the Wyndham Championship ... and he did it in dramatic fashion.

Needing a birdie on his final hole of the day to make the cut on the number, Johnson used a 9-iron from 153 yards out to dunk his approach for eagle to get inside the cut line.

Johnson's eagle at the last gave him a 66 for the day and earned him two more rounds to try and get inside the FedExCup top 125 for next week's start of the postseason, The Northern Trust.