Expert Picks: Northern Trust Open

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 12, 2013, 7:55 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads to historic Riviera Country Club outside Los Angeles, where Bill Haas will defend his title at the Northern Trust Open. 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: Luke Donald: Last year's champion, Bill Haas, ranked first in putting at Riviera for the week and after Brandt Snedeker (who is taking the week off), Donald is the game's best with the flat stick.

Group 2: Peter Hanson: Makes his 2013 PGA Tour debut this week, but has already had a solid start to the season, having finished tied for ninth in Abu Dhabi and T-22 at the Qatar Masters.

Group 3: Geoff Ogilvy: Although his move back to Scottsdale hasn't translated into better results on Tour (he has missed three cuts in four starts), the Australian plays his best on classic layouts like Riviera.

Group 4: John Mallinger: The SoCal resident has never played well in Los Angeles, but he has historically posted his best finishes on the West Coast and is due for a solid week.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Luke Donald: First start of the season doesn't scare me, because I know he's been outworking nearly everyone else during his time off.

Group 2: Hunter Mahan: I was on him last week when he was in contention going into the weekend at Pebble. He's ripe for a West Coast win, and getting to pick him in Group 2 is a steal.

Group 3: Bryce Molder: Really liked the way he finished at Pebble, with four birdies in his last five holes. Look for the momentum to continue this week.

Group 4: Patrick Cantlay: Bargain basement steal of the week with the L.A. kid playing some impressive golf coming into his hometown event.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Bubba Watson: With a T-4 and 15th-place finish this year, added to how he closed out 2012, Bubba has finished inside the top 25 in nine of his last 10 starts on Tour. He has three top 20s at Riviera since 2008, including a T-13 finish last year. Left-handers have fared well here, wiht both Mike Weir and Phil Mickelson going back-to-back for a total of four wins ont he property over the last decade.

Group 2: Jimmy Walker: He's certainly not the biggest name in this group, but he has it all coming into this week at a place where he has finished T-4 the last two years. And this year, he has a T-4 finish at Torrey Pines to go with a T-3 this past week at Pebble Beach.

Group 3: Bryce Molder: He's quietly been putting together a great season thus far and is 12th in driving accuracy and third in strokes gained putting. Three of his four starts this year have resulted in top 25s, including a T-12 finish last week at Pebble. He has played well in the past at Riviera as well, as evidenced by his T-17 result last year and a T-32 finish in 2010.

Group 4: Fred Couples: The sentimental pick here, but of all the guys in Group 4 he has the most consistent recent history here at Riviera, wiht four top 10s in the last 10 years. As recently as 2011, Couples was in contention heading into Sunday before finishing T-7. In his one start this season on the Champions Tour, he finished fourth at Hualalai.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Charl Schwartzel: Here's a guy even hotter than Sneds - in his last six worldwide starts, Schwartzel has gone 2nd-1st-1st-2nd-T3-5th.

Group 2: Jimmy Walker: Has top 4s in two of his last three starts, and at Riviera has T-4s in each of his last two appearances. Could get his first win this week.

Group 3: Kevin Stadler: Has a T-11 and T-3 in his last two starts. Decent record at Riviera, too, with top-25 finishes in each of his last three appearances.

Group 4: James Driscoll: Not much to choose from here, but going with Driscoll, who has made the cut in three consecutive starts, including a T-9 finish last week at Pebble.

Norm Macdonald (Celebrity guest)

Group 1: Lee Westwood

Group 2: Chris Kirk

Group 3: Ryo Ishikawa

Group 4: Chad Campbell

Getty Images

Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Current Official World Golf Ranking

That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

Getty Images

'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.

Getty Images

Watch: Dufner makes six (!) fist pumps after birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 4:53 am

Jason Dufner makes Ben Stein seem like Jonathan Winters. Dufner often looks mighty miserable for someone who plays golf for a living.

But not on Friday at the CJ Cup!

Dufner made a 20-footer for birdie at the 16th hole and “celebrated” with one-two-three-(pause)-four-five-six fist pumps. There could have been more, but the camera cut away.

That was Dufner’s third birdie on the back nine, which offset a triple bogey at the par-3 seventh, en route to an even-par 72. Good times.

Getty Images

Watch: Paul C-ace-y makes hole-in-one at CJ Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 2:35 am

Par-par-par-par-par-par. It was a boring second round over the first six holes for Paul Casey at the CJ Cup.

And then he aced the par-3 seventh.

Casey's tee shot from 176 tracked straight towards the hole and rolled in near the final revolution. That got him to 2 under par for the tournament. He was five off the lead, held by Chez Reavie, but bogeyed the ninth and 10th holes to give back those two strokes.

Hey, it's a no-cut event and a guaranteed paycheck. Drinks on Casey!