Expert picks: Open Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2012, 5:45 pm

The men compete in their third major of the season at the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. 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;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Tough to pass up at 8-to-1 – and, let’s be honest, fantasy golf is little more than an each-way bet. His missed cut at The Greenbrier Classic aside he has been as consistent as anyone over the last three months.

Group 2: Zach Johnson: Never easy to win back-to-back starts, particularly if the backend of the one-and-one is a major championship, but the blue-collar champion has been virtually unstoppable since his runner-up showing at the Heritage in the spring.

Group 3: Padraig Harrington: So the two-time Open champion’s form has been less than stellar for some time but his putting finally seems to be coming around and he’s finished in the top 10 in three of his last five European Tour starts.

Group 4: Greg Owen: A world-class ballstriker with a questionable short game, but the slower-than-normal Lytham greens should help mitigate that and he counts the English gem among his most favorite courses.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Justin Rose: My pick to win fits the recent major champion profile – major talent without a major win. Yet.

Group 2: Rickie Fowler: Youngster has shown a propensity for strong play at the world’s oldest event.

Group 3: Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Four top-three finishes this season makes him a very strong darkhorse candidate.

Group 4: Tom Lehman: An elder statesman almost always contends and Lehman is a ball-striker supreme.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Tiger Woods: I'm not sure he'll win, but I want to make sure I have him on my team when he does.

Group 2: Rickie Fowler: Loved the moxie he showed last year and he's patient as hell in these conditions.

Group 3: Simon Dyson: Tied for ninth last year and has been steady on Euro Tour all of this year.

Group 4: Greg Owen: Hasn't played here since 2006 but he's played better this year than you'd think. Look it up.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Tiger Woods: With three wins this year and a chance to regain world No. 1 with a victory as well as inch closer to the magic number 18, Tiger is ready for this week in Lytham. Not sure he's stoppable.

Group2: Francesco Molinari: He takes momentum into Lytham after his playoff loss Sunday on the Castle Stuart links in Scotland. He says he's in the best form of his life, and I believe him. 

Group 3: Padraig Harrington: The two-time Open champ comes in great form, with four consecutive top-15s on the PGA Tour, which includes a T-4 at the U.S. Open.

Group 4: Tom Watson: Timeless Tom knows how to face the elements in store this week better than anyone in the field, even if he can't win it at his age I still think he can dazzle us.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Lee Westwood: Six top-three finishes in his last 11 starts in majors, but still chasing the carrot. Supremely confident. Perfect for this fantasy game.

Group 2: Sergio Garcia: While I love the overtones of his connection to two-time winner at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, fellow countryman Seve Ballesteros, Garcia has flashed some of his most consistent form across the rota of host courses. Seven top-10s to be precise. This included a T-9 at the 2001 edition at Lytham.

Group 3: Padraig Harrington: A coup in this group. Thanks to a series of changes in his inner circle, the two-time champion of this tournament has seemingly found peace again between his ears. The results prove it – five consecutive top-20s entering this week.

Group 4: Greg Owen: Where better to slap an exclamation point on a strong season than in his homeland? The Brit has chalked up seven top-20s with a pair of top-10s sprinkled in. He’s also had documented success in this major, including a T-23 at Lytham in 2001

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Lee Westwood: The best ball-striker in the field will not be penalized for being one of the worst putters.

Group 2: Ernie Els: The 2002 Open champion has rounded into the major championship form.

Group 3: Padraig Harrington: In it until the end at The Olympic Club, the two-time Open champion embraces this championship.

Group 4: Bob Estes: The Texan should do well here. He has missed just two British Open cuts since 1995 with four top-20 finishes.

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Watch: Reed races in 40-footer to put away Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 10:19 pm

Three up with three holes to play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Patrick Reed missed an opportunity to close out his match with Jordan Spieth when Spieth won the 16th hole with a birdie.

But Reed wouldn't let the match move to 18. Putting for birdie from the apron, 40 feet from the hole, at the par-3 17th, Reed raced in this putt to end the match.

With the win, Reed moved to 3-0-0 for the week and advanced to the weekend at Austin Country Club.

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Garcia's win-win situation: Move on or baby time

By Rex HoggardMarch 23, 2018, 9:45 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Given his status as one of Europe’s preeminent Ryder Cup players, Sergio Garcia’s record at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is nothing short of inexplicable.

In 15 starts at the event, the Spaniard has played the weekend just once – in 2010 when he lost in the semifinals to Ian Poulter – and since the event pivoted to round-robin play he’s never made it out of the group stages.

His fortunes have changed dramatically this year, with Garcia going undefeated in pool play and cruising to the Sweet 16 following a 3-and-1 victory over Xander Schauffele on Friday.

“I would love to have done a little better than I have,” said Garcia, who will play Kyle Stanley in the Round of 16 early Saturday. “I have had some good weeks here. But not probably as good as I should have. So hopefully this week it will be better.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Garcia made no secret of the source of his turnaround following the birth of his first child last Wednesday, a girl named Azalea. Even on Friday when he found himself 2 down through 11 holes and in danger of not advancing he kept an upbeat attitude.

“The way I looked at it, when I was 2 down, we're going to try to turn it around, but if we don't, it means that I get to spend more time with [his wife] Angela and Azalea for the weekend,” Garcia said. “I tried to look at it in a good way.”

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DeLaet: WGC's robin-robin format 'sucks'

By Grill Room TeamMarch 23, 2018, 9:20 pm

Graham DeLaet isn't teeing it up at Austin Country Club this week because he didn't qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, but that doesn't mean he lacks an opinion on the event's format.

DeLaet hopped on social media Friday during Day 3 of the WGC-Match Play to torch the round-robin format that's been in place for three years, saying he much preferred the single elimination that was in place when he played in 2014.

"Played Match Play in Tucson in 2014. Early group on Wednesday, lost. Threw clubs in my car and was on my couch in Scottsdale by 2:00 pm. Collect 30K and spend the weekend at home, he tweeted. "That’s a good format. This one sucks."

DeLeat's comments may be the strongest to date, but he's not alone in his opposition to pool play. Several players lamented Friday's "meaningless" matches earlier this week, and Henrik Stenson cited the lack of a do-or-die atmosphere as his reason for skipping the event.

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Watch: Kuchar makes ace at WGC-Dell Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 9:09 pm

In his bid to advance to the weekend at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Matt Kuchar aced the par-3 seventh hole Friday at Austin Country Club.

With an 8-iron from 181 yards, Kuchar landed his ball short of the flag and watched it roll and roll ... and drop.

The hole-in-one moved Kuchar 3 Up in match against Ross Fisher. 

The last hole-in-one at the Match Play came in Sunday's consolation match last year, when Hideto Tanihara aced the same hole before later losing to Bill Haas.