Expert picks: PGA Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 7, 2012, 7:00 pm

This week the world's best travel to South Carolina to battle over the Wanamaker Trophy in the season's final major, the PGA Championship. 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 staff writer Ryan Lavner.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Tiger Woods: His play last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational aside, Woods has put himself in the mix at the last two majors and has now played 13 Grand Slam events without a win. It has to happen sooner or later and Kiawah is as good a place as any.

Group 2: Dustin Johnson: Asked one Tour swing coach who he liked this week and he smiled, 'Someone who is long and can draw the ball.' According to Webster's Dictionary, that would be DJ (with an honorable mention for Lucas Glover).

Group 3: Geoff Ogilvy: Although he doesn't have the best record recently at 'Glory's Last Shot,' the Australian knows how to win the big event and his tie for ninth at the Open Championship is a good indication of how he may play at Kiawah.

Group 4: Trevor Immelman: Count this as an omen pick. We covered the last major event played at Kiawah, the 2003 World Cup, which was won by Immelman and fellow South African Rory Sabbatini.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Not necessarily sure he'll win, just want to make sure he's on my team when he does.

Group 2: Dustin Johnson: DJ in South Carolina at a place where bunkers are not bunkers? Sounds perfect.

Group 3: Johnson Wagner: Let's call this the omen pick. Wagner was the first person I saw when I got on property.

Group 4: Jeff Overton: You're just looking for value in Group 4 and if he can make a cut, it's good value.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Already this season he has excelled on one of Pete Dye's courses (TPC Sawgrass), and he has posted two top 10s in the majors. The winner this week at Kiawah will be a strong-minded, steady plodder with a tidy short game - sounds an awful lot like Kooch, no?

Group 2: Dustin Johnson: There are several reasons to feel good about DJ this week: he's playing in his home state; he's one of the Tour's longest hitters; and he wouldn't mind exacting a little revenge on Pete Dye.

Group 3: Padraig Harrington: The Irishman is a proven winner with a pair of top 10s at the majors this year. A good sand player and streaky putter, too.

Group 4: Scott Stallings: What lost season? In his past two starts he has a win and a T-7. This guy has rediscovered his game.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Graeme McDowell: After two straight major final rounds in the final pairing, GMac is ready to contend once again.

Group 2: Dustin Johnson: The Ocean Course seems tailor-made for DJ - and no, that's not just because of this week's 'no bunker' policy.

Group 3: Kyle Stanley: Watched him play 18 holes on Sunday and the kid's an absolute stud. Could be his time to shine.

Group 4: Thorbjorn Olesen: Whether it was an oversight by Mr. Fantasy or just a strange move, placed at the bottom of Group 4 amongst the club pros is a kid who seriously contended at Lytham.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Tiger Woods: It's past time for number 15. He gets it in the last major of the season.

Group 2: David Toms: He's coming off a T-8 at Firestone and a T-4 at the U.S. Open. The 2001 PGA champ is in great shape to add a 14th win to his resume and he just might do it at Kiawah.

Group 3: Geoff Ogilvy: Eight top-25s this year, including a season-best T-9 finish at the U.S. Open. This Aussie ball-striker could be lethal in the winds at the Ocean Course.

Group 4: Davis Love III: Don't under-estimate the Ryder Cup captain at Kiawah. The Carolina native feels very comfortable here and the distraction of the upcoming matches at Medinah may work to his advantage.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Luke Donald: Donald doesn't seem like he would be the favorite at this ballpark, but his short game will win him his first major.

Group 2: Zach Johnson: Two wins this year show just what control he has over his golf ball right now.

Group 3: Geoff Ogilvy: 2006 U.S. Open winner may remind us all just how good he can be.

Group 4: Sean O'Hair: Under-appreciated talent who knows how to collect trophies.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Quite simply, if I'm going to get outscored, it'll have to be with someone other than the 14-time major champion.

Group 2: Louis Oosthuizen: Flashed tip-top form at Firestone en route to a solo fourth. World-class tee-to-green game is imperative at Kiawah.

Group 3: Robert Garrigus: Absolute no-brainer. May not be anyone more confident about his game right now. Could lead the field in both distance off the tee and greens hit.

Group 4: Thorbjorn Olesen: Dismissing back-nine fade in Austria two weeks ago. Shared ninth place at the British and won in Sicily along the Mediterranean in early spring.

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.