Expert Picks: Phoenix Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 31, 2012, 9:00 pm

This is another double week for fantasy players! experts offer up their fantasy choices below for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and their selections for the CommercialBank Qatar Masters can be seen here. 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' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Solid and consistent. Hasn't gone back-to-back starts without a top-10 since June; don't bet against that streak ending here where he finished T-8 last year.

Group 2: Jason Dufner: After first getting into a playoff last year in Phoenix, he wanred the world again not to overlook him at the PGA Championship. Dufner comes into the Sonoran Desert off a T-12 in the Palm Desert.

Group 3: Brendon de Jonge: He tied for 22nd last year and all three of his starts in 2012 have yielded finishes inside the top-30.

Group 4: Harris English: While rookies don't typically play well here, he has the length off the tee that we've seen from some past champions here. He's also 3-for-3 on making it to the weekend this year.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Webb Simpson: When someone is clearly the best player in the field, you have to take him.

Group 2: Bo Van Pelt: Finished T-18 last year, but hasn't played well here other than that. It's risky.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: Cauley has played so well he's moved up to Group 3. Still worth taking though.

Group 4: Harris English: I like the Bulldog rookie's game. He may not win this year, but he'll contend often.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: TPC Scottsdale is a bomber's paradise - see two-time champion Holmes, J.B. - and DJ is the game's ranking bomber at the moment.

Group 2: Gary Woodland: See item above. Also, Woodland has spent a good amount of time in the desert recently with new swing coach Butch Harmon, so there will be no adjustment needed for the thin air.

Group 3: Kyle Stanley: This may be wishful thinking, but I believe karma will want to make with the cosmic make-good following last week's heart-breaker at Torrey Pines.

Group 4: Harris English: Rookie has done OK in the desert the last few months. He was T-19 at the Humana Challenge and finished T-13 at Q-School in December in Palm Springs.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Bubba Watson: His newly-purchased General Lee car is parked outside the clubhouse. You'll hear that one or two or 1,000 times this week.

Group 2: Martin Laird: Scotland's own could be primed for a very big season.

Group 3: Scott Piercy: Darkhorse pick to win this week. You can thank me later.

Group 4: Matt Jones: Recipient of last sponsor's exemption will have support from the ASU crowds.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Bill Haas: The FedEx Cup champion is off to a great start in '12; should continue this week.

Group 2: Rickie Fowler: Tops my power rankings because of his runner-up finish here two years ago.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Sticking with the hot hand until he cools down, which may not be until the end of the West Coast Swing.

Group 4: Chris Couch: Yup, with top-8 finishes in the last two Phoenix Opens, the guy likes TPC Scottsdale.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Webb Simpson: If the putter were warmed up at the Hyundai, Simpson might already have his first title of 2012.

Group 2: Rickie Fowler: 'Fowler Mania' goes to another level with a win in the Sonoran Desert.

Group 3: Camilo Villegas: Showed returning form at the end of last year, and it's carrying over to this season.

Group 4: Chris Couch: Time for the big man to pop back on a leaderboard. He was T-8 in Scottsdale last year.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Coming off a T-38 at the Sony and hasn't had consecutive starts without a top-10 in seven months.

Group 2: Rickie Fowler: Taut debut at Torrey Pines, with only five bogeys en route to a T-13 finish. Carded a field-low 62 here last year and was runner-up in 2010.

Group 3: Bryce Molder: Top-15s in five of his last six starts going back to October. He's 2-for-2 here, with a T-8 in 2010.

Group 4: Jeff Maggert: Healthy again. It's early, but he's currently leading the PGA Tour in scoring average and the all-around.

You can watch complete coverage of the Waste Management Phoenix Open Thursday-Friday live on Golf Channel from 4PM-7PM ET.

Getty Images

Casey in line to make Ryder Cup after Travelers T-2

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:30 am

Despite coughing up a four-shot lead at the Travelers Championship, England's Paul Casey moved into a qualifying position to make his return to the Ryder Cup this fall in Paris.

Casey struggled Sunday at TPC River Highlands, shooting a 72 as Bubba Watson raced to victory with a 63. But a four-way share of second place was still good enough to lift Casey into fourth place among those not already qualified on the World Points list, with the top four Europeans from that list in August punching their tickets to Le Golf National.

Casey has played in three Ryder Cups before, but none since 2008. After renouncing his European Tour membership a few years ago, he reinstated it for the 2018 season in order to be eligible to return to the biennial matches.

Here's a look at the updated standings for Europe, with the top four players from each points list ultimately joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari


5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Paul Casey


5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

6. Ian Poulter

On the American side of the ledger, Watson jumped two spots to fifth with his third win of the year and seemingly locked up his spot on the squad, while Bryson DeChambeau moved inside the top eight with a top-10 finish in Connecticut.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship earning automatic bids:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Bryson DeChambeau


9. Webb Simpson

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

Getty Images

Watson cracks top 15 in world with Travelers win

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 10:15 am

After his third win in the last five months, Bubba Watson is back on the cusp of the upper echelon in the world rankings.

Watson started the year ranked No. 89 in the world, but after a three-shot victory at the Travelers Championship the southpaw moved up seven spots to No. 13 in the latest rankings. It marks his best position since a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February 2017.

Watson stayed one spot behind Paul Casey, who was one of four runners-up in Connecticut and rose one position to 12th as a result. Beau Hossler's T-2 finish helped him jump 24 spots to No. 64, while J.B. Holmes went from 93rd to 75th with the same result. Stewart Cink, who grabbed a share of second with a final-round 62, went from No. 149 to No. 95 and is back inside the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time since September 2011.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

Matt Wallace, who won the BMW International Open on the European Tour, went from 91st to 66th.

There was only one change among the top 10 in the rankings, as an idle Jon Rahm moved past Jordan Spieth at No. 5 despite Spieth's T-42 finish at TPC River Highlands. At No. 6, Spieth is at his lowest point in the rankings since before last summer's victories at Travelers and The Open.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Rahm. Spieth slid to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Poised to return to competition this week at the Quicken Loans National, Tiger Woods fell three spots to No. 82 in the latest rankings.

Getty Images

After Further Review: Spieth needs a break

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 1:11 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Jordan Spieth's much-needed break ...

Jordan Spieth is heading for a break, and that’s probably a good thing.

Spieth just wrapped a run of six events in seven weeks that featured largely underwhelming results. A third-place finish at the Masters that stemmed from a nearly-historic final round deflects attention away from the fact that Spieth has yet to enter a final round this year less than six shots off the lead.

A return to his home state didn’t work, nor did a fight against par at Shinnecock or a title defense outside Hartford where everything went so well a year ago. His putting woes appear to have bottomed out, as Spieth finished 21st in putting at Travelers, but now the alignment issue that plagued his putting appears to have bled into other parts of his game.

So heading into another title defense next month at Carnoustie, Spieth plans to take some time off and re-evaluate. Given how fast things turned around last summer, that might prove to be just what he needs. - Will Gray

On the difference between this week and last week ...

There wasn’t a single outraged tweet, not a lone voice of descent on social media following Bubba Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, a 17-under par masterpiece that included a closing loop of 30.

Nobody declared that golf was broken, no one proclaimed the royal and ancient game a victim of technology and the age of uber athletes. The only response was appreciation for what Watson, a bomber in the truest form, was able to accomplish.

At 6,840 yards, TPC River Highlands was built for fun, not speed. Without wild weather or ill-advised hole locations and greens baked to extinction, this is what the best players in the game do, and yet no one seemed outraged. Weird. - Rex Hoggard

On the emergence of another LPGA phenom ...

Add another young star to the favorites list heading to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes outside Chicago next week.

Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old Japanese standout who needed her rookie season last year to acclimate to the LPGA, broke through for her first LPGA title Sunday at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

This wasn’t a surprise to LPGA followers. Hataoka won the Japan Women’s Open when she was 17, the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour, and she has been trending up this year.

Her tie for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks ago was her fourth consecutive top-10 finish. She won going away in Arkansas, beating a deep field that included the top nine in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She outplayed world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson on Sunday. - Randall Mell

Getty Images

Bubba waiting for Furyk's text about Ryder Cup

By Will GrayJune 25, 2018, 12:39 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – After winning his third PGA Tour title in the span of five months, Bubba Watson is now waiting by his phone.

Watson’s victory at the Travelers Championship, his third at TPC River Highlands since 2010, accompanies recent victories at both the Genesis Open and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from earlier this year. It also moved the southpaw from No. 7 to No. 5 in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

After serving as an assistant captain at Hazeltine despite ranking No. 7 in the world at the time, Watson made it clear that he hopes to have removed any doubt about returning to the role of player when the biennial matches head to Paris this fall.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“It still says in my phone that (U.S. captain) Jim (Furyk) hasn’t texted me yet. So I’d really like for him to say I’m going to pick you no matter what,” Watson said. “The motivation is I’ve never won a Ryder Cup, so making the Ryder Cup team and trying to win a Ryder Cup as a player would be another tournament victory to me. It would be a major championship to me just because I’ve never done it, been a part of it.”

Watson turns 40 in November, and while he reiterated that his playing career might not extend too far into the future as he looks to spend more time at home with son Caleb and daughter Dakota, he’s also hoping to make an Olympic return in Tokyo in 2020 after representing the U.S. in Rio two years ago.

“Talking about the Olympics coming up, that’s motivating me,” he said. “It was the best experience of my life to watch all the other events, and then the golf tournament got in the way. I’d love to do it again. I’d love to watch all the events and then have to play golf as well.”