Expert picks: RBC Canadian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 24, 2012, 8:00 pm

The PGA Tour heads to Ontario this week for the RBC Canadian Open, in search of valuable FedEx Cup points as the regular season nears its conclusion. 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; staff writer Ryan Lavner; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Ernie Els: An emotional letdown could be expected, but the Big easy doesn't usually take it easy after wins. He has a strong history of following up one title with another.

Group 2: Robert Garrigus: Hamilton Golf & Country Club isn't really a big bomber's course, but Garrigus will navigate the tight confines just fine.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: No Canadian has won the Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher in 1954. DeLaet is playing well enough to change that.

Group 4: Gavin Coles: The Aussie's strengths should be accentuated on a course that demands accuracy. He's showing signs that it's coming together.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Hunter Mahan: A two-time winner this season, Mahan is a ball-striking machine - fourth in total driving, third in greens hit - and the type of player who should thrive at claustrophobic Hamilton G & CC. He has finished outside the top 20 only once in his past five starts.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Didn't play last week, which was too bad - few on Tour have been as hot as Piercy. In his past two starts at the Greenbrier and John Deere, he's finished T-12 and third, respectively. He was T-6 at this event last year, albeit on a different course. Maybe he's comfortable north of the border.

Group 3: Ken Duke: Hard to believe that the 43-year-old Duke has six - six! - top 10s this season, tied for second-most on Tour. Though his past two starts have been unspectacular, he has still shot in the 60s in 12 of his past 18 rounds.

Group 4: Hunter Hamrick: All he's done since leaving college was make the cut at the U.S. Open, then finish 10th at the True South Classic where he shot all four rounds in the 60s. Clearly, he's trying to follow in the footsteps of fellow Alabama alum Bud Cauley, who went straight from campus to the pro ranks.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Brandt Snedeker: Some players would suffer a letdown after a major title contention; Snedeker will use it as motivation.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Solid ball-striker who can get hot in a hurry; if he's on his game, expect a lot of birdies this week.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: Native of Canada may be a sentimental pick this week, but he's also a smart one; will win a tourney at some point in the next 12 months.

Group 4: Scott Brown: Mr. All-or-Nothing has missed a dozen cuts this season, but has finishes of solo seventh and T-5 in his last two starts.

Gary Williams

Group 1: Jim Furyk: Hamilton Golf & Country Club is a classic course and over his career Furyk has shown himself to be a player who is comfortable with, and contends on, classic layouts. The two-time RBC Canadian Open champ won here in 2006 and has recorded top-11 finishes this year at Riviera, Augusta National, Harbour Town, Colonial and The Olympic Club. I can see him winning this week.

Group 2: Bud Cauley: This young gun returned to a site of 2011 success last week in Mississippi and finished fourth in the True South Classic for his best finish of 2012. I like picking a hot hand whenever I can and Cauley certainly fits the bill this week.

Group 3: Billy Horschel: This young talent has had some injury issues but his game is showing many signs of life, as he finished third last week in Mississippi for his best career Tour finish. He would have had another big finish in the John Deere Classic if not for a final round 74. I have a feeling Horschel will have another good week this week.

Group 4: Hunter Hamrick: A former University of Alabama standout, Hamrick made the cut in his professional debut last month at the U.S. Open and then recorded his first top-10 finish in his second professional start last week. He has a lot to gain right now and he has already had a great year as part of the Alabama team that finished second in the NCAA Championship.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Mr. Consistent finished tied for fourth in Canada in 2010 and is fresh off solid finishes in his last two starts, including a tie for ninth last week at Lytham.

Group 2: Spencer Levin: Has slumped lately after a solid start to the season but he closed with a Sunday 69 to finish tied for ninth last year in Canada and is among the Tour's best putters (15th in strokes gained putting). 

Group 3: Bob Estes: Surprisingly consistent season for the journeyman, he's missed just one cut since April and he's finished outside the top 15 only once out of his last four starts north of the border.

Group 4: Gavin Coles: Improved putting has helped the Australian cash checks in seven of his last eight starts and he needs a big finish if he's going to make the playoffs.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Given that I'm suddenly trailing by a considerable margin, I'm hoping my competition invests elsewhere while I lean on arguably the most consistent golfer in the field. His T-9 at the British was his seventh top-10 of the season.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Fulfilling every full-season gamer's expectations with 10 top-25 finishes. Rested after a season-best third at the John Deere Classic. Confident and aggressive, a nice tandem on a classic track with slow, receptive greens.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: Riding Canuck synergy here. Recurring back discomfort is always a concern but he's held together nicely overall. Also took two weeks off since sharing 12th place at the Greenbrier Classic on a similar course.

Group 4: Matt Hill: Calculated flier. Sits atop the Canadian Tour's Order of Merit with a win, a second and a pair of T-8 finishes. Former collegiate superstar at North Carolina State, and has also posted top-15s in five of his last seven starts on the eGolf Professional Tour.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

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Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.