Expert picks: Valero Texas Open

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 17, 2012, 5:00 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads back to Texas - San Antonio specifically - for the Valero Texas Open. Brendan Steele defends his title as many players look for a breakout week...and possibly a breakthrough win. 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.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Johnson Wagner: He's historically played well in Texas - having won his first Tour event in Houston - and finished T-15 here last year. He's also quietly put together his best season already, with a win in Hawaii and runner-up finish at the Humana Challenge.

Group 2: Jimmy Walker: We normally wouldn't pick a guy at his hometown event - too many distractions - but he's played well here in the past (T-3 in 2010) and he hasn't missed a cut since February.

Group 3: Harris English: Last year Brendan Steele solidified his status as a rookie to watch in San Antonio and English has been trending in a similar direction following his tie for eighth last week at Harbour Town.

Group 4: Brian Harman: Although the left-hander has struggled on the weekend this season, he looks as close as anyone to breaking through and given the solid play of University of Georgia alum in recent weeks, he seems like a safe bet.

Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: I know he shot a final-round 77 at Harbour Town, but he has been playing some fantastic golf lately. This is the first time he has played at this course but I am confident he will do well.

Group 2: Brendan Steele: Did you think I would go with anyone other than the defending champion this week? Steele is a really good player (and former Morning Drive guest host!) and I think his return to the site of his first win will be a successful one.

Group 3: Harris English: Former UGA Bulldog is having a great rookie season and recorded his first career top-10 finish last week. There is a race to join John Huh as a rookie winner on Tour this year and English seems eager to join that group.

Group 4: Brian Harman: Going with another Bulldog here who is a rookie on Tour in 2012. Harman got off to a great start this year but has struggled recently due to bad weekend rounds. if he can keep it together on Saturday and Sunday I think he can contend this week.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Charley Hoffman: It's a toss-up for me between Hoffman and Fredrik Jacobson. I will give the edge to Hoffman because of his higher finish (T-8) last week at the RBC Heritage. His superb history with both starts on this track includes runner-up honors last year.

Group 2: Cameron Tringale: Struggled with this one with a lot of great choices, including J.B. Holmes, Kevin Chappell and Kevin Streelman. Tringale won me over with his current form that secured him a top-10 finish last week paired with his T-5 showing at Valero last year.

Group 3: Colt Knost: A pair of third place finishes this year has colt not stressing about his Tour card and instead focusing on a W. It's prime time for the former US Amateur champ to get a professional win on the big stage.

Group 4: Matt Every: He's had a sneaky good season dating back to his T-6 finish at Sony, actually one that you may remember. Like two of my other picks this week, he's also coming into the tournament off a T-8 at Harbour Town, and he tied for 30th here a year ago.

Gary Williams

Group 1: K.J. Choi: The 2011 PLAYERS Champion has struggled this year after a T-5 finish at Kapalua. He missed the cut at Augusta but comes to San Antonio this week with hopes to turn it all around. This is his first time playing this event since 2005 and I think he'll make the most of it.

Group 2: Cameron Tringale: Finished T-5 at TPC San Antonio last year and in his last Tour start, he finished T-8 for his second top-10 finish of the year. This is a great opportunity to have a great week and with a win, he would beat his friend Rickie Fowler onto the invitee list for the 2013 Masters.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: This former Alabama man has been my guy this year among the rookies on Tour and has been playing well lately. Weekend rounds of 74 and 73 dropped him back to T-37 at Harbour Town, but I think he can bounce back this week.

Group 4: Brian Harman: Another rookie from an SEC school that I feel bullish about in 2012. If you can shoot 64 at Pebble Beach and 61 at PGA National, it is clear you have a lot of game. If he can improve his weekend rounds he will go from a rookie who is regularly making cuts to a rookie who is regularly contending.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Ryan Moore: Drives it straight, and this is the week he gets a cold putter going again.

Group 2: J.B. Holmes: With a T-8 finish in his last start in Houston and a T-11 finish at the Valero last year, there's Texas mojo working.

Group 3: Harris English: Keeps a nice little spring run going after T-8 at RBC and T-18 at Shell.

Group 4: Dean Wilson: First start of 2012 on a minor medical exemption (wrist/back), but I'm taking a flier he'll have good vibes from his T-11 finish at this event last year.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Charley Hoffman: Last year's co-runner-up also finished T-13 in TPC San Antonio's debut in 2010. He shared eighth place last week at Harbour Town, his best finish of the season.

Group 2: Jimmy Walker: Leaning on the San Antonio resident for local knowledge. Tied for third here in 2010 and has already logged a trio of top-10s this year.

Group 3: Harris English: Possesses all the tools, tee to cup. Five top-20s this year. Last week's T-8 at the RBC Heritage is a career-best finish. (Like English this year, defending champion Brendan Steele was a rookie in 2011).

Group 4: Matt Every: If he can match last year's T-30 in this group, I'll be thrilled. Coming off a share of eighth place at Harbour Town, his third top-10 of 2012.

 **Join Fantasy Expert Rob Bolton for a live golf chat Wednesday at 12:00p ET at**

Tune in to Golf Channel this Thursday-Friday from 3-6PM ET for live coverage of the Valero Texas Open.

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Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

“I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

“I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

“I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

“Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

“I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”

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Bradley leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open into final round

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 12:28 am

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Michael Bradley shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the PGA Tour Champions' Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 52-year-old Bradley had five birdies and a bogey in the rain-delayed round to reach 11-under 133 at En-Joie Golf Club. A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, he's seeking his first victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Bart Bryant and Marco Dawson were tied for second. Bryant, the 2013 winner at En-Joie for his lone Champions title, had a 67. Dawson shot 70.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

Wes Short Jr. (65), Clark Dennis (70) and Tom Gillis (69) were 9 under, and Kenny Perry (69) was 7 under with first-round leader Doug Garwood (73), Mark Calcavecchia (69), Woody Austin (71), Jerry Haas (68) and Scott Parel (68). Perry won the 3M Championship two weeks ago in Minnesota.

Bernard Langer, the 2014 winner, was 5 under after a 69. Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 71 to get to 1 under. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, was 6 over after rounds of 73 and 77.

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Snedeker still in front on Day 3 of suspended Wyndham

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 11:21 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Brandt Snedeker held a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Wyndham Championship when the third round was suspended because of severe weather.

Snedeker was 16 under for the tournament with 11 holes left in the round at the final event of the PGA Tour's regular season.

Brian Gay was 13 under through 12 holes, and Trey Mullinax, Keith Mitchell, C.T. Pan and D.A. Points were another stroke back at varying stages of their rounds.

Thirty players were still on the course when play was halted during the mid-afternoon with thunder booming and a threat of lightning. After a 3-hour, 23-minute delay, organizers chose to hold things up overnight and resume the round at 8 a.m. Sunday.

When things resume, Snedeker - who opened with a 59 to become the first Tour player this year and just the 10th ever to break 60 - will look to keep himself in position to contend for his ninth victory on Tour and his first since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.

Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points list

The 2012 FedEx Cup champion won the tournament in 2007, the year before it moved across town to par-70 Sedgefield Country Club.

Snedeker's final 11 holes of the round could wind up being telling: In seven of the 10 previous years since the tournament's move to this course, the third-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win.

And every leader who finished the third round here at 16 under or better has wound up winning, including Henrik Stenson (16 under) last year and Si Woo Kim (18 under) in 2016.

Snedeker started the day off strong, rolling in a 60-foot chip for birdie on the par-4 second hole, then pushed his lead to three strokes with a birdie on No. 5 that moved him to 16 under. But after he sank a short par putt on the seventh, thunder boomed and the horn sounded to stop play.

Gay was 12 holes into a second consecutive strong round when the delay struck. After shooting a 63 in the second round, he had four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He placed his 200-yard second shot 10 feet from the flagstick and sank the putt.

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Lexi charges with 64 despite another penalty

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Lexi Thompson ran into another awkward rules issue while making a bold charge at the leaders Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

She hit a speed bump at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course when she was assessed a penalty for violating a preferred-lies local rule.

Five shots off the lead at day’s start, Thompson birdied six of the first nine holes, making the turn in 30 to move two off the lead, but that’s where she got her second education this season on the implementation of local rules.

At the 10th tee, Thompson blew her tee shot right, into the sixth fairway. With preferred lies in effect, Thompson picked up her ball, cleaned it and replaced it within a club length before preparing to hit her second shot at the par 5.

According to Kay Cockerill, reporting for Golf Channel’s early live streaming coverage, LPGA rules official Marty Robinson saw Thompson pick up her ball and intervened. He informed her she was in violation of the preferred lies rule, that she was allowed to lift, clean and place only when in the fairway of the hole she was currently playing. She was assessed a one-shot penalty and returned her ball to its original spot, with Robinson’s help. The local rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

Cockerill said Thompson handled the penalty well, shaking her head when realizing her mistake, and chuckling at her gaffe. She then crushed a fairway wood, from 215 yards, up onto the green. She two-putted from 50 feet and walked away with a par.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

“Thankfully, Marty intervened before she hit her next shot,” Cockerill reported. “Otherwise, she would have been hitting from the wrong spot, and it would have been a two-shot penalty. So, in a sense, it saved her a shot.”

Thompson is making a return to golf this week after taking a month-long “mental break.” A year ago, she endured heartache on and off the golf course, with her competitive frustration having much to do with being hit with a controversial four-shot penalty in the final round of the ANA Inspiration. She appeared to be running away with a victory there but ended up losing in a playoff.

Earlier this year, Thompson got another education in local rules. She was penalized in the second round at the Honda Thailand after hitting her ball next to an advertising sign. She moved the sign, believing it was a moveable object, but the local rules sheet that week identified signs on the course as temporary immovable obstructions. She was penalized two shots.

In her pretournament news conference this week, Thompson shared how difficult the ANA controversy, her mother’s fight with cancer and the death of a grandmother was on her emotionally. She also was candid about the challenge of growing up as a prodigy and feeling the need to build a life about more than golf.

Saturday’s penalty didn’t slow Thompson for long.

She made back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th holes to post a 64, giving her a Sunday chance to win in her return.

Statement from the LPGA

While playing the third round of the 2018 Indy Women in Tech Championship, Lexi Thompson incurred a one-stroke penalty for breach of the preferred lies local Rule (Appendix IA Part 3b Course Conditions).

The Committee adopted the preferred lies local Rule due to the turf conditions of the golf course after receiving over an inch of rain.  The LPGA, under the local Rule, restricts the player from preferring her lie when her ball lies in a closely-mown area of a hole other than the one being played. 

During the play of hole #10, Thompson’s tee shot came to rest in the fairway of hole #6. As Thompson’s ball lay on the fairway of hole #6, she was not entitled to prefer her lie. 

She preferred her lie in breach of the local Rule but prior to playing her stroke from a wrong place (Rule 20-7), she was questioned by a Rules official regarding her actions.  As she had not played her stroke from the preferred spot, she did not receive the general penalty of two-strokes under the local Rule. However, she did incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 for lifting her ball at rest without authority.

LPGA Rules Committee