Expert Picks: Valspar Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 11, 2014, 8:38 pm

This week marks the 18th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season as the Florida swing heads to Tampa for the Valspar Championship, where a full field of players will battle the "Snake Pit" at Innisbrook. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and John Antonini; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; staff writer Ryan Lavner and defending fantasy champion Charlie Rymer.


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Other than a missed cut in 2007, he's never finished outside the top 20 in six starts at Innisbrook and has been trending in the right direction lately, with a tie for 13th last week at Doral and a tie for ninth at the WGC-Accenture Match Play.

Group 2: Ernie Els: The heartbreak of 2012 - when he bogeyed his last two holes and finished a stroke outside a playoff - aside, Els has been reenergized by the short putter this year and his ball-striking has been nearly flawless in 2014.

Group 3: David Toms: He inexplicably has never posted a top-10 finish at Innisbrook, a golf course that would seem to be a perfect fit for his fairways-and-greens game, but following a tie for fourth last week in Puerto Rico, he's tough to pass up.

Group 4: Jason Gore: Sentimental pick here. He only received a spot into the field this week via his top-10 finish last week in Puerto Ricok, and needs another hot week if he's going to earn his way back onto the PGA Tour.


Randall Mell

Group 1: Jordan Spieth: He's annoyed enough with his weekend frustrations to do something about it this week. He was T-7 at Innisbrook a year ago.

Group 2: Harris English: The guy's striping his ball, becoming a regular factor, and there's no reason to believe he won't be one again this week.

Group 3: Russell Knox: Going with a hot hand here. Knox is coming off a T-2 at the Honda Classic, and also had a T-10 at Torrey Pines earlier this season.

Group 4: Stuart Appleby: Liking his form this season, with a T-8 finish at Honda and a T-9 at the Humana Challenge in January.


Jason Sobel

Group 1: Jason Dufner: Showed signs of big things coming soon at Doral, but he'd probably prefer those big things waited a few more weeks for Augusta.

Group 2: Gary Woodland: The 2011 champion is primed and ready to win another one soon. And yeah, for those keeping track, I'll keep picking him until he does.

Group 3: Sang-Moon Bae: Likes the Innisbrook layout, as evidenced by a playoff loss here two years ago.

Group 4: James Driscoll: Seems like only a matter of time before the veteran finally breaks through for his first victory.

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Garcia (73), Fleetwood (74) off to slow starts at BMW

By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 8:30 pm

PULHEIM, Germany – Sebastien Gros carded a 4-under 68 in windy conditions to lead by one shot after the opening round of the BMW International Open on Thursday.

The Frenchman had four birdies to take the lead before the turn, and a six-footer on the 15th hole moved him two ahead. But a bogey on the next hole left the 28-year-old Gros just one ahead of Jorge Campillo, Scott Jamieson, Aaron Rai and Henric Sturehed.

Sturehed eagled the par-5 No. 13 to take the lead in the morning at the Gut Laerchenhof club.

Christofer Blomstrand, Nico Geyger, Mark Tullo, Victor Perez, David Howell and Nicolai von Dellingshausen are a further stroke back on 2-under 70.

Defending champion Andres Romero was among a large group at 1 under, including 2013 winner Ernie Els and three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.

Romero is bidding to be the first player to retain the title.

Local favorite and 2008 champion Martin Kaymer shot 72, ahead of Sergio Garcia (73) and Tommy Fleetwood (74).

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Ryu thriving again after simple advice from Inbee Park

By Randall MellJune 21, 2018, 7:07 pm

So Yeon Ryu shared Rolex Player of the Year honors last year.

She reigned as world No. 1 for almost five months.

So when she couldn’t keep her momentum going at year’s start, she got frustrated. She wasn’t happy with two top 10s in her first 11 starts.

“I lost a lot of confidence at the beginning of the year,” Ryu said Thursday as she prepared to lead a strong field as the defending champion in Friday’s start of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. “My expectation level was way too high.”

So she sought the counsel of her pal, world No. 1 Inbee Park, who gave her some plain-spoken advice.


Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


“Get over it,” Park told her. “You know what to do. You’ve done it, so it’s not really a big deal. Don’t worry about it. You were No. 1. You’ve achieved a lot of things as a professional golfer. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.”

Ryu got over it winning the Meijer LPGA Classic last week, the sixth LPGA title of her career, her third in 15 months. She’s feeling good again leading a stellar field this week at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., a strong tune up before next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the year’s third major championship.

World No. 1 Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 3 Lexi Thompson are among the top nine players in the world scheduled to compete this week. Twenty-four of the top 30 are in the field.

“When you come to defend your title, you obviously have a lot of pressure, but after I won last week, now I sort of think, maybe I have a chance to defend my title,” Ryu said. “So I've got total confidence, by last week.”

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Watch: Spieth, JT hole bunker shots in back-to-back groups

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 6:57 pm

Jordan Spieth has a thing for holing bunker shots at the Travelers Championship, where he made one in a playoff to win last year.

He did it again in Round 1 at TPC River Highlands, knocking in this shot for eagle at the par-5 sixth to reach 4 under par for the tournament



In the next group, Justin Thomas did the same thing to reach 1 under. Keep an eye out for the best part of this highlight, when Thomas' caddie Jimmy Johnson tries to hand him his putter.

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River Highlands a 'breather' for Zach Johnson (63)

By Will GrayJune 21, 2018, 6:43 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – After enduring the pressure-cooker of the U.S. Open, Zach Johnson was more than happy to drift north to the friendly confines of TPC River Highlands.

Birdies were rare last week at Shinnecock Hills, but they’ll be plentiful all week long at the Travelers Championship. Browned-out and crispy conditions transitioned to lush and verdant, and players can attack flags without fear of turning a possible par into a struggle to avoid triple.

Johnson did just that in the opening round, carding eight birdies against a single bogey to take the early lead with a 7-under 63.

“It’s a different kind of breathing. It’s a different kind of exhaling, if you will, but they’re both good,” Johnson said. “You can put some red on the board here. We know that. We’ve seen it. You can go the other way in a hurry if you press it; it can keep going in the other way. So you kind of have to let it happen. This is one of those courses where you have to let it happen.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Like many in this week’s field, Johnson took it easy after a grueling major championship, staying away from the course Monday and easing into his prep over the next two days. Those decisions paid off quickly as he rattled off six straight birdies on Nos. 11-16 to take sole possession of the lead.

While Johnson tied for 12th last week at Shinnecock Hills, that was just his second top-15 finish since the Sony Open in January. But the veteran is no stranger to fast starts at TPC River Highlands, having now opened with 65 or better four times in his last eight appearances dating back to 2011.

It’s a course where he continues to have success, even if his past consistency hasn’t lived up to expectations.

“I feel like every time I get here it feels like I should shoot nothing, and it bites me,” Johnson said. “The last couple years I’m like, ‘All right, you can’t have any expectations in that regard. You’ve just got to go out and execute, you know, put the ball in the fairway and you will have opportunities.’”