Expert picks: Zurich Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 24, 2012, 5:00 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads to the bayou as Bubba Watson returns to action to defend his title at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 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; RotoWorld.com's Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.


Win McMurry

Group 1: Luke Donald: Simple reasoning here. After he last lost the number one ranking at the Honda Classic, he came back and won in his next start at Transitions to reclaim the top spot. He surrendered the top ranking again last Monday to McIlroy, and in this, his next start, I see him taking it back.

Group 2: Cameron Tringale: I'm sticking with my pick this week after his T-8 in San Antonio, his second T-8 finish in a row. He has solid performance stats this year and tied for 18th at this event in 2011.

Group 3: Matt Every: I'm staying with Every this week as well. His runner-up finish was his best of the season and his fourth top-8 this year. He missed the cut here last year, but enters the week this year in a much better place.

Group 4: Kyle Reifers: Last time he played TPC Louisiana, in 2007, he set the course record with a 64. That record still stands as he returns with his Tour card in hand, hoping to secure it again for next season with a good week here.


Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Jason Dufner: He's been in the top 10 the last three years in New Orleans, including a top-3 finish last year.

Group 2: Greg Chalmers: Cashed in five of his last six stroke-play starts. He has two consecutive top-8 finishes in this event.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: Still feels like a steal. Cauley was T-18 last week and in the top 20 in four of his last five starts.

Group 4: Jason Bohn: A past winner here, Bohn has cashed in his last three PGA Tour starts.


Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Luke Donald: I know he didn't play well at The Masters or the RBC Heritage but we all saw what happened when Rory McIlroy took the world No. 1 ranking in March - Luke won the Transitions Championship two weeks later. It's been two weeks and Donald comes to a place where he finished T-8 in 2011.

Group 2: Peter Hanson: Quietly putting up a very impressive season with a runner-up finish in Qatar, T-3 in The Masters, T-4 in the WGC-Cadillac Championship and T-5 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. He missed the cut here in 2011 but especially after he hosted Morning Drive with me, I am feeling good about this Swede.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: I know it seems like I say this every week, but I am very excited about this young man. He's made his last five cuts and makes his first appearance in New Orleans coming off of a T-18 finish in San Antonio, where he closed with a 68 on a very tough course.

Group 4: Cameron Beckman: Beckman is making his first New Orleans start in four years but this 3-time PGA Tour winner has been showing signs of strong play lately. Seems to have one great round every week, and if he can build on that round he is in line for a great finish.


Gary Williams

Group 1: Jason Dufner: Dufner is one of those guys who quietly turns in some great golf, and that is especially true in New Orleans. He has three straight top-10s at TPC Louisiana, including a third place finish in 2011.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Although he's never won here, Howell tends to play well in this city. He was runner-up in this event in 2005 and in 2009 and finished T-13 in 2011. He has only missed one cut in 11 starts in 2012 and has not finished outside the top 30 in the last two months.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: Cauley has been my guy among the rookies on Tour this year and he has shown everyone that he has the potential to win on Tour. As an Alabama kid, he would take extra pleasure winning in the state of rival LSU.

Group 4: Cameron Beckman: This guy has quietly won three times on the PGA Tour and in 2012 has shown signs of playing well. If he can maintain the momentum of a solid round (like his opening 68 in San Antonio), he will play well.


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Luke Donald: Englishman finished tied for eighth last year and is motivated to retake the top spot in the World Golf Ranking with a solid finish this week.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: He's off to the best start of his career and always plays well in New Orleans, with two runner-up finishes and not a single missed cut in nine starts.

Group 3: Andres Romero: Wishful thinking pick here. Although the Argentine has struggled mightily this season, he's won at TPC Louisiana before (2008) and finished tied for eighth here last year.

Group 4: Greg Owen: On his way to victory last year, Bubba Watson led the field in GIR and driving distance, which is Owen's forte. If the Englishman has a halfway decent week with the putter, he could win by five.


Rob Bolton

Group 1: Graeme McDowell: So many choice options this week, but I keep going back to his return to consistency and statistical splits. Renewed focus is evident.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: About as close to a sure thing as it gets in fantasy golf. No wins at this event, but he's 9-for-9 and sits second in all-time event earnings. Five top-25s this year and only one missed cut in 11 starts.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: Changed his mind late to compete. The PGA Tour rookie has posted top-20s in his last eight starts this season, too. 

Group 4: Greg Owen: Plugging in the Brit for my last pick. Owen has finished in the top 20 here in his last two trips, and he's posted top-20 finishes in two of his last three starts this season, too.

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


Tune in to Golf Channel this Thursday-Friday from 3-6PM ET for live coverage of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for The Northern Trust

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 21, 2018, 10:20 pm

It's the first tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs and the top 125 on the season-long points list are battling it out to see who will move on to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for The Northern Trust. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

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

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


Purse: $9 million ($1.62 million to winner)

Course: Course: Ridgewood Country Club (par 71, 7,319 yards)

Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (Defeated Jordan Spieth with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Glen Oaks Club)

Notable tee times (all times ET)

• 7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

• 8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

• 8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

• 12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

• 12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

Key stats:

The top 100 players in FedExCup points after The Northern Trust advance to the Dell Technologies Championship.

• The field includes 120 of the top 125 in this season’s FedExCup – all except No. 17 Rickie Fowler, No. 21 Rory McIlroy, No. 50 Henrik Stenson, No. 93 Patrick Rodgers and No. 122 Bud Cauley.

• 2007 and 2009 FedExCup champion Tiger Woods is making his first appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs since 2013. Although he has won each of the other three playoff events, he has never won The Northern Trust.

• In the 11 years that this event has been part of the FedExCup Playoffs, the winner has gone on to capture the FedExCup just once - Vijay Singh in 2008.

• The defending champion is Dustin Johnson. Ernie Els (1996-1997) is the only player to successfully defend his title.

• Jordan Spieth finished runner-up last year. Three runners-up have gone on to win the next year - Seve Ballesteros (1987-1988), Dennis Paulson (1999-2000), and Padraig Harrington

(2004-2005).

• The course record in this event at Ridgewood Country Club is 62 by Hunter Mahan in the first round in 2008. The tournament record for 18 holes is 61 by Brandt Snedeker in the final round in 2011 at Plainfield Country Club.

(Stats and information provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit)

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Na holding out hope for Ryder Cup captain's pick

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:22 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – There are no shortage of goals for players as the PGA Tour reaches the final month of the season, and how players prioritize those accomplishments depends on individual motivations.

For example, coming into the season Kevin Na’s primary goal was to win a Tour event, which he accomplished last month at the Greenbrier. After that, things get interesting.

“I think win, No. 1. Ryder Cup, No. 2. Tour Championship, No. 3,” he said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust.

Na is currently 19th on the FedExCup point list, which gives him a good chance to qualify for the season finale, which comes with an invitation to three of next year’s four majors. The more pressing concern would be this year’s Ryder Cup.


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Na finish 18th on the U.S. Ryder Cup point list and he would likely need to do something extraordinary the next two weeks for captain Jim Furyk to make him one of his picks. Still, making the team that will travel to Paris next month is always on his short list.

“If I can somehow get my name on one of those lists of players that play the Ryder Cup; maybe at the end of my career, instead of saying, you know, you probably say, I had X amount of wins; and I played X amount of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, I think is pretty cool,” said Na, who has never played on a Ryder or Presidents Cup team.

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Woods tinkering with driver shaft, loft at The Northern Trust

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:11 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Tiger Woods said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust that he spent last week attending his children’s soccer games and tinkering with his driver.

Although he finished runner-up at the PGA Championship, Woods hit just 5 of 14 fairways on Sunday at Bellerive and ranked 74th for the week in fairways hit. It was no surprise that his focus heading into the FedExCup Playoffs was finding more fairways.

“We've been working on it, experimenting with different shafts and different lofts on my driver and 3-wood, as well,” Woods said. “Just trying different things. I've still got two more days and I'll still be monkeying around with a couple things and come game time we'll see what I go with.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Woods played an abbreviated practice round on Tuesday at Ridgewood Country Club, which included Nos. 1-8 and Nos. 15-18, with a new driver that features a different shaft from the one he used at the PGA Championship and more loft (9.5 degrees).

He also had a TaylorMade equipment representative walking with him on Tuesday and went to the practice range after his round for more work.

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English confident in playoff run after just sneaking in

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:07 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Harris English didn’t know the exact math, only that he needed to play his best final round of the season last week at the Wyndham Championship.

Although it wasn’t perfect, English’s closing 68 was good enough to tie for 11th place and vault him from 132nd on the season-long point race to 124th and into the playoffs.

“It was definitely a bit of a pressure-packed situation coming down the stretch. Different than, really, winning a golf tournament,” English said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust, the postseason lid-lifter. “It felt like Q-School again back in 2011 where you're in the sixth round and trying to get it done.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Despite three-putts on three of his final nine holes, English earned his seventh consecutive trip to the postseason and some much needed confidence after a tough year.

English had just two top-10 finishes this season and spent the majority of the summer mired around the playoff bubble (No. 125).

“Being 124 right now, I need another really good week this week to make it to Boston [the second playoff stop],” he said. “I like where I am. I have a lot of confidence from last week. Struck the ball well and kind of did everything to put the ball in great position. If I can do that again this week, that would be a heck of a week.”

Nick Taylor also played his way into the top 125 last week, finishing tied for eighth place at Sedgefield Country Club to move from No. 129 to No. 119.