Fact Pack: Pebble Beach and Dubai

By Will GrayFebruary 8, 2012, 2:30 pm

For the third week in a row, fantasy golf fans will need to divide their attention between two events with star-studded fields. The PGA Tour heads to iconic Pebble Beach for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, while the European Tour concludes their Desert Swing at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Participants in the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge will need to do their homework before they submit lineups for each event this week. With that in mind, here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title(s) this week and help your fantasy team in the process:

Jim Furyk will be making his 2012 PGA Tour debut at Pebble Beach this week. Prior to missing the cut here last year, Furyk had posted six consecutive finishes inside the top 40 at this event, highlighted by a T-6 finish in 2007. 

Rory Sabbatini will look to a hot putter to help continue his strong start in 2012. The South African ranks first on Tour in putts per round, fifth in strokes gained putting and seventh in total putting. It's not surprising, then, that Sabo has finished inside the top 30 in each of his first three starts this year.

• With none of the three courses in the Pebble Beach rotation this week stretched beyond 6,900 yards, an emphasis will be placed on tee-to-green ball striking above driving distance. Expect Roberto Castro to continue a fine start to his rookie season, as he ranks 20th in total driving and 9th in driving accuracy. Castro has improved his finish in each of his first three starts this year, a trend that will put him in contention this weekend should it continue.

Martin Kaymer returns to another venue in the Middle East that seems to fit his game. With three top-4 finishes in four Dubai starts, there is reason to think that Kaymer's result this week will be closer to last week's T-9 in Qatar than the unexpected MC he posted in Abu Dhabi.

Bob Estes may be feeling the pressure this week, as he needs to earn $18,062 between his next two starts to move into the Major Medical Exemption category. Estes has a strong track record at this event, though, finishing T-4 in 2009 and T-16 in 2010.

• If searching for a sleeper pick in the Dubai field, you may want to give Group 4 golfer Bradley Dredge a second look. Since 2002, the Welshman has finished in the top 20 an impressive eight times at this event, including a T-10 showing last year.

Tom Gillis will look to a venue where he has had recent success to help get his 2012 season on track. The Group 3 journeyman has missed each of his first three cuts this year but finished in the top 10 at Pebble Beach each of the last two years, including a third place finish in 2011.

• Few in the field this week can rival the Dubai resume of Miguel Angel Jimenez. The Mechanic will be making his 20th start in this event on Thursday, and has six top-10 finishes to his name - including a victory here in 2009.

• Not surprisingly, one of the keys to success at Pebble Beach over the years has been finding the green in regulation. Last year, eight of the top 14 names on the leaderboard were also in the top 10 in GIR for the week. This bodes well for a player like John Mallinger, who has hit better than 75% of the greens in regulation so far in 2012. The runner-up at the Humana Challenge last month, Mallinger also finished T-3 in this event in 2008.

Nicolas Colsaerts is quietly putting together a strong start to his 2012 campaign, with last week's T-9 finish in Qatar his second top-10 finish in three starts. The Belgian ranks second on the European Tour in driving distance, has hit the green in regulation nearly 77% of the time and may very well contend for the title this week in Dubai.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”