Fantasy Fact Pack: Humana Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2012, 10:30 pm


The PGA Tour returns to the continental U.S. this week with the revamped Humana Challenge. Normally a wide-open event, this year's field is much stronger than in years past as the tournament has modified the amateur portion of the event and returned to a 72-hole format. Played across three different California courses, the Humana will test players' ability to adapt to seeing a new course each afternoon. Here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title this weekend and help your Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge team in the process:

Par-5 Prowess: Unlike at Waialae CC last week – where players saw only two par-5s each day – players at the Humana Challenge will confront five par-5s during their rounds on the Palmer Course at PGA West. Since 1999, these five holes have ranked as the five easiest on the course based on stroke average during the tournament, with the hardest hole of the group (No. 14) still averaging well below par at 4.725. As the tournament concludes Sunday, the ability to take advantage of these par-5s will be important for players looking to distance themselves from the field. Two names to watch will be Kyle Stanley and Brendon de Jonge, both of whom played well last week and ranked in the top 10 in par-5 performance last season.


Power Rankings: Top 10 favorites at the Humana Challenge

Picking Up Strokes: Comparing a player's putting performance to Tour averages based on putt length, strokes gained putting can be a useful tool when trying to predict who will make more than his fair share of putts at each event. This week, on courses where red numbers will be plentiful, that statistic may prove increasingly important. One player consistently ranked near the top in this category is Greg Chalmers, who will make his 2012 season debut at the Humana. Chalmers has finished among the top 10 on Tour in strokes gained putting each of the last three seasons, including fifth in 2011, and will be looking to improve on his T-11 finish at this event in 2011. Along those same lines, Bryce Molder and Kevin Na are two players in the field whose strong showing in this category last season (third and eighth, respectively) helped propel them both to victories during the 2011 Fall Series.


Starting a New Chapter: Since Mike Weir won here in 2003, each winner of this event did not have a victory on the PGA Tour the previous season. This is a promising trend for players like Chez Reavie and Jason Dufner, both of whom had strong 2011 campaigns but failed to win an event. Both have played well here before, with Reavie finishing T-5 in 2008 and Dufner finishing no worse than T-34 in each of his last three Humana starts.


Birdie Barrage: Played across some of the easier courses Tour players will see all year, this event typically yields low scores all week. Of the 51 courses played during the 2011 PGA Tour season, the Nicklaus Course at PGA West ranked as the 49th most difficult venue. Not to be outdone, the Palmer Course came in right behind it at No. 50. An emphasis will be on making birdies early and often which should bode well for Charles Howell III. In addition to his runner-up finish last week at the Sony Open, Howell III also finished eighth on Tour last season in both scoring average (69.66) and par-5 performance (4.56).


Out of Nowhere: Last year's event saw Jhonattan Vegas emerge from obscurity to capture his first PGA Tour win in a two-hole playoff. In recent years, players like Pat Perez and Charley Hoffman have used this event to notch their first career victory on Tour as well. With this year's field stronger than in years past, it may be more difficult for a relative “unknown” to take home the trophy on Sunday. Still some players seeking their first win may be worth watching, including Spencer Levin, who was in contention at the Sony before falling back on Sunday and whose 69.85 scoring average in 2011 shows his ability to go low when required.


Sleeper Alert: This week's under-the-radar player to consider as you set your fantasy lineup is Brian Gay. One of the more consistent ball-strikers on Tour, Gay translated fairways hit into lower scores in 2011 while finishing T-26 in scoring average. He boasts a strong history at this event, having improved his finish each of the last four years as he climbed from T-38 in 2008 to T-5 in 2011 – amassing an impressive 67.95 stroke average here in the process. Gay also finished seventh in scrambling and 17th in strokes gained putting in 2011, showcasing his stellar play around the greens last season. Already off to a strong start in 2012 with a T-6 finish last week at the Sony Open, Gay is a Group 3 player who may contend for the title down the stretch.



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Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:28 am

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Arizona grabs last spot with eagle putt, playoff win

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 3:18 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – With her team freefalling in the standings, Arizona coach Laura Ianello was down to her last stroke.

The Wildcats began the final round of the NCAA Championship in third place, but they were 19 over par for the day, and outside the top-8 cut line, with only one player left on the course.

Bianca Pagdaganan had transferred from Gonzaga to compete for NCAA titles, and on the 17th hole Ianello told her that she needed to play “the best two holes of your life” to keep the dream alive.

She made par on 17, then hit a 185-yard 6-iron out of a divot to 30 feet. Not knowing where she stood on the final green, Pagdaganan felt an eerie calm over the ball. Sure enough, she buried the eagle putt, setting off a raucous celebration and sending the Wildcats into a play-five, count-four team playoff with Baylor at 33 over par.

Their match-play spot wasn’t yet secure, but Ianello still broke down in tears.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

“Bianca is such an inspiration for all of us,” she said. “She’s the kind of kid that you want to root for, to have good things happen to.”

Arizona prevailed on the second playoff hole. As the 8 seed, the Wildcats will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Karsten Creek.

Though the finish had plenty of drama, no teams played their way into the coveted top 8 on the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

Baylor came closest. The Bears barely advanced past regionals after a mysterious stomach virus affected several players and coaches. They competed in the final round with just four healthy players.

On Monday, Gurleen Kaur put Baylor in position to advance, shooting 68, but the Bears lost by three strokes on the second extra hole.

Arkansas finished one shot shy of the team playoff. The second-ranked Razorbacks, who entered NCAAs as one of the pre-tournament favorites, having won seven times, including their first SEC title, couldn’t overcome a 308-300 start and finished 10th. Player of the Year favorite Maria Fassi finished her week at 19 over par and counted only two rounds toward the team total.