Fantasy Island: Open Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 13, 2011, 1:00 pm

GolfChannel.com experts offer up their picks for the Open Championship. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from three 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 Charlie Rymer; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; contributor Win McMurry; writer for NBCSports.com's ProGolf Talk, Ryan Ballengee; and RotoWorld.com's Rob Bolton.

You can battle the experts and play along as well. Just click here to get into the game.Compete against the GolfChannel.com experts and other fans in our Fantasy Challenge.

In parentheses, next to the names, are the participants' 2011 points earned and ranking among the 17 Fantasy Challenge 'experts.'


Rex Hoggard

Rex Hoggard (8,490,435; 4th)

Group A: Paul Casey: If not for a triple bogey on No. 12 last year, he may well have won the Open.

Group B: Matteo Manassero: His lack of power should not be a concern this week.

Group C: Davis Love III: Is playing well. Just needs to get his putter going.         


Randall Mell

Randall Mell (6,791,399; 11th)

Group A: Jason Day: Year of the young'uns could continue this week.

Group B: Sergio Garcia: Ball striking is great; it's all up to his putter.

Group C: Stewart Cink: Having won this event before makes him a good bet.


Jason Sobel

Jason Sobel (N/A, N/A)

Group A: Lee Westwood: Could have six consecutive first-time major champions for first time since 2004.

Group B: Ross Fisher: Under the radar, good-but-not-great player. He fits the current major mold.

Group C: Justin Leonard: Hitting the ball well and has perfect trajectory for this event.


Charlie Rymer

Charlie Rymer (7,799,623; 9th)

Group A: Matt Kuchar: Played well in Scotland last week and should be up to the challenge if the wind blows.

Group B: Matteo Manassero: Consistent play should give him a chance over the weekend.

Group C: Davis Love III: This event produces fairy tales. Maybe he's the main character this year.


John Hawkins

John Hawkins (6,972,198; 8th)

Group A: Lee Westwood: His large pile of trophy-less success forces me to pick him.

Group B: Ernie Els: Great track record, pretty attractive in the Bs.

Group C: Angel Cabrera: If he's in the Cs in a major, I have to take him.


Jay Coffin

Jay Coffin (8,328,653; 5th)

Group A: Luke Donald: Don't usually like a guy who won the week before, but he is too good to pass up.

Group B: Sergio Garcia: Keeping the theme of people I don't feel good about, we'll pick Garcia.

Group C: Darren Clarke: Here's hoping we get a feel-good story this week.


Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias (6,292,204; 13th)

Group A: Lee Westwood: Five top-3s in his last seven major championship starts.

Group B: Sergio Garcia: Playing better and was T-10 here in 2003.

Group C: Charles Howell III: Going with my gut on this one. Will try to make the most of his late invite.


Win McMurry

 Win McMurry (10,341,306; 2nd)

 Group A: Luke Donald: Between he and Westwood, going with No. 1 and the guy who won last week.

 Group B: Hunter Mahan: Would like to see Mahan get redemption for his Ryder Cup singles loss and get the U.S. back on the major map.

Group C: Davis Love III: Tied for fourth at the Open in 2003 and returns in great form.


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee (4,641,376; 16th)

Group A: Jason Day: Eight of the 13 Open winners at Royal St. George's have been first-time major champions.

Group B: Sergio Garcia: He's back, I promise you. He'll be there in the end.

Group C: Thorbjorn Olesen: Gotta have a guy come from nowhere.


Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton (6,861,456; 10th)

Group A: Luke Donald: Not enough space to share all the reasons I like him this week.

Group B: Sergio Garcia: Top-10s in last two starts.

Group C: Angel Cabrera: Two-time major winner coming off a T-3 on a links course. Great pick for the Cs.



For more in-depth fantasy golf coverage, visit Rotoworld powered by NBC Sports.RotoWorld

Getty Images

McCarthy wins Web.com Tour Championship by 4

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2018, 2:14 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.

McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals.

''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''

McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.

Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.

''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''

The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.

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LaCava pushed Woods to work on bunker game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 1:52 am

ATLANTA – Last week as Tiger Woods prepared to play the season finale at East Lake he sent a text message to his caddie Joey LaCava that simply asked, what do I need to do to get better?

Although when it comes to Woods his proficiency is always relative, but LaCava didn’t pull any punches, and as the duo completed the final round on Sunday at the Tour Championship with a bunker shot to 7 feet at the last the two traded knowing smiles.

“We had a talk last week about his bunker game and I said, ‘I’m glad you kept that bunker game stuff in mind,’” LaCava said. “I told him he was an average bunker player and he worked at it last week. There were only two bunker shots he didn’t get up-and-down, I don’t count the last one on 18. He recognized that after two days. He was like, ‘What do you know, I’m 100 percent from the bunkers and I’m in the lead after two days.”


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


For the week, Woods got up-and-down from East Lake’s bunkers seven out of nine times and cruised to a two-stroke victory for his first PGA Tour title since 2013. That’s a dramatic improvement over his season average of 49 percent (100th on Tour).

“His bunker game was very average coming into this week,” LaCava said. “I said you’ve got to work on your bunker game. If you had a decent bunker game like the Tiger of old you would have won [the BMW Championship].”

Getty Images

For Woods, is this only the beginning?

By Damon HackSeptember 24, 2018, 1:42 am

If this is Tiger Woods nine months into a comeback, wait until he actually shakes the rust off.

This was supposed to be the year he kicked the tires, to see how his body held up after all those knives digging into his back.

To see if a short game could truly be rescued from chunks and skulls.

To see if a 42-year-old living legend could outfox the kids.

On the final breath of the PGA Tour season, it was Tiger Woods who took ours away.

Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club – and one group behind the current World No. 1 and eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose – Woods bludgeoned the field and kneecapped Father Time. 

It was Dean Smith and the Four Corners offense.  Emmitt Smith moving the chains. Nolan Ryan mowing them down.

And all of a sudden you wonder if Phil Mickelson wishes he’d made alternate Thanksgiving plans.

Even if everybody saw a win coming, it was something else to actually see it happen, to see the man in the red shirt reach another gear just one more time.

Win No. 80 reminded us, as Roger Maltbie once said of Woods when he came back from knee surgery in 2009: “A lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

It wasn’t long ago that Tiger Woods seemed headed toward a disheartening final chapter as a broken man with a broken body.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


He would host a couple of tournaments, do some great charity work, shout instructions into a walkie talkie at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and call it a career.

There would be no Nicklaus 1986 Masters moment, no Hogan Mystique at Merion.

He would leave competitive golf as perhaps both the greatest to ever play the game and its greatest cautionary tale.

Willie Mays with the New York Mets. Muhammad Ali taking punishment from Larry Holmes.

But then Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler started whispering at the end of 2017 that Tiger was healthy and hitting the ball hard. 

There was that hold-your-breath opening tee shot at the Hero World Challenge, a bullet that flew the left bunker and bounded into the fairway.

Rollercoaster rides at Tampa and Bay Hill, backward steps at Augusta and Shinnecock, forward leaps at The Open and the PGA.

He switched putters and driver shafts (and shirts, oh my!) and seemed at times tantalizingly close and maddeningly far.

That he even decided to try to put his body and game back together was one of the all-time Hail Marys in golf.

Why go through all of that rehab again?

Why go through the scrutiny of having your current game measured against your untouchable prime?

Because you’re Tiger Woods, is why, because you’ve had way more wonderful days on the golf course than poor ones, despite five winless years on the PGA Tour.

Suddenly, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins is in jeopardy and Jack Nicklaus, holder of a record of 18 major championships, is at the very least paying attention.

Woods has put the golf world on notice.

It won’t be long until everyone starts thinking about the 2019 major schedule (and you’d better believe that Tiger already is).

The Masters, where he has four green jackets and seven other Top 5 finishes. The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he won in 2002 by 3. The United States Open at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2000 by 15.

The Open at Royal Portrush, where his savvy and guile will be a strong 15th club.

But that’s a talk for a later date.

Tiger is clearly still getting his sea legs back.

Getty Images

Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2018, 1:04 am

ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.

McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.

McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.

In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.

The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”

“I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”

It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.