Fantasy Island: The Heritage

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 19, 2011, 4:12 pm

GolfChannel.com experts offer up their picks for the the Heritage. 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 and Randall Mell; 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.

The Heritage

*Ranking among the 16 GolfChannel.com experts

Rex Hoggard

Rex Hoggard
Score (Rank*)
4,008,797 (6)
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Brandt Snedeker

Group C:
Boo Weekley

He’s the highest-ranked player in the field (third), hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in his last four PGA Tour starts (including a T-4 at the Masters) and has finished tied for third and second the last two years at The Heritage. In other words, an easy pick.

An untimely cool putter coming down the stretch last week in Texas cost him, but he’s healthy, happy at home with his new baby and hitting the ball further than he ever has.

The “Man from Milton” is off to a rough start this season (four missed cuts and a withdrawal), but if anywhere can rekindle his inner ballstriker it is Harbour Town, where he’s a two-time champion.

Randall Mell

Randall Mell
Score (Rank)
2,530,128 (15) 
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Aaron Baddeley

Group C:
Boo Weekley
He’s got the tactical smarts and iron game to decipher Pete Dye’s puzzle. Plus, you gotta like Donald's T-3 and T-2 finishes in his last two starts at Harbour Town.
 
Baddeley’s victory at Harbour Town in ‘06 and his title at Riviera earlier this season make him a good fit again this week.
 
Two victories in the event (2007-08) inspire a much needed return to better form this week.

Charlie Rymer

Charlie Rymer
Score (Rank)
3,233,210 (10) 
Group A:
Matt Kuchar

Group B:
Stewart Cink

Group C:
Cameron Tringale
Great course for Matt Kuchar...but aren't they all.

Cink just tweeted about how fun the course is and how much he likes the event. In my book there ain't nothing more fun than winning!  As Ricky Bobby said 'If you're not first you're last.'  

Tringale was close last week. Extra credit to anyone who figures out what my three picks for Hilton Head have in common.
John Hawkins

John Hawkins
Score (Rank)
3,792,751 (7) 
Group A:
Zach Johnson

Group B:
Aaron Baddeley

Group C:
Boo Weekley



This should be a very good course for him, perfect for his accuracy.

Past champ, and every time I look, he's playing well.

Site of all his glory as a Tour pro, maybe the memories will ignite something.

 

Jay Coffin

Jay Coffin
Score (Rank)
3,167,575 (11) 
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Aaron Baddeley

Group C:
Kyle Stanley

I'd have picked him this week if his record wasn't good at Hilton Head. Turns out he's recorded a T-3  and a T-2 the last two years here.

Badds hasn't finished worse than 22nd here in the past five years, including one victory. That, coupled with his form this year make him a good pick.

I've picked him twice this year and it hasn't panned out, but the dude makes birdies in doses and is too good not to contend at some point this year.

Gary Williams

Gary Williams
Score (Rank)
3,448,810 (9) 
Group A:
Rickie Fowler

Group B:
Brandt Snedeker

Group C:
Boo Weekley
Made his PGA Tour debut at Harbour Town as an amateur in 2008 and finished tied for eighth in 2010. He has two top-10s on the 2011 PGA TOUR and is ready to win.
 
While he has not had a great record at Harbour Town (best finish is T-16 in '07), he is playing great in '11 with a pair of fourth-place finishes in Tampa and San Antonio and a T-15 at Augusta National.
 
As he said Tuesday on 'Morning Drive,' Weekley is playing great and feeling great and when you have won two tartan jackets and never finished out of the top 13, how can you not pick him?

Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias
Score (Rank)
3,448,810 (2)
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Aaron Baddeley

Group C:
Keegan Bradley


Highest ranked player in the field (third in Official World Golf Ranking), won the 2011 WGC-Accenture Match Play, T-4 in the Masters, two top-3 finishes in the last twoyears at Harbour Town … that sums it up.
 
Won the 2011 Northern Trust Open, won the 2006 Heritage on Easter Sunday (Sunday is Easter Sunday this year), and has finished top 25 at Harbour Town in each of the last five years.
 
PGA Tour rookie has two top 10s in 11 starts, including a tie for ninth last week in San Antonio. Making his first appearance at Harbour Town, he may be the next rookie to win.

Win McMurry

Win McMurry
Score (Rank)
6,635,134 (1)
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Aaron Baddeley

Group C:
Boo Weekley

He’s off to a crazy good year. After winning the Match Play he has made top-10s in all three of his starts. Plus, he likes Hilton Head finishing T-3 and T-2 the last two years.
 
It was either Badds or Bo Van Pelt here. Going with the the guy who has a win this year and a past win at The Heritage.

I’m not sure exactly what it is about Harbour Town that brings out some of the best in Boo, but despite his season record coming in, you have to take Boo as a C pick this week based on his history at Hilton Head. His last four starts on the island: T-12, T-13, Win, Win.

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee
Score (Rank)
820,026 (16) 
Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Aaron Baddeley

Group C:
Keegan Bradley
Donald closed the Masters with a hole-out on a course on which skeptics said he couldn't contend. He finished four back as the Par 3 Contest winner, too. Harbour Town should be a breeze for him. Last two starts here: T-3 and T-2.

A past champion of this event, back when he was a Stack-and-Tilt-er, Badds returns to the Heritage in form again and already a winner on Tour in '11 at Riviera, another ball-striker's paradise.

Why not? He had his best finish since the Hope last week in San Antonio. He's slightly better than middle of the road on accuracy numbers for the year, but as long as guys in their 20s keep winning on Tour, I gotta pick one 20-something.

Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton
Score (Rank)
2,783,381 (12) 

Group A:
Luke Donald

Group B:
Aaron Baddeley

Group C:
Boo Weekley

Going with pure chalk after taking the collar last week. Top 10s in each of his last four starts. Top threes in the last two editions of this even.
 
The 2006 Heritage champ hasn’t finished outside the top 25 in five appearances. Continues to pure his irons. Shared fourth place in Houston three weeks ago.
 
Strictly a selection for course history buffs. Both of his PGA TOUR wins were at The Heritage (2007, 2008). Pair of top 15s since. Hasn’t broken par in his last eight rounds in 2011, however.

Getty Images

Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

Getty Images

D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

Getty Images

Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith admitted sleeping on the lead of the biggest tournament available to him might be a problem.

''I can't say, 'Oh, it won't bother me.' But to me, it's fun,'' Smith said after shooting a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.

''To see my name on the board out there, it's not like I'm blind to the leaderboard, that was cool,'' said Smith, who is playing in his fourth Senior PGA and third at Harbor Shores - where he has made the 36-hole cut the previous two times.

''All my members are taking pictures and I know at home my members are pulling up that screen and like I tell them, going to the middle and looking down. So it probably took them a while to find my name today."

Petrovic, who was among the leaders in the Regions Tradition last week before a poor final round, said it was a little bit of a surprise when he heard Smith was at 7 under through 17 holes.

''There was a little bit of buzz, we were talking about it,'' he said. ''I heard somebody say 7 under and I said 'who is it? And we looked up, but we didn't know who the player was. In a tournament like this, you know how it is, there's always one guy, one smart-alec that shoots 7, 8 under in the first round.''

Smith, who birdied five consecutive holes starting at the seventh, played college golf at UCLA and knocked around the mini tours and South Africa for several years without ever gaining his tour card. He was college teammates with some of the players in the field, including Corey Pavin, Duffy Waldorf and Steve Pate, but said he no longer seeks the tour life.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


''It's just not me anymore,'' he said. ''So that's why maybe I do have an advantage this week because it's just fun to me. It's like my wife said - just enjoy the ride.''

Petrovic had seven birdies in his round while McCarron and Lonard played bogey-free rounds. Short holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par 4 12th and made eagle on the par 5 ninth hole, his last hole of the day.

McCarron is the only one of the six leaders with a major on his resume. He won the Senior Players Championship last year, and played The Players Championship recently.

''It was a lot of fun being on that stage, of course being at The Players with the best players in the world playing one of the best golf courses in the world,'' he said. ''I think the preparation there and just being on that stage helped me going into last week in Alabama, and certainly this week.''

The top two money winners on the PGA Tour Champions are not in Benton Harbor. Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.

Paul Goydos, a five-time senior winner including the 2016 Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and Chris Williams of South Africa shot 67. Joe Durant, David Toms, Kenny Perry, Jerry Pate and Fred Funk were among 15 players at 68.

Colin Montgomerie, who won the first of consecutive Senior PGA titles here in 2014, shot 69, and Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off a win last week in the first major of the year at the Regions Tradition, opened with a 70.