Fantasy Island: Memorial Tournament

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 30, 2011, 8:26 pm experts offer up their picks for the Memorial Tournament. 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's ProGolf Talk, Ryan Ballengee; and's Rob Bolton.

You can battle the experts and play along as well. Just click here to get into the game.Compete against the 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 (6,538,230; 4th)

Group A: Luke Donald: Simply put, the newly crowned world No. 1 is playing better than anyone else and he’s been close at the Memorial before (T-6 in 2008).

Group B: Justin Rose: The Englishman ignited here last year on his way to a torrid first-T-9-first run and his swing coach Sean Foley likes where his pupil is at.

Group C: Arjun Atwal: The ultimate “under the radar” player, Atwal is 15th in the Tour’s new strokes gained putting statistic, which seems to be important at Muirfield Village.

Randall Mell

Randall Mell (4,304,889; 15th)

Group A: Phil Mickelson: Comfortable at Muirfield Village now (T-9, T-4, T-5 among last five starts there), he’s got to be feeling left out of the mix in this year’s biggest events and stories.

Group B: Rickie Fowler: Finishes off what he started last year, when he was runner-up to Justin Rose.

Group C: Pat Perez: Terrible early history at Jack’s place, but he seems to have found a plan there the last couple years.

Jason Sobel

Jason Sobel (N/A, N/A)

Group A: Steve Stricker: When in doubt, go with the best putter available.

Group B: Ricky Barnes: Shared third place last year and first win is coming soon.

Group C: Kenny Perry: If he's ever going to reclaim the magic for one week, it'll be at this tournament.

Charlie RymerCharlie Rymer (5,744,188; 8th)

Group A: Matt Kuchar: I'm getting back on the Kuchar bandwagon. He's gotta pick up a trophy at some point.

Group B: Vijay Singh: Singh has always looked very comfortable at Mr. Nicklaus' golf course and he's showing signs of being ready to win again.

Group C: Trevor Immelman: How about a blast from the past in a now healthy Immelman?

 John HawkinsJohn Hawkins (6,016,454; 6th)

Group A: Nick Watney: Got back in the mix last week. Should have a better weekend at Muirfield this week.

Group B: Lucas Glover: The bearded one has been playing well lately and we like guys on a hot streak.

Group C: Kenny Perry: Perry plays certain courses very well. This is one of them.

Jay CoffinJay Coffin (6,689,953; 3rd)

Group A: Luke Donald: If Keegan Bradley could capture the victory for me last week, surely Luke Donald can make it two in a row, right?

Group B: Justin Rose: Did I mention that Bradley won for me last week? If he can do it, the guy who torched the place last year should have another chance to be in contention.

Group C: Vaughn Taylor: Bradley's win vaulted him intro Group B, so I'll go with a guy who I have a gut feeling about. It worked out well last week, if you didn't notice.

Gary Williams

Gary Williams (5,802,607; 7th)

Group A: Hunter Mahan: Mahan is playing great golf in 2011 and we have seen several times this year that players can win, regardless of the track, when they are playing well.

Group B: Rickie Fowler: We keep waiting for Fowler to get that first win. He was runner-up here last year and could be one better this week.

Group C: Pat Perez: He has three top-6 finishes in the last six weeks and while he has not played great at Jack’s place, Perez had his best finish in 2010 (T-19).

Erik Kuselias

Erik Kuselias (5,343,659; 12th)

Group A: Matt Kuchar: With his tie for sixth last week, he enters an event where he has four top-13 finishes in the last four years.

Group B: Rickie Fowler: Fowler has shown he likes Muirfield Village, having finished runner-up finish in 2010. He can definitely contend again.

Group C: Fred Couples: Couples in contention would be the top story of the week. He won at Muirfield Village in 1998 and finished runner-up in 2004 and 2005.

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee (3,983,992; 16th)

Group A: Matt Kuchar: The guy loves this place. He's not finished outside of the top-10 in his last three Memorial starts and is ranked 7th in the world right now.

Group B: Steve Marino: It's time to get back on board the Marino Express. This guy is going to win sometime and, if he doesn't, he will finish inside the top-20. Eventually, this pick will pay off big.

Group C: Kenny Perry: For whatever reason, Kenny Perry gets excited to play Memorial. He's in excellent shape, likes the course, and is scrambling well on the Champions Tour.

Rob Bolton

Rob Bolton (4,443,473; 13th)

Group A: Luke Donald: I’m in no position to get cute. I’ll take his nine consecutive top-10s and sleep well. And jet lag is of zero concern.

Group B: Stewart Cink: He’s cashed in his last 13 starts here, six of which were top-10s, including his last two.

Group C: Brandt Jobe: Coming off his fifth top-25 of the year. Ranks seventh in total driving and 23rd in greens hit. Placed T-4 here in 2006.

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”