Fantasy Island The Masters

By Rex HoggardApril 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
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There are almost as many storylines as there are contenders heading into the seasons first mens major. Tiger Woods returns to the Grand Slam arena for the first time since Torrey Pines, Phil Mickelson has given the golf world a glimpse of what could be on Sunday, and Padraig Harrington ' in case anyone noticed ' is eyeing his third consecutive major.
 
For the Masters edition of Fantasy Island, we will keep things simple, with each of our experts making a win, place and show pick, with only our winners earnings being applied to the season-long race.
 


 
Win: Tim Clark. Check the card the last two trips around Augusta National, the additional length may seem to favor the bombers but its been the plodders who have ruled. Last year Trevor Immelman was 1, 2 and 4 ' fairways hit, greens in regulation and putting. In 2007, Zach Johnson had a similar card, going 2nd, 4th and 10th. Clark ranks 8th in driving accuracy; 6th in GIR, 18th in putts per GIR and his runner-up finish in 2006 proved he can play the place.
 
Place: Tiger Woods. Because hes Tiger Woods and because since the 1997 clinic hes finished outside the top 5 just four times. The comeback is over, the only question is whether Woods can solve the mysteries of the overhauled Augusta National? Since the 2002 changes, Woods is 2-for-7 at the Masters. Thats a career for most players, for Woods its a curiosity.
 
Show: Mathew Goggin. Every year we pick an Australian and every we are disappointed. Geoff Ogilvy seems to have the game for Augusta National but expectations may have gotten the best of him. Goggin is playing well and could dive in under the radar to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller to win his first Masters.
 
Lagniappe (A little something extra): Bookmakers in the United Kingdom come up with the best side-action, so why not apply that ingenuity to the years first major?
 
Low Singh: Vijay, he is struggling right now, but Augusta seems to bring out the best in him.
 
Low Johnson: Would have considered Dustin before last weeks DUI. But then Zach is hardly a stretch. He was solid at Bay Hill and has a little history in Georgia.
 
Low Hansen: Normally we have two or three too pick from, but this year Soren is it.
 
In addition to my picks, the GolfChannel.com staff will be offering up their picks. A player can be picked to win a maximum of five times. We will be keeping a running tally of the monies earned each week. The participants include: Jay Coffin, Editorial Director; Mercer Baggs, Editorial Manager; Brian Koressel, Senior Producer; Dena Davis, Assistant Editor; Erik Peterson, Travel Editor; Jerry Foltz, special contributor.
 
STAFF PICKS:


NamePlayer PickReasonMoney
Rex HoggardWinner:
Tim Clark
Check the card the last two trips around Augusta National, the additional length may seem to favor the bombers but its been the plodders like Tim Clark, who have ruled. $1,719,550
Contender:
Tiger Woods
Because hes Tiger Woods and because since the 1997 clinic hes finished outside the top 5 just four times.
Dark Horse:
Mathew Goggin
Goggin is playing well and could dive in under the radar to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller to win his first Masters.
Jay CoffinWinner:
Tiger Woods
Havent picked him to win in each of his three starts so now is a good time use him at a place where hes a dead solid lock to at least finish in the top 10.$3,362,752
Contender:
Padraig Harrington
Has anyone gone for three consecutive majors with less fanfare? That plays to Harringtons advantage at a place where hes played well the past two years (T-7, T-5).
Dark Horse:
Nick Watney
Hes played so well that maybe he shouldnt be considered a darkhorse. But he did tie for 11th last year and has been a stud during the first quarter of the season this year.
Mercer BaggsWinner:
Tiger Woods
Id love to go against the grain and take someone else. But cant go against Tiger this week.$2,927,785
Contender:
Ian Poulter
Hell probably play well early and then sneak in a top-10 finish.

Dark Horse:
Andres Romero
This guy always seems to show up near the top of a leaderboard in a major.
Erik PetersonWinner:
Tiger Woods
Tiger is putting with confidence heading into Augusta. Scary.$2,415,517
Contender:
Phil Mickelson
Hes had an up-and-down season so far, but has rallied when it counts.

Dark Horse:
Danny Lee
With the teen phenom hype deflected by Ishikawa, cool-as-ice Lee will hearken back to Bobby Jones.
Brian KoresselWinner:
Geoff Ogilvy
In his return, Greg Norman garners the spotlight on the eve of the Masters and then fellow Aussie Ogilvy steals the spotlight from Tiger and Phil come Sunday evening.$3,037,258
Contender:
Lee Westwood
Flying in under the radar somewhat, look for the Englishman to be high on the leaderboard at the end of the tournament.
Dark Horse:
Nick Watney
A darkhorse probably only in the eyes of the general golfing public, Watney has quietly put together a very solid start to 2009.
Dena DavisWinner:
Tiger Woods
Pick a reason, any reason to take the man. This is like a choose-your-own-adventure book and any script ends with Woods winning his fifth green jacket.$2,330,559
Contender:
Zach Johnson
The surprise '07 Masters winner will contend again, and it shouldn't be a surprise this time. He's a great putter and he goes into Augusta with a win and five top-20s under his belt this season.
Dark Horse:
Stewart Cink
Stewie's a darkhorse simply due to his quiet '09 season. But you have to love that the Georgia local hasn't finished out of the top-20 in the last five Masters, including a T3 last year.
Jerry FoltzWinner:
Geoff Ogilvy
My pick to win for the second week in a row ' and despite the stumble on Sunday in Houston ' I still think he's the only one other than Tiger that makes sense.$1,771,979
Contender:
Kenny Perry
Why not? He hits a draw, has a tendency to get hot with the putter, and it's even a major he's going to play.
Dark Horse:
Tim Clark
I guess Phil and Tiger would be rejected as long-shots by my editorial review board at Golfchannel.com, so I'll go with Tim Clark. Regardless of the stats that my friend Rex Hoggard offers, I still think he's a long-shot.

 

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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


    Updated Official World Golf Ranking


    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”