Rory McIlroy is confident his game is in the right place heading into The Masters as he reiterated that limiting mistakes will be especially vital. One player who has never had a distance problem is Rory McIlroy, and as much as I’d love to see him complete the Grand Slam of major titles, I’m not sure it will be this year.Rory is more “under the radar” this week with so much attention directed at Bryson, and he’s said he’s happy to not be the main focus ahead of the one major that eludes his collection.After he won the third leg of the Grand Slam at The Open in 2014, he finished in the top 10 in each of the next four Masters tournaments, although he lost his way a little last year and managed only a tie for 21st. But he’s generally been fantastic, and clearly one of the premier players at Augusta over the last 10 years. There are so many home players to get past even before you add tournament-favourite Bryson DeChambeau into the mix, so it’s going to be really tough for the British contingent to emulate Lyle, Faldo, Woosnam and Willett.There’s no doubt they’re capable, they’ve all got big golf games and Augusta always offers the opportunity to step out from the crowd and put in an inspired performance. But it needs something extra special to get across the line here.One thing in favour of the less-experienced players this week could be the absence of patrons. Any major championship is ramped up by an atmosphere that can be so big, powerful and often overwhelming for the uninitiated – and no more so than at Augusta National. “As strong as the British and Irish challenge is, the Americans are looking pretty formidable right now. DJ, Cantlay and Schauffele all look good, and there are so many home players to get past even before you add Bryson DeChambeau into the mix” Last Updated: 12/11/20 6:19am As strong as the British and Irish challenge is, the Americans are looking pretty formidable right now. Dustin Johnson looked in great form last week in Houston, Patrick Cantlay beat a very strong field at the Zozo Championship, and Xander Schauffele has not finished outside the top-25 in his last 11 starts and went so close to Masters glory last year. Can the British and Irish challengers upstage a powerful home contingent at the Masters this week? Nick Dougherty explains the magnitude of that challenge …Only four British golfers have made the trip to the Butler Cabin to be presented with a Green Jacket, so what are the chances of making that a “famous five” this week?Tyrrell Hatton certainly has great form coming into the Masters, but his record at Augusta National isn’t the best. In three appearances, he’s yet to crack the top 40, but he’s in great shape to improve on that this week. Get Sky Sports Golf for just £10 a month All four days of The Masters exclusively live. Get our £10 golf offer. Find out more here. World No 1 Dustin Johnson could deny Rory McIlroy this week – Advertisement – He’s been tipped by many to lead the British challenge, but I’d lean towards the more experienced players in the field. Lee Westwood has had a great year and still hasn’t given up hope of winning that elusive major, and I’m expecting a good week for Justin Rose.He hasn’t had the best of years and has slipped to 28th in the world rankings, but he’s got a cracking record at Augusta. Runner-up twice, including that play-off defeat to Sergio Garcia in 2017, three other top-10 finishes and he’ll be determined to atone for his first missed cut in the tournament last year.- Advertisement –
As a student at USC, Falicia Mandel was a consummate Trojan. She enjoyed the classes, the football and, more than anything, the camaraderie she shared with other students.Now, she’s hoping that camaraderie can help save her father’s life.Less than a year after her graduation last May, Mandel’s father, 60-year-old Joseph Mandel, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells. The condition requires him to receive a stem cell transplant, but none of his family members is a match.In fact, matches are rare — only about one random person out of 20,000 will be a suitable donor. But Falicia is hoping one of the 35,000 students at USC could be the one.A lifelong L.A. resident who works for JPMorgan Chase & Co., Joe will celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary this year and has two children, 22-year-old Falicia and 26-year-old Mark Mandel.Since learning of the diagnosis, Falicia said she and her family have reached out to anyone they can find.“I contacted everybody I could think of because it’s really life or death,” she said. “You can’t have any humility. You can’t be shy. The bottom line is my father has one year to find a match and receive a transplant. It’s so scary that the chance of finding a match is so slim.”Joe’s relatives have been tested, but there is only a 25 percent chance a sibling’s stem cells will match. His older and younger sister match each other but not him, he said. His 91-year-old mother, a Holocaust survivor, cannot donate either.Younger people, such as college students, make better donors because they are less likely to have health complications or previous surgeries, and transfusions of their cells are more likely to be successful, Joe said.In the search for a match, Falicia said USC seemed like a natural place to turn.“I had built a strong relationship with many students on campus,” she said. “There’s always this whole stress at USC that we’re a family. You’re a Bruin for four years but a Trojan for life. I felt if there was any way to get a large turnout it was through USC.“Knowing the school and faculty and how students are … You see students fighting for each other every day, and that’s what I was looking for.”Like his daughter, Joe is a staunch Trojan fan who said he never misses a football game on TV.He said the response from USC has been tremendous.“It’s so nice to see the Trojan family step up to the plate because there are others that have not,” he said.Joe said he was impressed by the work his daughter has done to help find a match.“It’s not an easy thing,” he said. “She’s doing everything in her power to be there for me and help to save my life.”He also praised the school, both for welcoming his daughter and for supporting him.“When Falicia went there the first semester, I saw the family that was there and said, ‘I sure wish I’d been able to go to a school like USC,’” said Joe, who attended Cal State Northridge.Falicia arranged the drive through the City of Hope Cancer Center, where her father is being treated.“Tell them the time, date and the place, and they just show up ready to do testing,” she said.At USC, she has found support from organizations including USC Chabad, which will assist in organizing the drive.“It’s important to be there and help in any way we can. She’s a member of our community,” said Rabbi Dov Wagner, the director of the Chabad Jewish Center. “The highest possible ideal is the opportunity to save a life.”He said USC has held drives before but never for one individual.“In the past, it wasn’t for anyone specific, just getting people into the registry,” he said. “Having a specific emphasis makes it that much more urgent.”The drive will be held Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Trousdale Parkway.Both the test and the donation itself are relatively minor procedures. The DNA is tested with a cheek swab, while a stem cell transfusion, which is similar to donating blood, can be done on the donor’s schedule.“You get people who come up and go, ‘Nah, I don’t want to do it, I don’t want anyone cutting me open.’ But it’s not a surgery,” Joe said. “It’s painless for them. The effort for them is minimal, and they’re saving someone’s life. They may not be a match for me, but they could be a match for someone else.”All tested students will go into a registry and could potentially assist others. While students with Eastern-European Jewish ancestry are more likely to be a match for Joe, other ethnic minorities are also underrepresented in the registry, making it hard for those patients to find transfusions.“We have to do everything we can to find a match, if not for him, for someone else,” Wagner said. “It’s a great opportunity to help and show support that doesn’t cost anything.”Joe said he hopes several hundred students will come but would appreciate if any students came to be tested.“We’ve had other drives, and you get 40 to 50 people, but it’s 40 to 50 people we didn’t have before,” he said.Falicia said she was grateful for the support she had already received.“This is a very desperate situation for the entire family, and it’s easier to go through this situation knowing that very rarely do you have to beg someone to help you,” she said.She urged students to take the time to get tested, saying that she would do the same.“I would do it for them. I and my brother would do it for them. It’s really not a lot to do, and it’s something that is necessary,” she said. “We’re hoping there’s a match out there.”
The FedEx Cup Playoffs are here, and it’s crunch time for the world’s best golfers to finish the season strong. The playoffs have been cut from four events to just three, so there will be added pressure to perform this week (for the golfers and the bet placers). Liberty National Golf Club will host the PGA Tour’s top-122 players who qualified for the playoffs, and it is one of the best venues in American golf. Liberty National hosted the 2017 Presidents Cup and last hosted a PGA Tour event in 2013, which was won by Adam Scott with a winning score of -11. Liberty National features pristine views of downtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, and it’s one of the most scenic courses in the Northeast despite being built on a former landfill. Liberty National is a challenging layout that is a real test for the best players in the world. It’s reasonably long at 7,350 yards for a par 71 layout and will place a heavy emphasis on driving. The fairways aren’t extremely narrow, but there is thick fescue, water and tricky bunkering should players miss the fairway. Golfers will have to be both long and straight off the tee, and this is a week where I will be placing a heavy emphasis on gaining strokes off of the tee. MORE: RotoQL Lineup Builder Key Stats for Liberty National Golf ClubBall Striking Strokes Gained: Off the Tee Strokes Gained: Around the Greens Par 4 Scoring The Northern Trust betting adviceOutright Bets to Consider*odds via DraftKings SportsbookJustin Thomas 22/1 2019 has to be seen as a somewhat disappointing year for Justin Thomas. Despite playing fairly well with six top-10 finishes, Thomas has yet to secure a win. A player the quality of Thomas won’t be held out of the winner’s circle for long, and this week at Liberty National sets up well for his tee-to-green game. JT’s game has been trending in the right direction since missing the cut at the U.S. Open — going 4/4 in cuts with finishes of T9, T11, and T12 in his last three events. 22/1 is nice value, and starting your card with Thomas allows you to jam in a few more players in the 20/1-40/1 range, which is valuable at an event that has a truly elite field. Patrick Cantlay 25/1 I’m admittedly a hater of Patrick Cantlay. Watching him stand over the ball for 20 seconds before each shot is cringeworthy, but I won’t let my bias distract from the fact that he sets up perfectly for this week at Liberty National. Cantlay is an elite ball-striker who has taken his game to another level in 2019. The most significant improvement has to be Cantlay’s short game. He ranks 9th on Tour in SG: Around the Green, and 43rd in Sand Save Percentage — both being vast improvements over his career averages. 25/1 is an appropriate price, and I wouldn’t have any problem if you wanted to start your card with Cantlay or make him your 2nd outright bet if you’re going to grab one of the favorites in the field. Adam Scott 45/1Adam Scott has been frustrating to bet on this season. On one hand, he has drastically improved his putting woes that have held him back over the last few seasons, but he has still been too inconsistent to challenge for wins in 2019. With that being said, Scott won at Liberty National the last time the PGA Tour hosted an event here, and a difficult layout where the winning score should be in the -10 to -12 range will suit Scott’s style of play. Scott’s ball-striking remains elite, and a SG: Around the Green ranking of 10th makes me think that his game is where it needs to be to grab a win in an elite field. I love the 45/1 number and would be willing to wager on Scott up to 38/1. Marc Leishman 90/1 I’ve been a week early on Marc Leishman all year long. I bet on him to win The Open, and he missed the cut. He then followed that up with a T2 in his next outing at the WGC Invitational after firing a 63-67 on the weekend on a tough layout. I will always give the big Australian a look at courses where he can pound driver off the tee, and Liberty National will certainly allow him to do that given its 7,350-yard layout. Leishman is an excellent value at 90/1 and is one of the few players in that price tier that has a proven track record of contending (and winning) against elite fields. While the approach isn’t quite as important as off the tee, there is still plenty of trouble to be found around the greens. The bunkering around the greens is especially difficult, and I’ll be looking at both SG: Around the Greens, and to a lesser extent Sand Save Percentage to help make my picks. Outside of the WGC Invitational, we have seen birdie fest-type events for most of the second half of the season. That will change this week with -2 or -3 for a round being a great score. We’ve been able to look at players with deep odds over the last few weeks as well, but I want to target the top players at this event. Just take a look at the last few winners of The Northern Trust: Bryson Dechambeau, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, and Jason Day — all top-25 players in Official World Golf Rankings at the time of their win. Before we get into this week’s picks, here’s a reminder to check me out on Twitter ( @DFSBenj ) for even more NFL, NBA, MLB and PGA daily fantasy content and gambling advice.