Tuesday, February 28

Are Golf Spectators Becoming Too Rowdy?


Bubba at the noisy 16th hole in 2014.

THERE WAS TROUBLE ON THE 17TH hole at the Honda Classic, according to at least two PGA Tour players, Billy Horschel and Sergio Garcia.

This wasn't the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where mammoth crowds and a raucous atmosphere on the 16th hole are part of the deal, both expected and even celebrated. But what if this becomes the norm on the PGA Tour?

Billy Horschel talked to GolfChannel.com about his Honda concerns.

"I said to myself, this isn't Scottsdale. This is ridiculous."

Apparently heckled all week, Sergio Garcia also shared his thoughts.

"Imagine if you're trying to write an article and somebody's shouting things that aren't very nice in your ears?" he told GolfChannel.com. "How would that make you feel?

"The Honda Classic is a great tournament. I love the tournament, and I love the golf course. I think it's an amazing golf course, but it is what it is. Unfortunately, this happens a lot of weeks now in the United States. You have to deal with it the best way possible."

Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly added three police officers, making a total of eight, to the 17th hole after hearing player complaints. Kennerly also increased the number of marshals, but perhaps (as Garcia also noted) it doesn't make a lot of difference if alcohol is flowing and the golf setting has turned into a party atmosphere.

My hunch is that this will continue to be a problem at more and more events.

Monday, February 27

Rickie Fowler: 'My Putter Saved Me'



RICKIE FOWLER WON THE HONDA CLASSIC by four shots on Sunday, finishing 12 under on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens. It was Fowler's fourth PGA Tour victory and his first win since the 2015 Deutsche Championship.

"My putter saved me. I made some good putts," Fowler told Golf Channel's Steve Sands.

"It was tough out there today. Fought as hard as I could. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots, or shots that I thought were going to turn out good. The wind was tough today. It was heavy. It was blowing pretty good, so it kept us on our toes. A few of those putts I made on 8, and the two birdies I made on 12 and 13… If I don't make those putts, I've got a pretty tight race."

For some of those who watched such as NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller, the final round was a struggle.

"Obviously a win is a win," Miller said. "But you've got to learn to finish off Sundays like a true champion. But the bottom line, he just made the putts."

Jack Nicklaus called Fowler "one of the greatest kids I've ever met."

"This kind of lets us chill out in a way," Fowler added. "There’s less pressure, less stress. Just keep doing what we're doing. Get in the gym. Keep working on stuff with Butch [Harmon] and moving forward. I think this is something we needed going into Augusta, and I definitely like the spot where we’re at right now."

Friday, February 24

Thursday, February 23

Golf on TV: Honda Classic, Honda LPGA Thailand, Joburg Open



From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2017) – The PGA TOUR moves east this week for The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., the first of six straight TOUR events airing exclusively on Golf Channel and NBC leading up to the Masters. Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn lead the field at the Honda LPGA Thailand, as Lexi Thompson defends her 2016 title.

PGA TOUR

The Honda Classic
Dates: Feb. 23-26
Venue: PGA National Resort & Spa (Champion Course), Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         2-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-11 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              2-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-11 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-3 p.m. (Live) / 7 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Sunday            1-3 p.m. (Live) / 7 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday          3-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Scott defends: Adam Scott finished one shot ahead of Sergio Garcia to claim his 12th career PGA TOUR win.
Headlining the field: Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

* * *

LPGA TOUR

Honda LPGA Thailand
Dates: Feb. 23-26
Venue: Siam Country Club Pattaya (Old Course), Chonburi, Thailand

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1-5 a.m. (Live)
Friday              1-5 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          1-5 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            1-5 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Park to compete for first time since Olympics: 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Inbee Park, is set to make her first official LPGA Tour start since the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last June.
Thompson defends: Lexi Thompson finished six strokes clear of the field to earn her seventh career LPGA Tour win.
Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson, Ha Na Jang, Brittany Lincicome, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller and In Gee Chun.

* * *

EUROPEAN TOUR

Joburg Open
Dates: Feb. 23-26
Venue: Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club (East & West Courses), Gauteng, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5-7 a.m. (Tape delay) / 7-9 a.m. (Live)
Friday              5-7 a.m. (Tape delay) / 7-9 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          5-9:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday            5-9:30 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Porteous defends: Haydn Porteous won by two shots over Zander Lombard for his first career European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Haydn Porteous, Darren Clarke, Trevor Immelman, Y.E. Yang, Thomas Detry, Haotong Li and Brandon Stone.

Wednesday, February 22

An Odd Florida Swing, Masters in Six Weeks

THERE'S STILL ANOTHER WEEK IN FEBRUARY, but I guess we're all looking ahead to the Masters. That's what we do at this time of year. And it's only six weeks away.

Meanwhile, the Florida Swing of the PGA Tour starts tomorrow with The Honda Classic. It's a bit strange this time around with a stop in Mexico City instead of Doral.

Here are the tournaments leading up to Augusta:

The Honda Classic (February 23-26)
WGC-Mexico (March 2-5)
Valspar Championship (March 9-12)
Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 16-19)
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (March 22-26)
Shell Houston Open (March 30-April 2)

From the AP via USA Today, here's a preview of top players and their schedules leading up to the Masters:
The Florida Swing — it's more of a stutter step with the tour going to Mexico instead of Doral — has a tough act to follow. 
For starters, none of the top six in the world will be at the Honda Classic this week in Palm Beach Gardens. The highest-ranked player is Scott, who can't move higher than his No. 7 spot in the ranking even if he were to successfully defend his title at PGA National. 
Johnson is expected to play in Mexico, the Match Play and the Houston Open. Day will be in Mexico, Bay Hill and the Match Play. Spieth will be in Mexico, Innisbrook, the Match Play and most likely Houston. Throw in Matsuyama, McIlroy and Henrik Stenson, and there will be plenty of occasions for them to mix it up ahead of the Masters.
According to one sportsbook, current Masters favorites are Spieth (13-2) and Johnson (8-1), followed by Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama.

Tuesday, February 21

'Jack' Coming in April from Golf Channel



IF YOU'RE A FAN OF JACK NICKLAUS, or you just want to know about his life, career and greatness, this three-part Golf Channel production on the Golden Bear airing in April should be worth your time.

Here's information from Golf Channel:
The product of nearly 100 interviews and hundreds of hours of archived film, Jack blends recollections from Nicklaus, as well as his playing competitors, family members, sports legends, business partners, and childhood friends, along with golf and sports media. Also included are signature moments from a storied career to capture the essence of an individual who forged a permanent mark as the most accomplished golfer of all-time. Additionally, Jack will feature other "Greats of All-Time" in their respective sport, each weighing in on Nicklaus’ impact on the larger sporting landscape, including Wayne Gretzky, Richard Petty, Jerry Rice, Annika Sorenstam and Kelly Slater. 
The three parts are segmented chronologically: 
· Prodigy (Sunday, April 9 – 9 p.m. ET) – Beginning with Nicklaus' childhood upbringing, highlighted by the Golden Bear’s relationship with his father (Charlie), meeting his wife (Barbara) in college at Ohio State, and his early successes as a professional golfer. 
· Prime (Monday, April 10 – 9 p.m. ET) – The bulk of his on-course career accolades inside the ropes, led by his record 18 professional major championships and 73 PGA TOUR victories. 
· Pinnacle (Tuesday, April 11 – 9 p.m. ET) – Focusing on his lasting legacy as an ambassador to the sport, the priority he placed on family, and his business and philanthropic endeavors, including global golf course design, and the hospitals bearing the Nicklaus name.

Monday, February 20

DJ Conquers LA and the World



DUSTIN JOHNSON IS THE MAN. No longer an underachiever, DJ has checked off another accomplishment on the list, even if it wasn't a goal but rather a byproduct of winning. With a dominant victory at Riviera yesterday in the Genesis Open, Johnson has moved to the top of the golf world.

From Karen Crouse of the New York Times:
LOS ANGELES — Nineteen golfers, including the Genesis Open's nonplaying host, Tiger Woods, have ascended to the men's No. 1 spot since the rankings were introduced in 1986. On Monday, Dustin Johnson will become the 20th. 
Johnson, the reigning United States Open champion and PGA Tour player of the year, closed with rounds of seven-under-par 64 and 71 at a soggy Riviera Country Club on Sunday for a five-stroke victory. The win, his 13th on the PGA Tour, will vault him past Jason Day, the No. 1 player for the past 47 weeks, and the former No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the new rankings.
Johnson said: "If you look at even the top 10 guys in the world, all of them are very, very good. I'm going to have to keep working hard and keep playing well if I want to stay there."

DJ has won 13 times on the PGA Tour, including at least one victory in each calendar year since 2008.

What's next? I don't know, but I expect high on his list is a Green Jacket.

Friday, February 17

Skratch TV Presents 'Prison Golf '



THIS IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT. This is Adventures in Golf (Season 1) from Skratch TV.

Documentary filmmaker Erik Anders Lang takes viewers on a tour around the globe searching for the craziest, most intriguing stories in golf.

I hope you enjoy the next episode, "Prison Golf."

Related:
Golf Cart vs. GolfBoard
Urban Golf Landia in Portland
St. Andrews and the Legend of Tom Morris
Golf Outta Compton
24 Hours in Dubai
Slum Golf in Mumbai

Thursday, February 16

Golf on TV: Genesis Open, ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, Chubb Classic, ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth



From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 14, 2017) – The PGA TOUR will stage the final event of its West Coast swing with the Genesis Open near Los Angeles before heading east for next week’s Honda Classic in South Florida. Eight of the top-10 players in the world are in the field, including Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia; each of whom enter the event coming off a victory in the previous start. World No. 1 Lydia Ko is set to make her 2017 debut at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, airing Wednesday-Saturday in primetime on Golf Channel. Three-time winner of the event – Bernhard Langer – headlines a strong field at the Chubb Classic, the second of two Florida events in as many weeks on the PGA TOUR Champions. And the European Tour will stage the inaugural ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth in Australia, combining both stroke and match play into one event which will culminate with a bracket style series of six-hole matches on the final day of competition to determine a champion.

PGA TOUR

Genesis Open
Dates: Feb. 16-19
Venue: Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         2-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-11 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              2-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-11 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-9 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday          3-6 p.m.
Sunday            3-6:30 p.m.

Broadcast Notes:
Elite field to showcase eight of top-10 in the world: The Genesis Open will feature eight of the top-10 players in the world, led by No. 1 Jason Day and No. 3 Dustin Johnson. Hideki Matsuyama (No. 5), Jordan Spieth (No. 6) and Sergio Garcia (No. 9) are in the field as well, each coming off a victory in their previous start. Both Johnson and Matsuyama have a mathematical chance of ascending to No. 1 in the world with a win this week, depending on where Day finishes.
Watson defends: Bubba Watson finished one stroke ahead of Adam Scott and Jason Kokrak to claim his ninth career PGA TOUR win.
Headlining the field: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose and Bubba Watson.

* * *

LPGA TOUR

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
Dates: Feb. 16-19
Venue: Royal Adelaide Golf Club, Adelaide, Australia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     9 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live) / 2-6 a.m. (Thursday replay)
Thursday         11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live)
Friday              11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          9 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live) / 5-6:30 p.m. (Sunday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Ko making 2017 debut: World No. 1 Lydia Ko will make her first competitive start of 2017, and her first start since changing her caddie (Gary Matthews), coach (Gary Gilchrist) and golf clubs (Parsons Xtreme Golf).
Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson, Charley Hull, Ha Na Jang, Minjee Lee, Karrie Webb, Aditi Ashok, Haru Nomura and Cheyenne Woods.

* * *

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

Chubb Classic
Dates: Feb. 17-19
Venue: The TwinEagles Club (Talon Course), Naples, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Saturday replay)     
Saturday          3-5:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-5 p.m. (Live) / 1:30-3:30 a.m. (Monday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Kelly to make PGA TOUR Champions debut: Three-time PGA TOUR winner Jerry Kelly is set to make his PGA TOUR Champions debut this week after turning 50 in November.
Langer defends: Bernhard Langer finished three strokes ahead of Fred Couples to win the event for the third time, and earn his 26th PGA TOUR Champions victory.
Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Scott McCarron, Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Woody Austin and Kenny Perry.

* * * 

EUROPEAN TOUR

ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth
Dates: Feb. 16-19
Venue: Lake Karrinyup Country Club, Perth, Australia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         6-10 a.m. (Tape delay) / 11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Wednesday overnight, Live Stream)
Friday              6-10 a.m. (Tape delay) / 11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Thursday overnight, Live Stream)
Saturday          6-10 a.m. (Tape delay) / 11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Friday overnight, Live Stream)     
Sunday            6-10 a.m. (Tape delay) / 11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Saturday overnight, Live Stream)

Broadcast Notes:
Inaugural event combines stroke and match play: The event will utilize a unique format combining both stroke and match play, as the first three days will consist of traditional stroke play, with a 36-hole cut and an additional 54-hole cut to the low-24 players, with any ties for 24th place being broken by a sudden death playoff. The final day will be contested as match play – but each match will consist of only six holes – where the top-8 players after 54 holes will earn an opening-round “bye.” The remaining 16 players will compete in the first round (six-hole) matches, with the eight winners advancing to face the top-8 players having earned a bye, until the field is reduced to 8, 4, 2 and eventually crowning a champion. Any match tied after six holes will be decided by playing a “shootout hole,” measuring approximately 100 yards.
Headlining the field: Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Thorbjorn Olesen, Marcus Fraser, Siddikur Rahman, Peter Uihlein, Robert Allenby and Curtis Luck (a).

Wednesday, February 15

VIDEO: Jordan Spieth on Winning Time



JORDAN SPIETH TALKS ABOUT HOW he closes out tournaments on ESPN. Spieth collected his ninth PGA Tour title at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week.

This week Spieth goes for two in a row at the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

Tuesday, February 14

World No. 1 Lydia Ko Has a New Coach

Lydia Ko left golf instructor David Leadbetter in December after working together for three years. Following is the announcement of her new coach.

Howey-in-the Hills, Fla.; February 9, 2017 – The #1 ranked women's golfer Lydia Ko has officially partnered with Gary Gilchrist.  After spending over a month at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy at Mission Inn Resort & Club, Ko feels confident in the new team she has built in the off-season, including having Gilchrist as her new swing coach.

"Everybody here (at GGGA) tries to make it fun. We're obviously working on things, but we're trying to have a good time. Even before coming here, I had heard that Gary is not only a great coach, but he's a "cheerleader" - he’s here to support." says Ko. "In golf, it can feel so individual… You have to feel like you have a team around you that will make it fun, no matter what the situation is."

Ko is walking into the season with a new team, new equipment and new goals. Gilchrist and Ko have been honing in on her long game while working on the ownership of her swing. "That’s been the real difference for me. It's been very simple. Making it into a natural swing instead of putting me into place." says Ko. "I started over-thinking myself in my last season - and when you're over-thinking and you're over the ball - that is not a good combination."

For Coach Gilchrist, the opportunity to work with Lydia Ko is an honor that comes with a lot of responsibility. There is no missing Gilchrist's passion for the game and building champions. For him, it is much more than technical training, and when starting off with a new player, Gilchrist focuses on the positive that is going unnoticed.  

"In the beginning, I try to build confidence through consistency, and from there begin to build their game," says Gilchrist. "That is the art of coaching to me... it is not to get into somebody's head - it's to get into somebody's heart. If you follow your heart, you'll get there quickly. It will change your mindset right away... Improving your club face can get you somewhere, but improving your outlook can get you anywhere in life."

"Coaches are not something you change very often, and I hope this (partnership) goes a long way. I like what we've done. It's been good progress without being too much to work on… I'm excited to go out and play," says Ko.

Gilchrist also coaches some of the best players in golf including current LPGA Tour world #2 player Ariya Jutanugarn, world #4 Shanshan Feng, former #1 Yani Tseng, 10-time winner Paula Creamer, 2013 Rookie-of-the-Year Moriya Jutanugarn, and PGA Tour player Morgan Hoffmann.

"What I do every single day is my passion. Now, getting to coach the best players in the world… that is the cherry on top," says Gilchrist.

Monday, February 13

Jordan Spieth's 'Boring Golf' at Pebble Beach



"JORDAN SPIETH'S DOING JORDAN SPIETH things again," wrote Steve DiMeglio for USA TODAY. "That doesn't bode well for his colleagues."

Spieth, 23, notched his ninth win on the PGA Tour by cruising to a four-shot victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. At times, Spieth putted extremely well. That's his trademark. But when the putter went lukewarm or even cold, the young Texan striped the ball from tee to green. Michael Greller, Spieth's caddie, said his boss is underrated in the ballstriking department.

"Today I hit 17 greens," Spieth said after his final round, "sort of a dream round when you're leading by a bunch. But it was sort of boring golf."

He closed with a ho-hum 70. For the week, he finished 19 under (68-65-65-70--268) and made just four bogeys.

"That was the game plan," he added. "We got to every tee box and Michael said, 'Keep playing boring golf.'"

Spieth is one of only two golfers since World War II to collect nine tour titles before turning 24. Tiger Woods is the other. He had 15.

Still two months away, it's safe to say that Spieth will be a favorite at the Masters.

Friday, February 10

Tiger Woods Announces Break


ABOVE: Tiger warming up in Dubai.

TIGER WOODS ANNOUNCED TODAY AT TIGERWOODS.COM that he won't be playing in the Genesis (LA) Open and The Honda Classic.
"My doctors have advised me not to play the next two weeks, to continue my treatment and to let my back calm down. This is not what I was hoping for or expecting. I am extremely disappointed to miss the Genesis Open, a tournament that benefits my foundation, and The Honda Classic, my hometown event. I would like to thank Genesis for their support, and I know we will have an outstanding week."
Woods withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic last week after the first round because of back spasms. When Tiger will play next is anyone's guess.

"Really looking forward to seeing everyone one [at the Genesis Open]," he tweeted. "Unfortunately I won't be able to play."

Thursday, February 9

Golf on TV: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Allianz Championship, Maybank Championship



From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2017) – The PGA TOUR shifts to the Monterey Peninsula this week for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where three of the top-six players in the world are scheduled to compete: Jason Day (No. 1), Dustin Johnson (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 6). The 156 professionals in the field will be joined by celebrity amateurs for one round each at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club, with the top-60 professionals (and ties) along with the top-25 professional/amateur teams advancing to compete in Sunday’s final round at Pebble Beach. Notable celebrities in the field include: Wayne Gretzky, Peyton Manning, Bill Murray, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Timberlake and Mark Wahlberg. Paul McGinley and World Golf Hall of Fame member Jose Maria Olazabal are both scheduled to make their PGA TOUR Champions debut this week at the Allianz Championship in South Florida. The strong field also will feature Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, John Daly, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Colin Montgomerie. The European Tour heads to Malaysia this week for the Maybank Championship, headlined by 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett and Lee Westwood.

PGA TOUR

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Dates: Feb. 9-12
Venues: Pebble Beach Golf Links; Spyglass Hill Golf Course; Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course), Pebble Beach, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-10 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              3-6 p.m. (Live) / 7-10 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-10 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday          3-6 p.m.
Sunday            3-6:30 p.m.

Broadcast Notes:
Format: The field of 156 professionals and 156 celebrity amateurs will compete in one round on each of the three host course venues, with the top-60 professionals (and ties) and the top-25 professional/amateur teams advancing to play in Sunday’s final round at Pebble Beach.
Taylor defends: Vaughn Taylor finished one shot ahead of Phil Mickelson to earn his third career PGA TOUR win, and first since 2005.
Headlining the field: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar and Ernie Els.
Notable celebrities in the field: Carson Daly, Larry Fitzgerald, Wayne Gretzky, Peyton Manning, Bill Murray, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Romano, Justin Timberlake and Mark Wahlberg.

* * *   

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

Allianz Championship
Dates: Feb. 10-12
Venue: Broken Sound Club (Old Course), Boca Raton, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          3-5:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-5 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-2:30 a.m. (Monday replay)

Broadcast Notes:
McGinley, Olazabal making PGA TOUR Champions debut: 2014 European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and World Golf Hall of Fame member Jose Maria Olazabal are both scheduled to make their PGA TOUR Champions debut this week, with Olazabal hoping to return to form after being sidelined from competition for most of 2016 due to struggles with rheumatoid arthritis.
Toledo defends: Esteban Toledo defeated Billy Andrade on the third playoff hole to claim his fourth PGA TOUR Champions victory.
Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Miguel Angel Jimenez, John Daly, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul McGinley, Mark O’Meara and Woody Austin.

* * * 

EUROPEAN TOUR

Maybank Championship
Dates: Feb. 9-12
Venue: Saujana Golf & Country Club (Palm Course), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         10 p.m.-Midnight (Wednesday, Live) / 2-5 a.m. (Live) / 5-10 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              10 p.m.-Midnight (Thursday, Live) / 2-5 a.m. (Live) / 5-10 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          10 p.m.-2 a.m. (Friday Overnight, Live)        
Sunday            10 p.m.-2 a.m. (Saturday Overnight, Live)

Broadcast Notes:
Fraser defends: Marcus Fraser finished two shots ahead of Miguel Tabuena and Soomin Lee to earn his third career European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Danny Willett, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Thongchai Jaidee, Tommy Fleetwood, Marcus Fraser, Anirban Lahiri and Bernd Wiesberger.

Wednesday, February 8

My Day to Play at Pebble Beach

That's me on the par-5 18th hole at Pebble Beach.
(From the archives. The PGA Tour heads to the Monterey Peninsula for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am this week. I checked Pebble off my bucket list on December 8, 2012.)

Caddie Mike and me.
"YOU CAN BREATHE NOW, NEIL." That was our caddie, Mike, talking after I hit my first tee shot at Pebble Beach this morning. First-tee jitters are normal. This was far different, though. THIS WAS PEBBLE! And not only that, this first swing of the day was on the famed 18th along the Pacific Ocean, our beginning hole in the shotgun start.

I led off and just silently prayed I could stay steady enough over the ball to put it somewhere in the fairway. And I did. A lifetime golf quest was fulfilled today. A bucket-list item was crossed off the list.

It was a gorgeous day at Pebble Beach. It's sensory overload, admittedly overwhelming—in a good way, of course! I tried to take it all in and also play some respectable golf. I mostly gave up on the latter goal fairly early and focused more on reveling in the experience, taking in the breathtaking views and enjoying the golf holes that were so familiar to me after seeing them year after year on television.

Many thanks to Nancy, Steve and Shawn, my playing partners from Lexus. I’ll always remember the sunny December day I played Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Nancy Hubbell, my terrific golf partner and new friend.

Tuesday, February 7

VIDEO: Will Sergio Garcia Win a Major?



SERGIO GARCIA IS 37 YEARS OLD. He is not that old in years, but, like Tiger, he is old in golf years. Both Garcia and Woods have been grinding on the circuit for a long time, about 20 years. This past weekend Sergio won for the first time at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, bringing his European Tour win total to 12.

In the above clip, the Golf Channel crew discussed whether Garcia will win a major, that one gaping hole in his golf resume. One thought is that he is in a happier place and more content with himself. Maybe that will help.

I'd like to see Sergio win a major. A player of his ability, accomplishments and longevity should have one. I also think there are reasons he hasn't closed the deal. It would be easy to blame his putting, but I think it goes deeper. Winning a major is a big psychological hurdle. Garcia has been in contention many times and hasn't won. That's worrisome.

I think Garcia will have more chances. However, I'm not confident that he'll break out.

Monday, February 6

Hideki Matsuyama: 'There's Nothing Like It in Golf'



IF YOU HAVE BEEN PAYING attention to the PGA Tour at all during the fall and winter months, then you know that Hideki Matsuyama is making a big move on tour and in the world rankings.

Matsuyama, from Japan, made more noise yesterday with a playoff win over Webb Simpson at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. That makes two in a row. Last year he outlasted Rickie Fowler. As USA Today reported, it was Matsuyama's fourth PGA Tour victory and fifth worldwide title in the last few months.

He closed with a 67 and 17-under par total.

"There's nothing like it in golf," Matsuyama said about the rowdy atmosphere at TPC Scottsdale. "Playing in front of the number of fans and gallery this past week, great motivation. I just try to have fun with it, and at the same time, keep my focus."

The tournament set an attendance record of 655,434 fans for the week.

Matsuyama moved up one spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, to No. 5. Jordan Spieth dropped from No. 5 to No. 6. Here's the top 10:

1. Jason Day (AUS)
2. Rory McIlroy (NIR)
3. Henrik Stenson (SWE)
4. Dustin Johnson (USA)
5. Hideki Matsuyama (JPN)
6. Jordan Spieth (USA)
7. Adam Scott (AUS)
8. Justin Thomas (USA)
9. Sergio Garcia (ESP)
10. Patrick Reed (USA)

Matsuyama is an early favorite to win the 2017 Masters.

Friday, February 3

VIDEO: Tiger Woods Is Back on the Shelf



MORE BAD NEWS FOR TIGER WOODS. The 14-time major winner withdrew from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic before the second round. He complained of muscle spasms in his back. According to his agent Mark Steinberg, the discomfort wasn't related to nerve problems. Nor did Tiger indicate he had any back pain during or immediately after his first round of 77.

ESPN's Bob Harig asked Steinberg if the problem could be related to the long flight to Dubai. There was no definitive answer, but it wouldn't be surprising if that was a factor.

In the below promo, Tiger said it's great to be back in Dubai. Unfortunately, it didn't last long.

Thursday, February 2

Golf on TV: Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Waste Management Phoenix Open


From a Golf Channel press release.

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2017) – Tiger Woods, two-time champion at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, headlines a field that includes defending champion Danny Willett, Sergio Garcia and Matthew Fitzpatrick, with coverage beginning Wednesday in primetime. On the PGA TOUR, Golf Channel will feature nearly 40 hours of live programming from on-site at TPC Scottsdale, including Golf Central originating from an embedded set location within the raucous par-3 16th hole “coliseum.”

EUROPEAN TOUR

Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Dates: Feb. 2-5
Venue: Emirates Golf Club (Majlis Course), Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Live, Wednesday Overnight) / 6:30-8:30 a.m. (Live) / 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.(Replay)
Friday              2:30-8:30 a.m. (Live) / 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          3:30-8 a.m. (Live) / 9-11 a.m. (Replay)          
Sunday            3:30-8 a.m. (Live) / 9-11 a.m. (Replay)

Broadcast Notes:
Willett defends: Danny Willett won by one stroke to earn his fourth career European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Lee Westwood, Thomas Bjorn and Trevor Immelman.

* * *

PGA TOUR

Waste Management Phoenix Open
Dates: Feb. 2-5
Venue: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium Course), Scottsdale, Ariz.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-7 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Friday              3-7 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-11 p.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday          3-6 p.m.
Sunday            3-6 p.m.

Broadcast Notes:
Matsuyama defends: Hideki Matsuyama defeated Rickie Fowler on the fourth playoff hole to earn his second career PGA TOUR win.
Headlining the field: Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Jon Rahm.

Wednesday, February 1

VIDEO: John Rahm's Biggest Fan Is a Toddler


UNTIL I REVIEW VIDEO EVIDENCE to the contrary, I'm going to confidently say this young fella is John Rahm's biggest fan. Period. End of discussion.

Rahm, of course, is the 22-year-old Spaniard who won the Farmers Insurance Open in dramatic fashion (as you can see in the clip). It was Rahm's first PGA Tour victory.

Lastly, isn't this little guy ALL OF US when we sink that monster putt or hit that career shot or post that great score?

(H/T: Golf.com)