Could an international major help golf grow?

By Doug FergusonNovember 5, 2013, 7:08 pm

SHANGHAI – Consider a couple of scenes from the golf world this year, with emphasis on ''world.''

Inbee Park began her bid to become the first golfer to capture four straight majors in one season by teeing off at 7 a.m. in the opening round at St. Andrews. It was a strange starting time for the star attraction, except that was prime viewing in South Korea.

Luke Guthrie had just started his second PGA Tour season when he packed his bags, along with a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew for his caffeine fix, and flew from Las Vegas to Shanghai for a European Tour event with little more at stake than experience in a new environment. He nearly won. Hello, China.

One of the rules officials at the HSBC Champions was a Chinese woman who has a Ph.D. in golf. Tiger Woods has only a Masters (OK, four of them).

Jordan Spieth wandered down to the caddie's bar Saturday night with his Texas Longhorns cap turned backward and his eyes on a TV showing the USC-Oregon State game from Friday night that had ended eight hours earlier. He was a long way from home, but for a moment, it sure didn't feel like it.

One of the biggest celebrations of the year starts this week in Australia – Adam Scott finally returns home with his green jacket.

Americans can be found over the next month from the Pacific Rim to Down Under. Rickie Fowler went from Malaysia to Shanghai to Australia, and then he was headed to Los Angeles for intense gym work before returning to Thailand. Tiger Woods was in China, Macau and Singapore doing corporate outings and an exhibition before going to Turkey this week for his second regular European Tour event of the year. Matt Kuchar is representing his country at Royal Melbourne again, this time in the World Cup.

Graeme McDowell, who grew up in Northern Ireland and lives in Orlando, Fla., spent two weeks in Shanghai, and then flew home to Florida for a week going back across eight time zones to finish his European Tour season in Dubai. Then he goes to Australia and Los Angeles.

Now, throw out 153 years of championship history and ask yourself this question: If golf were starting from scratch and there could be only four majors, would three of them really be in America?

That's why it makes perfect sense for the PGA of America to explore the possibility of occasionally taking the PGA Championship overseas. The key words are ''explore'' and ''occasionally.''

''I would say we're more than halfway through a serious analysis,'' PGA chief executive Pete Bevacqua said over the weekend. ''What's important is we boil down our missions to two pillars – serve our members and grow the game,'' Bevacqua said. ''The ultimate test will be can we check both boxes? Does it make sense to occasionally play the PGA Championship overseas? Would growing the brand globally help our members? Would it grow the game? Part two is easy.''

The assumption would be to look at Asia, though the HSBC Champions already bills itself as ''Asia's major'' and likely will be even further established when or if the PGA of America ever decides to start accumulating stamps in its passport.

The most obvious hindrance is television, which was driven home by a tweet from Bob Estes to Dustin Johnson. ''Just woke up to find out that you won.'' The tweet was sent Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Texas time, about five hours after Johnson completed his three-shot win in the HSBC Champions. Estes missed an extraordinary display of golf – Johnson, Ian Poulter and McDowell each closed with a 66 from the final group.

Then again, if the PGA Championship were to leave America on occasion, that's at least a decade out. It wasn't long ago when the Masters showed only three hours of the final round. Or when golf in America was only televised on the weekend. How will sports even be broadcast a decade from now?

Bevacqua has only to look at other sports to identify a trend.

The NBA is playing preseason games in China. The NFL is making London a regular part of its schedule (yes, that team from Jacksonville really is part of the NFL). The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will open the 2014 baseball season in Australia.

''The world is getting smaller,'' PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''Things are coming together. It's more a question of the best players in the world are going to play, and it's going to be a big deal wherever it goes. What's best for that tournament long-term? And what's good for golf globally given the options? I don't think there's any reason not to think of those things.''

It's a new world of golf. It's a big world, yet one that is shrinking.

For years, the PGA Championship has been looked upon as the ''other'' major because it lacks a clear identity the other three enjoy. The Masters and Augusta National. The Open Championship and links golf. The U.S. Open historically as the toughest test in golf.

The PGA Championship has a chance to identify itself as the only international major. It's worth exploring, because it's clear that's where golf is going.

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)