Day catches end of highly seen Olympic finish

By Doug FergusonAugust 16, 2016, 5:39 pm

RIO DE JANEIRO – Jason Day only watched one hole of golf from the Olympics, but at least he picked the right hole.

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson were never separated by more than a shot in the final round until Rose made birdie on the 18th hole to win the gold medal, with Matt Kuchar making a late run for 63 and the bronze.

''I didn't watch any, not one shot, until the last hole,'' Day said Monday evening in a conference call. ''It was great to see Henrik and Justin duel it out. Kuch had an amazing run on the last day, and it looked like it was a very successful opening for golf to be back in the Olympics.

''Exciting stuff for those guys, and I'm sure they're on Cloud 9 right now heading home.''

Day is the No. 1 player in the world, and among the top four who chose not to go to Rio. He at least will get one chance to play for his country this year. The Australian spoke Monday evening to promote the World Cup of Golf, to be played Nov. 24-27 at Kingston Heath in Melbourne. He and Adam Scott will be back to defend their title from 2013 at Royal Melbourne.

In some respects, it can help fill the void of missing out on playing for his flag.

And there is part of him that is eager to see what kind of reception he gets.

Day has not been back to Australia since he and Scott won the World Cup. Scott was a national hero in 2013 as the Masters champion, the first Australian in a green jacket. Day recalls waiting on a cab outside the Crown Casino when Scott walked by with his green jacket.

''All the cool things he got to do, go places and have certain dinners and celebrations in his name, the awards that he got, especially during the late part of the year for how well he played, it was pretty special to see,'' Day said.

He returns as No. 1 in the world, the first Aussie to play at home as the world No. 1 since Greg Norman in 1997.

''Being an Australian that's been No. 1 in the world back home playing in Australia, that's a pretty cool moment to have,'' Day said.


OLYMPIC GOLF: Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar provided a compelling final round for golf's return to the Olympics, and it showed in the ratings.

NBC and Golf Channel provided coverage of the final 1 hour, 37 minutes from Olympic Golf Course, with NBC picking up the final round when Matt Kuchar reached the 16th tee with an outside shot at winning the gold. Kuchar finished with a 63 and had to settle for a bronze. Rose and Stenson went to the final hole tied, and Rose won the gold medal with a pitch to 3 feet for the winning birdie.

NBC earned a 5.6 household rating with 8.8 million average viewers during that period. It was the highest-rated 90-minute window of golf in the final round this year behind only the Masters.

It was shown after synchronized swimming and before equestrian, which network officials believe attracted a younger audience and a higher percentage of women.

That's the Olympic difference.


LAST CHANCE: Rickie Fowler headed from Rio to North Carolina to play in the Wyndham Championship, mostly because there are only two weeks left to get one of the top eight qualifying spots for the Ryder Cup (he's at No. 12) and because of the FedEx Cup (he's No. 30).

That's a far better spot than some others.

The Wyndham Championship ends the regular season, with the top 125 advancing to the lucrative playoffs and, for many players, securing full cards for next season. On the bubble is Whee Kim, though being at No. 125 is reason to celebrate. He was at No. 154 until a tie for third last week in the John Deere Classic.

From Brett Stegmaier at No. 119 through Camilo Villegas at No. 150, only three players are not in the field at Sedgefield Country Club - Will Wilcox (No. 136), Padraig Harrington (No. 137) and Jamie Donaldson (No. 147).

Wilcox has a wrist injury and is planning to have surgery on Monday.

Harrington stayed in Rio for an extra week to take in the Olympics, and his job is secure next season because he won the Honda Classic in 2015.

Jimmy Walker is playing for the first time since his PGA Championship victory at Baltusrol. One noticeable absence is Russell Knox, who won the Travelers Championship two weeks ago and is No. 5 in the FedEx Cup. This was his last tournament to be eligible for Ryder Cup points, and the Scot is only 6.6 points behind the final spot in the European world points list. He now will have to hope to be a captain's pick.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x