New grooves making a differnce on PGA Tour

By Doug FergusonJanuary 18, 2010, 9:52 pm

2007 Sony Open

HONOLULU – The small crowd far down the eighth fairway could see John Daly, just not where his golf ball was headed.

Daly is hard to miss these days, even from more than 300 yards away – not because he has lost 100 pounds, rather the colorful prints he wears, some that look like a gum ball machine.

On this day at the Sony Open, the gallery was curious to see whether players would go at the green more than 450 yards away with a stiff wind at their backs. Daly’s tee shot sailed over the trees and just through the fairway. Next was Bubba Watson, even longer off the tee, and his drive stopped in the short grass about 70 yards short of the green.

So much for that notion of playing it safe this year.

While one hole – especially those two players – is not the best sampling of strategy on the PGA Tour, two weeks into the new year did little to support the theory that players will give up distance for accuracy because of V-shaped grooves now required in irons.

What followed was worth noting.

Daly is using 20-year-old Ping wedges that still have square grooves (legal through a loophole), and he couldn’t figure out how to play toward the pin. He chose a low trajectory and wound up 40 feet short. Watson played a higher trajectory and still came up 25 feet short.

Clearly, there will be some adjustments to make this year.

In an effort to put a greater premium on accuracy, golf’s governing bodies served up the most significant rollback in technology by banning box-shaped grooves that generate greater spin.

Will that make golf harder?

Not necessarily.

Geoff Ogilvy defended his title at Kapalua with a 22-under 280, two strokes higher than last year, and that can be attributed to the strong Kona wind that makes the course slightly tougher.

Ryan Palmer won the Sony Open on Sunday at 15-under 265, the same winning score Zach Johnson had last year.

Whether scores will suffer will not be noticeable until more tournaments are played on different grasses in a variety of conditions. The new grooves at least appear to make the game different.

The best example came at the decisive par-5 18th hole in the final round at Waialae, when Palmer and Robert Allenby were tied for the lead, both in the rough right of the fairway.

Palmer had 226 yards to the hole for his second shot, thought about a 6-iron, then changed to a 5 because the ball was sitting up in the grass and he didn’t think it would jump off the club. He guessed wrong, and the ball came up 50 feet short.

“It obviously didn’t jump out like I thought it would,” Palmer said. “It caught a little bit high on the club face.”

Next up was Allenby, who was in about the same spot the day before when he hit a 4-iron. This time, he opted for a 5 from 218 yards and it came out hot, running through the back of the green and against a TV tower. With a nasty lie, he opted to pop up a wedge and did well to leave himself a 10-foot putt up the hill, which he missed and lost by one shot.

“I had the same yardage as yesterday, and I hit one club less and it went further,” Allenby said. “And that’s the beauty of the grooves today. It has changed the game of golf, which I think is for the better. I think it’s great, because now we have to all of a sudden manufacture our way around the golf course.

“Before, it would have come out soft, and we know that,” he said. “Today, you don’t know where it’s going to go.”

It has hurt some players.

Pat Perez was amazed at some of the fliers he got out of the rough, hitting one 7-iron from 210 yards that was “all grooves.” He prepared for those shots. What stumped him was chipping around the green with new grooves in his wedges.

“I can’t chip,” he said, which was evident on the 13th hole Saturday when he came up 6 feet short on a standard chip and took bogey. “I’ve tried them all – a bump, a flop. I haven’t figured it out yet.”

Steve Stricker believes it already has cost him a few shots, including one at Kapalua on the ninth hole when he was expecting the ball to check up after one bounce, and instead it released.

On the 10th hole Thursday at Waialae, what was supposed to be a low trajectory with a sand wedge climbed into the blue sky.

“It climbed right up the face, went up and went down,” said Stricker, who still managed to make birdie because he can still putt. “I’ve tried different techniques. It’s not the normal trajectory I’m used to seeing. I look down on the club face and I’ve got a grass stain in the middle. It really is a guessing game now.”

New grooves aren’t necessarily bad.

Vijay Singh had a shot from the left rough on the 16th hole in which he ordinarily might have been blocked by a tree. With more shallow grooves, he was able to get the ball higher and over the tree with a wedge.

That’s the kind of situation to which Ogilvy was referring at Kapalua when he said, “We lost a bit, but we gained somewhere else.”

The next lab test comes this week at the Bob Hope Classic, which typically doesn’t feature much rough. Then it’s onto Torrey Pines, Riviera and Pebble Beach, with grass that is longer, thinner and typically more damp.

More learning awaits.

“The skill is to try to land it where you need to,” Allenby said. “But there is a lot more luck involved now.”

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

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Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm
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NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.

NBC SPORTS GROUP CLAIMS TOP-6 MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS IN ‘17

For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.

Rank

Network

Event

Day

Avg. Viewers P2+

1

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Sunday

1,100,526

2

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Saturday

968,202

3

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

946,387

4

NBC

KPMG WOMEN'S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday

839,983

5

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Saturday

808,578

6

GOLF

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

795,000

ADDITIONAL VIEWERSHIP MILESTONES FOR WOMEN’S GOLF IN 2017

  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.

GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL POSTS RECORD STREAMING CONSUMPTION

Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.