Notes TV ratings up Harmon critiques Tiger

By Doug FergusonFebruary 2, 2011, 4:51 am

PGA TourSAN DIEGO – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said golf doesn’t depend solely on TV ratings, although good news never hurts.

Golf has shown some promise the first month of the year, with significant increases in viewers on Golf Channel, which broadcast the opening three events and the first two rounds of Torrey Pines; and CBS Sports, which had the weekend at Torrey.

Even without Tiger Woods around – he tied for 44th in the Farmers Insurance Open and was on the air for about 30 minutes Sunday – CBS said its national rating for the final round was 3.5 with a 7 share, which was up 59 percent from a year ago.

Golf Channel, meanwhile, said it got a 1.0 with 997,000 viewers for the first round of Torrey Pines, which was up 89 percent from last year. It said the season-opening Tournament of Championship was up 38 percent, and the Bob Hope Classic was up 60 percent, despite the final round going up against the NFC and AFC Championship games.

Finchem described ratings as a “unique animal,” and said golf depends on them less than other television programs. The tour over the last few years has touted “cumulative audience” because it is on TV for some six hours on the weekend.

He also mentioned that golf ratings were hurt last year by a successful Winter Olympics, Woods being out of action for the first three months of the season and having his worst year, and by the NFL having one of its best years.

“We’ll see how we perform this year,” he said last week. “We’re up a little bit early in the year, but it’s way early.”

It might have helped golf its first network coverage came on a weekend when the East Coast was buried under snow.


THE KING IS GROUNDED: After nearly 55 years in the air, Arnold Palmer is leaving the cockpit.

Palmer on Monday flew his Cessna Citation 10 from Palm Springs to his home in Orlando, Fla., a significant trip because it was his last one as the pilot. His license expired that day, and the King chose not to renew it.

“I’ll still be flying in my plane as much as always, just not in the cockpit,” the 81-year-old Palmer told Golf Digest for a story on its website. “Flying has been one the great things in my life. It’s taken me to the far corners of the world. I met thousands of people I otherwise wouldn’t have met. And I even got to play a little golf along the way.”

Palmer grew up about a mile from the Latrobe, Pa., airport. He earned his first license in 1956 (and made his first solo flight after only eight hours of training) and bought his first plane in 1961.

In 1976, he set a record that still stands when he circumnavigated the globe in a Lear 36 in 57 hours, 35 minutes and 42 seconds. His longtime assistant Doc Giffin, told the magazine that Palmer stopped to refuel in Boston, Paris, Tehran, Sri Lanka, Jakarta, Manila, Wake Island and Honolulu.

“The stops were brief,” Giffin said. “But Arnold had time to ride an elephant in Sri Lanka, and in Manila he was given a gift from President Ferdinand Marcos that he still has.”


NO MEXICO: The LPGA, already facing a limited schedule, lost another tournament this year when it decided to postpone the Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico, over concerns of violence from drug wars.

The tournament had been scheduled to be played April 21-24. Ai Miyazato won last year.

“It won’t be held this year,” LPGA spokesman David Higdon said in an e-mail. “Our security firm determined the safety issues were too severe. We hope to return next year, though things will have to improve dramatically.”


HARMON SPEAKS: Butch Harmon believes 2010 took its biggest toll on Tiger Woods between the ears.

Harmon, the coach for Woods when he turn pro and during the rebuild of a swing that produced four successive majors, said what once separated Woods’ from everyone else was his mental strength. That changed last year, when Woods endured a year of being mocked for his extramarital affairs that ruined his marriage, and a game that was so bad he didn’t win for the first time in his pro career.

“I think his nerves aren’t quite as good as they used to be,” Harmon said on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show last week. “I don’t think he’s as mentally tough as he used to be.”

Harmon attributed that to a life that “got out of hand.”

“I think that takes a toll on your nervous system, and it takes a toll on your focus,” Harmon said.

Harmon said he expects Woods to have a good year when he gets through another swing change under Sean Foley, and he expects that he will get back to No. 1 in the world.

“I don’t think he’ll ever dominate like he did before,” Harmon said. “I don’t think anyone can in this age.”


OCHOA AWARD: Lorena Ochoa is being honored for her work with underprivileged children in Mexico, including “La Barranca,” which began as an elementary school and last fall opened the high school.

The Golf Writers Association of America selected Ochoa for the Charlie Bartlett Award, given to professional golfers for unselfish contributions to improve society. Ochoa will be honored April 6 at the GWAA’s annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga.

It will be her second award this year. She is to receive the Bob Jones Award this week from the USGA.


PLAYER COUNCIL AND VERPLANK: The 16-member Player Advisory Council for 2011 has a few new faces this year, such as Justin Rose of England, Jason Day and Kevin Sutherland. This is the group that advises the policy board and commissioner Tim Finchem on tour issues. The other PAC members: Jonathan Byrd, Michael Bradley, Ben Crane, Tom Gillis, Charley Hoffman, Matt Kuchar, Billy Mayfair, Webb Simpson, Paul Stankowski and Mark Wilson.

From that 16, three players are up for election to be the PAC chairman, meaning he will graduate to the policy board. The election is among Jim Furyk, David Duval and Scott Verplank.


DIVOTS: The PGA Tour continues to tweak pairings, serving up the all-South American trio of Jhonattan Vegas, Angel Cabrera and Camilo Villegas. … Robert Garrigus, who won the last tournament of 2010, picked up the tab for the caddies’ meals all week at Torrey Pines. Garrigus wanted to do something earlier, but the caddie trailer does not travel to Hawaii for the first two events. … The PGA Professional National Championship is going Bayonet and Black Horse on the Monterey Peninsula in 2012. … Rickie Fowler becomes the numerical replacement of Tiger Woods in one respect: He’s been signed as a playing editor for Golf Digest magazine.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have combined for only one PGA Tour victory in the last 16 months.


FINAL WORD: “I can’t understand it when people say, ‘Would you swap something?’ Because in golf, you certainly only ever get what you deserve.” – Lee Westwood, on whether he would trade the No. 1 ranking for a major.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.