McIlroy's Olympic WD isn't end of golf in Games

By Ryan LavnerJune 22, 2016, 6:42 pm

Golf’s return to the Olympics was dealt a serious blow Wednesday when Rory McIlroy withdrew himself from consideration.

McIlroy reportedly changed his mind in the past week, and the reason for his withdrawal – uncertainty over the Zika virus – will pave the way for other top-ranked players to drop out, as well. World No. 1 Jason Day, two-time major winner Jordan Spieth, the hugely popular Rickie Fowler and Masters champion Danny Willett are among those who have already publicly expressed concerns about traveling to Rio de Janeiro. McIlroy’s about-face will only make their decision easier.

Would several key absences diminish the Games? Absolutely. It certainly wasn’t what officials had in mind when golf was voted (63-27) into the Olympic program in 2009.

But circumstances change, and the past few years have been filled with discontent from players and fans. Among the many criticisms: The format is unimaginative (72-hole stroke play) and does not include a team component. The 60-player field is watered down by a qualification process that limits a country to four representatives if they’re ranked inside the top 15. (Even Tiger Woods said Wednesday that the Olympics deserves a “top-heavy field.”)  The golf course has been a never-ending headache for Gil Hanse and his team. The PGA Tour schedule this season is too condensed, with three majors, a World Golf Championships event, the Olympics, FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup in a 17-week span. Zika arrived earlier this year, with medical experts still unclear about the mosquito-borne virus’ short- and long-term effects. And on Friday, with the Games less than 50 days away, Rio’s governor declared a state of financial emergency.

If more big names drop out, then golf’s participation issue should be blamed on the Zika virus and the host city, not that the sport is ill-suited for the Olympics.

Think of it this way: If the Games were held in Los Angeles, or London, or Tokyo, would so many players drop out, even in a hectic year? Probably not.

There is precedent to consider about this imperfect introduction.

In 1988, tennis returned as a medal sport after a 64-year absence, and the reaction was mixed, even underwhelming. Eight of the top 10 players in the world opted not to play, citing a variety of reasons, from minor injuries to scheduling conflicts to family commitments.

Back then, players trotted out the same excuses we hear now – that capturing a gold medal was never their goal, that their inclusion was disrespectful to other athletes who train four years for the event, that their schedule was already too crowded, that their sport shouldn’t be included because they’re judged by the number of majors won, not medals.

After the 1988 Games, however, perception about tennis’ inclusion began to change; those who had skipped now wanted an opportunity to hang a medal around their neck. Though players still don’t view Olympic gold the same as the Wimbledon trophy, most of the sport’s biggest stars compete, the matches are intense and, eventually, a deserving winner is crowned.

The belief here is that once players arrive in Rio, they’ll be enthralled by the pageantry of the Olympics. They’ll mingle with the best athletes from all around the world and cherish representing their country at the biggest spectacle in sports.

The problem, of course, is convincing them to actually make the trip.

Bradley, wife welcome baby boy, already rocking Patriots gear

By Grill Room TeamNovember 20, 2017, 6:40 pm

Keegan Bradley and his wife Jillian announced on social media that they welcomed a baby boy, Logan James Bradley, to the world last week.

The Bradleys both posted photos on Instagram over the weekend, introducing their healthy newborn baby, who was (not-surprisingly) already decked out in head-to-toe New England Patriots gear.

Bradley, 31, grew up in New England and is not shy about showing his support for the area's sports teams.

Logan James Bradley 11/13/17 He’s changed @jillian_bradley and my life forever. We couldn’t be happier #gopats #dab

A post shared by Keegan Bradley (@keeganbradley1) on

A big congratulations is in order for the new parents.

And all you other adorable kids of PGA Tour golfers, you've officially been put on notice. You've got some new competition.

Country music star Owen to play in Web.com event

By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 6:19 pm

Country music star and avid amateur golfer Jake Owen has accepted a sponsor invitation to play in the 2018 Nashville Golf Open on the Web.com Tour.

Owen, 36, has sold millions of albums while becoming one of the top male singers in the country genre. He has also been frequently spotted on the links, teeing it up last week alongside host Davis Love III in the RSM Classic pro-am and participating each of the last three years as the celebrity partner for Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Owen will now try his hand in competition against some of the game's rising stars at the May 24-27 event, held in his hometown and benefitting the charitable foundation of PGA Tour pro Brandt Snedeker.

"I am truly honored to have this opportunity to play golf with guys whose work ethic I admire so much, like my buddy Brandt Snedeker," Owen said in a release. "I know how hard everyone works to get to play in these (Web.com Tour) tournaments. I'm really grateful, and I can't wait for this week in May 2018 to get here."

Owen will be following in the footsteps of NBA superstar Steph Curry, who played on a sponsor invite earlier this year at the Web.com's Ellie Mae Classic and, while missing the cut, largely exceeded expectations. Curry is currently listed as a 0.8 handicap, while Owen played at Pebble Beach in February as a 3 handicap.

Like Curry, Owen will play via an "unrestricted" sponsor invite and will retain his amateur status.

Jeremy Roenick uses golf clubs to catch rattlesnake

By Jason CrookNovember 20, 2017, 6:00 pm

Jeremy Roenick has never seemed to be afraid of much, whether it was another guy breaking his jaw on the hockey rink or an alligator interrupting his golf game.

The retired American hockey legend who currently works as an NBC Sports analyst was at it again over the weekend, coming across a rattlesnake in Arizona and just casually using a couple of golf clubs to catch it before grabbing it with his bare hands and showing it off for the camera.

The person recording can be heard calling Roenick "psycho" and "nuts" several times before the snake is thrown off the property.

That person is not wrong.

What's in the bag: RSM Classic winner Cook

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 20, 2017, 3:52 pm

PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook earned his first Tour title at the RSM Classic. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Ping G400 (8.5 degrees adjusted to 9.2), with Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661X shaft

Fairway wood: Ping G400 (13 degrees), with Fujikura Motore VC 7.0 shaft

Hybrids: Ping G400 (19, 22 degrees), with Matrix Altus Red X shafts

Irons: Ping S55 (5-PW), with KBS Tour S shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50, 56, 60) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne

Ball: Titleist Pro V1