My 2015 moment: The best week of my life

By Bailey MosierDecember 29, 2015, 6:00 pm

I believe the idea originated from our managing editor Mercer Baggs. But not even his imagination could so dutifully or beautifully construct what turned out to be the greatest week of my professional life. 

Baggs' idea was this: As a way to further generate attention during Open Championship week, and as a way to provide original, feature content to supplement news coverage, GolfChannel.com would send me to the 144th Open Championship at St. Andrews to cover the action going on outside the ropes. So away I went, to cover my first major championship.

I – as one member of a team that included three other writers – arrived to St. Andrews first. To help out with the news coverage before the other writers arrived, I sat in on the news conference Monday afternoon where Dustin Johnson spoke for the first time about what transpired at Chambers Bay. He maintained what was in the past was in the past. I believed him, and in his chances of winning the Open.

On Monday night, I set out at 9 p.m. (yes, you read that correctly) and walked all 18 holes of the Old Course, examining the eyelines from the tee boxes and the nuances of the greens. My 18 hole expedition concluded at 10:30 p.m., just as the last of the sunset vanished on July 13th.

On Tuesday, my assignment was to eat and drink my way around St. Andrews. I repeat: My boss told me to eat and drink all day, to take photos and document it, then come back and write about it for the website. I ran into Chris Como at the Jigger Inn and ate a fish sandwich the size of my face, among various other highlights.

On Wednesday, I answered the age-old conundrum: How do you drop 100 pounds ... and fast?!

On Thursday, I watched the Open from the best seat in the house.

On Friday, I sat back and listened, and brought you the mundane and somewhat profane things that I overheard while walking around St. Andrews.

On Friday night, when Tom Watson played his 38th and final Open, I sat in the press center afterward, listening to the eight-time major champion speak of the joy and happiness he felt as he walked across the Swilcan Bridge, competitively, one final time.

On Saturday, when the winds were whipping and the greens glacier-quick, no golf was played. Fans flocked to bars. Of course, I had to follow.

On Sunday, I did as the Scots do and watched the Open at a house party adjacent to the 18th fairway

And on Monday, when it seemed the impossible was entirely possible ... that Jordan Spieth was going to win the Open, I was there. Ultimately, his bid to win his third consecutive major came up inches short, and when it did, I was in the press tent filing blogs and helping cover the news. The biggest "party" of my week thus far - truly in the thick of things as a reporter at a major championship.

On Tuesday - you didn't think my adventures stopped there, did you? - I played Muirfield. I made pars at 16 and 17, and had drinks on the patio afterward with a member and friends. 

On Wednesday, it was time to fly home. I was grateful for the experience, but melancholy that my time was up. As I was boarding the flight from London (I had flown Edinburgh to London) to Orlando, the gate agent stopped me, reprinted my ticket and told me I was now in first class. I glanced to my right. I glanced to my left. Was this for real?

I proceeded on-board and nestled into my first class accommodation, readying myself for the 10-hour journey home. There could have been no more fitting end to the greatest week of my life.

And just in case it is unclear to Mercer Baggs or any of my other bosses, I'd be "open" to the idea of covering another Open the future.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions.