Punch Shot: First-time major champion

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 2, 2016, 2:00 pm

Jordan Spieth and Jason Day broke through in the majors in a big way in 2015. Who has the best chance to win major No. 1 in 2016? Our writers weigh in.

By RYAN LAVNER

Patrick Reed.

After a steady but unspectacular summer, Reed closed out his year with six consecutive top-10s worldwide to push inside the OWGR top 10 for the first time. Still maddeningly inconsistent at times, the 25-year-old finally appears ready to deliver on all of that promise, after a major season in which he finished in the top 30 in all four events.

An improved putter, Reed ranked near the bottom of the Tour statistics in ball-striking last season, the biggest reason that he failed to capitalize on his opening win at Kapalua. He seems to have found something of late, however, because in two starts during the wraparound season he has found 82 percent of the greens in regulation. He should have little trouble carrying over that strong iron play during the three-week offseason.

Reed plays so much golf (three consecutive years of 29-plus starts) that he’s bound to endure waves of inconsistency. But if he can find the right combination of staying sharp and not getting worn out, he has the all-around game to break through and win his first major.


By RANDALL MELL

Rickie Fowler will spend a lot of time with the claret jug next year.

Fowler won on some big stages in 2015, beating strong fields with clutch closing efforts at The Players Championship, the Scottish Open and the Deutsche Bank Championship. He had that great run knocking on the door at every major in 2014, when he was T-5 or better in all four of them. He looks prepared for the next big step and Royal Troon looks like a good place to take that step.

Royal Troon has a history of crowning first-time major winners. The last three players to win The Open Championship there were first-time major winners – Todd Hamilton (’04), Justin Leonard (’97) and Mark Calcavecchia (’89).

Fowler wants to get into the mix with Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy for consideration as the game’s best players. He needs a major to move into that conversation, and he looks more than ready to do so.


By REX HOGGARD

Branden Grace began 2015 with no status on the PGA Tour and little name recognition on this side of the transatlantic divide.

He rectified the former issue with his play in this year’s majors and the latter concern seems destined to be addressed at this year’s Grand Slam stops.

The laconic South African earned special temporary membership on Tour with his tie for fourth at the U.S. Open, where he began the final round tied for the lead but derailed his title hopes with a tee shot that raced down the train tracks adjacent to the 16th hole at Chambers Bay and out of bounds.

Grace completed his Grand Slam apprenticeship with a third-place finish at the PGA Championship after a third-round 64 moved him to within three strokes of the lead.

That momentum continued for Grace in 2015, with top-five performances to close out the year at the WGC-HSBC Champions, DP World Tour Championship and Nedbank Golf Challenge.

He also scorched the U.S. side at the Presidents Cup in October, leading the International team with a perfect 5-0-0 record in his second start in the matches.

It was all a sign that the 27-year-old is poised to take the next step in this year’s biggest events.


By WILL GRAY

This will be the year that Hideki Matsuyama graduates from “consistent contender” to “major champion.”

Matsuyama quietly had one of the most consistent seasons last year on the PGA Tour, racking up 19 top-25 finishes in only 25 starts while missing just two cuts.

His consistency has been a staple at the majors, as well: since the 2013 U.S. Open, Matsuyama has finished outside the top 40 only once in 11 majors, with a trio of top-10 finishes across that same span.

Matsuyama is one of the best ball-strikers on Tour, and he demonstrated at the 2014 Memorial Tournament that he has what it takes to defeat an elite field on a difficult track. The putter has always been his biggest liability, but if the birdies start to drop he will certainly be a factor down the stretch – especially on a taxing layout like, say, Oakmont.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.