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Roundtable: Breaking down the CME's top storylines

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 8:27 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Golf Channel’s Judy Rankin, Karen Stupples and Jerry Foltz broke down some of the storylines at the CME Group Tour Championship in a media roundtable before Thursday’s start.

On Sung Hyun Park, who has a chance to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season . . .

Rankin: “She's the most fearless driver of the golf ball out here. I would put Lexi [Thompson] as a close second and everybody else a distant third.  She hits driver on holes where you shouldn't, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it's nothing. Now that's a little hyperbole, but she'll hit driver almost anywhere.”

Stupples: “It's her hips. Hips are crazy. At impact, her hips are almost fully open. You see that, you think of Rory McIlroy. Everybody talks about how his hips are fast and open, too.”

On Lydia Ko trying to avoid a winless season . . .

Rankin: “I don't know what to think of it. I think she has handled it extremely well, but I can't imagine that she doesn't lay her head on the pillow at night and think, `What happened?’ You know, `Where did I go?’

“I think part of it is just growing up. Part of it, it's sad to say, but in golf, and maybe all the way through life, you come to that point where you've grown up just enough to know things can go wrong, and then they begin to.”

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Stupples: “I think that the [equipment] changes, at that critical time when she's making swing changes, was probably the hardest thing to do. I know she's had to change her shafts at least a couple timings during this process to compensate for different swing changes as well. It's a completely different thing when you're standing there testing drivers, trying to get a different driver to work, or 3‑wood. You're standing there and not spending time working on your pitching and your chipping and your putting. You're spending so much time on swing changes and getting to know the new clubs . . .

“For somebody who has had everything come very easily to her, there was no reason to assume that this wouldn’t just be an easy thing. Then when it didn't come easily, I think it can affect a person's confidence as much as anything. I think her confidence has taken a slight little hit.”

On whether parity or a dominant star is best for a tour . . .

Foltz: “The more people you can develop to the audience in terms of letting them know who they are, and not just watching them on a golf course, the better.  Right now, we have a dozen or so we see each and every week in contention each and every week.  I think that's good for the overall health of the LPGA Tour.

“Now, when you talk about a dominant star being good for it, it can be. Depends who the dominant star is.  If it's someone that sells well in middle America, yes.  If we had Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie head to head every single weekend, our ratings would be through the roof, no question about it, because they're the two biggest stars in America.  You don't get that luxury.

“I think it's very healthy for the game to get a few great players all seemingly in contention through this revolving door throughout the year.”

Stupples: “I kind of like it the way it is.  I like the changing around.  I like the fact that you can have different people win at different times. I mean, otherwise, you roll up at a tournament and basically know that an Annika Sorenstam had a 50/50 chance of winning, or Lorena Ochoa had a 50/50 chance of winning ‑‑ even Yani Tseng when she was No. 1, she would have a 50/50 chance of winning. They were that dominant.

“I kind of like rolling up to a golf tournament knowing that it's pretty open and that anybody could have that chance.”

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.