For U.S. Am, Riviera's 1st hole a par 4; 18 drivable?

By Ryan LavnerJuly 25, 2017, 9:05 pm

Fans watching this year’s U.S. Amateur at Riviera might do a double take.

Tournament director Ben Kimball said at media day Monday that two of the most iconic holes likely will play differently for the world’s best amateurs.

One definite change is to the first hole, which will play as a long par 4 for the tournament. As a 503-yard, downhill par 5, the first hole annually ranks as one of the easiest holes on the PGA Tour. This year at the Genesis Open, it played to a 4.271 scoring average, serving up 247 birdies and only six bogeys or worse.

“I went back and forth in my mind about whether that was something we were going to do,” Kimball said in an interview on Fox Sports Radio. “The players hit it so far now, and it has such a nice, big, sprawling putting green, it felt like it made sense to have it as a par 4 since that’s how it’s truly playing now.”

Riviera and Bel-Air Country Club will be used as qualifying sites for the match-play portion of the USGA championship. The low 64 players after 36 holes advance.

“Being a match-play championship, seeing more birdies is a good thing, and we’re not going to get that out of hole 1 anymore,” Kimball said. “But there’s some other changes in the setup that we’re going to make that will yield those birdies somewhere else.”

One of those potential changes? Turning the 18th hole into a drivable par 4.

On Tour, the 18th plays as a 475-yard, dogleg-right par 4, but Kimball said there is a shorter, alternate tee that would be only 325 yards to a front pin position.

“You have to ask yourself the question: It’s one of the most iconic holes in golf and then you shorten it to almost a drivable par-4 option. Is that the right thing to do?” Kimball said. “I don’t necessarily know, but given that it’s match play, you have a little bit of flexibility to try and advance some things that you normally wouldn’t if it was the U.S. Open or Senior Open. Riviera provides a lot of flexibility in the setup. We’re excited about enhancing that flexibility throughout the course of the U.S. Amateur.”

Kimball added that the setup change likely would be made during one of the first two rounds of match play, when there are more players on the course and a greater chance of having matches come down to the 18th hole.

“I’m on the fence about it right now, 50-50,” Kimball said. 

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.