Golf Talk Live - Lanny Wadkins Transcript Segment 1

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 14, 2000, 5:00 pm
TEASE
WHEN LANNY WADKINS WAS A ROOKIE, HE SEEMED A FEISTY COMBINATION OF GUNSLINGER AND COCKY KID. WELL, THE GUNSLINGER IS BACK AND HE'S A ROOKIE AGAIN.

AS HARVEY PENICK SAID, HE'S TAKING DEAD AIM. THIS TIME, AT THE TROPHIES AND GOLD ON THE SENIOR PGA TOUR.

(GTL MUSIC/INTRO BEGINS)

HE'S ALWAYS BEEN A FIERCE AND FEISTY COMPETITOR, HANDLED THE BULLIES ON THE WAY HOME FROM GRADE SCHOOL. AND LATER, HE HANDLED THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD.

AFTER WINNING THE UNITED STATES AMATEUR IN 1970, HE JOINED AS GREAT A COLLECTION OF PLAYERS AS HAS EVER EXISTED ON THE PGA TOUR.

DESPITE ALL THE NOISE THAT TODAY'S FIELDS ARE GREATER AND DEEPER THAN EVER BEFORE, THINK ABOUT THE GREAT PLAYERS WHO WERE AT OR NEAR THEIR PEAK WHEN WADKINS PLAYED IN HIS FIRST PROFESSIONAL TOURNAMENT IN 1971.

ARNIE WAS STILL WINNING ON TOUR. BILLY CASPER HAD JUST WON HIS THIRD MAJOR. TREVINO, 6-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION, WAS AT HIS VERY BEST. JOHNNY MILLER WAS ENTERING HIS FINEST SEASONS.

CRENSHAW AND KITE WERE KIDS ABOUT TO MAKE THEIR MARK ON THE PROFESSIONAL SCENE. TOM WEISKOPF WAS AT THE PEAK OF HIS GAME, AND SO WERE RAY FLOYD AND 9-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION GARY PLAYER.

HALE IRWIN WAS STARTING HIS BRILLIANT CAREER. AND JACK NICKLAUS, WINNER OF 20 MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS, WAS BY HIS OWN ADMISSION BEGINNING A 5 YEAR STRETCH OF GOLF THAT HE CHARACTERIZED AS THE BEST OF HIS CAREER. TOM WATSON HADN'T YET WON HIS FIRST OF 39 TOUR EVENTS INCLUDING 8 MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS.

IT WAS INTO THIS SCENE THAT LANNY WADKINS WAS TO SUCCESSFULLY TEST HIS CONSIDERABLE POWERS. AND HE WON 21 TOUR EVENTS OVER THE NEXT 21 YEARS INCLUDING THE 1977 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP.

HE REPRESENTED HIS COUNTRY ON 2 WALKER CUP AND 8 RYDER CUP TEAMS AS A PLAYER, WAS RYDER CUP CAPTAIN IN 1995. HE NEVER BABIES A SHOT. HE NEVER PULLS A PUNCH.

HE HAS AN UNWAVERING BELIEF IN HIS GAME, IN HIS ABILITY TO CLOSE, IN HIS ABILITY TO CHARGE FROM BEHIND. AND NOW, HE GETS TO START AGAIN, AT THE BEGINNING, TO BE THE NEW COCKY KID ON THE BLOCK AGAIN, A ROLE HE WAS BORN TO PLAY, A ROLE HE ACCEPTS AS QUICKLY AND HAPPILY AS THE WINNER'S CHECK, WHICH HE NATURALLY ASSUMES WILL BE MADE PAYABLE TO ONE LANNY WADKINS.

PETER KESSLER
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE, I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE NEW KID IN TOWN, LANNY WADKINS. GREAT TO SEE YOU HERE, BUDDY.

LANNY WADKINS
THANK YOU, PETER. IT'S NICE TO BE HERE.

PETER KESSLER
HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY AND CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST SENIOR TOUR WIN.

LANNY WADKINS
WELL, THANK YOU. YES, IT'S BEEN A VERY EXCITING WEEKEND FOR ME., UM, GETTING STARTED OUT THERE PLAYING WITH UM, A LOT OF GUYS I HAVEN'T SEEN IN A LONG TIME. AND UH, MAKING IT SUCCESSFUL WAS - WAS , YOU KNOW, VERY REWARDING.

PETER KESSLER
NICE BELATED BIRTHDAY PRESENT YOU GAVE YOURSELF.

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, I MEAN, I HAD KIND OF GOTTEN OVER THE BIRTHDAY THING. UH, IT DIDN'T HURT ANYMORE `CAUSE IT WAS, YOU KNOW, BACK TO DECEMBER 5TH, SO I'VE KIND OF STRUGGLED THROUGH THAT.

BUT UH .. UH IT - IT'S NICE. I KIND OF DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY. IT'S BEEN A - A VERY HECTIC LAST COUPLE OF DAYS.

PETER KESSLER
IS IT DISORIENTING A LITTLE BIT TO LOOK UP AT A LEADER BOARD AND SEE TOM WATSON'S NAME AND YOU EXPECT TO SEE IT AGAIN AS YOU DID IN THE PAST?

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, I MEAN - AND SEEING THE OTHER NAMES UP THERE, I FEEL LIKE I'D KIND OF GONE INTO A TIME WARP. UH, YOU KNOW, ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE ARE NAMES THAT I PLAYED WITH, YOU KNOW, 20 YEARS AGO.

I MEAN, SEEING GUYS UP THERE AND ON THE PRACTICE TEE AND UH, THEY DON'T HAVE THE SAME BODIES THEY HAD, YOU KNOW, YEARS AGO. BUT THEY . WELL, THE SWINGS WERE VERY FAMILIAR. AND UH,

IT'S - IT'S NEAT TO BE OUT THERE. IT'S JUST A WHOLE NEAT SCENE FOR ME. IT REALLY WAS.

PETER KESSLER
DID YOU GET THE SAME FEELING IN YOUR STOMACH THAT YOU DID WHEN YOU FIRST WENT OUT TO PLAY GOLF PROFESSIONALLY? DID YOU FEEL THAT TINGLE AGAIN?

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, I WAS VERY EXCITED THE FIRST ROUND. UH, THE FIRST ROUND I PROBABLY HAD AS MANY BUTTERFLIES AS I'VE HAD IN A LONG TIME. UH, I'VE ALWAYS TRIED MY BEST TO CONCEAL THAT.

THAT'S JUST, YOU KNOW, PART OF WHAT I LIKE TO DO. UH, BUT I FELT UH . I FELT VERY EXCITED THE FIRST DAY. FIRST TEE WAS UH . UH, NOT ONE OF MY BETTER SWINGS.

UH, BUT I MANAGED TO GET PAR AND GET ROLLING AND GET THE FIRST 2 HOLES UNDER MY BELT. AND I KIND OF FELT OKAY AFTER THAT. BUT UH, IT WAS AN EXCITING TIME. IT REALLY WAS. UM .

AND TO OPEN WITH A ROUND AND - AND KEEP IT GOING UH THE WAY I DID THE FIRST DAY WAS - WAS . IT FELT VERY GOOD.

PETER KESSLER
AND THE SWING THAT THEY SAID 30 YEARS AGO WOULDN'T HOLD UP SEEMS TO BE DOING JUST FINE.

LANNY WADKINS
IT'S CREAKING ALONG OKAY, GETTING BETTER - ACTUALLY IT'S GETTING BETTER. I THINK UH - I'VE DONE A LOT OF WORK ON IT IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS. UH,

VERY PLEASED WITH WHAT I'VE DONE. I ACTUALLY GO BACK AND . I CARRY SOME SEQUENCE PHOTOS THAT WERE TAKEN ABOUT '72 OR '73, AND UH WORKING WITH A GUY, CHRIS WALKEY (SPELLING-???), WHO'S REALLY HELPED ME PUT IT BACK THERE.

I'M NOT TRYING TO BUILD A NEW SWING. I JUST WANT MY OLD ONE BACK `CAUSE THE OLD ONE WORKED FINE. SO . UH, AND I'M - AND I'M GETTING THERE.

I DON'T THINK IT'S AS GOOD YET AS IT'S GONNA BE. AND MY WHOLE GOAL, SENIOR TOUR WISE, IS TO GET MY SWING WHERE I WANT IT. AND I THINK WHEN I DO THAT, EVERYTHING ELSE WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF.

PETER KESSLER
YOU HAD TO HAVE BEEN THINKING THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS HOW NEAT IT WOULD BE TO WIN ON THE SENIOR TOUR BECAUSE YOUR BOYS WOULD GET TO SEE YOU WIN FOR THE FIRST TIME.

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, MY BOYS ARE, YOU KNOW, 12 AND 7, UH, TRAVIS AND TUCKER. AND UH, THEY'RE JUST GREAT, GREAT KIDS. AND UH, IT'S TOUGH BEING AWAY FROM THEM PLAYING AS MUCH AS I DO.

BUT I'VE GOT A 26 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER, JESSICA. AND JESSICA'S BEEN TO, YOU KNOW, 2 OR 3 TOURNAMENTS WHEN I'VE WON. AND I THINK I ACTUALLY WON DISNEY ON HER 12TH BIRTHDAY AND THEY, YOU KNOW,

HAD THE WHOLE MARCHING BAND PLAYING `HAPPY BIRTHDAY' TO HER ON THE 18TH GREEN AT DISNEY. SO THAT WAS KIND OF COOL. SHE'S BEEN TO RYDER CUPS I'VE PLAYED IN AND - AND BEEN INVOLVED IN A LOT OF WHAT I'VE DONE.

WELL, THE BOYS HAVE NEVER SEEN ME WIN `CAUSE MY LAST WIN WAS IN '92. SO UH, I WOULD HAVE GIVEN ANYTHING TO HAVE BEEN A FLY ON THE WALL WITH THEM WATCHING TV YESTERDAY. SO THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN .

THAT'S PRETTY COOL. AND UH, HOPEFULLY THEY'LL GET A CHANCE TO BE AT ONE THAT I WIN SOMETIME.

PETER KESSLER
HOW DID THEY REACT WHEN YOU SPOKE TO THEM?

LANNY WADKINS
THEY WERE EXCITED. THEY WERE VERY EXCITED, ALMOST A LITTLE . LITTLE SHY. I WAS KIND OF SURPRISED `CAUSE THEY - YEAH, THEY WERE EXCITED BUT, YOU KNOW, KIND OF DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY A LITTLE BIT.

SO I THINK IT'S UH . BUT IT'S NEAT FOR THEM. UM . I'M REAL PLEASED. IT'S JUST UH - IT WAS ACTUALLY ONE OF MY MAIN GOALS, GOING ON THE SENIOR TOUR, WAS TO WIN SO THAT THEY COULD SEE ME WIN. AND THAT'S - THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

PETER KESSLER
WHEN IT WAS JUST YOU AND JOSE MARIA CANIZARES LEFT IN THE PLAYOFF AFTER WATSON AND HALL DROPPED OUT, DID YOU AT ANY POINT THINK 'MAN, THE BEST SHOT I EVER HIT MAYBE IN MY WHOLE LIFE UNDER PRESSURE

WAS AGAINST THIS GUY IN THE '83 RYDER CUP ON THE LAST HOLE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE U.S. GOT THE CUP' ?

LANNY WADKINS
IT WAS PROBABLY AS MUCH PRESSURE AS I'VE EVER FELT HITTING ANY ONE SHOT, NO QUESTION. UM,

AND I'VE OFTEN LOOKED BACK AT THAT SHOT UH, WHEN I'VE . YOU KNOW, AND IN MY MIND AND I - AND I OFTEN FELT THAT IF I COULD HIT THAT GOOD A SHOT WITH THAT MUCH PRESSURE, THEN I CAN HANDLE ANYTHING.

SO THAT'S .AND THAT'S REALLY WHAT I FEEL SOMETIMES. I KIND OF - I'LL - I'VE THOUGHT BACK TO THAT SHOT MANY TIMES AND SAID IF I COULD DO THAT THEN WITH AS MUCH PRESSURE AS I FELT AT THAT POINT IN TIME, THEN I CAN HANDLE WHATEVER I NEED TO.

PETER KESSLER
AND IT'S ALL WORTH IT TO SEE JACK NICKLAUS KISS YOUR DIVOT.

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, IT WAS PRETTY COOL, I MEAN, HAVING JACK OUT THERE, HAVING ALL THOSE GUYS. THE . THE AMAZING THING, YOU SAW TOM KITE SLAP ME ON THE BACK WHEN I WALKED UP ON THE GREEN AND UH,

YOU KNOW, SAID 'WAY TO GO'. AND I TURNED TO HIM TO SAY SOMETHING AND NOTHING CAME OUT. IT WAS - I THINK IT'S THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I'VE EVER BEEN SPEECHLESS.

PETER KESSLER
I'M SURE THAT'S TRUE. JUST DON'T LET IT HAPPEN FOR THE NEXT 55 MINUTES.

LANNY WADKINS
UH, OKAY. (CHUCKLE)

PETER KESSLER
LET'S TAKE A LOOK, AND I DON'T KNOW IF YOU'VE SEEN IT YET, LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE THIRD PLAYOFF HOLE, THE FINAL PLAYOFF HOLE, WATSON AND HALL HAD ALREADY DROPPED OUT.

YOU HAD BOTH HALVED THE SECOND PLAYOFF HOLE. AND HERE'S JOSE MARIA CANIZARES .

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH .

PETER KESSLER
AND OF COURSE, HE'S GONNA PUT THIS INTO THE FAIRWAY BUNKER ON THE LEFT, ISN'T HE?

LANNY WADKINS
YEAH, JOSE - UH, IT WAS INTERESTING. THE FIRST TEE SHOT IN THE FIRST PLAYOFF HOLE, HE REALLY KIND OF MADE A SMOOTH SWING TO GET IT IN PLAY. THE SECOND PLAYOFF HOLE, HE REALLY WENT AFTER IT AND HAMMERED IT.

AND IT LOOKED LIKE HE WAS TRYING TO HERE. AND HE JUST GOT A LITTLE QUICK AND PUT IT IN THE BUNKER. UH, I HIT 3 DRIVES IN THE PLAYOFF ON THE SAME HOLE THAT WERE WITHIN 6 YARDS OF EACH OTHER, UH,

JUST COULD HAVE PUT A BLANKET OVER ALL 3 OF THEM. AND UH . UH, THIS DIDN'T FEEL LIKE .

PETER KESSLER
I'M SURE YOU GAVE A LOT OF THOUGHT TO YOUR 3-WOOD AT THIS POINT, RIGHT?

LANNY WADKINS
NO, NOT AT ALL. UH, THE HOLE WAS TOO LONG FOR THAT. I MEAN, I HIT - I HIT A GOOD DRIVE HERE AND STILL HAD TO HIT 5-IRON IN THERE. SO I MEAN, THE HOLE WAS PLAYING UH, WITH A LOT OF LENGTH.

THIS WAS A TOUCH LEFT OF UH THE OTHER 2. BUT I GOT IT OUT THERE PRETTY GOOD WHERE I HAD A GREAT ANGLE. AND UH . THEN ONE THING I DID, I GOT READY TO HIT MY SECOND SHOT.

UH, JOSE HAS HIT THIS ONE UH, LOOKED LIKE A PRETTY GOOD SHOT, BUT IT WAS SKIDDING RIGHT THE WHOLE TIME AND UH, FOUND THE WATER.

AND WHEN I GOT READY TO HIT MY SECOND SHOT, I'D . I HAD JUST HIT 4-IRON ON THE PREVIOUS PLAYOFF HOLE THAT FLEW A FOOT FROM THE HOLE AND WENT TO THE BACK FRINGE.

WELL, THE LAST THING I WANTED WAS TO PUT IT OVER THE GREEN IN PLAY. SO I HAD . I HAD LIKE 183 (YARDS) TO THE HOLE, INTO THE WIND. AND I ASKED MY CADDIE, 'IS THERE ANY WAY I CAN HIT 5-IRON OVER THIS GREEN?'

AND HE SAID, 'NOPE.' I SAID, 'WELL, I'M RIPPING IT THEN.' SO I JUST TOOK - AND I'M GONNA - AND I - AND I WAS DETERMINED TO AIM AT THE PIN `CAUSE THE LAST THING I WANTED TO DO WAS PLAY AWAY FROM WATER,

AWAY - THE LEFT SIDE OF THE GREEN, MAKE BOGEY AND PUT HIM BACK IN IT. SO . I KNEW THE BEST WAY TO END THIS THING AT THIS POINT IN TIME WAS JUST - AND YOU CAN SEE,

I'M WOUND UP RIGHT AT THE PIN. I MEAN, THAT'S WHERE THIS . THAT'S WHERE THIS SUCKER WAS GOING.

PETER KESSLER
HAVE YOU EVER HIT TO A FAT SIDE OF A GREEN? AND HAVE YOU EVER TRADED IN THE 3-WOOD FOR A DRIVER ON THE TEE? I DON'T SO.

LANNY WADKINS
OH, I HAVE. YEAH, I'M - I'M SURE I HAVE AT CERTAIN TIMES. BUT UH .

UH, I WAS VERY PROUD OF THAT SHOT RIGHT THERE. THAT FELT GOOD. I EVEN JUST PUT A NICE LITTLE SLIDE TO IT AND GOT IT RIGHT IN THERE. BUT UH, I PLAY SMART SOMETIMES, PETER, NOT THAT OFTEN, BUT . BUT SOMETIMES.

PETER KESSLER
NOW I REMEMBER BACK IN THE `60'S, AND ARNIE AND JACK WOULD GET TO PLAY IN THOSE TEAM EVENTS TOGETHER. EVERYBODY'D SAY, 'THAT'S NOT FAIR.'

I UNDERSTAND YOU AND WATSON, AS WE GET READY TO WATCH YOU 2-PUTT FOR YOUR WIN HERE, ARE GONNA PLAY IN THE LEGENDS TOGETHER. SOME PEOPLE WILL SAY, 'THAT'S NOT FAIR.'

LANNY WADKINS
I THINK IT'S VERY FAIR. I LIKE - I LIKE HAVING TOM AS A PARTNER. HE'S UH ... WE'VE BEEN GOOD FRIENDS FOR A LONG TIME. WE WERE ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO PLAY AS PARTNERS.

UH, BILLY CASPER HAD COME TO US IN '79 AND UH, SAID WE WERE SUPPOSED TO PLAY AS PARTNERS IN THE '79 RYDER CUP, ALL 4 DAYS AND UH . I MEAN, ALL 4 ROUNDS THE FIRST 2 DAYS.

AND UH, WATSON HAD TO LEAVE, GO HOME FOR THE BIRTH OF HIS DAUGHTER, MEG. SO I GOT PAIRED WITH LARRY NELSON. AND LARRY AND I WON ALL 4 MATCHES THE FIRST 2 DAYS. UH,

SO TOM AND I HAVE ALWAYS LOOKED FOR SOMETHING TO PLAY IN SINCE THEN. WE'VE BEEN PARTNERS IN A LOT OF MONEY GAMES AND DONE OKAY. AND UM, WE'RE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS, BOTH OF US ARE.

SO UH - IT WAS ACTUALLY TOM'S IDEA FOR US TO PLAY. SO UM . UM, THAT - THAT PLEASED ME THAT HE WANTED TO PLAY WITH ME. AND UH, I DON'T MIND PLAYING WITH HIM AT ALL.

PETER KESSLER
WHEN WE COME BACK, MAYBE WE'LL TALK ABOUT A COUPLE OF THE MONEY GAMES THAT YOU AND ARNIE PLAYED AGAINST EACH OTHER IN PRACTICE ROUNDS ON TUESDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS .

20 SOME ODD YEARS AGO. WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

(BREAK)

NEXT SEGMENT
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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.) 

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Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.


1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.