Masters Q&A: Chamblee and Nobilo

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 8, 2013, 8:00 pm

Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo each have Masters experience. Chamblee was the first-round co-leader in 1999 and eventually tied for 18th. Nobilo competed four times at Augusta National, finishing fourth in 1996.

The two share their thoughts on the season’s first major, in this Q&A:

Rank these characteristics in terms of importance at Augusta National: driving distance, driving accuracy, ball-striking, ball flight, putting.

Chamblee: Only two players have won the Masters in the last 14 years who weren't in the top 10 in greens in regulation: Charl Schwartzel, in 2011; Mike Weir, in 2003. Compare that with five winners outside the top 10 in driving distance for the same time period, seven outside the top 10 in putting, and 11 outside the top 10 in driving accuracy, and one gets a pretty clear picture of what’s important at Augusta National.

Nobilo: 1) Putting. It is such a high priority week in and week out, but because of the difficulty of the greens (speed and slope), putting is paramount at Augusta National. 2) Iron Play. With so much written about Augusta giving into the bombers, people forget that this is a great second-shot course. To get the ball into the right position on these greens is an art. 3) Driving distance. Going in with a shorter club is always easier and there are a bunch of guys who hit it straight, so all things being equal, you have to favor power off the tee. 4) Ball flight. Equipment has taken a lot away from the high-ball hitter. His distinct advantage in stopping power has been ified by the influx of hybrids that now bridge that gap.

In the past, it's been said that only 10-15 players have a chance to win the Masters. How many players can be considered realistic contenders this week?

Chamblee: To say only 10-15 players have a chance to win the Masters is one of the most fallacious remarks repeated year after year. Schwartzel was ranked 29th in the world on the eve of the ‘11 Masters; Angel Cabrera was ranked 69th the week before he won his green jacket in 2009; and Trevor Immelman (2008) and Zach Johnson (2007) were 29th and 56th in the world, respectively, before they broke through. Any of the top 50 players in the world has a realistic chance to win this event.

Nobilo: Only one player in the top 15 of the world rankings has won the Masters over the last five years. Consequently, the old adage that only 10-15 people can win has changed dramatically. You would say that number is now realistically between 25-30. Equipment and an overall more aggressive playing style have created more potential winners.

Name a top-20 player who we shouldn't expect much from this week? Why?

Chamblee: The only player in the top 20 that is a big question mark is Brandt Snedeker, because of his rib injury. Beyond that, one can make a case for any of the top 20 in the world to contend.

Nobilo: Nearly two months ago, Brandt Snedeker was atop all the important lists. His improved tee-to-green game, in conjunction with fearless putting, would have made him one of the favorites heading into Augusta. Sadly, the he rib injury has more than slowed his progress. He has had two missed cuts and has yet to regain that form, since returning.

Who has the best chance to win his first major this week? Why?

Chamblee: Adam Scott has the best chance of the players without a major this week. In his last eight majors played, he has four top-10s, which includes a second and an eighth-place showing at the Masters. He is one of the longest, straightest drivers in golf. He leads the Tour in par-5 birdie percentage this year, which is of huge importance at Augusta National.

Nobilo: There is a great list of potential first-time major champions teeing off this year, from Justin Rose, No. 3 in the world, to Henrik Stenson, No. 41. As I look down the list, I keep coming back to Dustin Johnson. He is coming into form at the right time with a T-12 and a T-4 his last two starts, and with a game well suited for Augusta.

We may be getting to the point where we can ask 'Tiger or the field?' again. But we'll go a step further. Would you take Tiger, Rory and Phil or the field? Why?

Chamblee: Since 2003, Tiger has won six times at Torrey Pines, five times at Bay Hill, four times at Firestone and twice at Muirfield Village. But he's only won once at the Masters. While his game has returned, Augusta National does not fit his game – or should I say, Tiger doesn't fit his game to Augusta the way he once did. Mickelson continues to get shorter and shorter off the tee and that makes it harder for him to be the player who has won there three times, and Rory struggles with left misses – and left misses at Augusta will hobble a player psychologically. The field is the better bet.

Nobilo: From 1997-2006, six of the 10 tournaments were won by Woods and Mickelson. Over the last six years, only Phil has added to that list. Even adding McIlroy to the group, you would have to take the field.

Which part of Rory McIlroy's game is most important for him to contend?

Chamblee: If Rory hits his driver great this week – drawing it around the corner at Nos. 2, 5, 9, 10, 13 and 15 without missing it left – he will be very hard to beat. He led the field in greens in regulation at the Texas Open and great drives will set him up to attack on the scoring holes.

Nobilo: Adding an event was a step in the right direction for Rory. While some continue to debate the club switch, that ship has sailed and it is more important to realize that he is using the same equipment as the best player in the game, Tiger Woods. Right now, Rory is starting to swing the club very well again and it is about competing – or, as Ben Hogan once said, “controlling that 6-inch fairway … the one between the ears.”

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

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: