What We Learned: RBC Heritage

By Damon HackApril 21, 2013, 11:53 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. This week, our writers weigh in on the RBC Heritage and how it makes us impatient for the U.S. Open; Luke Donald's remarkable accuracy; Suzann Pettersen's unusual putting method; Adam Scott's lack of interest in celebrity; why at least one of us loves Harbour Town and Angel Cabrera's under-the-radar comeback this week.

When Graeme McDowell is in contention, he practically bounces from hole to hole. His feet barely touch the ground. His putts roll with purpose. Every shot seems to end up right where he’s looking.

Whether jousting with Tiger Woods at Sherwood, carrying the European Ryder Cup team in Wales or winning the United States Open at Pebble Beach, McDowell’s ability to embrace the stress of Sundays has become a mighty 15th club.

There he was again on Sunday, this time on windblown Hilton Head Island, pouring in putts and stalking another victory. Did his feet even touch the ground?

What McDowell lacks in size and strength, he makes up for in grit and attitude. Some players don’t like that pressure. McDowell turns it into fuel.

He doesn’t always win, but he never backs down. – Damon Hack

If watching the final round of the RBC Heritage didn’t leave you impatiently longing for the upcoming U.S. Open, you were doing it wrong. Harbour Town treated us to a preview of the year’s second major championship – from the short, tight, Merion-ish course that promoted a bevy of ball-strikers on the leaderboard to the two recent U.S. Open champions who met in the playoff. Even the way Graeme McDowell defeated Webb Simpson on the first extra hole – by hitting the 18th green in regulation and two-putting while his opponent committed an unforced error – was reminiscent of something we’d see at the U.S. Open, where par is always a good number. It’s been 32 years since Merion last held a major championship and though the wind, cool temps and Calibogue Sound may not resemble anything we’ll see in eastern Pennsylvania, most other characteristics provided a good window into what we’ll find come the second week of June. We’re only one week removed from the last major, but it’s never too soon to look ahead to the next one. And this past week it was impossible not to. – Jason Sobel

He didn’t close the deal at the RBC Heritage, but Luke Donald again proved this week at Habour Town Golf Links that if the PGA Tour played tight, tree-lined layouts where straight counts and a soft touch trumps a sledgehammer driver he’d still by No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking – by a long shot. The Englishman tied for third, two strokes out of a playoff despite 31 putts on Sunday. Donald’s week on Hilton Head Island also suggests he may be the perfect pick for June’s U.S. Open at Merion, another target golf test that will reward precision over power. – Rex Hoggard

When it comes to putting, seeing isn't necessarily believing. Suzann Pettersen won the Lotte Championship Saturday putting with her eyes closed.

When it comes to putting, sometimes it's convention that makes no sense. Whether it's a claw or saw grip, left-hand low or split-hand grip, long or belly putters, so much of good putting is trusting your stroke. Well, Pettersen took it to the extreme. Really, is there any way to put more trust in your stroke than to close your eyes? She said she used to putt and practice that way to get a better feel. She was feeling it in Hawaii. A strong ball striker, Pettersen's putter has held her back from challenging more vigorously for the Rolex No. 1 ranking and from winning more majors. It's funny, she may not have to see more balls going in the hole to build confidence in her putting and make that vigorous challenge. – Randall Mell

Being a major champion doesn’t seem like it will change Adam Scott. Unlike Bubba Watson, who never saw a late-night TV spot he didn’t like, the only U.S. appearance the newly minted Masters winner has made thus far has been 'CBS This Morning.' No reading of David Letterman’s Top 10 list. No time in the chair next to Jay Leno. Unable to get the golfer Adam Scott, Conan O’Brien memorably resorted to the actor who shares the same name. Sure, the Aussie has endured an uncomfortable interview with Charlie Rose and Gayle King, the latter of whom told the 32-year-old, “You are very hot, Adam Scott.” But he just smiled and hasn’t surfaced since. How refreshing. – Ryan Lavner

For many sports fans, a highlight of the year is March Madness. For me, it's April Awesomeness. It starts with the Masters, of course, but it doesn't end there. My third-favorite 'regular' PGA Tour event venue, behind only Pebble Beach and TPC-Sawgrass, is Harbour Town. It's one of the few Tour courses I've played, which is a factor, but I love the fact that it proves you don't have to make a course absurdly long to make it interesting and difficult. 'Weak' field? Couldn't care less. I'd watch a Hooters Tour event on this track, with its 'hold on to your butts' finishing hole. Funny thing is, I'm not usually a huge fan of Pete Dye courses, but he got this one right. – Al Tays

Angel Cabrera’s approach to the 72nd hole a week ago at Augusta National was no fluke. Playing this week on the course he grew up on in his native Argentina, Cabrera needed an eagle on the final hole Sunday to force a playoff with Rafael Gomez at the Abierto OSDE del Centro. The two-time major winner nearly drove the green on the short par 4, chipped in for eagle to cap a Sunday 64 that saw him play the final seven holes in 5 under, and promptly defeated Gomez on the first extra hole.

Players can deal with major-championship near-misses in a variety of ways; some will take a few weeks off, while others will get right back on the proverbial horse. Cabrera not only teed it up this week in a PGA Tour Latinoamerica event – a testament to his desire to grow the game in that part of the world – but also took home the trophy in thrilling fashion. Two weeks, two playoffs and two very different results for El Pato, whose resiliency and clutch performance were again impressive – though his recovery from last week’s runner-up finish may have been hastened by the fact that he will still receive an invite from Adam Scott to next year’s Champions Dinner at Augusta. – Will Gray

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."