What we learned: Valero Texas Open

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 22, 2012, 10:33 pm

Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week . . .

I learned that the PGA Tour needs to allow tournaments to offer appearance fees. I've never been on either side of the fence with this issue but this week's event pushed me to the greener side. The Texas Open is in an unenviable slot between the Masters and The Players. If it needs, or sponsor Valero wants to pay top players to entice them to compete, they should be allowed to do so. It's ridiculous that an event on the PGA Tour should battle the Indonesian Masters for attention because the latter is allowed to buy Lee Westwood's services for a week. The PGA Tour needs to embrace a capitalist mindset and allow tournaments all avenues to compete against one another. This isn't Russia. Is this Russia? No, because the Russian Open allows appearance fees. – Mercer Baggs


I learned that Branden Grace is much more than a two-week flash in the pan. After he won the Joburg Open and Volvo Golf Champions in back-to-back weeks in January, some contended that the 23-year-old from South Africa simply got really hot at a really good time. His victory at the Volvo China Open this week, though, proved the youngster is no two-hit wonder. He now owns as many worldwide titles this year as the top three players on the OWGR combined – or one more than Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Much like countrymen Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, Grace is a major up-and-coming talent. Speaking of major, those three all own major championships – and it may not be too long before Grace joins 'em in that exclusive club. – Jason Sobel


I learned very successful men sometimes do too much talking. Tiger Woods' current teacher, Sean Foley, wants the media to lay off a 'good dude,' but has never been at a loss for words to critique Woods' work with past instructors to provide chum for a good piece.

Butch Harmon thinks Foley should be shown the door and Hank Haney might used have the golf equivalent of the Nixon Tapes to write his 'The Big Miss.' Harmon said he would never write the book Haney did, but did not mind disclosing some of Tiger's gamesmanship tactics to Phil Mickelson and the press.

Harmon and Haney seem to agree Woods should go find the secrets in the dirt instead of in the digital camera of his current teacher. Then again, Woods completely revamped his swing with both of them at a point in his life when his knee was somewhat healthier and his personal life was less complicated. All three men were or will likely be successful with Woods. The side-show love quadrangle played out in the press will not decide who has been the best of them. Soap operas are dying and this one should, too. – Ryan Ballengee


I learned the LPGA should schedule every event Wednesday-Saturday. Every event. Even majors. This guarantees the tour more coverage on Wednesday (it's opposite nothing) and Saturday (crowing a champion when no other tour does) and is precisely the type of outside-the-box thinking that can only provide dividends. I covered the LPGA for six years in the early 2000s and the idea never occurred to me. Of course Annika Sorenstam was doing her thing and created tons of headlines for the tour. Sadly, that's not the case any longer. Time to mix it up. – Jay Coffin


I learned that maybe it’s a good thing Bubba Watson doesn’t have a swing coach for reasons that go beyond his swing.

Swing instructors are so much more than coaches these days, and that’s not always a good thing for the player. Swing coaches can be muses. They can be confidants. They can be sports psychologists. They can be TV tour analysts, or host their own TV shows. They can be kiss-and-tell authors and defense attorneys.

We’ve seen it all in the past month with Hank Haney, Butch Harmon and Sean Foley making larger headlines than any player not named Tiger or Bubba. Of course, the common denominator in the intensity of interest in the news they are generating is that they’re all connected to Tiger Woods, through past association or present.

Haney created a furor writing his book about Tiger Woods, “The Big Miss.” Harmon stirred sentiments saying he believes Woods’ swing has become “very robotic” and that he has “lost his nerve putting.” Foley made headlines defending Woods, telling radio show host Matt Adams on the PGA Tour Network that the “tearing down” of Woods is “out of hand” and Woods deserves better. All three coaches are fascinating personalities with unique gifts and insights into the biggest star the game has ever seen. That makes them bigger stars than most players today. – Randall Mell


I learned that Mark Twain was spot on; there are lies, damn lies and ShotLink statistics, or something like that. Exhibit A is Ben Curtis’ pedestrian strokes-gained putting standing before the Texas Open (183rd) and where he ended up after his first victory since 2006 (second). And you thought the world golf ranking was skewed. – Rex Hoggard



John Hancock Pivotal Moments

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.