PGA running diary: Rory's win, his 'Deep V' on Day 4

By Jason CrookAugust 11, 2014, 12:10 pm

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Well, this is it. It’s what we’ve been building toward all week. Through the early wake-ups, the rain, the mud, the heat, the crowds, the Hot Browns, the bourbon tastings and the occasional run-in with Amanda Dufner – it’s finally PGA Championship Sunday.

I know I’ve ragged on golf – specifically watching golf in person – a lot this week. Don’t expect me to take any of it back, but at least we’ve arrived at the final round of a major with some very intriguing storylines. Rory could win his second consecutive major. Rickie could finally break through. Phil could show up for the first time this year. Bernd Wiesberger could make tonight’s SportsCenter Top 10, but not No. 1, because there’s no way a relative unknown winning a major championship is bigger than a diving catch in regular season Major League Baseball game.

Anyway, you get my point, I think. Today could be exciting. With that said, lets fast-forward straight to the action.


12:00 p.m. ET – Get to Valhalla. Notice there’s a light sprinkle falling from the sky. Way to literally rain on my parade. Today was going pretty good until, you know, I actually got to the golf course.

12:22 – Head to the media dining room. If there’s ever a problem in life not solved by free food, that problem might be unsolvable.

12:47That heavy stuff Carl Spackler was talking about. It’s coming down now.

12:53 – Play is suspended. It’s tough to hear the announcement over this fried chicken, though.

12:55 – Cable goes out. What’s that? We’re stuck in a building with no cable and limited Internet, but unlimited free food. What to do … what to do …

1:13 – Rain starts to let up, I make a run slow crawl toward the media center. I'm moving like that giant blueberry girl from “Willy Wonka,” except imagine if she blew up into something unhealthy, like a fudge brownie.

3:20 – Enough time has passed for me to move again and I've run out of things to do on the Internet. Decide I haven't spent enough money in merchandise tent. Make the trek over there bringing only my credit card.

3:42 – Pull out my credit card to pay for my last-day-of-the-tournament-we-need-to-get-rid-of-this-crap, 20-percent-off Valhalla coffee mug. My credit card looks suspiciously like my hotel key. Epic fail.

4:17 – Head out to course. So. Much. Orange. I'm not sure who the fan-favorite is, but it looks like the Syracuse University mascot threw-up all over the course. And not just on the kids; on their parents, too.

4:46 – Only took me 29 minutes and two missed holes of action to catch up to the marquee group of Mickelson and Fowler. Turns out, a couple other people were watching them, too.

4:47 – David Feherty is wearing some sweet jeans. He could use a chain wallet. Some fans serenade him with his TV show theme song. He seems to enjoy it.

5:15 – Standing behind the green on No. 5. Fans around me (one of whom looks suspiciously like Shia LaBeouf, which is definitely possible since he is not famous anymore) are arguing over scores and positions on the leaderboard. No one seems to care that Francis Ouimet is here.


5:16 – I hear, “Rickie’s in the orange,” as they come down the fairway. Now we know.

5:18 – Phil misses right of the fifth green. Nails someone. What does he carry more of in his bag … wedges or gloves? Things to ponder at night.

5:22 – Rickie chips in for his third consecutive birdie. Crowd goes nuts. Hard to not give a little fist pump, I wouldn’t have cared who it was, it was awesome. Oh, maybe this is why people like coming to these things?

5:23 – Weigh my options of trying to fight through the crowd to catch another big shot or actually watching the rest of the tournament. It’s not really a close call. Back to the media center I go.

5:50 – Make it back to the media center. Place is buzzing.

6:03 – Phil misses an eagle putt on No. 7 by centimeters. People are giddy.

7:20 – Notice Rory is going anti-Bubba. No, not the fact that he hit driver on 10 or that he’s trying to finish closer to first than last. I’m talking about this “Deep V” thing that he’s got going on. Check it out below. Any deeper and he might have to start modeling with Ben Stiller and Andy Samberg.


8:03 - Even Gwen Stefani thinks this tournament is bananas. The media center is freaking out. Mostly about the possibility if them not finishing and having to rearrange their travel plans, but still.

8:43 - Final putt drops, Rory is your champ. I win $60 from our office pool and all is right in the world. Everyone gets to go home and no one has to come back to the course tomorrow. 

This whole week has been a wild experience. The Grill Room went from a generally unknown commodity to an established veteran journalistic presence among its peers in the golf industry. At least that's what I'm hearing ... from the Grill Room. Hopefully, Golf Channel will send us out to cover another event again soon. If this didn't convince them, I don't know what will. Don't tune in tomorrow because this is the last of our exclusive PGA Championship coverage. But check out yesterday's running diary here, and continue coming to the Grill Room for more of the lighter side of golf.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

And that was an offseason event.

“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”

Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.

Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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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:

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

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.)