Firing an Opening Tee Shot

By Jason SobelMay 2, 2011, 1:34 pm

Don’t make yourself the story.

That’s one of the first rules every student learns in Journalism 101. And I’m about to break it like Colin Montgomerie after a Jakarta rain delay.

In my first assignment as senior writer for, I’ve been asked to introduce myself to you, a proposition which now joins, “Just drive the ball into that wide open fairway” atop my personal list of things that are much easier said than done.

My first idea was to open with, “Hello, world,” but it turns out some dude already beat me to it. Then I thought about, “Hi, my name is Jason and I’m a golfaholic,” but the truth is, I’m still in the denial stage.

I probably shouldn’t be. When not reviving my role as sputtering shankopotamous, I’m supplementing lost wagers as a hack golfer with this career as a hack writer.

Or blogger. Or chatter. Or whatever you want to call me. I’ll be filling numerous roles in this new position, which is perfectly fine. Some people wake up in the middle of the night thinking about their golf games. I wake up with column ideas and Twitter lines.

Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler and his Sunday best all-orange outfits. (Getty Images)

Oh, about that: Yeah, I tweet. A lot, actually. Check it out, but don't expect myriad tirades about some player’s increased wrist supination and why it’s destined to ruin his career. Instead, I tend to keep things light. Sarcastic. Maybe even slightly entertaining.

Just promise me this: When I take a dig at your favorite player – and I probably will at some point – don't take it personally.

I've been accused of being both a Tiger Woods hater and a Tiger Woods, uh, lover by an equal amount of enraged readers over the years, which I take as a collective compliment toward my objectivity.

Speaking of remaining objective, my two favorite courses – and yes, I’ve played each – are Augusta National and Pebble Beach. Ask me to vote for only one and I’ll filibuster forever.

Not that I’ve been around that long. I have worked on the professional golf beat since 2004, though a fan for much longer. Let me put it this way: I’m old enough to recall Seve Ballesteros famously wearing blue during final rounds, but young enough to think it's cool that Rickie Fowler emulates the idea with his own traffic cone-orange Sunday style.

I believe pace of play is the most exasperated issue in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of slow play, but it’s like traffic: Everyone hates it, it’s always some other guy’s fault and nobody can figure out a proper solution.

Touring professionals contend a slow partner can adversely affect their games. Well, guess what? So can a fast partner. Or a rude one. Or a smelly one. Or – gasp! – a less talented one.

Advocates of speeding up the game maintain that one of the negative byproducts is amateur players emulating the guys they see on TV. Well, if that's the case, instead of just playing slower wouldn't they also play better?

Hey, I'll poke fun at Kevin Na and J.B. Holmes as much as the next guy. But really: When was the last time you watched a group and said, 'Boy, that four-hour, 18-minute round was so much more enjoyable than yesterday's four-hour, 27-minute round!'

The point is, these players are competing for an awful lot of money. If you had a seven-figure paycheck riding on your work performance, wouldn't you take a few extra seconds to make sure everything was perfect, rather than rushing through it? If this is the worst issue facing our game, consider it in pretty good shape.

What really “grinds my gears,” to borrow from noted golf enthusiast Peter Griffin – hey, he once blew off his wedding anniversary to play 18 holes, albeit to a near-fatal result – is the outdated notion that golf is a game only for the upper crust, especially at its most elite levels.

Aren’t we past this? Haven’t we already learned the stories of such players as Lee Trevino and Vijay Singh – self-made men who were handed nothing and turned it into everything? I mean, really: How many more South African chicken farmers need to win green jackets before this perception is proven invalid?

If you still think golf isn't diverse, let me remind you that at one point during last month’s Masters, five different continents filled the top-five places on the leaderboard. Don’t complain unless you were disappointed someone from Antarctica wasn’t up there, too.

I’ve got plenty of other opinions on plenty of other issues, but I plan on sticking around here for awhile, so I’ll save some for later. One final thought: I couldn’t be happier about joining the talented team here at Golf Channel and I look forward to discussing, debating and delighting in this great game with you for a long time to come.

As for breaking that first rule right off the tee, don’t worry about phoning it in to officials. I’ll make sure to assess myself a proper penalty on the scorecard.

Follow Jason Sobel on Twitter @JasonSobelGC

Getty Images

Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.