Hawk's Nest: Paging Paul Azinger ...

By John HawkinsSeptember 29, 2014, 1:42 pm

Three consecutive losses, each distinct in its own demoralizing fashion. A comeback without completion at Celtic Manor, then a Sunday meltdown at Medinah, then another epic blowout that ended with the team’s most decorated player taking a swipe at his captain.

Not that Phil Mickelson and Tom Watson were BFF’s to begin with, but when you’ve played in 10 Ryder Cups and won two of them, you eventually look for a head on which to hang the goat horns. The pointed truth? Despite Watson’s supposedly inspirational presence as U.S. skipper, this group of Yanks proved to be as inferior as many cynics suspected.

He lost Dustin Johnson. He lost Jason Dufner. He never really had Tiger Woods. It was a squad doomed by timing and consequence, which isn’t to say a full fleet of Americans would have beaten the Europeans at Gleneagles. The home team was stacked, focused and appropriately motivated. Certainly not Europe’s strongest roster ever, but deeper and more talented than the opponent.

So throw this at the wall and see if it sticks: Mickelson’s post-rout callout of Watson might not be such a terrible thing. Lefty’s willingness to compare this latest ill-fated captaincy with that of victorious U.S. skipper Paul Azinger (2008) came with an underlying message: Let’s get serious, let’s get organized. May we all get sick and tired of getting beaten.

“He’s just frustrated by not winning,” Azinger told me Sunday evening. “It came to a head.”

A diplomatic, high-road response, for sure, but eight losses in the last 10 Ryder Cups? Inexcusable. A 1-7 record in foursomes matches this time around? Impossible to overcome, even tougher to explain. Playing another guy’s ball for several hours requires optimal preparation and strategic prudence. This U.S. squad clearly possessed neither quality.

Nothing does a finer job of measuring a team’s compatibility level than the game better known as alternate shot. The other two formats are basically normal golf – you hit it, find it, hit it again. Azinger’s bunch was hardly perfect in alternate shot at Valhalla, claiming four of eight points. After the Euro-thrashings in 2004 and ’06, however, breaking even felt like ground gained.

Too much credit, too much blame. Every Ryder Cup captain must cope with the notion that his legacy is rooted solely in the result, and maybe that’s not such a terrible thing, either. Dufner and Billy Horschel were among those who immediately began campaigning for Azinger’s return (via Twitter) in 2016.

Is Zinger interested?

“Can’t rule it out,” he replied Sunday night.

REALISTICALLY, THERE SHOULD be just two candidates for the United States captaincy in ’16: Azinger and Fred Couples. Anyone who thinks Couples’ laid-back nature might backfire against the Europeans probably has a point, but at this juncture, it’s all about W’s and L’s. Not only did Freddie go 3-0 as Presidents Cup skipper, his squads outscored the Internationals by a whopping 57-45.

If the PGA of America is serious about reversing its Ryder Cup identity, it needs to swallow its collective pride and approach Couples, who doesn’t fit the so-called mold any more or less than did Watson. It’s worth noting that Couples has already accepted a position as one of Jay Haas’ 2015 Presidents Cup assistants, which leads nicely into an idea hatched by GolfChannel.com editorial director Jay Coffin.

Hire one guy to captain the U.S. in both events for two years, perhaps even four. Mimic the template of USA Basketball, which has installed coach Mike Krzyzewski as a fixture and generated a sense of continuity within the program. If we’re going to have two team-match gatherings, there is no good reason why they can’t draw on their common characteristics and make both operations better in the long run.

Forget the politics. Never mind the tangle of egos and other governing-body B.S. Couples would be perfect in the inaugural role of dual skipper, which Coffin describes as such: “go out there and hang with the guys, work on partnerships, have drinks, play Tuesday money games with them, get to know their families, etc.”

Honestly? It probably makes way too much sense for either the PGA of America or the PGA Tour to seriously consider.

IT IS SECOND nature for golf fans to question a Ryder Cup skipper’s personnel decisions. Lanny Wadkins’ risky selection of Curtis Strange as a captain’s pick in 1995, Hal Sutton’s all-or-nothing decision to pair Tiger Woods with Phil Mickelson in 2004 (he got double nothing), Davis Love III’s rally-killer benching of Mickelson/Keegan Bradley in 2012 …

There was plenty to choose from at Gleneagles. Why sit a pair of young bucks (Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed) immediately after they’d trampled Europe’s most dangerous player (Ian Poulter) Friday morning? Don’t you ride the two rookies for as long as you can, squeezing every drop from them while knowing youth is often impervious to fatigue?

Watson’s biggest and most obvious mistake, however, came the following day. Having proven themselves untouchable at Medinah two years earlier, Mickelson and Bradley teamed up to beat Rory McIlroy/Sergio Garcia in Friday fourballs at Gleneagles. They lost that afternoon, however, and Watson benched both for both sessions Saturday.

It was a move with far-reaching implications, given Philly Mick’s aforementioned post-mortem. “I expected what Phil said to me,” Watson recalled. “He said, ‘We can get it done, Captain. We want the chance.’ I told him the way this golf course sets up, the four teams I put out there gives us the best chance.

“He lobbied again. He texted me, ‘Give us a chance.’ I had to tell him no.”

Regardless of how you feel about Mickelson, he deserved a valid explanation – and he deserved to be told well before he’d warmed up and prepared himself for an afternoon battle. Pragmatically, the move made no sense. Mickelson took a respectable 4-5-4 foursomes record into Gleneagles. His successful partnership with Bradley had emerged as one of America’s most formidable weapons. And with the U.S. trailing by just a point through three sessions, Watson should have leaned on his most proven commodities Saturday afternoon.

Furthermore, a partnership that produces four consecutive big-time victories, then loses once, is not left to rot in a golf cart for an entire day. Not only was Watson’s decision an error, it was a mistake that suggests a personal vendetta – a lousy message issued to a young team on the brink.

As a footnote, there were 27 interview transcripts published Saturday from Gleneagles, not one of which quoted Mickelson or Bradley on the benching. No question in my mind, Lefty knew exactly what he was doing when he took out Watson in full public view the next day. And no wonder the Yanks got thumped.

TOO MUCH CREDIT, too much blame. Not only does this apply to Watson, whose shortcomings as both a captain and communicator turned PGA of America president Ted Bishop’s outside-the-box experiment into a bust, but Mickelson himself. In offering such a candid and visible assessment of the 2014 captain, Philly Mick was roasted by several prominent voices for violating the very essence of appropriate team conduct.

What happens in the team room stays in the team room, or so we’re led to believe. The funny thing about media – some of us chastise guys like Mickelson for talking out of school, then lick up every last crumb, no matter how dirty.

Some of my favorite golf journalists, including Golf Channel teammates Rex Hoggard and Tim Rosaforte, have referred to the U.S. news conference as one of the most awkward moments in Ryder Cup history, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree. It was hard to watch and impossible not to, if you know what I mean.

Perhaps it was also necessary, or at the very least, a much-needed attempt to shake up a system that has produced lousy results for far too long. Bishop chose Watson himself. Why is there no committee for such an important appointment? As I wondered here a couple of weeks ago, why are the U.S. captains’ picks made almost a month before the actual matches – before the final two FedEx Cup playoff events?

In 1999, four U.S. players (Mickelson, Woods, David Duval and Mark O’Meara) became villains for criticizing the PGA of America’s pocketing the immense revenue generated by the Ryder Cup. Their message was poorly represented – and thus, widely misinterpreted – but from that fracas, a reasonable solution was soon reached.

In the 15 years since, the PGA has donated portions of the income to charities as designated by the U.S. team members themselves – $100,000 per player in 2012. So what began as a case of potential squad-rotting dissension turned out to have a productive and happy ending.

Maybe that will happen again. Maybe it won’t, but as anyone can plainly see, the U.S. Ryder Cup program has a whole lot of work ahead of it.

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Golf Channel to Deliver Worldwide Coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, "The Major of Golf Business," Tueday-Friday, Jan. 23-26

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 22, 2018, 2:45 pm

Morning Drive, Golf Central to Give Viewers Insider Access to the PGA Show with Nearly 20 Hours of Live Coverage; Golf Channel’s School of Golf Instruction Program to Originate From On-Site

Golf Channel’s Portfolio of Lifestyle Brands – GolfNow, Golf Channel Academy, Revolution Golf and World Long Drive On-Site at the PGA Show Contributing to the Network’s Comprehensive Coverage


ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2018) – Golf Channel announced plans for its comprehensive coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show – the largest golf convention and business gathering in the world – with nearly 20 hours of news and instruction coverage Tuesday, Jan. 23 – Friday, Jan. 26. Golf Channel’s coverage will span across the four days, beginning Tuesday with the “PGA Show Demo Day” from the Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge driving range in Winter Garden, Fla., and continuing Wednesday-Friday at the PGA Merchandise Show from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

With an insider look at the PGA Merchandise Show – a golf industry event that is not open to the public – Golf Channel’s coverage via Morning Drive and Golf Central will be delivered to a worldwide audience in more than 36 countries. Coverage will provide viewers live interviews with industry leaders, professional golfers from the world’s major tours, PGA of America members and a comprehensive overview of the latest products and trends for 2018 from some of the nearly 1,100 golf brands exhibiting on-site.

PGA Merchandise Show Week Programming Schedule: Jan. 23-26 (All Times Eastern)


Morning Drive

7-11 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)



School of Golf

8-9 p.m.



Morning Drive

7-11:30 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)



Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)



Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)




Golf Channel’s expansive coverage of the PGA Merchandise Show will utilize several on-air personalities from the network’s news division, beginning with Charlie Rymer and Lauren Thompson offering coverage of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day on Tuesday. In addition to Rymer and Thompson, Wednesday-Friday coverage from the PGA Show Floor will include Matt Adams, Cara Banks, Lisa Cornwell, Matt Ginella, Damon Hack, Bailey Mosier and Gary Williams.


Golf Channel’s PGA Merchandise Show on-air coverage will be available to stream via Golf Channel Digital Tuesday-Friday. Comprehensive online editorial coverage also will be available throughout the week, with contributions from writers Jay Coffin and Will Gray. Golf Channel’s social media platforms will keep viewers engaged in the conversation about what’s generating buzz at the #PGASHOW throughout the week via the network’s social media channels – @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Twitter, @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Instagram and GolfChannel and GCMorningDrive on Facebook. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will host Golf Channel’s digital and social media coverage throughout the week.


Golf Channel’s coverage of “Demo Day” will begin Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 a.m. ET with Morning Drive airing live and on-site to highlight the latest in golf equipment from the expansive driving range at Orange County National. Rymer and Thompson will host Morning Drive on-site, featuring interviews and product demonstrations.


Coverage of the PGA Show will transition indoors to the Orange County Convention Center, Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 24-26 to give viewers an all-access tour of the PGA Show. Morning Drive and Golf Central will provide on-site reports throughout the week, with featured interviews and segments originating from the PGA Show Floor. Coverage from the Convention Center will originate from a large, multi-purpose space elevated above the PGA Show Floor, with three set configurations for interviews, along with a putting green and a golf simulator for product demonstrations. Golf Channel also will feature a “Fly Cam,” a unique camera technology made popular in televising football and other sports. Suspended above the PGA Show Floor, the Fly Cam will span more than 700 feet, giving viewers an aerial viewpoint of the vast floor and the exhibitors. New for 2018 will be a “Jib Cart,” a mobile cart with a camera jib affixed allowing high shots of the booths throughout the Show Floor.


School of Golf, Golf Channel’s signature instruction program that airs on Tuesday nights, will kick off its eighth season with a one-hour special at Demo Day on Tuesday, Jan. 23, airing in primetime from 8-9 p.m. ET. Originating from the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO booth on the Orange County National driving range and hosted by Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal, the show will include special guests and interactions with a live audience.


In addition to Golf Channel’s on-air and digital coverage, the network’s lifestyle brands – GolfNow, World Long Drive, Golf Channel Academy and Revolution Golf will showcase their services at the PGA Show with special clinics, product demonstrations and on-site activations.


GolfNow, the industry’s leader in golf-related technology and services, will be exhibiting Wednesday-Friday from Booth #2173. In addition to showcasing advanced technologies that have created the largest tee-time marketplace in golf, GolfNow also will be educating course owners and operators about innovations and services designed to help them run their businesses more efficiently and successfully. GolfNow Business experts will be on hand at GolfNow’s 2,400-square-foot booth, offering its course partners technology demonstrations, as well as consultation on any of the GolfNow Services: Plus, a top-line focused consultative performance system for golf courses, including marketing, sales and automated pricing; Answers, a call center for golf courses, answering customer calls day and night; and Ride, a no-cost purchasing program that saves course operators from 6-35 percent on items they buy day-to-day, such as food, office supplies and agricultural products.


Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, World Long Drive competitors will be at the PGA Show to compete in a World Long Drive Bracket Challenge. Hosted by Golf Channel’s social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin and airing live via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live, the competition will take place at Golf Channel’s simulator on the Show Floor featuring eight men and four women, including World No. 2 Ryan Reisbeck, No. 3 Maurice Allen, No. 5 Trent Scruggs and 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Women’s Champion Sandra Carlborg.


Wednesday-Friday, Golf Channel Academy coaches will provide on-site instruction clinics at Golf Channel’s simulator set on the Show Floor. Wednesday’s clinics will feature driving, full swing, wedge play and putting clinics. Thursday’s clinic will include the full swing and Friday’s clinic will feature the short game, all streamed live via Golf Channel Academy’s Facebook page.


Revolution Golf, the industry’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform delivering high-quality video-based instruction, travel content and integrated e-commerce will have a significant presence at the PGA Show. Golf Channel’s newest digital acquisition, Revolution Golf will be shooting digital segments at Demo Day and throughout the PGA Show Floor, including segments with its team of instructors.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.