And the Best is Yet to Come
Tough for me to give the perspective you might. But for what it's worth, this show is a blast to be a part of! Lots of panel members, lots of interviews, lots of topics to toss around. And we do it in a spectacular new studio setting that really gives us a shot of enthusiasm before we say hello.
An hour on Wednesday nights (this week it was Tuesday because of the Bob Hope's five-round format), the Golf Channel Pre-Game is meant to get you prepped for the week's tournament play. Yes, there will be interviews. Yes, there will be features and stat-driven information. But the key to the show's flow will depend on plain old fun-loving entertainment value.
The Golf Channel Post-Game airs on Sunday right after network coverage of the day's golf. Usually that will mean 6 PM ET. We'll wrap it up, listen to the winners and also those who came close. You'll get a breakdown of the moments that decided the event and we'll also keep you up on the latest topics.
The goal is to toss around those topics like they're unwanted pennies. Some will grab your interest more than others... but all are designed to give you a better feel for the week's world of golf.
As I see it, we've got a studio full of enthusiastic insiders. Mark Lye and Kelly Tilghman should be familiar to those of you Golf Channel loyalists. Lye's won on the PGA Tour, where he spent nearly 20 years playing some pretty sound golf with the best. Kelly played collegiate golf at Duke University and made a run at the LPGA before getting into this crazy business. Good luck finding a non-tour playing woman who knows more about golf. Listen when she speaks. She tells me I need to all the time!!
But enough about those you know. Let me tell you a little bit about those you might not be so familiar with.
Brian Hewitt's been seen on our air many times, but now comes to The Golf Channel full-time from GolfWeek where he certainly set a high standard for journalistic integrity and creative insight. Brian's been around the block in this business. A long-time golf writer, he first spent time working in the Windy City for one of Chicago's 'big-two' dailies. Among his assignments, Brian covered the Bears like the Buccaneer defensive backs recently blanketed Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. Not much gets past Hewitt no matter what he's covering, and his insight will be valuable on these shows.
How much do you know about Peter Oosterhuis? Born in London, he now lives in the Scottsdale, Ariz., area. Certainly you've seen him on CBS Sports coverage of the PGA Tour. But he started in television on The Golf Channel as our European Tour telecasts. 'Oosty', as he's known, played in six Ryder Cups and won the British Order of Merit money title for four straight years from 1971 to 1974. Runner-up twice at the British Open, Oosterhuis has 20 worldwide wins to his credit.
And when it comes to insightful commentary, Oosty never lets you down. This guy is a wealth of well-researched information. What I'm hoping for is that Hewitt or Lye will take him to task a time or two with some of their own 'homework.'
I'm told its my 'job' to steer the ship. That's great, and I love it. If I do my job, you'll get to know these guys and gals a lot better than you might on any other show. And hopefully this ship steers its way into your living room on a regular basis!
I'm biased of course, but I think this show has great days ahead.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.