How Do You Want Your Sundays

By Kraig KannJune 28, 2007, 4:00 pm
Having been on vacation last week, I wasnt exactly glued to news about the television ratings for Sundays finale of the Travelers Championship. But I did watch. I really watched. With the exception of my satellite going out momentarily because of a storm, I didnt miss a shot.

For the record, Jay Williamson is a good friend of mine. He has been for more than 10 years. Our families have connections to St. Louis where Jay currently lives after his family spent some years in Orlando.

Jay Williamson
Jay Williamson earned $648,000 for his runner-up showing at the Travelers. (WireImage)
In this business we do our best not to root for specific players ' at least on the public air of television. What we do is root for the best story.

Sitting at home (instead of on the set of the 'Sprint Post-Game' in Cromwell, Conn.), I did both. I rooted for my friend ' and what would have been the best story.

This is hardly about my relationship with Jay. This is more of a question pointed to you.

Was Sunday at the Travelers Championship good enough? Did it prove enough about the quality of golf on the PGA TOUR? Did it say something about the fine line we always seem to talk about between the Nationwide Tour and the PGA TOUR?

Ive heard it hundreds of times ' Man, Tigers not playing this week. This field doesnt have enough of the big names, so who cares!

Sunday at the TPC River Highlands provided us with one of the years best ' if not the best ' PGA TOUR finishes.

Two players at different points in their professional careers seeking their first PGA TOUR win. Two players who couldnt have hit better shots under Sunday pressure. And in the end, one player who was just a little bit better, and whose putts were just a little bit truer.

Hunter Mahan is a great kid. He has a fantastic attitude and tremendous game. The teamwork he and his caddie displayed on the 18th hole was as priceless a bit of theater as watching Williamson sit with his head down not watching Mahans putt to get into the playoff itself.

Hunter Mahan deserved to win. And if you watched the clutch shots Williamson hit into the 18th in regulation and in the playoff - you know how good Mahan really was. Hunter 1-upped him on both occasions.

Truth be told, I had received text messages and phone calls from friends and family asking How in the world could you take the week off just as your buddy Williamson is about to win?

And funny that Jay himself had called me on Wednesday to see about grabbing dinner in Hartford that night ' not knowing I was home with family, watching my son play in an All-Star baseball tournament.

It would have been a blast. But watching the finish was just as good as seeing it in person.

I say that, because I get tired of talking about whos NOT in the field from week to week and find Sunday at Hartford as just the latest opportunity to sound the trumpet about how great golf can really be on the PGA TOUR.

Put the Williamson/Mahan dual up there with any other finish this year as the best of the best. And remember Verplank and Donald at the EDS Byron Nelson or Zach Johnson and Ryuji Imada at the AT&T Classic in Atlanta?
In fact, ratings were up 6 percent over the same weekend a year ago. And that was with no Tiger and no Phil and no Vijay in the final bit of Sunday drama.

For Mahan, that great bit of theater opens the door for many more wins and puts him among the great young players in any conversation. At 25, hes off and running.

For Williamson? At 40, with an earlier Nationwide Tour win already under his belt this year and now this -- on a sponsors exemption no less -- the career he thought might have run out might just be ready to run on into his 50s.

Jays wife, Marnie, and his three children ' who were there on the 18th green hoping for a first PGA TOUR win and the miracle finish to a Hollywood script ' might just be in for something in his 40s that never seemed possible in his late 30s.

We talked earlier this week ' just as he was on his way for yet another television interview on the heels of his storybook performance. He said, Its amazing how things come your way after something like this. Yet he still didnt know quite how to feel about how Sunday played out. Things to work on, Williamson said. But Im in a much better place than I was before the week.

Its all about the outlook. As Jay said on Sunday after the disappointing loss, Hunter played better than I did today. Maybe so. But a final-round 66 and the shot-making he showed under the pressure of trying to make good on a golden opportunity was pretty good television.

Indeed, Hunter might have played better but its also true that Sunday at the Travelers Championship played out better than most every other tournament on the schedule this year.

And dont think for a minute the PGA TOUR didnt love every bit of it.
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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x