Masters Decompression at MCI

By Kraig KannApril 15, 2005, 4:00 pm
And so it iswe go from Tigers miraculous, unbelievable (yet believable) chip at the 16th to the sandy beaches of Hilton Head Island, S.C., for the MCI Heritage.
If you remember 2004 and the MCI, the 16th at Harbour Town Golf Links gave us a little drama of a different kind. The 16th at Hilton Head is a par-4, not a par-3. And golf fans werent talking about a chip-in for the ages. Instead, it was a sand shot by Stewart Cink that sent folks into a tizzy. Did he or didnt he brush away sand from behind his ball. Cmon ' you remember. His play from the waste area at the 16th set up par on the fifth playoff holeultimately helping him to edge Ted Purdy.
The approach Cink took was re-played as often during the next few days as Tigers 16th hole Sunday deposit at the Masters. Stewart, who took the next week off and ultimately said he felt like a prisoner in his own home, brushed off the controversy and then went on to win a WGC event later in the year. At years end hed posted his best-ever finish on the money list ' fifth with $4,450,270.
Cink arrives this week as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 11. Thats right, no big four. And as Cink arrives, hes looked at far more differently than he was a year ago.
The 2005 version of Cink is that of a strong-willed, hugely talented player who worked his tail off for success, contention, victories and ultimately a Ryder Cup spot at Oakland Hills.
To know Stewart Cink is to know a player who goes about everything the right way. He handles the media with class. He visits with the fans. He appreciates the game. And ' despite what some believe about last years Sunday at Harbour Town ' he respects everything about playing it the right way.
A Sunday battle with Davis Love (now 12th in the World Golf Ranking) would hardly be a letdown after Augusta. In fact, Cink and Love would be a battle of multiple MCI Heritage champions. Love has five, while Cink tows two tartan jackets behind him.
Hard to believe that with none of the Big Four/Big Five in the field, we could manage to luck our way into a great finish. But, I guarantee that a Cink-Love dual down the stretch would provide a huge gathering of satisfied customers around the famed Lighthouse.
Here are a couple of thoughts on the Masters after thinking things through over the last few days and spending time on various sports talk radio shows:
1. Tiger Woods is the only needle that really moves the PGA Tour. He might not always be at his best (which right now makes him more intriguing than ever) ' and we saw that via the bogey-bogey finish in regulation ' but he seems to find magic like no other. The ratings prove that when hes in contention, its just different. People love him, and people love to hate him. (You know where you fall on that one.) But the bottom line is ' hes the best. His moments of greatness, in the greatest of moments, are far superior to anyone else playing the game today. Period.
2. Jack had his Yes Sir!!! moment in '86 that has been replayed and replayed and replayed. Now Tiger has his.
3. Nike Golf isnt feeling too slighted, given that the ball with the swoosh sat on the lip for all the world to see (and for long enough that I could go to the vending machine for a Diet Coke, come back and still have time to watch it drop.) Nice commercial in the making.
4. Tiger Woods proved that he is golfs superstar of superstars. Chris DiMarco stood taller than the Georgia pines himself and became a true star as well. You can love Woods ' thats easy. But now, youve really gotta love Chris DiMarco.
5. Woods and DiMarco paired together in every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. Bank it. Tell me Woods doesnt respect him and Ill tell you youre crazy.
It might not have been the greatest Masters of all time. But given the week of delays and the fact that only two men had a sliver of hope to win, it was the greatest Masters that could have come our way.
So, its time to decompress a bit. Hilton Head Island is the perfect resting place for the PGA Tour this week, and if you know anything about the MCIs history, we wont be disappointed.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.

But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.

Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.

That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.

A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.

“Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.

“Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.

“And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.

“So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

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McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 5:47 pm

After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.

McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westage Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1 leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.

Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:

8/1: Tiger Woods

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose

16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm

18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson

25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman

50/1: Alex Noren

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters

80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay

100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner

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NBC Sports' Final Round Coverage of Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard Scores Highest-Rated Overnight at Event in Six Years

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMarch 19, 2018, 5:42 pm

Arnold Palmer Invitational and Valspar Championship Post Two Highest-Rated Final Round PGA TOUR Telecasts (Non-Majors) on Any Broadcast Network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship

ORLANDO, Fla., March 19, 2018 – Record viewership of the PGA TOUR continued this weekend for NBC Sports Group at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC (2-6:45 p.m. ET) delivered a 3.6 overnight rating, +136% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated final round at this event in six years. Combined with last week’s final round viewership at the Valspar Championship (5.1 overnight rating) these rank as the two highest-rated final round PGA TOUR telecasts (non-majors) on any broadcast network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship. Golf Channel’s Sunday final-round lead-in coverage earned a .97 overnight rating, the highest at this event in five years. Across NBC and Golf Channel’s coverage, more than 12 million minutes were streamed, +683% vs. 2017.


  • Sunday’s final round coverage on NBC peaked to a 4.89 from 5:15-5:30 p.m. ET.
  • Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage peaked to a 1.24 from 1:30-2 p.m. ET.


Saturday’s third round coverage earned a 2.29 overnight rating on NBC (2:30-6 p.m. ET), +92% vs. 2017 and the highest-rated at this event in five years. Golf Channel’s lead-in coverage (Noon-2:30 p.m. ET) earned a .95 overnight rating, +126% vs. 2017. Nearly 5.3 million minutes were streamed, +511% vs. 2017.


Friday’s second-round coverage on Golf Channel generated a .81 overnight rating, +153% vs. 2017 and the second highest-rated early round at this event on Golf Channel (2007-2018), just slightly behind the 2012 second round (.84). More the 4.2 million minutes were streamed on Golf Channel Digital, +682% vs. 2017.


Final numbers from Golf Channel’s opening round coverage on Thursday: .42 U.S. HH rating and 593,000 viewers, +56% vs. 2017 and the most-watched opening round at this event since 2011. More than 1.4 million minutes were streamed, +163% vs. 2017.


Four of the top-20 players in the world, Jon Rahm (No. 3), Tommy Fleetwood (No. 11), Tyrrell Hatton (No. 16) and Pat Perez (No. 19) are scheduled to join the live World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play Bracket Special tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. The 90-minute live primetime special will originate from Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, Texas, and feature golf’s own version of a March bracket-style tournament selection format under the guidance of PGA TOUR competition officials.


NBC Sports Group will feature nearly 35 live hours of tournament coverage from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Golf Channel will carry live coverage of round robin matches Wednesday-Friday, March 21-23. On Saturday, March 24, Golf Channel will provide coverage of the Round of 16, followed by the Quarterfinals matches airing on NBC. On Sunday, March 25, Golf Channel will showcase the Semifinals matches, followed by the Championship and Consolation matches airing on NBC.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Love to play first Champions major at U.S. Senior Open

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 4:00 pm

Davis Love III turned 50 in 2014, but he’s been a part-time participant on the PGA Tour Champions.

Since turning 50, Love – who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last fall – has played 73 tournaments on the PGA Tour, but just nine on the over-50 circuit.

Although his competitive dance card might not be changing any time soon, Love is expanding his schedule, adding the U.S. Senior Open to his line up this year.

The U.S. Senior Open will be played June 28-July 1 at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The championship will be Love’s first senior major, and his third event this year on the Champions circuit; but he’s not prepared to leave the regular tour behind just yet.

“The Senior PGA is against Colonial [Fort Worth Invitational], again. I want to play Colonial. I love Colonial, I’d like to play there another time or two,” Love said. “But the timing for the Senior Open worked out and it’s at the Broadmoor, which is really nice.”