PGA Tour Class is in Session
Look, Im no different than you. Ive got my issues with certain things in this game. And Ive got my feelings about a certain few players whove treated fans and media members like a miniscule speed bump in an empty parking lot ' with regularity!
But Im taking the high road on this one. Not gonna do it. In fact, given what Ive seen and heard over the last 10 days, Im gonna flat out praise some people!
Im starting with Mike Weir. No, Im not trying to butter him up like I would a dry pancake. And no, my column last week involved no motive to create or enhance a professional relationship the next time we take our show on the road. But guess what happened? Weir called me personally at work the other day. Not knowing I wasnt working, he left me a message to thank me for the article I wrote and the comments I made regarding him as a player and as a class person. Maybe we can do something later on down the road, he said. Just let me know.
Class? Hes the one with the class. That call from a Masters champion is something Ill not soon forget. In fact, I havent yet deleted it because Im still soaking it all in.
Last week, we took the Sprint Pre and Post Game Shows on the road to Doral for the Ford Championship. Speaking of class heres a sampling of what it was like to recruit guests. And maybe this will give you a sense of what goes on with the show (for more, archive a recent column I wrote The Sprint Days are a Marathon).
We arrived on Tuesday, walked into our compound, looked outside the window at the practice putting and chipping green only to see Harrison Frazar doing his office work for the day. I opened the window, and said something like Hey, Superman! Want to join us on the show this week? His answer? Sure, what night do you want me? The conversation continued and I proceeded out to talk to him some more. We settled on Thursday after his round and heres the catchregardless of what he shoots that day!
Wednesday, as you probably know if you watch the show, is our big preview night. Given that there are always issues about events, rulings and controversy our producers, Brian Hewitt and I pow-wowed about guests. How about David Toms whos just back from injury and Scott McCarron? was the quip that got the most attention. Both are player representatives on the tour policy board.
Word got to them about our interest and their availability. Both asked Where and what time? They also agreed to stay on the show for more than the normal one segment. They were terrific. The next day I see Toms and say thank you. He responds, I enjoyed it. Anytime I can help ' you know that. I never saw McCarron, but hes also never turned us down.
I caught Bernhard Langer on the patio one night just before show time and asked about his availability for the week. You know, Ryder Cup captain and all ' we work around him. I said, You tell me ' Im figuring youll be around for the weekend. His reply? I would hope so. Im commuting home at night, so how about Friday? Ill just stay that night. That would be fun.
I caught Craig Perks on the practice putting green on Saturday afternoon after his round. He was in the hunt and hes always been a good get given his quick rise at the Players Championship. We would prefer you join us live, but well tape it if need be, I said. Ill do it live, Perks fired back. Ill just shower, relax in my room and come back. What time?
Joe Durant is another of the tours best men. I called his hotel room at Doral. He never wavered a bit. Id love to, Durant said. He joined us on Friday.
Jesper Parnevik? Similar story. We reeled him in after his round. Like Langer, he, too, is a bit of a local. Plenty of friends and family around. He held us off for a minute while he checked with his wife and we set a tape time for one hour later. He was there early!
I could go on and on. And yes, there are times when players say no. But you know what? Those who say no seemingly always follow up with, Sorry, it just doesnt work today, can we do it later in the week?
I need you to know that these guests are not paid. They give of their time and sure, they get some exposure and the like. But this is a business filled with plenty of class. And while a small few dont make The Golf Channel a priority ' the great majority do and that is a major reason why were alive and well, growing by leaps and bounds and setting our sights for even greater days ahead.
By the way, Jeff Sluman, a Rochester, N.Y., native who has laid down big roots in suburban Chicago, seems really excited about joining me and Hewitt (two other native Chi-towners) for a night on the town during Western Open week. Just call me, Sluman said.
Is this a great job or what? Now you know where the thanks goes.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open
The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:
Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)
What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.
Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.
Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.
Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.
Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.
Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one
Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.
Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia
SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.
Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.
''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.
But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.
In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.
''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''
Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.
The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.
''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''
NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.
Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long
Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.
Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.
"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"
The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.
Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.
"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."
Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.
"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.
"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.
"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."