This US Open is a Time to Reflect

By Kraig KannJune 11, 2004, 4:00 pm
I cant wait to hop on the plane! I cant wait to get off the plane. I cant wait to get to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. I cant wait to do our first show ' Live From the U.S. Open on Tuesday night.
For me, though, this years U.S. Open will be about much more than just the winner. And heres why:
In 1995, The Golf Channel debuted on January 17th. That year Ben Crenshaw won the Masters ' I was there. And that year, our national championship visited Long Islands famed Shinnecock Hills for just the third time in history. I was there too.
The fact that Shinnecock has hardly been used to crown a U.S. Open winner is, by itself, a hard fact to swallow. Shinnecock is beautiful. Shinnecock is awesome.
But there was more. For those of us at TGC who went along for the ride, the very fact that we were present and accounted for at Shinnecock and the U.S. Open was a fairytale story. And to say the least, it was an awesome experience.
Businessman Joe Gibbs had a vision. He enlisted help and a magic touch from golfs living legend, Arnold Palmer. Together, they drummed up business at The Golf Channel and it was a cast of many (myself included) who had the responsibility and good opportunity to make it work.
Our job was large and many times overwhelming in those days. The idea of a 24-hour channel devoted to the greatest game and truest sport of them all was brilliant, yet risky. We all knew it. And no matter where we came from, we knew the reward could be larger than the risk.
Then a sportscaster at West Michigan CBS affiliate WWMT-TV, Ill never forget the words from my news director in Michigan when I first announced my decision to head for a career in golf television.
The Gulf Channel? he said. Whats that? I said, No, the Golf Channel, not Gulf Channel. Its in Orlando.
He wished me well, pledged his support, and no doubt shook his head.
Now, nearly 10 years later, the doubters are in disbelief. Early this year, the Golf Channel launched in the United Kingdom, and now has gone where I never dreamed possible ' worldwide!
Thinking back to 1995 once again, I remember Tiger Woods making his amateur trip to Shinnecock Hills. I remember Greg Norman contending. And I remember Corey Pavins great shot and memorable win.
What you need to know is that we (TGC) were finding our way. We didnt have relationships with players. We didnt have the trust of golfs biggest organizations (USGA) and we certainly didnt have a solid place in line with media members whod covered the sport for so long. Add to that the fact that we didnt boast many viewers, or have a right to brag about any loyal following, and many times we wondered if what we were doing would ever find its niche.
The purpose of this weeks column is not to chase down accolades for what we have done. It is to let you know that returning to Shinnecock will bring many of us, whove been at TGC since its inception, back to our roots in this game.
This time around, Corey Pavin will know us. Tiger will respect us. The USGA will provide us with the proper access. And the assembled media will understand that were in this together.
It should be emphasized that theres absolutely NO WAY wed be headed back to Shinnecock for another U.S. Open without the help of two critical partners:
  • The players ' who have learned in the 10 years that we are out to promote and report on who they are and what they do.
  • The viewers ' whove been loyal, and supportive. And also fairly critical, which has been hugely beneficial in our growth.
    So I leave you with this ' not a prediction on who will win the 2004 U.S. Open as that will come next week during our live shows ' but instead, a few words of thanks.
    Thanks to Joe Gibbs, thanks to Arnold Palmer. Thanks to the players. Thanks to the viewers. And thanks to my wife Kimberly, too, who gave me her blessing 10 years ago to take this great job at The Gulf er Golf Channel. Golfs home has been a road well worth traveling. And Im really proud for the chance to be a part of another U.S. Open at Shinnecock.
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.