On The Range Blog - February 8

By On The Range TeamFebruary 9, 2012, 2:00 am

On The Range Talent
Host: Gary Williams (Golf Channel)
Analyst: Wayne Player (Instructor & Founder of The Player Approach)
Analyst: Billy Kratzert (4-time PGA TOUR winner)

This Week’s Events
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Pebble Beach Golf Links (Host Course) - Pebble Beach, CA
Defending Champion - D.A. Points

Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Emirates GC - Dubai, UAE
Defending Champion - Alvaro Quiros

Marquee Player
Hunter Mahan
-Runner-up at 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
-Finished Top 10 in last 4 PGA TOUR sanctioned event
-MC last week in Commercialbank Qatar Masters
-3 career PGA TOUR wins
-Swing Instructor: Sean Foley
-Caddie: John Wood

Course Survey
Pebble Beach Golf Links (Par 72 – 6,816 yards)
Spyglass Hill GC (Par 72 – 6,858 yards)
Monterey Peninsula (Par 70 - 6,838 yards)
-Putt to Win: 3 of the past 6 winners (’11 Points, ’07 Mickelson and ’06 Oberholser) have led the field in Putting Average while ’08 Lowery was 2nd. Points played his final two rounds at Pebble Beach last year and didn’t miss a putt inside of 9’ on the weekend (31 of 31).

-Look for a lot of birdies and eagles: Last year Points finished T1 in Birdie Average (5.75) and T1 in Total Eagles (2). In 2010, Dustin Johnson made 3 eagles en route to victory. Coincidentally, 4 of the past 5 winners have been Top 3 in Par 5 Scoring for the week.

-Gotta get off to a hot start: The past 3 winners were also the leader/co-leader at the end of the 1st Round (Points opened with a 63 last year, Johnson with a 64 and 65 the previous two years).

-Toughest Par 5 in golf: The 14th hole at Pebble Beach (Par 5, 573 yards) has played as the toughest Par 5 on the PGA TOUR the past two seasons. In 2010 it actually ranked 1st and 2nd toughest because of the U.S. Open also being played at Pebble Beach.

-Short and straight off the tee: Not only are Pebble Beach and Monterey Peninsula the two shortest courses on the PGA TOUR, but they have some of the easiest fairways to hit as well. On the 2011 PGA TOUR, Monterey Peninsula had the 4th highest driving accuracy percentage (76.85%) and Pebble Beach had the 6th easiest (70.29%). Spyglass Hill had the shortest average driving distance on TOUR (271.4)

-Putting is a pain 3 of 4 rounds: On the 2011 PGA TOUR, Monterey Peninsula ranked the toughest in Overall Putting Average, One-Putt Percentage, 3-Putt Avoidance and Putts Per Round. Pebble Beach ranked the toughest in putting percentage from 10’-15’, 15’-20’ and     20’-25’ while ranking 5th toughest inside 5’. Spyglass Hill on the other hand ranked as one of the easiest putting courses in nearly every category.

Top 5: Courses on the PGA TOUR
This week the PGA TOUR returns to Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of the top rated courses in the world. It's hosted U.S. Opens, The Clam Bake and numerous other high profile events, but how does it shake up against the rest of this year's schedule. Gary Williams, Billy Kratzert and Wayne Player share their thoughts on the Top 5 Courses on the PGA TOUR (Share your thoughts or Top 5 in the comments section):

Gary Williams
1. Pebble Beach ('It's America's Mona Lisa. It's the most remarkable golfing canvas in our country.')
2. Riviera
3. Bethpage Black
4. Muirfield Village
5. Quail Hollow

Billy Kratzert
1. Greenbrier ('The Old White TPC is an old style, straight forward course. Love the radar greens!')
2. Pebble Beach
3. Riviera
4. East Lake
5. Colonial

Wayne Player
1. Pebble Beach ('No golf course can replicate the great ocean views and overall experience of Pebble Beach')
2. Muirfield Village
3. Bay Hill
4. Quail Hollow
5. PGA National 

Featured Groups
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Coverage Begins Thursday at 2:30PM ET on Golf Channel

Thursday, 12:50PM ET, 1st Tee (Spyglass Hill GC) 
Phil Mickelson & Skip McGee, Kevin Na & Jimmy Dunne III

Thursday, 1:01PM ET, 1st Tee (Pebble Beach GL)
Dustin Johnson & Joe Rice, Kyle Thompson & Nat Hardwick

Thursday, 1:01PM ET, 10th Tee (Spyglass Hill GC)
Tiger Woods & Tony Romo, Arjun Atwal & Danny Lane

Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

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

Former Web.com 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 Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com 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.

Getty Images

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.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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