Golf Channel Begins Celebration of Golf's Olympic Return at the 2016 Rio Olympics on Monday, February 24

By Golf Channel Public RelationsFebruary 19, 2014, 8:35 pm

As the 2014 Olympic Winter Games from Sochi come to a close this Sunday, the sporting world will begin to turn its attention to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where golf returns to the Olympic program for the first time in 112 years at the 2016 Olympic Games. On Monday, February 24, Golf Channel will begin celebrating golf’s road to Rio with dedicated Olympic-themed coverage on air, online and through its social media channels. The Rio Opening Ceremony will be Friday, Aug. 5, 2016, 893 days from Golf Channel’s celebration on Monday.

“The lead up to golf’s return to the Olympics will be one of the biggest stories in golf in the coming years. Golf Channel will be covering this historic story from a variety of angles as the international growth of golf is put on display with its inclusion in the Olympics,” said Mike McCarley, President of Golf Channel.

Season two of In Play with Jimmy Roberts, which this year expands to an hour, begins Monday at 10 p.m. ET, following the season premiere of Big Break Florida at 9 p.m. ET. In Play will feature an exclusive look at the preparation of the Olympic golf course in Rio through multiple interviews with the course’s designer, Gil Hanse. For the past two years, Golf Channel cameras have captured the development process of the course, including Hanse’s initial visit to the proposed site in 2011, his winning bid to be architect and course designer in 2012 and the current shaping of the course, which is currently under construction. Hanse said, “I don’t know that we will ever get to build a more significant golf course. It is the opportunity of a lifetime.” Hanse also opens up about family stresses during the construction process (his family moved to Rio in January, 2013), his frustrations with the delays of the course development and how he, his family and his management team have overcome these struggles and are moving forward with a scheduled completion of the course in 2014.

Gil Hanse, on the Olympics course design and the schedule changes:

“We can clearly see in what we are building, and the landforms that exist, that we have got something pretty exciting here. The best parts of the day are when the optimism bubbles through of, ‘Boy, wait until we finish this and how good it is going to look.’”

“The schedule has changed – not to fit the pace but basically to fit the reality of where we are now. So, now we have a realistic schedule that will have this golf course being completed sometime in the first half of 2014.”

Hanse’s design team also has been hard at work in renovating and reconstructing the famed Blue Monster Course at Trump National Doral in Miami, Fla. The course, which re-opened in early February to rave reviews, will host the PGA TOUR’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in March. Donald Trump discusses with Roberts on In Play why he selected Hanse as the course architect and some of the enhancements and changes made to the course.

The hour-long episode of In Play also delves into the history of golf in the Olympics, which makes its return in 2016 after a 112-year absence, with three unique stories. In Play will highlight the 1900 Olympic Games (Paris, France), when Margaret Abbott won the women’s golf tournament, becoming the first American woman in any sport to win an Olympic event; the 1904 Olympic Games (St. Louis, Mo.) – the last Olympics when golf was an official sport – when Canadian George Lyon dominated the field and won the gold medal, and how he later refused to accept the gold medal at the 1908 London Games; as well as a retrospective on an international golf event taking place around the 1936 Olympic Games, now known as the “Hitler Invitational,” that took place in Berlin, Germany.

Morning Drive, Golf Channel’s daily morning show, also will look toward Rio on Monday and review the projected field if the men’s and women’s Olympic competitions were to take place today. Hanse is scheduled to join the show on Monday from Rio, and Golf Digest contributor Geoff Shackelford, who has personally surveyed the Rio Olympic golf course project, will join Morning Drive to discuss the latest developments on the design and construction of the course in Rio.

GolfChannel.com will post projected fields for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, based on current world rankings. The field is scheduled to be a total of 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s events. The top-15 ranked players of each gender will qualify with a limit of four golfers qualifying from a country. The remaining 45 spots will go to the highest-ranked players from countries that do not already have two golfers qualified. GolfChannel.com also will launch a dedicated section within the site (www.GolfChannel.com/Olympicgolf) that focuses solely on Olympics-related content, and Golf Channel and NBC Sports’ social media channels will combine efforts to promote Olympics-related content using the #Rio2016 hashtag.

GolfChannel.com will feature on Monday a column from senior writer Jason Sobel on the history of golf in the Olympics. Sobel takes an in-depth look at Glen Echo Country Club in St. Louis, the last venue to host an Olympics golf tournament in 1904 that featured one of the more unique and memorable medal presentations in Olympics history.

VIDEO: In Play Season Premiere Sneak Peek

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.