Golf Channel's Morning Drive Expands to Seven Days and Unveils New Format, New Co-Hosts, New Set

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 24, 2013, 9:39 pm

The list of reasons to wake up to television’s only live morning golf show got longer with today’s announcement that Golf Channel’s popular Morning Drive will re-launch on Feb. 4 with a new format, a new cast of co-hosts, state-of-the-art studio and an expanded, seven days a week schedule.

“If you love golf, Morning Drive has become the way to start your day,” said Mike McCarley, President of Golf Channel. “In just two years, the show has become weekday appointment viewing for those who share a passion for the game and on the few weekends when Morning Drive has aired, Golf Channel has seen a three-fold increase in ratings. This move to seven days a week, with a new set and new additions to the cast will allow us to engage in a broader range of topics covering all aspects of the game and give viewers a reason to wake up with Morning Drive every day of the week.”

NEW AND EXPANDED CO-HOST TEAM: By expanding to seven days each week, the new Morning Drive cast naturally is going to grow. Current Morning Drive co-hosts Gary Williams, Damon Hack and Holly Sonders will be joined by Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer to form the on-air “foursome” typically covering Thursdays through Mondays. Williams, Hack and Sonders have been the regular co-host team of Morning Drive over the past few months and will build upon that camaraderie. Rymer will bring his exuberance for the game to the morning, in addition to his continued work as an analyst for Golf Central.

Longtime Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman will be a central figure mid-week on Morning Drive, typically on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tilghman will continue to be an anchor for Golf Central and a central figure of Golf Channel’s Live From coverage of the biggest events in golf. Matt Ginella comes to Morning Drive after 11 years as the travel editor for Golf Digest magazine. Ginella has garnered a keen sense for what makes a golf course a destination for golfers of all tastes and will be co-host throughout the week. And Lauren Thompson, who has been a regular contributor to the show, now will have a permanent role, providing news updates and reports for midweek shows.

Several regular contributors and guest hosts include:
- Emmy Award-winning sports broadcaster, Ahmad Rashad, headlines as a new guest host. A former All-Pro wide receiver, college football Hall of Famer and 25-year network veteran with ESPN, ABC, NBC and NBA TV – and a voracious golfer – Rashad will bring a unique perspective.
- John Cook is an 11-time PGA TOUR winner and recent champion of the 2013 Mitsubishi Electric Championship on the Champions Tour. The 1993 U.S. Ryder Cup team member will join the show during some of the biggest weeks on the golf calendar.
- Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam will continue to make weekly Morning Drive appearances, providing insight into the professional ranks to the amateurs, and sharing her passion on growing the game.
- Other Golf Channel analysts and reporters also will continue to contribute to Morning Drive on a daily basis, both in studio and on location at various tournaments. Golf World’s Tim Rosaforte will continue to appear weekly on the show; analyst Brandel Chamblee will regularly set up that day’s tournament action on weekends; and Golf Channel on NBC’s Jimmy Roberts will be a frequent contributor in support of his new series, In Play with Jimmy Roberts.

NEW FORMAT: Since Morning Drive’s debut in January 2011, the show has become appointment viewing for viewers seeking the latest golf news and information, as well as expert analysis and discussion about all things golf. The show’s new format will continue to set the table for what’s new each day in professional golf, while expanding its scope to cover the golfing lifestyle including how to play, what to play and where to play. Resident Golf Channel experts and show guests will cover such topics as trends in golf equipment, the hottest travel destinations for golf and the latest fashions turning heads on the course.

Morning Drive’s daily polls and interaction with the show’s loyal audience will be conducted through social media, as well as themed weeks exploring unique aspects of golf.

Viewers can take Morning Drive with them via a “Best of” highlight podcast hosted by Sonders available online each afternoon and the series’ audio will continue to be streamed live at GolfChannel.com/MorningDrive.

NEW STUDIO: Morning Drive is moving into a new, state-of-the-art studio for the re-launch on Feb. 4. The studio features four dedicated sets: a main anchor desk, an interview area, a product demonstration area and a news update desk. The new home is nearly four times larger than the show’s original studio.

Panoramic, high-definition video backdrops throughout the studio will make viewers feel like the Morning Drive cast is broadcasting from just inside the picture windows of their local clubhouse. This signature Morning Drive look is accomplished by linking 20 90-inch and 10 52-inch monitors to create golf course morning vistas.

Morning Drive’s production team is led by coordinating producer Jeff Neubarth, producers Kyle Brown and Bill Hentschel, and directors Charlie Reynolds and Eric Rutledge. For Golf Channel, Molly Solomon is executive producer, Geoff Russell is executive editor and Mike McCarley is president.

MORNING DRIVE TALENT BIOS
JOHN COOK
@johncookgolf
Professional golfer, John Cook, is an eleven-time winner on the PGA TOUR, was a member of the 1993 U.S. Ryder Cup team and won the 1978 U.S. Amateur. He was ranked in the top 10 for 45 weeks between 1992-’93 and currently plays on the Champions Tour. Most recently, Cook won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in January 2013.

MATT GINELLA
@Matt_Ginella
Matt Ginella joins Morning Drive as Golf Channel’s new travel expert where he will appear regularly with discussions on travel trends, his favorite trips and overall news regarding golf travel. Ginella comes from Golf Digest where he served as the senior travel editor and penned the blog “Where’s Matty G?” and orchestrated “Golf Digest Ambush,” where unsuspecting golf outings got a major makeover.

DAMON HACK
@DamonHackGC
Damon Hack joined Golf Channel in 2012 and can be seen on-air on various shows including Golf Central, Morning Drive and Grey Goose 19th Hole. Hack will also contribute regularly to GolfChannel.com. Hack comes to Golf Channel from Sports Illustrated where he covered golf and the NFL. Before joining the magazine, he covered golf and the NFL for The New York Times and golf and the New York Knicks for Newsday.

AHMAD RASHAD
Emmy® Award-winning sportscaster Ahmad Rashad is a former college and pro football star who was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007. He is a four-time Pro-Bowl selection for the Minnesota Vikings, and was voted to the Vikings All-Time 25th Anniversary Team and their 40th Anniversary Team. Currently hosting for NBA TV, Rashad has covered a wide spectrum of sports for NBC, ABC and ESPN across his career. Rashad is an avid golfer, who plays with a who’s who of sports and Hollywood foursomes.

CHARLIE RYMER
@CharlieRymerGC
Charlie Rymer treats fans to his quick wit and “down home” humor as a studio analyst for Golf Central and the network’s Live From telecasts from golf’s major championships and premier events. A former PGA TOUR professional and a two-time All-American golfer at Georgia Tech, Rymer’s 15-year broadcast career includes 10 years at ESPN and USA Network before joining Golf Channel. In 2008, Rymer joined the network as a cast member on Road Trip: Myrtle Beach, an original series that focused on Myrtle Beach, S.C. as a golfing destination, and also co-hosted Big Break: Prince Edward Island alongside Stina Sternberg. Rymer joined Golf Channel as a full-time studio analyst in 2009.

HOLLY SONDERS
@HollySondersGC
Holly Sonders joined Golf Channel in January 2011 as a co-host for Morning Drive. In 2012, Sonders has an increasing role in Golf Channel’s instruction franchises, where she contributes to The Golf Fix, joined Martin Hall as co-host of School of Golf and hosts Playing Lessons. Sonders was a four-year member of the Michigan State Women's Golf Team and helped the Lady Spartans to a Big Ten Championship in 2007.

LAUREN THOMPSON
@LThompsonGC
Lauren Thompson joined Golf Channel in 2009 as host of Top 10, a Golf Channel original series that provides an entertaining and informative review of controversial and compelling stories in golf. In addition to Top 10, Thompson hosts the network’s travel documentary series, GolfNow, and is a weekly contributor to Morning Drive.

KELLY TILGHMAN
@KellyTilghmanGC
A member of Golf Channel’s original cast and one of the network’s most versatile anchors, Kelly Tilghman serves as show host for the network’s PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour coverage and play-by-play host for the network’s PGA TOUR broadcasts. She also co-anchors Golf Channel’s signature news program, Golf Central, as well as Live From telecasts from golf’s major championships and premier events. In 2007, Tilghman became the first full-time female play-by-play commentator in the history of the PGA TOUR when Golf Channel embarked on its 15-year contract as the TOUR’s exclusive cable home.

GARY WILLIAMS
@GaryWilliamsGC
Gary Williams joined Golf Channel as a co-host for Morning Drive when the morning news series first launched in January 2011. In 2012, Williams’ on-air responsibilities expanded to include live tournament coverage for select tournaments and serving as host for On the Range, a weekly news and informational show that gives viewers an inside look at players’ preparations on the various professional golf tours. Williams came to Golf Channel from Sirius/XM Satellite Radio where he served as a lead host on PGA TOUR Network.

Follow Morning Drive on Twitter: @GCMorningDrive
Follow Golf Channel on Twitter: @GolfChannel
Become a fan of Morning Drive on Facebook at: Facebook.com/GCMorningDrive
Become a fan of Golf Channel on Facebook at: Facebook.com/GolfChannel

Getty Images

Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

Getty Images

Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







Getty Images

Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

Getty Images

Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."