Golf Channel's Morning Drive to Feature 'Water Week', Nov. 9-15, Focusing on Water Conservation in Golf

By Golf Channel Public RelationsNovember 9, 2015, 3:35 pm

Featuring a Two-Part Roundtable Discussion with Industry Experts on Water Conservation

Golf Channel is celebrating ‘Water Week,’ which begins today, and will focus on golf course water conservation and best practices for courses to combat obstacles they are facing with respect to water consumption. The network’s daily news and lifestyle program, Morning Drive, throughout the week (7-9 a.m. ET) will invite industry experts to weigh in on the subject; dedicate features on courses on the forefront of battling the issue; and showcase a two-part roundtable discussion which will outline the biggest determinants contributing to the issue, as well as highlight the potential solutions for long-term stability and sustainability. And on Thursday, NGCOA CEO Jay Karen will make an appearance to discuss the issue as it related to golf course operators and superintendents.

Schedule of Guests:

Monday, Nov. 8 – Golf course design and architecture author Geoff Shackelford will raise concerns about the water issues facing golf course operators and superintendents in California.

Tuesday, Nov. 9 – Part I of a roundtable discussion on the biggest issues facing golf courses when it comes to water consumption. Panelists are among some of the game’s leading experts on the issue, including: Bob Farren, Director of Grounds and Golf Course Maintenance, Pinehurst Resort; Craig Kessler, Director of Governmental Affairs at Southern California Golf Association; Jim Moore, Director of the USGA Green Section Education Program; and Dana Lonn, Managing Director, Center for Advanced Turf Technology, The Toro Company.

Wednesday, Nov. 10 – Rhett Evans, CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) will consider the pressure on superintendents of balancing water conservation efforts with high expectations from golfers for immaculate playing conditions.

Thursday, Nov. 11 – Steve Symers, Vice President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) will weigh in on water conservation from a course designer perspective, and discuss how new courses are being designed with water conservation in mind. NGCOA CEO Jay Karen also will join to discuss how the issue is affecting golf course operators and superintendents.

Friday, Nov. 12 – John Ashworth, founder of Linksoul golf apparel will bring to light a separate project he became involved in, at Goat Hill Park, a golf course along the coast of Southern California which was on the verge of extinction before Ashworth organized a rally around it.

Saturday, Nov. 13 – Part II of the industry expert roundtable discussion will center around golf course water conservation best practices, and ways to reduce water consumption.

Features Schedule:

Wednesday, Nov. 10 Pinehurst Resort: A look at Pinehurst No. 2, site of the 2014 U.S. Open in the Sandhills region of North Carolina, and how the decision to restore the course to its original design meant moving away from the mindset that it had to look green and lush to be considered a pristine venue suitable for a major championship.  

Thursday, Nov. 11 Pasatiempo Golf Club: Examining a model example of golf course water conservation after Pasatiempo received a mandated water restriction put in place by the city of Santa Cruz, Calif. In response, the Club developed an aggressive renovation plan to restore irrigated turf with native grasses and installed a sprinkler system which contributed to a reduction of 20 million gallons of water used in a given year, and a savings of $100,000 in annual maintenance costs.

Friday, Nov. 12 – Goat Hill Park: The story of an 18-hole municipal golf course north of San Diego which was in complete disrepair, on the verge of extinction and close to being sold before Ashworth stepped in to help salvage the public park and restore it while conserving water by focusing on turf reduction, focusing on water efficiency, transitioning to a drought tolerant grass, and establishing a plan with the city to implement reclaimed water.

Saturday, Nov. 13 – Poppy Hills Golf Course: On the forefront of golf course water conservationism and long-term sustainability, Poppy Hills has developed a technology-driven system – with the help of The Toro Company – along with an irrigation redesign, a grass that requires minimal water, and a commitment to the using of reclaimed water to provide a consistent playability for golfers while establishing a systematic approach to saving water.

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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.