NBC Sports Group Kicks Off 2016 LPGA Season With the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 25, 2016, 11:05 pm

Live Coverage of 8 LPGA Events on Golf Channel in Next 10 Weeks Heading into Golf’s First Major of 2016, ANA Inspiration

Following a 2015 season where Golf Channel and NBC combined to air more than 550 hours of LPGA Tour coverage – the most ever in a single year – NBC Sports Group will continue to ride the wave of momentum as the 2016 LPGA season begins this week with the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, airing live on Golf Channel Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 28-31.

This year, NBC Sports Group will broadcast 31 LPGA Tour events in the season-long Race to the CME Globe, featuring live coverage of four of the five women’s major championships and the biennial UL International Crown. And in August, women’s golf returns to the Olympics for the first time in more than 100 years.

“Golf Channel’s coverage of the LPGA Tour last year was fueled by the most live hours ever, showcasing the game’s emerging and established stars through storytelling via our news, live tournaments and digital platforms,” said Molly Solomon, Golf Channel executive producer. “We will continue to build on this momentum as we embark on a momentous year in 2016 on the LPGA Tour with 10 months of coverage of the Race to the CME Globe, nearly all of the major championships and the UL International Crown as well as golf’s return to the Olympics.”

“Our relationship with Golf Channel continues to grow thanks to their significant promotion, production value, and coverage of our accessible and personable players,” said Brian Carroll, LPGA Senior Vice President of TV and New Media. “With the amount of great events on our schedule, we are very excited about 2016.”

PURE SILK BAHAMAS LPGA CLASSIC: The event begins a series of eight LPGA tournaments airing live on Golf Channel over the next 10 weeks leading into golf’s first major championship of 2016, the ANA Inspiration. Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson, Nos. 2-4 in the Rolex Rankings, headline an international field in the Bahamas that also includes Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Alison Lee, Gerina Piller, Yani Tseng, Michelle Wie and 2017 U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Juli Inkster. Eventual 2015 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Sei Young Kim captured the 2015 event in a playoff for her first of three LPGA wins in 2015.

Live coverage of the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic will air on Golf Channel Thursday and Friday from 11:30 am-2:30 p.m. ET, and will continue on Saturday and Sunday from 3-5 p.m. ET.

COATES GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP: The LPGA Tour will head to the continental U.S. next week for the Coates Golf Championship in Ocala, Fla., a Wednesday-Saturday event that will feature the 2016 debut of Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko. Na Yeon Choi defeated Ko by one stroke in the inaugural Coates Golf Championship in 2015, which served as the kickoff to the season.

ANA INSPIRATION, GOLF’S FIRST MAJOR OF 2016: Following the Coates Golf Championship, the LPGA Tour will travel to Australia, Thailand and Singapore for a three week stretch before returning to the U.S. in March for three weeks, concluding with the ANA Inspiration, golf’s first major championship of 2016 (Thursday-Sunday, March 31-April 3). Taking place at historic Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Golf Channel will air comprehensive news and tournament coverage ANA Inspiration week, headlined by 20 hours of live tournament action.

GOLF CHANNEL BROADCAST TEAM: Hall-of-Famer Judy Rankin returns as lead analyst for Golf Channel’s LPGA tournament coverage in 2016, and will be joined by Whit Watson as play-by-play host for the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic. Tom Abbott will serve as a hole announcer with Jerry Foltz and Kay Cockerill reporting from the course.  Lisa Cornwell will conduct post-round interviews and provide reports for Golf Central.

Major champion Karen Stupples and play-by-play host Terry Gannon will join the broadcast team at the Coates Golf Championship. Stupples will serve as a course reporter and also will rotate with Rankin as lead analyst at select events in 2016.

NBC SPORTS GROUP’S 2016 MARQUEE LPGA EVENTS: 2016 is set up to be a transformational year for NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the LPGA Tour. With the addition of the RICOH Women’s British Open in July, Golf Channel will have coverage of four of five women’s major championships. Three majors will air on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open – returning to broadcast television in ’16 – and The Evian Championship. The biennial UL International Crown also returns in 2016, with weekend coverage on NBC, and in August, Golf Channel and NBC will air live coverage of women’s golf in the 2016 Summer Olympics from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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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.'"


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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.