NBC Sports Group Kicks Off 2017 LPGA Season This Week With The Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 24, 2017, 4:37 pm

33 LPGA Events to Air on Golf Channel in 2017, Most in Network History

 Live Coverage of Seven LPGA Events on Golf Channel in Next 10 Weeks Heading into Golf’s First Major of 2017, the ANA Inspiration

 Nearly 22 Million Unique Viewers Watched Women’s Golf Coverage in ‘16, Contributing to Golf Channel on NBC Drawing the Largest U.S. Broadcast Golf Audience

 

ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 24, 2017 – Following a 2016 season where Golf Channel and NBC combined to air 628 hours of LPGA Tour coverage – the most ever in a single year and featuring more than 148 hours of major championship coverage – NBC Sports Group will continue to ride the wave of momentum as the 2017 LPGA season begins this week with the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, airing live on Golf Channel Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 26-29.

This year, NBC Sports Group will televise 33 LPGA Tour events in the season-long Race to the CME Globe – the highest number of Golf Channel televised events in LPGA history – featuring coverage of four of the five women’s major championships and the biennial Solheim Cup, which returns to the U.S. in August in Des Moines, Iowa following the thrilling finish in Germany in 2015 when the U.S. Team won in dramatic come-from-behind fashion.

Highlighted by golf’s return to the Olympic Games, nearly 22 million viewers watched women’s golf coverage on Golf Channel and NBC in 2016 (+41% from 2015), contributing to Golf Channel on NBC drawing the largest U.S. broadcast golf audience in 2016.

Additional highlights include:

  • 614 hours of LPGA coverage on Golf Channel in 2016, the most ever on Golf Channel.
  • Coverage of North American events on Golf Channel and NBC +8% year over year (YOY).
  • 16 North American events on Golf Channel and NBC saw average viewership increases of +11% YOY.
  • Golf Channel Digital LPGA Tour scoring page views +16% YOY.
  • Golf Channel Mobile LPGA Tour scoring page views +40% YOY.

“Golf Channel’s coverage of the LPGA Tour last year was fueled by the most live hours ever and 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. “With the highly anticipated Solheim Cup returning to U.S. soil in August and coverage of four of the five major championships, we will continue to build on this momentum in 2017 with 10 months of coverage and our most number of LPGA events in history.”

“We’re thrilled with the promotion and production value on Golf Channel,” said Brian Carroll, LPGA Senior Vice President of TV and New Media. “2017 will be exciting with young players Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson and Lydia Ko, as well as established American players such as Lexi Thompson, Gerina Piller, Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lang.”

PURE SILK-BAHAMAS LPGA CLASSIC: The event begins a series of seven LPGA tournaments airing live on Golf Channel over the next 10 weeks leading into golf’s first major championship of 2017, the ANA Inspiration. World No.2 and reigning Race to the CME Globe winner Ariya Jutanugarn headlines an international field in the Bahamas that also includes Paula Creamer, Brooke Henderson, Sei Young Kim, Gerina Piller, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie.

Live coverage of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic will air on Golf Channel Thursday and Friday (Jan. 26-27) from 11:30 am-2:30 p.m. ET, and will continue on Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 28-29) from 3-5 p.m. ET.

Hall-of-Famer Judy Rankin returns as lead analyst for NBC Sports Group’s LPGA tournament coverage in 2017, 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 Karen Stupples reporting from the course. Lisa Cornwell will conduct post-round interviews and provide reports for Golf Central.

ANA INSPIRATION, GOLF’S FIRST MAJOR OF 2017: Following the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, 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 2017 (Thursday-Sunday, March 30-April 2). Taking place at historic Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Golf Channel will air comprehensive news and tournament coverage, headlined by 20 hours of live tournament action.

NBC SPORTS GROUP’S 2017 MARQUEE LPGA EVENTS: Golf Channel will have coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup returns to U.S. soil in 2017, taking place in August in Des Moines, Iowa, with complete coverage on Golf Channel.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.