October is Long Drive Month on Golf Channel, Led by Back-to-Back Nights of 2015 World Long Drive Championship Oct. 20-21

By Golf Channel Public RelationsOctober 1, 2015, 2:05 pm

Golf Channel Featuring Long Drive Themed Programming

Across News, Instruction and Digital Platforms Throughout the Month

Swing speeds in excess of 140 mph and drives that eclipse 400 yards will be par for the course, as Golf Channel once again will celebrate “Long Drive Month” in October. The month of programming will be highlighted by back-to-back nights of the World Long Drive Championship, Tuesday-Wednesday, Oct. 20-21, live and under the lights from WinStar World Casino and Resort. Throughout the month, Golf Channel also will integrate the long drive theme into its instruction, news and digital programming to celebrate the long ball.

2015 WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIP: The cornerstone of Long Drive Month will center around the World Long Drive Championship, with Golf Channel airing live coverage across consecutive nights to ultimately crown the longest golfer in the world. The 64-man match play bracket – being implemented this year for the first time – will play out during Golf Channel’s coverage featuring the round of 16 being narrowed down to eight competitors on Tuesday, Oct. 20, and the remaining eight dueling for the first place prize and $250,000 purse on Wednesday, Oct. 21. Golf Channel’s expanded coverage of the Championship also will include news and results of the qualifying rounds, Oct. 14-19, leading up to live coverage on Oct. 20-21. New to 2015, competitors will have 2 minutes, 45 seconds to hit their drives in each round, and the player who is trailing in the match will have an opportunity to hit one final ball past their opponent’s to try and advance to the next round in the bracket.

BROADCAST TEAM: Golf Channel’s Ryan Burr will provide play-by-play; Michael Breed, host of The Golf Fix, will serve as analyst; and Angela Hamann will handle interviews. Art Sellinger – long-drive pioneer, two-time national long-drive champion and founder of the Long Drivers of America – also will be on hand to provide an analyst perspective and offer additional background on the competitors.

LONG DRIVE MONTH THEMED PROGRAMMING: Golf Channel will integrate the long drive theme across its instructional and news programming featuring long-driving tips and other dedicated segments throughout the month. The shows also will welcome Long Drive competitors to share their secrets:

  • School of Golf, Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. ETCo-hosts Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal will demonstrate how viewers can learn from Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Jason Day and the PGA TOUR’s longest drivers and apply it to their own game.
  • Playing Lessons, Monday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. ET: Shot in Southern California, World Long Drive champions Joe Miller and Jamie Sadlowski will join host Charlie Rymer to offer insight on how to hit it long, tips on increasing your distance.
  • The Golf Fix, Monday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. ET: Show host Michael Breed (and Long Drive Championship analyst) will be on-site at WinStar World Casino and Resort and will be joined by Long Drive competitors in the field. The show will focus on the simple adjustments amateur golfers can make to add distance to their drives and uncover what the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR have in common.
  • Champions Tour Learning Center, Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. ET: Two-time Long Drive champion Art Sellinger will join the legends of the game on a special edition of Champions Tour Learning Center. Sellinger will interact with Champions Tour players and share his secrets to hitting it long off the tee.  
  • Morning Drive: Morning Drive will feature dedicated segments on hitting the ball longer, and welcome Long Drive participants on the show ahead of the World Long Drive Championship. Over the past several weeks, Long Drive competitors Jeff Flagg (2014 champion), Jeff Crittenden (2014 runner-up) and Tim Burke (2013 champion) have joined the program to discuss how they are preparing for this year’s event. Angela Hamann also will provide live updates on-site during the week of the Championship.
  • Golf Central: Golf Channel’s evening news program will feature segments focusing on the longest drives of the week on Tour. Golf Central also will feature an exclusive interview with 2014 Long Drive Championship winner Jeff Flagg leading up his title defense on Oct. 20-21.
  • Golf Channel Academy Mobile App: During the final six days leading into Golf Channel’s coverage of the World Long Drive Championship Oct. 20-21, the Golf Channel Academy instruction mobile app will debut a new Long Drive tip, with three tips from Hall and O’Neal, and three tips from Breed.

With Golf Channel’s commitment to showcasing one of golf’s most dynamic aspects and its elite Long Drive competitors, the network will add the World Long Drive Championship and Long Drivers of America to its family of golf lifestyle businesses. With this addition to Golf Channel’s portfolio, the network will continue to partner with Art Sellinger to develop new event and programming initiatives.

“Hitting it long is arguably one of the most fascinating shots in golf, and these athletes who spend 365 days a year training to compete at the highest level each have fascinating stories themselves,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice presidents of programming, Golf Channel. “Our viewers can’t get enough live golf, and events like these put a Championship belt on the line in primetime, under the lights in a spectacular pressure-filled setting.”

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

And that was an offseason event.

“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”



Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.



Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)