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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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.