Record Field of More Than 1,250 Set to Compete in 2014 Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championships, Sept. 9-18

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 3, 2014, 2:30 pm

Golf Channel announced a record field of 1,252 players qualified to compete in the 2014 Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championships, Sept. 9-18 in Scottsdale, Ariz,. Tournament competitors range in age from 15 to 82, and represent 48 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

The Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships are divided into two events – the Open National Championship, Sept. 9-12, and the Senior National Championship (age 50+), Sept. 15-18. Host courses for the National Championships will be Grayhawk Golf Club’s Talon and Raptor courses, and Talking Stick Golf Club’s North and South courses.  Talking Stick Resort – Scottsdale’s premiere resort and casino – will be the host resort and tournament headquarters for the week. This is the first time Scottsdale will serve as the backdrop for the Am Tour National Championships, often touted as one of the world’s finest golf destinations, accounting for more than 200 golf courses, and home to numerous professionals on the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour.

Several NBC Sports / Golf Channel on-air personalities will participate in the National Championship welcome dinners, with Golf Channel on NBC analyst Peter Jacobsen, and Golf Channel analyst Curt Byrum scheduled to attend the open division welcome dinner on Monday, Sept. 8. Golf Channel’s David Feherty is slated to attend the senior division welcome dinner on Sunday, Sept. 14, during which he will present a check to the Troops First Foundation on behalf of the Golf Channel Am Tour. Feherty is a co-founder of the Troops First Foundation, a non-profit organization that develops, operates and supports a synergistic group of wellness, quality of life, and sports-based initiatives in support of today’s military personnel. 

In addition to the on-air personalities in attendance, Cleveland Golf / Srixon will feature a few of their Web.com Tour staff players on-site at the National Championships during competition play.

Twelve participants in six flights – six from the senior division (age 50+) and six from the open division – will be crowned national champions in official awards ceremonies immediately following the conclusion of their respective tournaments. Twenty-nine past champions are in the field, including eight defending champions. A few of the top performers and storylines from the 2014 season-long Golf Channel Am Tour schedule in the National Championships field include:

Hardeep Dhani (Poway, Calif.) – Dhani has won five of nine tournaments entered in 2014, including the Western Masters and Southern California Tour Championship, where he posted a 12-under par mark (65-67). Dhani has gone from a 3-handicap to a plus-1 over the course of the past two years on the Am Tour, and will likely turn professional in the next 12 months.

James and Jamie Smith (San Diego, Calif.; Vermont) – The father-son duo qualified for the National Championships at the Duel in the Desert. James competes in the Hogan Flight (8.0-11.9 handicap), while Jamie competes in the Sarazen Flight (12.0-15.9).

Rafael Rodriguez and Heather Taher (San Jose, Calif.) – The significant others have combined for an impressive run on the 2014 Am Tour schedule. Rodriguez won the National Championship last year in the Sarazan Flight, and will compete in the Hogan Flight in Scottsdale. Taher began competing in the Snead Flight (20+ handicap) and has improved her handicap to qualify to compete in the Sarazen Flight.

Kody Conover (Las Vegas, Nev.) – The son of Clifford Conover, who won three consecutive Senior National Championships in the Palmer Flight (2009-11), Kody has Down Syndrome and is competing on the Am Tour for the first time in 2014. He won a Major (Western Classic) and has improved his play throughout the season, beginning in the Snead Flight, and competing in the National Championships in the Sarazen Flight.

Shane Rutherford (Los Angeles, Calif.) –Rutherford proposed to his wife two years ago at the Hawaii Major and now the couple are expecting. His wife, Christie, plans to lend her support in person, following Shane during his final two rounds in the Championship Flight.

Jason Meijers (San Diego, Calif.) – Meijers has improved from a 10-handicap two years ago to a plus-2 handicap this season. Practicing at the same club at Gunn Yang (recent 2014 U.S. Amateur champion), Meijers has won three times on the Am Tour in 2014 and will likely turn professional in the next 12-24 months.

GOLF CHANNEL AM TOUR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE:

Open Division National Championship Welcome Dinner                  Sept. 8

Open Division National Championship Competition Play                 Sept. 9-12

Senior Division National Championship Welcome Dinner                 Sept. 14

Senior Division National Championship Competition Play                Sept. 15-18

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.