Tiger Woods Expected to Return at Hero World Challenge After 16-Month Hiatus, Highlighting NBC Sports' Golf Programming in December

By Golf Channel Public RelationsNovember 28, 2016, 1:50 pm

Johnson, Stenson, Spieth Highlight Hero World Challenge Field, Dec. 1-4; Golf Channel Digital Featuring ‘One Time with Tiger’ Ahead of Return

Jack Nicklaus Leads 20-Team Field, John Daly Making Debut &Lanny Wadkins to Defend at PNC Father/Son Challenge, Dec. 11-12

 12 Two-Person Teams to Compete in Franklin Templeton Shootout, Led byLexi Thompson, Becoming 2nd-ever LPGA Player in Event History, Dec. 8-9

NBC Sports Group in December will showcase golf’s biggest stars – past and present – along with the anticipated return of Tiger Woods, who is expected to make his first professional start in nearly 16 months at this week’s Hero World Challenge (Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 1-4). In addition to Woods return to competition, NBC Sports Group will feature coverage of several professional events to close out the 2016 golf schedule, including the Franklin Templeton Shootout (Dec. 8-9) and PNC Father/Son Challenge (Dec. 11-12).

Hero World Challenge to Feature Woods’ Expected Return and 16 of Top-30 in the World In addition to Woods (tournament host), six of the top-10 and 16 of the top-30 players in the world are scheduled to compete in the 18-man field, 72-hole, no-cut event for a $1 million first-place prize at Albany Resort in The Bahamas. Top-10 players in the field include Dustin Johnson (No. 3), Henrik Stenson (No. 4), Jordan Spieth (No. 5), Hideki Matsuyama (No. 6), Patrick Reed (No. 8), and Bubba Watson (No. 10). Golf Channel will air live coverage Thursday, Dec. 1 and Friday, Dec. 2, followed by weekend coverage on Golf Channel and NBC, Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4.

In conjunction with Woods’ return to PGA TOUR competition this week, Golf Channel Digital is showcasing a ‘One Time with Tiger’ editorial composition, featuring a collection of more than a dozen current or former PGA TOUR players sharing their memories of having teed it up with Tiger just once during their career.

Nicklaus Headlines Field Which Includes 13 Hall-of-Famers at PNC Father/Son Challenge Eighteen-time major champion Jack Nicklaus headlines a 20-team field comprised of 13 World Golf Hall-of-Famers, golf legends and their children at the PNC Father/Son Challenge, Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 11-12 at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The event format features a 36-hole, two-person scramble. John Daly will play in the event for the first time, where he’ll be joined by his son, John Jr., and Lanny and Tucker Wadkins also are in the field, defending their 2015 title. To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament also extends to daughter and grandson partners. Golf Channel and NBC will provide coverage of the event on Saturday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11. Golf Channel also will air a special Pro-Am show on Friday, Dec. 9, taking viewers inside the ropes with the players in the field as they prepare for competition and share instruction tips and insight with viewers.

Thompson Leads Golf Channel’s Coverage of Rounds 1-2 at Franklin Templeton Shootout

Twelve two-person teams will tee it up at the Franklin Templeton Shootout in Naples, Fla., including Lexi Thompson, who will become the 2nd-ever LPGA player to compete in the event (Annika Sorenstam, 2006). Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker will defend their 2015 title among a field that includes seven new teams and five repeat pairings. Harris English and Matt Kuchar will look to continue their successful form at the event where they won together in 2013 and finished runner-up each of the past two years. Golf Channel will carry live coverage of the Franklin Templeton Shootout on Thursday-Friday, Dec. 8-9, from 2-5 p.m. ET.

Broadcast Teams

Hero World Challenge

Dan Hicks, David Feherty, Steve Sands, Curt Byrum, Gary Koch, Mark Rolfing, Notah Begay, Jerry Foltz

PNC Father/Son Challenge

Steve Sands, David Feherty, Justin Leonard, Peter Jacobsen, Notah Begay, Jimmy Roberts

Franklin Templeton Shootout

Rich Lerner, Frank Nobilo, Tom Abbott, Curt Byrum, Jerry Foltz

Australian PGA Championship Among Other Events on Golf Channel in December

In addition, Golf Channel in December also will carry coverage of the Australian PGA Championship (Nov. 30-Dec. 3) headlined by Adam Scott, Ian Poulter and Marc Leishman; the Alfred Dunhill Championship (Dec. 1-4) featuring Branden Grace and Darren Clarke; the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters (Dec. 7-10) where Shanshan Feng will defend her 2015 title; and the UBS Hong Kong Open (Dec. 7-10) featuring Patrick Reed, Danny Willett and Justin Rose.

NBC Sports Group December Tournament Programming Schedule (all times Eastern):

Hero World Challenge (Dec. 1-4)

Thursday, Dec. 1

1:30-4:30 p.m.

Golf Channel

Friday, Dec. 2          

1:30-4:30 p.m.                        

Golf Channel

Saturday, Dec. 3        

Noon-2:30 p.m.

Golf Channel

        

2:30-5 p.m.

NBC

Sunday, Dec. 4          

11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Golf Channel

         

1-4 p.m.

NBC

Australian PGA Championship (Nov. 30-Dec. 3)

Wednesday, Nov. 30   

8 p.m.-1 a.m.

Golf Channel

Thursday, Dec. 1                                   

8 p.m.-1 a.m.

Golf Channel

Friday, Dec. 2                                     

8 p.m.-1 a.m.                        

Golf Channel

Saturday, Dec. 3                                     

8 p.m.-1 a.m.

Golf Channel

Alfred Dunhill Championship (Dec. 1-4)

Thursday, Dec. 1 

3:30-5:30 a.m. / 7:30-10:30 a.m.

Golf Channel

Friday, Dec. 2     

3:30-5:30 a.m./ 7:30-10:30 a.m.

Golf Channel

Saturday, Dec. 3    

5-9:30 a.m.

Golf Channel

Sunday, Dec. 4        

5-9:30 a.m.

Golf Channel

Omega Dubai Ladies Masters (Dec. 7-10)

Wednesday, Dec. 7

3:30-7:30 a.m.                               

Golf Channel

Thursday, Dec. 8                              

4-7:30 a.m.                               

Golf Channel

Friday, Dec. 9

4-7:30 a.m.

Golf Channel

Saturday, Dec. 10

4-7:30 a.m.

Golf Channel

UBS Hong Kong Open (Dec. 7-10)

Wednesday, Dec. 7

9-11 p.m. / 1-4 a.m.

Golf Channel

Thursday, Dec. 8

9-11 p.m. / 1-4 a.m.

Golf Channel

Friday, Dec. 9

11:30 p.m.-4 a.m.

Golf Channel

Saturday, Dec. 10

11 p.m.-3:30 a.m.

Golf Channel

Franklin Templeton Shootout (Dec. 8-9)

Thursday, Dec. 8

2-5 p.m.

Golf Channel

Friday, Dec. 9

2-5 p.m.

Golf Channel

PNC Father/Son Challenge (Dec. 9-11)

Friday, Dec. 9 (Pro-Am)

5-6 p.m.

Golf Channel

Saturday, Dec. 10

11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Golf Channel

 

4-6 p.m.

NBC

Sunday, Dec. 11

2-3 p.m.

Golf Channel

 

3-6 p.m. 

NBC

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.