PGA Tour-LPGA Alliance inspired by Olympics

By Randall MellAugust 16, 2016, 11:15 pm

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Jessica Korda says the medal ceremonies are making her cry.

Justin Thomas says he was intrigued by the Opening Ceremony.

Golf’s return to the Olympics is making an impression on more than just the players who qualified to play in Rio de Janeiro. Korda and Thomas say they have been riveted to their televisions watching the Games and are even more motivated now to try to make the American teams headed to the Olympics in Tokyo in four years.

“I’ve been watching every single minute that I possibly can,” Korda, 23, said Monday from the studios of WPTV in West Palm Beach, where she and Thomas were doing long-distance media day interviews beamed over to Malaysia, where each will be defending titles this fall in back-to-back events on the same golf course in Kuala Lumpur. “I loved watching Michael Phelps win his five gold medals, and the men’s golf was so much fun to watch. One of my favorite lines from the Olympics was Matt Kuchar saying he has never been so happy finishing third [to win a bronze medal].

“I’ve watched the gymnastics, too. I had tears in my eyes every single time someone went up to the podium. I love the Olympics.”

Thomas, 23, said he also has been watching.

“I didn’t quite get to the tears stage like Jessica did, but it’s been a lot of fun,” Thomas said. “The Opening Ceremony really did it for me.

“I obviously wanted to play, and I want to play in future Olympics. Any time you get to represent your country, no matter what it is, it’s an honor. But to do it on the highest stage, like the Olympics, would be something very, very special to both of us. We’re excited to hopefully win ourselves some medals in the future.”

Olympic golf coverage: Articles, photos and videos

The men’s and women’s Olympic competitions are being played on the same golf course in Rio, in back-to-back weeks, with the women’s event beginning Wednesday. The men and women will do that again in Malaysia, with the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic scheduled to be played Oct. 20-23 at Kualua Lumpur Golf & Country Club. The women will play the LPGA’s Sime Darby event there the week after.

Korda and Thomas were doing the joint media-day event as part of the new PGA Tour-LPGA Alliance, a formal cooperative effort to promote the game and their tours together.

For both Korda and Thomas, it seems like a natural alliance.

They have been friends since they met each other as 15-year-olds playing American Junior Golf Association events. On that circuit, the boys and girls compete in separate competitions but on the same venues during the same weeks. They were part of a traveling tour of juniors and parents.

Thomas also got to know Lexi Thompson and her brother, Curtis, as juniors, as he did Alison Lee, Emma Talley and Ginger Howard.

“We’ve been friends for a long time, and we follow each other,” Thomas said.

After Korda won the Sime Darby in Malaysia last year, she got a congratulatory text from Thomas.

“I’m pretty sure the first thing she texted back was, `Now I want you to win there,’” Thomas said.

Two weeks later, Thomas won his first PGA Tour title there.

“Growing up playing AJGA events, we were on a lot of the same ranges together, practice greens together, playing the same venues, and it was a lot of fun,” Korda said. “So this alliance, I think it’s going to be fun for those of us who grew up playing together, to continue to do things together in our real jobs.”

The alliance involves joint marketing, with the PGA Tour and LPGA helping promote each other. The joint media day was a step in developing the relationship.

In a completely unofficial and unplanned way, the joint marketing actually started earlier this year, with some high profile PGA Tour and LPGA players “marketing” vacation time in similar fashion.

Back in April, Thomas joined Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Smylie Kaufman on an epic Bahamas vacation they called #SB2K16, where they shared their good times in amusing fashion on Snapchat. Last week, Korda joined Michelle Wie, Alison Lee and Austin Ernst on a “Babecation” on Lake Keowee in South Carolina. The women also sent out a series of photos documenting their trip.

Korda acknowledged they were inspired by Thomas, Spieth, Fowler and Kaufman.

“We definitely had so much fun watching their vacation (through social media),” Korda said. “But their vacation was way different. They played some golf, and we wanted nothing to do with golf. We just wanted to be on the lake and decompress from everything. And I don’t think we documented it as well as they did.”

The PGA Tour and LPGA are in the midst of planning a joint event as part of this new alliance. Ideas are still being hashed out. Korda and Thomas aren’t sure how that will play out, but they know this: In four years, they would love to compete together in the Olympics.

“We didn’t really know what to expect with golf in the Olympics, how it would really work,” Thomas said. “We didn’t know if it would be something great, or just OK, but I think it was everything we hoped and more. I can’t say enough good things about golf’s return to the Olympics.” 

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.