No true off-season in golf

By Rex HoggardNovember 30, 2011, 1:39 am

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Keegan Bradley bounded down the steep hill leading from Sherwood Country Club to the practice putting green late Tuesday like this week’s Chevron World Challenge was the first day of the school year.

“When I get back out here it is fun to see the guys. It’s like a second family,” the rookie gushed.

Moments later a weary-looking Hunter Mahan trudged his way up the same incline looking every bit the grizzled veteran.

“I’d like an offseason,” said Mahan, who is finishing his eighth year on the PGA Tour and his 28th event this season. “I’ve thought about that in different ways. It’s your job but at some point in the future if I had a family I could see myself saying, ‘You know what, I’m going to take a couple months off and I’m going to go travel.’

“It would be weird because people wouldn’t know what you’re doing, but I’ve totally thought about doing different things and taking some time off.”

To those in America’s northern states who are inching toward a long, cold winter Mahan’s take on pro golf’s nonexistent off-season may sound blasphemous but his assessment is neither insular nor misplaced.

Unlike baseball and football, which both feature prolonged off-seasons that in many ways feed the popularity of both sports, golf’s “break” is barely a blip. In fact, after next week’s Shark Shootout in south Florida be careful not to blink – you may miss it.

Bradley, for example, will play this week in California, next week at Greg Norman’s personal member-member and start anew the first week of January at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions followed by the Sony Open in Hawaii.

That’s two weeks to retool, tinker and turn it all around in time for 2012, a logistical truth that goes a long way to explaining why prolonged seasons of success, like that enjoyed by Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus before him, are so rare.

Without question, much of this off-season overkill is self-inflicted. No-cut events like this week’s Chevron World Challenge are akin to free money and no one would ever mistake a week in southern California for heavy lifting.

“I like to compete so, I’d say from a rest standpoint and for practice it would be nice to have a month and a half off. But we go from here to Hawaii. It’s not a horrible thing,” Nick Watney said. “It’s hard to get on a plane sometimes at the end of the year, but it’s in our blood. In three weeks we’ll be rested enough and be ready to get back at it.”

Not all of golf’s off-season is silly, however. Even this week at Sherwood, the money is nice but the world ranking points that are up for grabs may be worth even more.

Even for top players, there is an ever-present drive to remain inside the top 50 in the world ranking. So players like Watney play the Chevron and last month’s WGC-HSBC Champions to pad their points almost as much as the bank account.

For Watney, following China there was the Australian Open, dubbed by U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples a must-play for the members of his team, followed by the matches at Royal Melbourne.

It adds up to an off-season that is anything but, the ultimate Catch 22 for the Tour’s successful. The goal is to play well enough to qualify for events like the Presidents Cup and Chevron, but it is a membership to a club that is not entirely conducive to prolonged success.

Following the 2008 season, Watney took nearly three months off, while Mahan didn’t hit a shot that counted on Tour for almost as long. The result was breakout years for both players in 2009.

“I was fresh and a little rusty,” Mahan said. “I would do it differently next time, but I will definitely do it again.”

Pro golf’s shadow of an off-season is probably toughest on the fans who never have a chance to miss the game. The day pitchers and catchers report to spring training is the highlight of any baseball fan’s year, while preseason ratings for the NFL have never been higher.

Contraction is never a good business model, but every fall it’s impossible to shake a simple thought – sometimes less really is more.

Catch live coverage of the Chevron World Challenge on Golf Channel and NBC: Thursday and Friday – 2:30PM ET on Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday – 12:30PM ET on Golf Channel, 3PM ET on NBC.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.