Time for Olympic golf to shine

By Rex HoggardAugust 10, 2016, 7:05 pm

RIO DE JANEIRO – They built it and some have come. Whether Gil Hanse’s handiwork becomes a field of dreams is now up to the clarity of competition.

After seven long years of hype and handwringing, controversy and curiosity, the time for speculation ends early Thursday when Brazil’s Adilson da Silva returns golf to the Olympics after more than a century hiatus with a single tee shot.

On the eve of the men’s competition in Rio all those concerns – from the Zika virus to construction delays – have largely slipped away under the glow of the Olympic flame.

On Tuesday, the team from the United States fielded what will likely be the last of the questions about the players who aren’t at the Games. From here the narrative shifts to those who did make the trip.

“Ten years down the line you’re going to look at who won the gold medal, not who wasn’t here,” said Henrik Stenson, the highest ranked player in this week’s field.

Although the relative success or failure of this year’s Games will always be tied to those who decided to pass on the Olympic opportunity – a list that includes four out of the top five in the world ranking – the ultimate litmus test now depends on the next 72 holes.

Asked what elements needed to fall into place this week to make it all a success, Sergio Garcia waded through all of the distractions that have become the calling card for this competition.

“If it’s a great show, playing good golf and hopefully it comes down to the last few holes where things are tight where someone has a nice finish to win it,” Garcia said.

Olympic golf coverage: Articles, photos and videos

The essence of genuine Olympic drama rides the line between dominance and unparalleled drama; with Michael Phelps winning his 20th gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly being the pinnacle of the former; and Brazilian Rafaela Silva’s gold-medal performance in judo a testament to the latter.

The comparison in golf terms would be a Stenson victory, with the Swede pegged as this week’s favorite following his victory at last month’s Open; and a medal performance by the likes of da Silva, the 288th ranked player in the world who left Brazil when he was 16 to pressure his dream of being a professional golfer.

A victory by Stenson or the likes of Bubba Watson or Rickie Fowler would satisfy the need for competitive continuity and the perceived notion that the game’s best need to deliver on the biggest stage; while a silver or bronze medal for a player like da Silva from a nation where the game is struggling to establish a foothold would add substance to the notion that golf in the Olympics is the most promising grow-the-game initiative since metal replaced wood as the desired material for golf clubs.

From the outset when golf made its pitch to the International Olympic Committee the motivation was to use the Games as a way to extend golf’s reach into non-traditional areas, like Brazil where a country of over 200 million counts just 10,000 golfers with registered handicaps.

Da Silva, who now lives in South Africa, is a familiar tale of perseverance having grown up in a small town south of Rio, beginning his career as a caddie at a nine-hole course because he needed a job not a hobby.

The 44-year-old journeyman sees the Games as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to introduce golf to thousands of potential players.

“This is exactly what we need, things like this. Bring awareness to people and create a bit more interest,” da Silva said. “They will see the game and I think it will create so much curiosity. Especially for the kids.”

The competitive success of the event, however it’s defined, will be married directly to the long-term ability of the Games as a catalyst for growth. In many ways a compelling finish to this week’s competition will be the conversation starter, not the conclusion to a seven-year debate.

The Olympic golf effort will leave behind a golf course that is by most accounts a testament to Hanse’s design brilliance, if not the dogged efforts of those who carved a layout out of a caiman-infested swamp. But the real test will be in the coming years.

“Success will be measured on a number of levels,” said Peter Dawson, the president of the International Golf Federation. “First that we have a compelling and exciting event, that the spectators, many of whom have never been exposed to golf, learn a little about golf, and we’ll never know if someone who watches will be inspired to play golf, but statistically some of that must happen.”

Dawson & Co. built a golf course, now it’s time to see if they’ve built a legacy.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.