#AskLav: Turning golfers into football players

By Ryan LavnerAugust 29, 2013, 12:25 pm

They begin tossing the pigskin in earnest Thursday, which means golf can bid adieu to some of its peripheral fans.

Sure, Tiger’s injury limbo may help keep some in channel-hopping mode for the next few weeks, but it’s football season once Jim Nantz starts speaking above a whisper.

Which is why this tweet from a loyal mailbag reader really resonated: 

Maybe it’s because there are five fantasy drafts on the books for the next few days. Or maybe it’s because this scribe’s chinstrap is buckled a bit too tight. But this simple question spiraled into a fun project: a solid roster of PGA Tour football players who could compete on any given Sunday. Maybe.

Head coach: Phil Mickelson

Scouting report: Rarely uses the same playbook in consecutive games. Wins at a spectacular rate, but has also had games blow up in his face after ill-advised decisions to go for it on 4th-and-2 or try a fake punt. This players’ coach has the respect of the guys in the locker room.

Offensive coordinator: Padraig Harrington

Always striving for perfection, the noted tinkerer isn’t afraid to try new tactics. Unorthodox, perhaps, but has shown an ability to win the Big Game.

Defensive coordinator: Rory Sabbatini

Fiery competitor may rub many opposing coaches the wrong way, but still possesses a knack for getting the best out of his players.

Quarterback: Adam Scott

This pretty boy is the face of the franchise and a consummate professional. After a few substandard years, the gunslinger has taken a less-is-more approach and excelled on the year’s biggest stages. At 33, he’s more motivated than ever.

Running back: Jason Day

The team's workhorse takes a beating between the tackles but always seems to persevere through injuries. Big-game talent and a relentless motor.

Wide receivers: Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer

Impressive three-wide set can stretch the field with its speed, and the players’ leaping ability makes them tough to defend in the red zone. Word of caution: Bradley’s pre-snap routine makes him susceptible to false-start penalties.

Tight end: Lee Westwood

Built like a tank, he’s able to slip past linebackers in 1-on-1 situations but can also help with the run game. Vastly improved chipping technique … on defenders.

Flex players: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth

Speedy, shifty, high-volume receivers who are built for the long haul and can have 10-plus years of huge productivity.

Offensive/defensive line: Kevin Stadler, Brendon de Jonge, Tim Herron, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Scrappy grinders who aren’t afraid to get dirty. Supreme run-cloggers up the middle and warriors in the trenches.

Defensive ends: Jason Kokrak, Bubba Watson

Kokrak has the perfect combination of size and speed to overmatch slower offensive tackles. Watson has occasional lapses of concentration, but when he’s focused and motivated he has proven to be a menace for opposing QBs.

Linebackers: Ricky Barnes, Ernie Els, Bo Van Pelt

Barnes, with his football-sized biceps, is one of the most feared defenders in the league, and opponents think twice before venturing over the middle of the field. Els and BVP may have lost a step recently, but they’re veteran ball-hawks who can play in space.

Cornerbacks: Billy Horschel, Luke Donald, Paul Casey

The flashy Horschel can get under a receiver’s skin with his trash talk at the line of scrimmage, but he also has plenty of substance to back it up. Donald and Casey are sound technically and don’t often get beat at their own game.

Safety: Gary Woodland

Don’t be fooled by this nice guy – he’s a hard-hitter who is oftentimes the most explosive player on the field. Plays the pass and run equally well, and coaches like to use his speed as a punt/kicker returner as well.

Team’s biggest fan: Jason Dufner

More than content to throw in a dip and tweet.

So … did Tiger make the cut? Of course he did. But the all-world, do-everything offensive juggernaut, who holds franchise records for yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in a season, is currently in the training room, getting his ailing back worked on. Team doctors hope he doesn’t soon land on injured reserve.

Now, the rest of your #AskLav mailbag questions for this week: 


On Aug. 29, Id fill out my ballot like this: 1.) Tiger; 2.) Scott; 3.) Phil. But that ranking is subject to change based on what happens over the next three playoff events. Its an easy choice now, with Woods owning three more titles than any other player on Tour, but another win by Scott or Lefty would make the race a lot more compelling.


Iron play, since the winner will need to make birdies in bunches. Since 2006, the winning score at TPC Boston has been at least 15 under par. Three times it was 20 or more under, including last year, when Rory McIlroy didnt post a round worse than 67. Those with great records there include Woods (just one finish worse than 11th in eight tries), Scott (three consecutive top-10s) and Jim Furyk (five top-15s in eight starts).


No, not even close. It may seem like more because hes been out for months at a time, but since 1997 Tiger has missed only four majors ' the final two in 2008 and the summer Opens in 2011. Maybe his run of dominance continues in 08 and he racks up another major title, but dont forget he was out of sorts with his swing and in the midst of a winless drought in summer 2011. A completely healthy Woods probably passes Sam Sneads record of 82 PGA Tour wins by now, but he likely wouldnt be that much closer to Jack, if at all.


Seek help, sir.


Mentioned it before in this space, but Id make two major changes: 1.) Reduce the field size at the playoff opener from 125 to 100 players. Then make 80-60-30 cuts. 2.) Introduce match play at the Tour Championship, but ' and this is the important part ' only after a three-round stroke-play qualifier. That should ensure that the best players rise to the top. Then, the low eight qualifiers would face off on the weekend for the $10 million prize. Great drama.


Good question. The trophys bowl shape would make an ideal serving dish for all of #AskLavs favorite snacks, including shrimp cocktail, hummus and pita chips, beef jerky, chips and guacamole, chicken tenders and kettle corn.


Slow your roll! Lets wait until, say, 2023 before answering this definitively, OK?


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Tiger draws Sneds, Kizzire at Honda Classic

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 7:43 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Patton Kizzire and Brandt Snedeker for the first two rounds of the Honda Classic.

The threesome will tee off at 7:45 a.m. ET Thursday off PGA National’s 10th tee, then 12:35 p.m. off the first tee in the second round Friday.

Woods is making his first start at the Honda, his hometown event, since 2014. He tied for second here in 2012, after a final-round 62.

This is the first time he has ever played with Kizzire, a two-time winner this season and the FedExCup points leader.

Other notable groups for the first two rounds:

  • Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Daniel Berger: 7:35 a.m. Thursday, 12:25 p.m. Friday
  • Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Gary Woodland: 7:55 a.m. Thursday, 12:45 p.m. Friday
  • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner: 12:25 p.m. Thursday, 7:35 a.m. Friday
  • Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington: 12:35 p.m. Thursday, 7:45 a.m. Friday
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The Social: In perfect harmony?

By Jason CrookFebruary 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Bubba Watson re-emerges in the winner's circle but gets exposed on the hardwood, Mark Wahlberg tunes out Tiger Woods and if John Daly wants a drinking partner, he need look no further than ... John Daly?

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Bubba Watson had himself a week.

The two-time Masters champion hung out with Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, caught a taping of "The Big Bang Theory," played in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and still found some time to notch his first PGA Tour win in two years.

Watson's third victory at Riviera couldn't have come at a better time for the 39-year-old, with an annual trip down Magnolia Lane right around the corner. But don't let that distract you from the only Bubba highlight that mattered from the weekend:

Welcome to the block party, Bubba. Despite his former professional basketball playing wife's advice to stay out of the paint, Watson decided to challenge Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady at the hoop. You could say his challenge was accepted. And then some.

Watson, who picked up a couple of assists but also shot an air ball in the game, said afterwards that he "was just trying not to get hurt" and even poked a little fun at himself, calling out McGrady for committing a foul on social media.

But if these tweets from a couple of his PGA Tour peers are any indication, it will be a while before he lives this one down.

Sports fans probably take Bubba Golf for granted sometimes, no one plays the game like he does. Lets not make the same mistake with Bubba Basketball.

Want to know how far Tiger Woods has fallen? Sure, you could look at his 544th-world ranking or the current state of his game as he returns from injury, but the most telling sign came from his Wednesday pro-am round at the Genesis Open.

Woods was grouped with Mark Wahlberg for the day, and the superstar actor couldn't even be bothered to take the Apple AirPods out his ears – either one – for the entire round, even wearing them for the picture Woods posted on Instagram himself.

Marky Mark, you don't have to be his thunder buddy but at least show the man some common decency. He's still Tiger Freakin' Woods. Who is supposed to fake laugh at one of Tiger's patented hilarious dad jokes if all of his playing partners suddenly start listening to music during their rounds?

On a related note, guess Tigers are the only animals that Wahlberg won't talk to.

Something tells me this whole criminal thing isn't going to work out for these two.

Drinks were on John Daly Sunday after his hole-in-one at the Chubb Classic. But how many drinks? Well, that depends on who he’s drinking with.

If it’s with U.S. Olympian John Daly, the answer is, A LOT.

That's right, there's an American skeleton (headfirst luge for you newbs) racer competing in PyeongChang, South Korea, with the same name as the two-time major champ, and he couldn't help himself when asked about the similarity, jokingly saying he could keep up at the bar.

Of course, Daly (the golfer) wasn't just going to sit idly by while his name was dragged through the mud, tweeting out, basically, be careful what you wish for.

Somehow, someway, sliding headfirst down a frozen patch of ice with very little protection seems like a better idea than challenging Long John to a drinking contest. Just ask Andrew 'Beef' Johnston how it turned out.

If someone quits Twitter but they don't leave a long, drawn-out message on Twitter about why they're quitting Twitter before doing so, then did they even quit Twitter?

That's the riddle surrounding Lydia Ko's disappearance from the social media platform, one that the South Park Police Department would call, "suspicious."

The former LPGA world No. 1 has gone through all kinds of changes over the last couple of seasons, and added this curious move (on top of switching out her swing coach and caddie to start this season) because she said the app was “taking up [too much] storage on my phone.”

Whatever the reason, whether it be the storage issue she mentioned, or Twitter being a giant cesspool of negativity, here's to hoping it brings Ko happiness and a return to the winner's circle for the first time since 2016.

But we're sad to see her go.

After all, if people aren't freaking out on Twitter, what are we going to focus on here in The Social?

Rory McIlroy said last week after playing with Tiger Woods at the Genesis Open that the 14-time major champ gives up two strokes a tournament dealing with the hoopla that comes with being Tiger Woods.

That hasn't deterred John Peterson, who was on Twitter Monday openly recruiting Woods to play on his team for the Zurich Classic.

The April New Orleans PGA Tour stop switched to a team format last year, with Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith joining forces to win the first title.

Peterson followed up his original tweet by asking how many retweets he'd need to make it happen. We're no experts here, but probably more than the 132 it had at the time of this publication.

Peterson's followers had some fun with the request, applauding his effort as a shooter:

And hey, who knows, stranger things have happened. While the two may seem like an unlikely pairing, they have some stuff in common – Peterson won the 2012 Coca-Cola Walmart Open and Tiger, we think, has heard of an establishment known as Walmart.

So yeah, you could say the two are basically best friends at this point.

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Veteran Golf Journalist Bradley S. Klein Joins Golf Channel Editorial Team

By Golf Channel Public RelationsFebruary 20, 2018, 4:15 pm

Klein to Lend 30-Plus Years in Golf Architecture, History and Travel Journalism to Golf Advisor, Golf Channel’s Digital Travel and Lifestyle Brand

Read Klein’s first column here

Veteran golf travel, history and architecture journalist Bradley S. Klein has joined Golf Channel’s editorial team as senior writer for Golf Advisor, the company’s ever-expanding digital destination for the traveling golfer, featuring more than 700,000 reviews of nearly 15,000 golf courses in 80 countries worldwide. Klein’s first column appears today and provides eight simple tips for becoming a golf course architecture junkie – how architecture can be more relevant to everyday golfers and design aspects to observe that can make a round of golf a more fulfilling experience.

With more than 40 years of varied experiences within the game of golf – a career that began as a caddie on the PGA Tour – Klein most recently served as the long-time architecture editor for Golfweek magazine and the founding editor of Superintendent News.

"I've been in love with golf course design since I was 11 years old and have been lucky over the years to find a platform where I can share that fascination with fellow golfers,” Klein said. “It's an amazing opportunity now for me to bring that passion and commitment to Golf Channel and its travel and lifestyle brand, Golf Advisor."

"We are extremely excited to have Brad join the Golf Advisor team. His unique contributions covering history and architecture will be an excellent complement to the travel content Matt Ginella brings to Golf Advisor and Golf Channel’s Morning Drive,” said Mike Lowe, vice president and general manager, Golf Advisor. “Brad’s reputation and experience in the industry make him a wonderful addition to our expanding golf travel and course design editorial team.”

Other members of Golf Advisor’s editorial team include: Brandon Tucker, Mike Bailey, Jason Deegan, Bill Irwin and Tim Gavrich.

Including assignments for Golfweek, Klein has written more than 1,500 feature articles on course architecture, resort travel, golf course development, golf history and the media for such other publications as Golf Digest, Financial Times, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. He has published seven books on golf architecture and history, including Discovering Donald Ross, winner of the USGA 2001 International Book Award. In 2015, Klein won the Donald Ross Award for lifetime achievement from the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He is well known within the golf industry and has served as a consultant on numerous golf course development and restoration projects, most recently the Old Macdonald course at acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.

Golf Advisor now includes the integration of Golf Vacation Insider and Golf Odyssey, two leading travel newsletters with a combined reach of more than a half million subscribers. Both newsletters joined Golf Channel’s portfolio of businesses in 2017 as part of the acquisition of Revolution Golf, golf’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform offering video-based instruction and integrated e-commerce.

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Stock Watch: Fans getting louder, rowdier

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 3:01 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Bubba (+9%): Half of his 10 Tour titles have come at Augusta National and Riviera – that’s pretty stout. Though he can be maddening to cover because of his personality quirks, an in-form Watson is a must-watch.

Phil (+5%): For the first time in 11 years, Mickelson put together three consecutive top-6 finishes on Tour. Suddenly, another green jacket or that elusive U.S. Open title doesn’t seem so far away.

Kevin Na (+3%): How much fun would this guy be on a Ryder Cup team? He hits it dead straight – which will be important at Le Golf National, where the home team will narrow the fairways – and would drive the Europeans absolutely bonkers.

West Coast swing (+2%): From Jason Day to Gary Woodland to Ted Potter to Watson, the best coast produced a series of memorable comeback stories. And that’s always good news for those of us who get paid to write about the game.

South Korean talent (+1%): They already represent nine of the top 16 players in the world, and that doesn’t even include Jin Young Ko, who just won in her first start as an LPGA member.



FALLING

Steve Stricker Domination (-1%): Those predicting that he would come out and mop up on the PGA Tour Champions – hi there! – will be surprised to learn that he’s now 0-for-7 on the senior circuit (with five top-3s), after Joe Durant sped past him on the final day in Naples. The quality of golf out there is strong.

Patrick Cantlay’s routine (-2%): Never really noticed it before, but Cantlay ground to a halt during the final round, often looking at the cup six or seven times before finally stroking his putt. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that his final-round scoring average is nearly four strokes higher than his openers.

Lydia Ko (-3%): Another wholesale change? Whatever is going on here – and it reeks of too much parental involvement – it’s not good for her short- or long-term future.

Tiger (-4%): It’s early, and he’s obviously savvy enough to figure it out, but nothing else in this comeback will matter if Woods can’t start driving it on the planet.

Fan behavior (-8%): Kudos to Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for taking the Riviera spectators to task for their tiresome (and increasingly aggressive) calls after a player hits a shot. The only problem? PGA National’s par-3 17th could be even worse – the drunk fans are closer to the action, and the hole is infinitely more difficult than TPC Scottsdale’s 16th. Buckle up.