With best college teams retooling, 2014-15 wide open

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 9, 2014, 12:20 pm

Buried behind the dark sunglasses, the constant chatter and the relentless energy, Jay Seawell experienced a foreign emotion this summer.

Sadness.

Odd, because he is the coach of the two-time defending NCAA champion Alabama Crimson Tide, a title that seemed like a pipe dream in the mid-’90s when he was making $7,500 at a JUCO school in Anderson, S.C., living in a dorm room with his pregnant wife. But can you really blame the guy for feeling a bit glum? The most glorious period of his professional career had come to an end.

Gone is the trio of senior leaders who returned to school just to spend more time together and win another national title.

Gone is Seawell’s third assistant in as many years, an annoying byproduct of a thriving program.

Gone (or least no longer recognizable) is the team that reached three consecutive NCAA finals, that had 16 wins and four runners-up in the last three semesters, that didn’t finish outside the top 4 in an event in two years.

“You obviously understand it’s a four-year thing and then it’s over,” Seawell said recently, “but you get in the dirt and you grind it out and you live life every day with each other, and then all of a sudden it’s gone. It’s over. There’s a little bit of a void and a sadness.”

It wasn’t until Aug. 20 that Seawell snapped out of his summer swoon. The day marked the arrival of the team’s golf shirts, bags, shoes, balls and gloves, a college kid’s Christmas. It was time to get back to work.

Diminished, sure, but the Crimson Tide, No. 4 in Golf Channel’s preseason rankings, aren’t exactly starting from scratch. They still have one of college golf’s best players, sophomore Robby Shelton. They’ll finally get a chance to see 2013 GB&I Walker Cupper Gavin Moynihan, who played only sparingly a year ago because of a crowded lineup. This Alabama team is just “quieter and grittier,” one that can toil without the outsized expectations.

“Nobody knows if we’re gonna be any good or not,” Seawell said, “and I love that. It’s been a while. It’s re-energizing.”

Besides, he can take solace in knowing that he’s far from the only coach adjusting to his new reality this fall.

Nine of the top 10 teams in last year’s Golfstat rankings – nearly all of the powerhouse programs – lost at least two starters to graduation or the pros.

Cal tearfully said farewell to a group that captured the first two Pac-12 titles in school history, won 24 of its last 40 tournaments and finished outside the top 5 only twice.

Georgia Tech watched three top-120 starters accept their diplomas and join the play-for-pay ranks.


College Central: Complete preview of 2014-15 season

Rankings: Top 10 men's teams

Top 10 men's players to watch

Rankings: Top 5 women's teams


Stanford is missing not just its team leaders but also the top two players in the game last season, Patrick Rodgers and Cameron Wilson.

In all, five of Golfstat’s top-10 players have left campus, and half of the top 20. Indeed, when the NCAA Championship returns to the airwaves next spring, more than a few introductions will be in order.

“Just a huge amount of turnover,” said Seawell, which makes this season easily the most wide open of the match-play era.

Since 2009, the landscape has been flooded with star-studded teams – Oklahoma State (Rickie Fowler, Peter Uihlein, Morgan Hoffmann, Kevin Tway), Georgia (Russell Henley, Harris English, Brian Harman, Hudson Swafford), Alabama (Bud Cauley, Justin Thomas, Bobby Wyatt, Cory Whitsett) and Cal (Max Homa, Brandon Hagy, Michael Weaver).

This year, though, presents a new opportunity – and a new platform – for under-the-radar players, coaches and teams.

“There are newer, shinier parts,” Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler said. “Starting this year there’s going to be a lot of people enthused about their chance.

“Last year a lot of people were just accusing us of being van drivers, and the reality is there wasn’t a lot more work than that. The work was done in Years 1, 2 and 3, getting them to that point. Now, starting over, you better coach and teach these guys and get them back up to speed.”

No team is newer or shinier than Texas.

Ranked No. 2 on Golf Channel’s preseason list – behind only Oklahoma State, which returns three from last year’s NCAA finalist squad – the Longhorns could start as many as three freshmen this season. Granted, these aren’t your average 18-year-old newcomers: Scottie Scheffler won the 2013 U.S. Junior and made the cut at the Byron Nelson, Doug Ghim finished runner-up at this year’s U.S. Publinx, and Taylor Funk is the accomplished son of the nine-time Champions Tour winner.

Managing all of those young, ambitious talents is a delicate act, and coach John Fields’ biggest challenge will be getting all of those studs enough playing time. Keep in mind, too, that there is often a massive adjustment period in Year 1, from a freshman’s increased responsibilities to the temptation of a Friday night downtown. Each kid responds differently.

Just look at the development of Ollie Schniederjans.

He was a top-5 junior prospect when he arrived at Georgia Tech in fall 2011, but he struggled to keep pace with the fellow stars in his class. Schniederjans recorded only two top 10s (and posted the team’s sixth-best scoring average) while Jordan Spieth, Thomas and Rodgers collected titles and battled for Player of the Year honors. Three years later, Schniederjans is the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, with exemptions into a pair of 2015 majors.

His stock was seemingly at an all-time high last May, after a five-win season and a playoff loss at the NCAA Championship. But instead of bolting for the pros and jockeying for sponsor exemptions, Schniederjans decided to stay for his senior season. One of the main reasons: He’ll be the favorite every time he plays, and only in that harsh environment can he learn how his body reacts to pressure, to stress, to expectation. After all, an important part of being a successful pro is summoning the goods when it’s needed most, whether that’s in the second stage of Q-School, or in a Monday qualifier, or on the back nine Sunday.

Schniederjans’ plan was executed flawlessly in the season opener – on the strength of a second-round 64, he won by two shots (over Shelton) at the Carpet Capital Collegiate. 

“It’s a great opportunity to learn,” Heppler said. “If the goal is to eventually try and be like Rory or Tiger or Phil, to have that much pressure on you every time you play, then this is the route for him.

“If you want to be a pro, you have to treat it that way. There are very few guys who get it on easy street. The pros is a different profession, and the key is to teach them to want to go whip somebody.”

How many players Schniederjans whips this season is a major storyline to watch, and so are these:

Can Oklahoma State return to the finals without a senior starter?

Will Texas win prolifically, or will it be undone by freshman immaturity?

Can Illinois thrive when it (finally) is in the spotlight?

Will an upstart program like South Carolina or Vanderbilt crash the party?

Or what about this: Can a down-but-not-quite-rebuilding Alabama become the first team since the mid-1960s to win three national titles in a row?

At that prospect, Seawell perked up, his voice rising and more animated now, his summer sadness a distant memory.

“Oh, I wouldn’t sleep on us,” he said. “I wouldn’t bury us yet.”

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Golf Channel to Deliver Worldwide Coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, "The Major of Golf Business," Tueday-Friday, Jan. 23-26

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 22, 2018, 2:45 pm

Morning Drive, Golf Central to Give Viewers Insider Access to the PGA Show with Nearly 20 Hours of Live Coverage; Golf Channel’s School of Golf Instruction Program to Originate From On-Site

Golf Channel’s Portfolio of Lifestyle Brands – GolfNow, Golf Channel Academy, Revolution Golf and World Long Drive On-Site at the PGA Show Contributing to the Network’s Comprehensive Coverage

 

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2018) – Golf Channel announced plans for its comprehensive coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show – the largest golf convention and business gathering in the world – with nearly 20 hours of news and instruction coverage Tuesday, Jan. 23 – Friday, Jan. 26. Golf Channel’s coverage will span across the four days, beginning Tuesday with the “PGA Show Demo Day” from the Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge driving range in Winter Garden, Fla., and continuing Wednesday-Friday at the PGA Merchandise Show from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

With an insider look at the PGA Merchandise Show – a golf industry event that is not open to the public – Golf Channel’s coverage via Morning Drive and Golf Central will be delivered to a worldwide audience in more than 36 countries. Coverage will provide viewers live interviews with industry leaders, professional golfers from the world’s major tours, PGA of America members and a comprehensive overview of the latest products and trends for 2018 from some of the nearly 1,100 golf brands exhibiting on-site.

PGA Merchandise Show Week Programming Schedule: Jan. 23-26 (All Times Eastern)

Tuesday

Morning Drive

7-11 a.m. (Live)

 

Tuesday

Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)

 

Tuesday

School of Golf

8-9 p.m.

 

Wednesday

Morning Drive

7-11:30 a.m. (Live)

 

Wednesday

Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)

 

Thursday

Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)

 

Thursday

Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)

 

Friday

Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)

 

Friday

Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)

 

 

BROADCAST TEAM

Golf Channel’s expansive coverage of the PGA Merchandise Show will utilize several on-air personalities from the network’s news division, beginning with Charlie Rymer and Lauren Thompson offering coverage of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day on Tuesday. In addition to Rymer and Thompson, Wednesday-Friday coverage from the PGA Show Floor will include Matt Adams, Cara Banks, Lisa Cornwell, Matt Ginella, Damon Hack, Bailey Mosier and Gary Williams.

DIGITAL & STREAMING COVERAGE

Golf Channel’s PGA Merchandise Show on-air coverage will be available to stream via Golf Channel Digital Tuesday-Friday. Comprehensive online editorial coverage also will be available throughout the week, with contributions from writers Jay Coffin and Will Gray. Golf Channel’s social media platforms will keep viewers engaged in the conversation about what’s generating buzz at the #PGASHOW throughout the week via the network’s social media channels – @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Twitter, @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Instagram and GolfChannel and GCMorningDrive on Facebook. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will host Golf Channel’s digital and social media coverage throughout the week.

PGA SHOW DEMO DAY COVERAGE

Golf Channel’s coverage of “Demo Day” will begin Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 a.m. ET with Morning Drive airing live and on-site to highlight the latest in golf equipment from the expansive driving range at Orange County National. Rymer and Thompson will host Morning Drive on-site, featuring interviews and product demonstrations.

PGA MERCHANDISE SHOW FLOOR COVERAGE

Coverage of the PGA Show will transition indoors to the Orange County Convention Center, Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 24-26 to give viewers an all-access tour of the PGA Show. Morning Drive and Golf Central will provide on-site reports throughout the week, with featured interviews and segments originating from the PGA Show Floor. Coverage from the Convention Center will originate from a large, multi-purpose space elevated above the PGA Show Floor, with three set configurations for interviews, along with a putting green and a golf simulator for product demonstrations. Golf Channel also will feature a “Fly Cam,” a unique camera technology made popular in televising football and other sports. Suspended above the PGA Show Floor, the Fly Cam will span more than 700 feet, giving viewers an aerial viewpoint of the vast floor and the exhibitors. New for 2018 will be a “Jib Cart,” a mobile cart with a camera jib affixed allowing high shots of the booths throughout the Show Floor.

SCHOOL OF GOLF KICKS OFF EIGHTH SEASON WITH ONE-HOUR SPECIAL FROM DEMO DAY

School of Golf, Golf Channel’s signature instruction program that airs on Tuesday nights, will kick off its eighth season with a one-hour special at Demo Day on Tuesday, Jan. 23, airing in primetime from 8-9 p.m. ET. Originating from the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO booth on the Orange County National driving range and hosted by Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal, the show will include special guests and interactions with a live audience.

GOLF CHANNEL’S PORTFOLIO OF LIFESTYLE BRANDS ON-SITE AT PGA SHOW

In addition to Golf Channel’s on-air and digital coverage, the network’s lifestyle brands – GolfNow, World Long Drive, Golf Channel Academy and Revolution Golf will showcase their services at the PGA Show with special clinics, product demonstrations and on-site activations.

GOLFNOW EXHIBITING AT BOOTH #2173

GolfNow, the industry’s leader in golf-related technology and services, will be exhibiting Wednesday-Friday from Booth #2173. In addition to showcasing advanced technologies that have created the largest tee-time marketplace in golf, GolfNow also will be educating course owners and operators about innovations and services designed to help them run their businesses more efficiently and successfully. GolfNow Business experts will be on hand at GolfNow’s 2,400-square-foot booth, offering its course partners technology demonstrations, as well as consultation on any of the GolfNow Services: Plus, a top-line focused consultative performance system for golf courses, including marketing, sales and automated pricing; Answers, a call center for golf courses, answering customer calls day and night; and Ride, a no-cost purchasing program that saves course operators from 6-35 percent on items they buy day-to-day, such as food, office supplies and agricultural products.

WORLD LONG DRIVE BRACKET CHALLENGE

Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, World Long Drive competitors will be at the PGA Show to compete in a World Long Drive Bracket Challenge. Hosted by Golf Channel’s social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin and airing live via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live, the competition will take place at Golf Channel’s simulator on the Show Floor featuring eight men and four women, including World No. 2 Ryan Reisbeck, No. 3 Maurice Allen, No. 5 Trent Scruggs and 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Women’s Champion Sandra Carlborg.

GOLF CHANNEL ACADEMY INSTRUCTION

Wednesday-Friday, Golf Channel Academy coaches will provide on-site instruction clinics at Golf Channel’s simulator set on the Show Floor. Wednesday’s clinics will feature driving, full swing, wedge play and putting clinics. Thursday’s clinic will include the full swing and Friday’s clinic will feature the short game, all streamed live via Golf Channel Academy’s Facebook page.

REVOLUTION GOLF TO SHOOT DIGITAL INSTRUCTION SEGMENTS ON-SITE AT PGA SHOW

Revolution Golf, the industry’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform delivering high-quality video-based instruction, travel content and integrated e-commerce will have a significant presence at the PGA Show. Golf Channel’s newest digital acquisition, Revolution Golf will be shooting digital segments at Demo Day and throughout the PGA Show Floor, including segments with its team of instructors.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.