Texas best on paper, but don't give them NCAAs yet

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 9, 2014, 12:30 pm

Seventeen years ago, John Fields was walking through the men’s locker room at Barton Creek when he bumped into legendary Texas coach George Hannon.

Hannon had overseen some of the best talent to ever come through Austin, including the Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw-led teams in 1971-72, and this was his first opportunity to welcome Fields to the UT fraternity.

“I think you’re going to do well, and I think you’re going to win national championships,” Hannon told him. “But you’re going to need one thing … ”

Fields leaned in.

“You’re going to need some luck.”

For 15 years, Fields never truly understood what Hannon meant. Then came that late afternoon in June 2012, when he stood on the 18th green at Riviera, tears in his eyes, after guiding Texas to the school’s first national title in 40 years. From Jordan Spieth getting a spot in the PGA Tour event there four months earlier to Cody Gribble rediscovering his game just in time to Dylan Frittelli being pushed by a superstar-in-waiting, it was clear: Hannon was right. Yes, the Longhorns had played remarkable golf, but at the same time they also benefited from a bit of good fortune.

The old coach’s message seems even more relevant now, with Texas about to kick off one of its most highly anticipated seasons ever. On paper, the Longhorns have by far the most talented team in the country, their roster a who’s who of can’t-miss junior prospects.

So what could possibly go wrong?

• • • 

Nearly every college coach knows what he’s facing this season, because in all likelihood he swung and missed on recruiting these kids:

• Beau Hossler, who briefly led the 2012 U.S. Open at age 17 and recently won the Western Amateur.

• Scottie Scheffler, who made the cut at the Byron Nelson last spring and won the 2013 U.S. Junior.

• Gavin Hall, who was the No. 3-ranked prep prospect in the country and a member of the Junior Ryder Cup team.

• Doug Ghim, who won four AJGA titles and reached the finals of the 2014 U.S. Amateur Publinx.   

• Taylor Funk, who won virtually everything in Florida and is the son of the nine-time Champions Tour winner.

• And all of those standouts are bound together by Kramer Hickok, the team’s lone senior and a two-time All-Big-12 selection himself.


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But talent alone doesn’t win championships, which is why it’d be misguided to automatically pencil in Texas for the championship match.

More than a few coaches have noted how this team was similarly stacked last season and yet won only once, in late April, to salvage a top-15 record.

Sure, Hickok’s injury played a significant role in the underwhelming campaign. He tore a ligament in his left wrist at the 2013 U.S. Amateur, a setback that put him on the bench for the entire fall. “There was a definite disruption there,” Fields said. “We were essentially a man down for a long time.”

Depth won’t be an issue this year, not after three well-known, highly regarded freshmen arrived on campus. Coaching the No. 2 team in Golf Channel’s preseason rankings, Fields is neither buying the hype nor shying away from the elevated expectations.

“If we can maintain our focus,” he said recently, “then we’re capable of winning any golf tournament that we play in.”

• • • 

If only it were so simple.

College golf isn’t like other sports, namely football and basketball, in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Budding superstars can carry teams in this play-five, count-four format.

All five starters don’t have to like each other – the Augusta State teams that won back-to-back national titles certainly spring to mind – but it’s more rewarding for everyone when they do.

“If you can move the selfishness meter from all individuals to guys who are one-for-all, that’s when it’s really fun,” Georgia Tech coach Bruce Heppler said. “If you can move that maybe 10 percent, then you’re probably ahead of the game. The more you can get, the better off you are. But it’s not the be-all and end-all to be successful.”

The trickiest part for Fields will be finding a consistent starting five, because at least one stud is going to be left home. Normally, that situation would threaten to disrupt team chemistry and cause friction, but Fields says he has a longtime qualifying system in place that removes all of the subjectivity.

Simply, the low five scorers in qualifying play the team’s next tournament, regardless of world ranking or seniority. Players who reach a certain threshold in that event – say, a top-10 finish – are exempt into the next event. A win earns a spot in multiple events. And the same rules apply for everyone.

Though the uber-talented freshmen may qualify for every event on their own, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll thrive on game day. 

Despite junior golf’s increasingly year-round schedule, the most important time remains the summer. It’s why so many juniors are able to contend for national amateur titles, because they’re in form from concentrating solely on their games. That isn’t the case once they arrive on campus, however. Not only must they log practice time, but they also have mandatory workouts and study halls, all while adjusting to being away from home for the first time. (Hello, laundry.)

“Golf is probably the easiest part,” said Alabama coach Jay Seawell, yet even that aspect isn’t without its challenges. Freshmen are essentially PGA Tour rookies – everything they see and experience is new, from learning the courses in one day to playing more high-level golf than ever before. It can be a lot to handle.

No wonder there was only one true freshman (Alabama’s Robby Shelton) ranked among the top 30 last season.

• • •  

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With so much uncertainty surrounding the newcomers, it’s reassuring to have an emerging star like Hossler at the top of the lineup.

Much was expected of the 19-year-old last season too, especially only a year removed from his breakout performance at Olympic Club, where he briefly held the lead on Friday at the U.S. Open. But his freshman season got off to a rocky start as his national ranking took a beating. He ended the year with six top-12 finishes in his last eight starts, then carried that momentum into the summer, when he captured the biggest title of his career at the Western Amateur.

“Guys like that, they come in here with a lot of pressure that they’re putting on themselves to perform,” Fields said. “They tend to measure themselves against other great players. Sometimes that can hurt, but it can also be a great motivating factor, because it makes you work really hard.”

To his credit, Hossler is taking a big-picture approach when it comes to his college career.

“It’s impossible to play well year-round,” he said. “Once you play well in an event like (the U.S. Open), people expect you to play well for years to come. But I’m not going to put that expectation on myself. You’re not going to have your A-game every week.”

Like Funk this year, Hossler was an early enrollee at Texas in spring 2013, a decision he made to not only get acclimated to college life but also to get a head start on his business major. Scheffler and Ghim won’t have that luxury. They’ll be adjusting on the fly, and more than a few stumbles are inevitable.

“It’s tough to transfer your game when you get to school,” Hossler said. “That adjustment is difficult for everybody, it doesn’t matter who you are. You just have a lot more responsibility, a lot more things to do on a daily basis. Those guys are going to be just fine, but they know what’s coming and they know it’s not always going to be easy.”

Championship seasons rarely are, which is why Fields was still thinking about old Coach Hannon on the eve of a much-anticipated year.  

“What I would like to be doing about 10 months from now,” he said, “is looking back and saying, ‘Wow, what a great year, and I’m really humble and appreciative of what has happened to us.’ Because it’s not just great play. Sometimes, it takes a bit of luck, too.”

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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.