Dinner with Beef: Andrew Johnston, up close and personal

By Will GrayJuly 6, 2016, 12:40 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Andrew Johnston’s eyes grow wide.

Five are gathered around a table on the patio of this upscale steakhouse, hours after Johnston’s opening round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The waitress, Ashley, has just begun reciting the night’s specials with impressive recall.

When she reaches the part about the 32-ounce, Kobe tomahawk steak, Johnston brings her memorized speech to a screeching halt.

“Hold on. Would you share that?” he asks. “Or could you eat it all in one go?”

Ashley circles her hands to demonstrate the approximate size of the steak, adding for good measure that her husband came in and finished it off just a few days earlier.

“Right, now you’ve challenged me. I’ll do the Tommie,” Johnston says. He gets his medium-rare, while his brother, James, orders his rare from the other side of the table.

“I feel sweaty already thinking about this,” Andrew says.

And thus began dinner with Beef.

“I can’t wait to get hammered.”

Johnston became an Internet celebrity with those six words, even among casual golf fans. He had just won the Open de Espana in April, and in a post-round interview he spoke candidly of his plans to return home to North Middlesex Golf Club – North Mid, as it’s known – to celebrate in a big way with his closest friends.

Displaying a cheery grin that rarely left during dinner Johnston explained that he never thought twice about his comments, or the impact they might make.

“I sure did,” said Shaun Reddin, a silver-haired Irishman seated to Johnston’s left. Reddin is Johnston’s longtime manager, and he’s paid to think about such things. He was at Valderrama for the biggest moment of his client’s professional career, and he was instantly aware of the reach his post-round quip would have.

“I just laughed, because it’s him,” Reddin said. “I’ve known Andrew for a while now, and I know he enjoys a party.”

Many golf fans might struggle to name more than a couple recent winners on the European Tour, and the list of champions of the Open de Espana doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue among Americans. But when a player with a bushy beard nicknamed Beef steps to the mic and declares that he’s ready to party, it receives attention.

What may have begun as a curiosity has blossomed into full-blown fandom for many Americans who have become enamored with the easygoing Englishman.

True to his word, Johnston did get hammered at North Mid shortly after his win. Reddin tried to prevent any photo or video evidence of the celebration, but inevitably a short video leaked showing Johnston, dressed as a piñata, leading the full-throated festivities.

He notched a top-10 finish a few weeks later at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, and Johnston improbably qualified for the U.S. Open in late May. That earned him his first start in the U.S. as a professional, and he quickly entered the good graces of the fans at Oakmont by sporting Pittsburgh Pirates gear and interacting on social media during the rain delay that interrupted the opening round.

For Johnston, 27, the newfound notoriety is still an unexpected change from being just one among a sea of players fighting for starts in Europe.

“We even had it in the Philly airport, people coming up. And it’s just like, what is going on? This is mad,” he said. “But I really enjoy it, man. I’ve got all the time in the world for it.”

His Bacchanalian banter eventually drew criticism from those that prefer players not engage in such debauchery. But Johnston, along with his close-knit team, didn’t bat an eye.

“You’ve got to celebrate success,” Reddin said. “I’m sick to death of hearing the guy win a tournament and say, ‘Yeah, well I wasn’t really happy with my putting so I’m going to go see my coach.’ Come on. Life’s too short.”

Photo gallery: 'Beef' battles 32-ounce tomahawk steak

The appetizers of rock shrimp and calamari arrive as Johnston details his latest plans for a stunt.

He’s heading straight from Akron to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, where European Tour officials have asked him to make an appearance at a cattle farm in the Scottish Highlands. Beef visiting beef, you see.

Johnston is mid-bite on his salad but nearly doubles over in his chair, explaining through the laughter that he intends to show up for the visit in a cow onesie without telling a soul.

“You get an opportunity like that, get taken to a farm, and come on, man. You’ve got to turn up in something,” he said. “You’ve got to have some fun with that.”

“You’d better watch it, though,” added James, who bears a striking resemblance to his younger brother despite a 10-year age difference. “Because what if you get in there and there’s, like, some amorous bull? You’re going to get yourself in trouble, man. We’ll see you in a onesie being chased across a field.”

That particular visual brings a chuckle out of Louise Jay, the soft-spoken blonde sitting to Beef’s right. The two met through, of all things, a message on Facebook, and have been dating for seven years.

“I’m all for it,” she said.

The stunt aligns with Johnston’s ebullient personality. He enjoys a laugh, and he enjoys making others laugh, even when it comes at his own expense.

James recounts a story from when his brother was in high school and had just finished an impressive performance at the Boys’ Home International tournament. He celebrated the victory with his young teammates – perhaps a little too enthusiastically, as it turned out – and became locked out of the bed and breakfast where the team was staying. Half-naked.

He walked down the road about 100 yards in the pouring rain to the clubhouse and, upon finding an open door, slept the rest of the night. But he set off the club’s alarm in the morning when he exited through a different door, and the cops had to pick him up and return him to the B&B.

It’s clear that Johnston’s work hard, play hard strategy is deeply rooted.

“You would’ve been 17,” James adds. “Because Dad was there.”

Noel Johnston was the reason his son, Andrew, got into golf. A strong athlete in his own day and a general lover of sport, he put a club in his son’s hand from an early age and was with him every step of the way as Johnston ascended through the ranks of British junior golf.

Johnston’s father remained a model of health when, in 2006, he suddenly fell ill. Tests revealed an advanced type of brain cancer, and within a month he passed away at age 56.

The death of a parent can spark an unpredictable reaction. James shouldered the loss reasonably well, having already established a career and path of his own. But Noel’s death hit especially hard for Andrew, who as a teen had just lost his best friend and the man who had shepherded his budding golf career.

“I was only 17, and then it was like a bit of, ‘What do you do now?’” he said. “Luckily I had the support of everyone, my family and stuff, and they said, ‘Look, just keep playing golf. Keep going, don’t stop.’”

Johnston remained a top amateur, but the drive that had propelled him for years was missing. He had come unmoored, and he was still adrift two years later when he first met Reddin.

An entrepreneur who focuses mainly on sports psychology, Reddin took Johnston under his wing and the two have been together since.

“Without him,” Johnston said, pointing his fork at Reddin, “I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

“You lied to me!”

The entrees have just arrived to the table, and Beef can hardly believe his eyes.

The tomahawk is just as daunting as one might expect, with its large bone jutting out beyond the border of the plate. Johnston starts to take it all in and immediately accuses the waitress of false advertising.

“You said it was this big,” he said, circling his hands over about half the steak. “What am I supposed to do with this?”

“You have to hit the bone,” Ashley joked. “I’m sure you can do it.”

As he reaches for his knife and gets to work, discussion shifts to England’s stunning loss to Iceland in soccer and Johnston’s recent fascination with Arnold Palmer beverages, the iced tea and lemonade concoction he first discovered in player dining at Oakmont.

“They had a whole row of them in the fridge, and I thought, ‘Oh my God,’” he said. “I grabbed two massive cans.”

When the brothers Johnston are halfway through their respective steaks, one of the restaurant hostesses comes over to check on the table. She recognizes Johnston from his visit the day before to Swenson’s, an Akron burger institution that had a food truck on-site all week at Firestone Country Club. Johnston had tried their famed galley burger, and a picture of the meal ended up on the front page of the local paper.

As was the case in Pennsylvania, Ohio can’t get enough of Beef.

Ironically enough, the Beef nickname has nothing to do with eating. When he was growing up, one of his friends noted that his bushy mane of hair resembled a slab of meat, and he started calling him “beef head.” The nickname stuck, and now it’s permanently emblazoned on Johnston’s left shoulder – the product of a few too many pints one night as a 16-year-old.

His notoriety in the U.S. also stems from his unique beard, which looks a bit like mutton chops gone awry. That’s a more recent development, as Johnston has kept it growing since September. It’s a phase that Louise hopes will end sooner rather than later.

“I was happy with it at first. But now I’m like, I want to get rid of it. It’s so wiry,” she said over her plate of reasonably portioned chicken. “I have to keep telling him that he has food caught in it. It’s like a chore for me.”

Johnston had planned to cut it off around the time of his win in Spain, but he opted against – partially because of the tournament’s outcome, and partially to defy a small streak of feedback he received.

“A few people messaged me, and one guy was like, ‘Your beard is bad for the game of golf,’” he said. “And I was like, well I’m just going to keep it now.”

“I was so angry with that person,” Louise added. The beard, it seems, won’t be leaving anytime soon.

L to R: Coach Shaun Reddin, Andrew Johnston, caddie Gordon Faulkner and girlfriend Louise Jay

Johnston is upbeat throughout the meal, but the fatigue from his hectic schedule is starting to build. His trip at Oakmont was unexpected, and he hadn’t realized until a few weeks ago that his win in Spain netted him a spot in the no-cut World Golf Championship at Firestone.

Johnston played in Germany the week between his two American starts, and he’s now in the midst of a stretch of eight events in nine weeks across six countries that will conclude with The Open at Royal Troon.

The miles have begun to add up, but it’s a scenario that would have seemed like a dream to him just a few years ago.

Johnston turned pro in 2009, but he struggled to gain status on the various mini-tours in Europe. After toiling with limited success for nearly two years, he was resigned to the fact that, at age 21, it was time to trade in his clubs for a real job.

“I went to a job interview, I don’t even know what it was for, and the woman called me back that same day and said, ‘We want you to come in for a trial week,’” he said. “The job was in London, and I was sitting there and I had a cup of tea. And I thought, ‘What do I do? I’ve got to decide right now.’”

Johnston finished his tea, called the woman back and politely declined the job offer.

“It was just in my heart, to carry on playing golf,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than playing the best events and competing. That’s what I love doing.”

Thanks in large part to Reddin’s direction, Johnston began to chip away at the mini-tours and had a breakthrough year in 2011 on the European Challenge Tour. He earned a European Tour card for the following season, but was slowed by a pair of injuries: first to his left wrist, suffered during a sparring session with his trainer, and then a more serious injury to his left shoulder that was misdiagnosed and ultimately cost him six months.

He returned to the Challenge Tour during the summer of 2013, afforded only a few opportunities to salvage any status whatsoever for the following year.

“I learned a lot from that five months of playing, because every week was a scrap,” he said. “Every weekend I knew that every Euro counted.”

Johnston did just enough to retain his Challenge Tour status for 2014, but as the year drew to his close his bank account was nearly tapped out. He was in Portugal that December when he received a late invitation to an event in South Africa. He scrambled to book his trip, intent on earning enough cash to make it through the holiday season.

“I think I finished like 18th that week, but it was just through sheer determination to try to get some money for Christmas,” he said. “I’d been scrapping all year, and I finished 18th and I thought, ‘OK, I can do this.’ And it gave me some confidence going into the next year.”

Johnston won twice on the Challenge Tour in 2014, earning the top spot on the circuit’s Order of Merit, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Ashley circles back to the table as the meal begins to wind down, and she immediately sizes up Beef’s nearly empty plate.

“One more bite,” he says with pride. “I’ve got this chargrilled bit that I’ve been saving.”

He polishes off the 32nd ounce of meat, then grabs the end of the bone and poses with it for photographic evidence of his conquest. After a few pictures are snapped, he holds it up to the waitress’ face like a microphone.

“Time for your interview,” he says as she begins to blush. “How do you think we did? How do you think the chef prepared this one?”

James offers a hearty laugh as he puts his fork down, unable to keep up with his brother’s voracious pace.

Content with his achievement – and pleased to have beaten his brother in this makeshift competition – Johnston scans through the sleek wooden box containing the restaurant’s tea selection and chooses one for his nightcap after swilling two IPA beers during dinner.

On his list of goals for the week is to catch up with Rickie Fowler, who sent him a note of congratulations after the win in Spain. The two had hoped to play a practice round together at the U.S. Open, but Johnston bristled when Fowler told him he planned to tee off at 8:30 a.m.

“I’m like, what’s wrong with you, man? Playing at that time in the morning?” he said. “So we just keep missing each other, off and on. Maybe we can play together at The Open.”

As the night ends, he invites yours truly to make a trip to North Mid on Aug. 12. That’s when he’ll gather with his mates – the same ones that so notably toasted his breakthrough victory – for the first annual golf outing to benefit the Noel Johnston Foundation.

It’s a cause dedicated to providing area youth with the same kind of opportunities in sports that Johnston’s father once gave to him.

The day after the big meal does not go well for Beef on the golf course. His driver is uncooperative amid swirling winds, and he is flummoxed on the greens. A 78 sends his name tumbling down the standings.

Not that you’d know it by looking at him, though. Johnston walks off the final green still sporting his toothy grin, responding to every call of “Beef” from the small throng of fans gathered along his path to the scoring trailer.

He re-emerges and signs a few autographs, snapping a selfie with a young fan sporting a “Beef” t-shirt who had driven from Pennsylvania to watch Johnston play.

Then he walks back across the short path to where several media members are gathered, including the Sky Sports television crew.

“I played like rubbish today,” he said. “But you’ve got to look at this, mate.”

Then he pulls out his phone, and his smile grows wider than usual as he shuffles through his recent photos with one of the British reporters peering over his shoulder.

“Look at this steak I had last night. Thing was massive,” he said. “She lied, she totally lied about how big it was going to be. But I finished it anyway.”

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Monday Scramble: Just getting started

By Will GrayJanuary 22, 2018, 4:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood dazzles, Jon Rahm outlasts, Phil Mickelson falters, Rory McIlroy starts the year on the right foot and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

He didn't hit a single shot on Sunday, but the biggest winner of the weekend may have been Thomas Bjorn.

That's because the burly Dane watched one potential European Ryder Cup stud after another either lift a trophy or show significant signs of promise.

First it was Sergio Garcia cruising to victory in Singapore, then Tommy Fleetwood's stirring rally in Abu Dhabi. By the time Jon Rahm finished off the CareerBuilder Challenge in the waning daylight, the European skipper likely had a grin plastered from ear to ear.

There will be countless ebbs and flows of momentum before the first shot is struck at Le Golf National, but this week proved once again that the Americans won't be the only ones sporting some serious depth at the biennial matches.

1. The most dazzling display Sunday came from Fleetwood, who successfully defended his title in Abu Dhabi thanks to an absolutely unconscious back nine.

The Englishman was five shots back when he made the turn, but six birdies over his final nine holes turned that deficit into a two-shot win.

It was in Abu Dhabi last year that he sparked a career turnaround, winning the event en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. He turned up once again this year with ample confidence and a new wedding ring, and the results were much the same.

He doesn't have the star power of some of his contemporaries, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Fleetwood can more than hold his own against even the best in the game.

2. Hours before Fleetwood caught fire, it was Garcia rolling to a five-shot win in Singapore to complete the transition from tournament headliner to tournament champion.

Garcia was just days removed from his 38th birthday and making his first start with a full bag of Callaway clubs. But he showed no signs of offseason rust or equipment adjustment while capturing his second worldwide win since slipping into his green jacket.

The Spaniard has certainly enjoyed the fruits of his Masters victory nine months ago, but it's apparent that he has no plans to rest on the laurels of last spring.

3. He didn't leave Abu Dhabi with the trophy, but McIlroy may have found something more lasting: confidence.

It was in his first start last year that McIlroy injured his rib and plummeted into a vicious cycle of attempted rehabs and ill-fated comebacks. This time around, he came out of the gates with a relaxed swagger en route to a tie for third.

As Ryan Lavner wrote, it was an ideal beginning to a big year for McIlroy, who has already offered up the notion that 2018 could be the busiest season of his career as he chases the final leg of the career Grand Slam and a return to golf's upper echelon.

After the first leg of a two-week stay in the Middle East, that plan is off to a promising start.

4. Let's take a moment to marvel at McIlroy's record in Abu Dhabi, where he has done everything but win the tournament.

In his last nine appearances, McIlroy has finished fifth or better eight times. That stretch includes four runner-up results and now two straight T-3 finishes.

There remain two equally remarkable factors to McIlroy's run: the fact that he somehow hasn't managed to lift the trophy (yet), and the lone outlier: a missed cut in 2013 after his celebrated switch to Nike.

5. With darkness rapidly encircling the Coachella Valley, Rahm managed to shake off Andrew Landry and capture his second career PGA Tour victory.

Rahm's 20-foot birdie on the fourth playoff hole proved the difference in Palm Springs, where he entered as the highest-ranked player in the field and supported that status with his stout play.

Rahm barely took his foot off the gas, both across the difficult closing stretch at PGA West and during the playoff when he sent one approach after the next hurtling toward the pin. It's the fourth worldwide win in less than a year for Rahm, who continues to outpace even the rosiest of projections for his burgeoning career.

6. The win moves Rahm past Jordan Spieth to world No. 2, making him the fourth-youngest player to ever reach such heights.

One year ago, the Spaniard was ranked 137th in the world. His win at the Farmers Insurance Open the following week altered his trajectory, and he now finds himself only one rung away from the top of the ladder.

While so much focus has been (deservedly) heaped upon players like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, perhaps it's Rahm who has the best chance to eventually unseat world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. He'll have a chance to chip into that deficit this week as he defends his title at Torrey Pines.

7. Speaking of Torrey Pines, it's officially Farmers Insurance Open week which means that Tiger Woods watch is about to kick off in earnest.

It's something of a tradition to see Woods strolling the fairways of the South Course, where he has won eight times including the 2008 U.S. Open. But this week will bring heightened expectation following Woods' better-than-anticipated return from injury last month at the Hero World Challenge.

Granted, Torrey Pines is a far cry from the forgiving fairways of Albany. But if Woods is able to put together two solid rounds and make the cut, it should be seen as a step in the right direction.

Of course, for all of Woods' success in San Diego, it's also the place where he struggled with chipping yips prior to a withdrawal in 2015 and missed the cut last year in his final official PGA Tour start of the year. So his results this time around might be anyone's guess.

Ken Duke is one of the bona fide nice guys on Tour, and he proved it this weekend in Palm Springs.

Duke is playing off past champion status this season, and he unsuccessfully petitioned tournament officials at the CareerBuilder Challenge for a sponsor invite. With 156 players in the field, Duke was the odd man out at No. 157 and relegated to first alternate status.

He didn't get into the tournament proper, but Duke was willing to step in when Corey Pavin's first Tour start since 2015 ended with a withdrawal after just 17 holes. Because of the tournament's pro-am format, Pavin's amateur partner was left without a pro for the next two rounds.

So in came Duke to play what amounted to a 36-hole pro-am, an effort of good faith to help an event that couldn't find room for him at the start of the week:

It's not often you see a pro compete where his score only counts for his amateur partner. But such was Duke's situation this week, and kudos to him for handling it with class.

This week's award winners ...

Unusually Short Stay: Phil Mickelson. Lefty has become a regular in Palm Springs, but three shaky rounds left him with his first missed cut in this event since 1994 - a few months before Rahm was born.

Nice Job, Kid: Sungjae Im. The 19-year-old Korean joined Jason Day as the only two teenagers to win on the Web.com Tour, as Im shot a final-round 65 to win the season opener in the Bahamas.

A for Effort: Andrew Landry. Landry put up a stellar fight in Palm Springs, holing a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff and going shot-for-shot with Rahm for nearly an hour. He came up short in his effort to win for the first time, but Landry certainly has plenty of positive takeaways from his week in the desert.

On the Disabled List: Brooks Koepka. The reigning U.S. Open champ is out for the next couple months because of a torn ligament in his wrist, with hopes of returning before the Masters. The diagnosis comes after Koepka finished last at both the Hero World Challenge and Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Still the Bridesmaid: Ross Fisher. The Englishman now has 14 runner-up finishes on the European Tour after he coughed up a late lead to Fleetwood. It's been a resurgent year for Fisher, including nine top-10s and three runner-ups in his last six starts. But he's still looking for his first win in nearly four years.

More Euro Momentum: Not to be outshone by Fleetwood and McIlroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick (T-3) and Thomas Pieters (T-5) both started the year on the right foot in Abu Dhabi. Both men were at Hazeltine two years ago, and expect one (or both) to factor on the team in Paris this fall.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Bill Haas. A two-time winner and the all-time leading money-winner in Palm Springs, Haas never factored and eventually missed the cut. Honorable mention here goes to 2014 champ Patrick Reed who also stayed home on Sunday.

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Rosaforte Report: Landry's grit born in a Pea Patch

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 22, 2018, 3:40 pm

In this week's Rosaforte Report: The birthplace of Andrew Landry's grit, Tiger's former coach invites instruction debate, downtime may be good for Brooks Koepka, Stacy Lewis is amped for 2018, and a "very boring" birthday gift for Jack Nicklaus.

The beauty and drama of tournament golf played out in the California desert on Sunday when Andrew Landry, a journeyman who learned the game on a shabby nine-hole course called the Pea Patch in Port Groves, Texas, took the hottest young player in the game, Jon Rahm, to four holes of a sudden death playoff before finally succumbing. It was riveting drama in a yard-for-yard, stride-for-stride and putt-for-putt contrast that ended with the sun setting over the Santa Rosa Mountains.

With it, the 23-year-old Rahm went to No. 2 in the world and the 30-year-old Landry, a grinder finally off the Web.com Tour, moved from 184th to a career high 102nd in the world ranking.

The 5-foot-7 Landry, who had his “Tin Cup” moment in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he held the first-round lead and hung with the big boys until a T-15 finish, never backed off in the shadow of the 6-foot-2 Rahm, just as he never backed away from bets in the Tuesday and Saturday games at the Pea Patch. That’s where he would write his name on the chalkboard for the “Dog Fights” that were the club’s version of the SWAT competition that is an Oakmont tradition.

“Those money games are what made us,” Andrew’s brother, Adam, told me the day his sibling became the proverbial no-name leader after shooting the lowest opening round (66) in U.S. Open-Oakmont history.

Andrew Landry lost his money game to Rahm, but his second-place finish still paid out $637,200, putting him over the $1 million mark for the season, and sending him off to the Farmers Insurance Open with a message that this isn’t the last time we’ll hear from him.

“We’ll take it and move on to Torrey Pines,” Landry said before exiting Palm Springs. “It’s obviously a great course for me. I’m driving the ball really well and I’m doing everything really good, so we’ll try again next week.”

GREAT(S) DEBATES: Chris Como may not be Tiger Woods’ teacher anymore, but he was recently appointed director of instruction at Dallas National, one of the plush practice environments in golf. He is also architect of an interesting forum on the mental game and the philosophy of instruction Tuesday at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., which features Claude Harmon III, David Leadbetter, Jim McLean, Mike Adams, Fran Pirozzolo, Hal Sutton, Brad Faxon and Brandel Chamblee.

“It’s an event that invited open dialog and debate about all the topics of golf instruction,” Como said in a text message. “The goal is to put a bunch of smart people in the same room together to move our industry forward in a positive direction.”

This should be entertaining dialog, especially coming two days before Tiger makes his comeback at the Farmers.

Stacy Lewis at the 2017 LPGA Cambia Portland Classic

STACY'S SPARK: On the week when she was named winner of the Ben Hogan Award for overcoming scoliosis, Stacy Lewis did what Hogan epitomized – she doggedly continued to work on her game.

Heading into her 10th season on the LPGA tour and facing her 33rd birthday on Feb. 16, Lewis flew from Houston to Florida, on her way to the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, for checkups with instructor Joe Hallett and performance coach Dave Donatucci.

After workouts and an evaluation at his gym, Donatucci noted the veteran’s vertical leap was 2 inches higher than she’s ever jumped before. “Physically, she’s in a great place,” Donatucci said. Mentally, she is in a great place as well, breaking a 39-month winless streak in September with a victory in the Cambia Portland Classic. After playing lessons at Old Palm and The Floridian, Hallet told me, “There’s an energy there that she’s always had.”

Other than Cristie Kerr, who is 40, the top 10 players in the Race to the CME Globe were all in their 20s. Lewis, who was 13th, told the Houston Chronicle she played some of her best golf the last six to seven tournaments of 2017. “Honestly it doesn’t feel like that start to a new year,” she said. “It just feels like a little bit of a break and I’m starting up again.”

KOEPKA'S HEALING TIME: Claude Harmon III had an interesting take on the torn wrist tendon that will sidelineU.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka until the Masters. “To be honest, the time off for the injury part of it doesn’t worry me,” Harmon said, using last year as his point of reference.

Looking back to the start of 2017, Koepka missed cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open, was T-42 as defending champion of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, missed cuts at the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic, finished T-48 in the no-cut WGC Mexico Championship, and didn’t play on the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Three months later, Koepka overpowered Erin Hills and tied Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open scoring record of 16 under par. Harmon used McIlroy’s third-place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in his return “as something to look at and emulate.”

The hard part is that Koepka closed out the 2017 season with a second-place finish in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and a nine-stroke win over Xander Schauffele in the Dunlop Phoenix, rising to a career high seventh in the world. But between cardio at Joey D’s gym and putting practice (once he gets doctor’s clearance), Harmon doesn’t think Koepka will look at the next three months as down time.

BIG-TIME PERFORMER: Thomas Pieters was back in the top-five of a premier tournament again, finishing T-5 in Abu Dhabi after a run of nine events at the end of 2017 that did not match the first eight months of his rookie year.

Coming off a Ryder Cup performance in 2016 that set European records for most points (4) and wins (4) by a rookie, Pieters was T-2 at the Genesis Open, T-5 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, T-4 at the Masters and solo fourth at the Bridgestone Invitational.

In a news conference after his opening-round 67, Pieters admitted it was nice having fun again and attributed the lack of enjoyment to some struggles he was having off the golf course.

“With a lot of players these days, it’s more off the course than on the course; life in general sometimes causes problems,” swing instructor Pete Cowen told me Monday morning from Dubai, without getting into specifics. “Pieters is looking a lot better. I think he’s now in a great frame of mind.”

After winning the NCAA Championship as a sophomore for Illinois in 2012, the now 25-year-old Belgian is 34th in the world, 33 spots behind his goal.

“Tom Pieters doesn’t want to be a superstar, he just wants to be the best player,” Cowen said. “That’s what drives him … what I like about him. He wants to be the best, and will do whatever it takes to be the best.”

GIFT OF LOVE: What do you give a man that has everything for his 78th birthday? For Barbara Nicklaus it was classified in a text message with a smiley face emoji as a “Very boring!!!!!” gift of two pairs of pants and a shirt.

As you can see from the above photo, just being together with his family and bride of 57 years at The Bears Club was enough.

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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)


Morning Drive

7-11 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)



School of Golf

8-9 p.m.



Morning Drive

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



Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)



Morning Drive

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



Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)



Morning Drive

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



Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)




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.


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.


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.


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, 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.


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, 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.


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.


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, 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