Couples leads Senior Players; Norman falters

By Associated PressJune 29, 2012, 9:58 pm

PITTSBURGH – The heat is on at the Senior Players Championship.

Fred Couples is taking advantage of it.

With sweltering temperatures easing the stiffness in his chronically bad back, the defending champion birdied the final three holes Friday for a 7-under 63 and the second-round lead at Fox Chapel.

Couples, the winner last year at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., reached 11 under on a day when the temperature reached 96 degrees with a heat index of 105.

''The heat helps,'' said Couples, the 1992 Masters champion. ''I have some heat on my back to start the day, and then being hot and humid certainly was a good thing.''

Couples has complained about stiffness all week, saying his back is sore after receiving his regular anti-inflammatory injections two weeks ago. His game hasn't shown it. Couples, who has one bogey through two rounds, has birdied the two par-5 holes both days and has hit 36 of 38 greens.

He birdied four of the first six holes and closed the same way, with birdies at 13, 16, 17 and 18.

''It was a great day full of a lot of good shots, but a couple long putts were made,'' Couples said. ''Any time you're going to shoot a low round on a course that I think is like this, you're going to have to do that.''

He won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in March for his seventh victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Joe Daley was a stroke back after a 64. He leads the field with 16 birdies during the tournament thus far.

Dating to his previous start at the Senior PGA Championship in May, Daley is a combined 22 under in his past four rounds. He finished 66-64 (12 under) at the Senior PGA Championship to climb into a tie for fourth.

''Why not?'' Daley said when asked if he went into the tournament thinking there were that many birdie opportunities available. ''Why limit yourself? You have to have the right mindset.''

Tom Lehman, the Regions Tradition winner in his last start, was third at 7 under after a 66. He extended his streak of consecutive rounds in the 60s to 10.

Mark Calcavecchia, coming off a victory Sunday in the Montreal Championship, was 6 under along with Bill Glasson, Michael Allen and Jay Don Blake. Calcavecchia and Blake shot 65, Glasson had a 67, and Allen a 68.

Olin Browne had a tournament-record 62 to reach 5 under. After putting 35 times in opening with a 73 Thursday, the reigning U.S. Senior Open champion drove to nearby Oakmont Country Club to work on his putting. Oakmont will host its record ninth U.S. Open in 2016.

''Obviously, that paid off a little bit,'' Browne said after putting 28 times in the second round.

''I got a couple good bounces. When I mis-hit a shot, it covered the bump and got up there close and I was able to take advantage of that. It was just one of those days where I hit the ball pretty well but when I didn't hit it well, I got a good bounce and it went my way.''

Glasson posted his second consecutive four-birdie round of 67, and Calcavecchia made a late charge up the leaderboard by birdying the final three holes to move into a tie for fourth.

''I didn't drive particularly well, but it seemed like the holes that I missed fairways we had back pins, so it allowed me to kind of chase the ball on the greens,'' Glasson said. ''So had they been front pins, I would have had a hard time today.''

First-round leader Bruce Vaughan was 2 under. He followed a 64 with a 74 that included seven bogeys. Fred Funk, second after the first round, was 3 under after a 72.

Tom Watson also was 3 under after a 67. He's returning from a wrist injury that sidelined him since April.

Greg Norman was 1 over after a 74. He's playing his first Champions Tour event since 2009

The tournament is the third of five Champions Tour majors.

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Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle

By Grill Room TeamApril 19, 2018, 4:53 pm

Really, the headline says it all.

"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.



Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.