Theres Still Plenty to Watch

By Brian HewittSeptember 24, 2007, 4:00 pm
By now you have to have seen the clips on TV or YouTube or at least read about the Florida student who was stunned by the cops when he hijacked the microphone at a John Kerry appearance last week.
 
There are no tasers in golf.
 
Which is just another reason to appreciate the game that is such a great sport.
 
But its that time of the year when friends are asking me if theres any compelling reason to follow golf at its highest levels.
 
Since I work for GOLF CHANNEL, it would be sufficient to tell them that without coverage 12 months of the year I would be without a paycheck and health benefits.
 
But they know that. Some of them have been satiated by the four majors, the FedExCup, the WGC Championships, the LPGA and hundreds of individual dramas that have played themselves out on courses all over the world in 2007.
 
In no particular order, and for reasons good and bad, we have put headlines on the stories of Tiger Woods, Tadd Fujikawa, Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Steve Stricker, Colt Knost, Oakmont, Stack and Tilt, Annikas neck, Ernies knee, High Carolinas, Boo, Carnasty, Drivers shaped like boxes, 82, 61, 19 and 13.
 
The list goes on.
 
The casual sports fan has moved on to the NFL where, perhaps, they do need tasers. So much bad news in such a short period of time. Bill Belichick, the video cheater; Michael Vick, the dog abuser; Pacman Jones, the barfly. Sadly, that list goes on, too.
 
Major League Baseball sweeps to its season-ending crescendo with the faint and extremely distant possibility of a Cubs-Red Sox World Series which would pit Wrigley Field vs. Fenway Park. The ratings would spike through the ceiling while the people of New England and the Midwest put away their golf clubs and glue themselves to their televisions as the cold weather advances.
 
Before you know it Lebron James will be driving the lane and creating more unimaginable vertical magic and Sidney Crosby will be making you forget he does what he does while wearing ice skates.
 
But there is a lot of golf left. Good stuff if you know where to look. The Fall Series is full of players talented enough to have big dreams. The money list has replaced the FedExCup points for now. And a bunch of grinders are out there trying to pay attention to their next shot without fixating on the 125 number. Another group of players is checking the top 30 spots on the money list every Sunday night. Their goal is to get one of those coveted invitations to next Aprils Masters.
 
Up until this week my favorite late season story was the ascent of Steve Stricker into the heat of the $10 million FedExCup footrace with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. A more unassuming professional golfer than Steve Stricker you will never meet.
 
Now I am enjoying the recent successes of Steve Flesch. A little more edgy on and off the golf course than Stricker, Flesch is, nevertheless, totally unaffected by the fact that hes a hot shot in the minds of so many others.
 
Prior to the PGA Championship Flesch won at Reno-Tahoe and ended a three-year winless drought. Then he caught fire again at Turning Stone where he took a four-shot lead into the final round of the first event of the Fall Series.
 
That lead shrunk to two quickly Sunday and expanded back to five by the end of his eighth hole. From there, Flesch guarded his advantage and cruised to a two-shot win over Michael Allen and a $1.08 million payday.
 
I remember, earlier this year, visiting with Flesch on the putting green in New Orleans. He had chalked off a line about 6 feet in length. And he was stroking putt after putt after putt. We talked, gossiped and kibitzed as he putted for close to half an hour. I wasnt keeping track but his percentage was in the high, high 90s.
 
At one point he looked up and said, After a while your ball actually starts to putt a groove in the grass. It gets hard to miss. Its good for your confidence.
 
That night Flesch took three of us GOLF CHANNELers out to dinner at Emerils restaurant. You learn in this business never to root against anybody. But it gets hard, at times, not to root FOR certain players. Stricker and Flesch are among the latter. There are plenty of others. Natalie Gulbis is that way on the womens side and its not just because of the way she looks. Shes a good person. So is Mike Weir. And Joe Durant. And, yes, that list goes on, too.
 
Maybe Im nave, but I just dont think there are any pit bull entrepreneurs among the card-carrying members of the PGA or LPGA tours.
 
There are no tasers in golf. And if you have passion for the game, theres no reason to stop paying attention to the results just because were about to arrive in October.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Turning Stone Resort Championship
     
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
  • Getty Images

    Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

    Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

    Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

    Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.



    "I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

    Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

    But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

    "What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

    Getty Images

    Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

    By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

    Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

    And now, Greg Norman.

    Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

    He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.

     

    Getty Images

    DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

    With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

    Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

    Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

    Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

    16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

    20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

    100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

    Getty Images

    Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

    Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

    Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

    “We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

    “The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

    The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

    (All Times Local)

    Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

    Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

    Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

    Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

    Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

    Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

    Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

    NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.