Tiger the Whistle Stop Tour Pt 2

By Casey BiererDecember 9, 2006, 5:00 pm
Editors note: Golf Channel business reporter Casey Bierer participated recently in Nike Golfs Whistle Stop Tour; a press and media junket that traveled a group of Nike execs and invited media to four cities in 48 hours. This column is the second entry of a multi-part series chronicling the journey. The trip was recorded on video and will be shown in multiple parts on The Golf Channel the week of December 11.
 
From Part One:
Heres a recipe we havent seen before. Take the following key ingredients: one Nike GV jet, four cities in 48 hours, three PGA TOUR stars - Tiger Woods, David Duval and Jason Gore - a number of key Nike Golf executives, five print journalists, one television reporter (me) and the launch of two new Nike drivers. Mix thoroughly. The result? Nikes Whistle Stop Tour (WST); a media junket extravaganza that, even by Nike standards, is unprecedented.
 
The assignment given to me by The Golf Channel ' create a reporters first person video journal of the trip. Roll tape as much as possible. When in doubt shoot first, beg for forgiveness later. And, oh yeah, interview Tiger Woods. This was going to be fun.
 
Part Two:
Heres a news flash, golf fans. If you ever have a chance to buy your own Gulfstream GV private jet, do it. Dont hesitate for even a minute. Its a total no brainervery cool way to travel. That was one of the main motivating factors for me getting up at 4:45 in the morning on Tuesday; the second morning in a row I got up at a time I usually refer to as night. The first official day of Nikes Whistle Stop Tour. The WST journalist group was scheduled to meet in the hotel lobby at 6:15 am for our ride over to Hillsboro Airport where Nike keeps its jets. Yes jets as in plural. The only thing better than one GV would probably be two GVs. More on that later.
 
Four-forty-five a.m. comes pretty darn early, especially when the day before started at 4:00 am and involved flying across the country; interviewing the president of Nike Golf, Bob Wood; then participating in an icebreaker dinner. Thats a dinner where a bunch of people who dont really know each other all that well (most of us didnt know each other at all) imbibe sufficiently so as to break down what is normally good business etiquette, and in place of those manners loosen up a bit, crack a couple of jokesyou know, let your hair down. I participated in the icebreaker liberally. Hence, 4:45 am came early for me.
 
Let me tell you a little more about dinner. I, by dumb good luck, sat in a corner seat next to the head of the table ' the head of the table on my end being occupied by Bob Wood. I was particularly interested in hearing what Bob had to say about Tiger. I would be meeting and interviewing Tiger for the first time the following day. And so the conversation went
 
Bob: No, I mean, Tiger is just one of those rare people you meet who, no matter what they would choose to do in life, they would be great at it. The fact that it turns out to be golf, we should all thank our lucky stars for that. The fact that hes with Nike, are you kidding me? For us as a companywe werent really in the golf business 10 years agoand now look where we are. Its huge. Its bigger than huge. Tiger is truly bigger than life.
 
Casey: Whats Tiger like, though, as a person? The Tiger you have gotten to know
 
Bob: Hes likehes just a cool guy. When you get to know him, hes just a regular guy but very cool. Great personality, wonderful sense of humor, astute business man, amazing athlete ' obviously ' but I think the thing that strikes me most about Tiger is his humanity. Hes just real. When hes with you he is WITH you. Not somewhere out in left field with his eyes looking in 15 different directions. Not like hes doing you a favor by being there. Youll see when you interview him tomorrow. Hey, can you pass the bread over here?
 
Casey: But, theres got to be a tough side to him also, right? The guy is bulletproof on the golf course. Dont nice guys finish last?
 
Bob: On the golf course, and I think Tiger will be the first to admit this, its a different deal. He kicks in some other geargoes to a different place in his head. His competitive instincts take over and the desire to perform up to his own expectations and his focus to win consume him. Im not sure if Tiger is even aware the rest of the world exists when hes competing on the golf course.
 
This was but a trace of remembrance I had from the night before as our shuttle van approached the gate to Nikes private hanger. The sign read NIKE AIR. Nike Air! Are you kidding me? Private airport, private hanger, private jet overload was about to kick in. Keep in mind its still dark out. To add to the surreal nature of things, it was snowingheavily. It rarely if ever snows in Portland. There was actual accumulation on the ground. The shuttle vans hydraulic front door was iced shut. Our driver had to use the side emergency door which he punched from the inside with his fists to break the ice seal. When we exited the van we heard, Welcome to Nike Air. Watch your step. The ground is very slippery. Thats not good for flying is it? Snow, ice and slippery?
 
As I made my way with the group, I looked up to see ' bathed in the light flooding out of the open hanger door ' a large, sleek jet a quarter in the hanger and three quarters out of the hanger. Nose in, body and tail out. White jet, very clean, no markingsextremely impressive looking as a crew of people busied themselves around it in preparation for our flight to Los Angeles.
 
But, with the bad weathersnow, icewould we be able to fly? And even if we could go, surely the flight would be delayed. That would be awful. There was an incredibly tight and complicated schedule to keep. Tiger Woods was waiting for us in Los Angeles. David Duval was meeting us in the afternoon to continue on to Scottsdale. Everything was planned down to the last minute and if our plane took off late it could spell disaster for the entire rest of the Whistle Stop Tour. The WST group had grown noticeably quiet.
 
Email your thoughts to Casey Bierer
 
Related Links:
  • Tiger and the Whistle Stop Tour, Part I
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    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

    Getty Images

    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.