Win bolsters Tide's Shelton's case as nation's best

By Ryan LavnerMarch 12, 2015, 1:38 am

LAS VEGAS – Standing on the 10th tee, Alabama coach Jay Seawell sensed there was something amiss with his star player.

Sophomore Robby Shelton is normally very stoic, quiet, reserved.

Not today.

Wednesday at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, Shelton seemed uncharacteristically amped up – breathless, even, so much so that his coach reminded him a few holes into his round to, you know, inhale.

Four and a half hours later, the reigning NCAA Freshman of the Year was in the ninth fairway, sitting at 7 under for the day and pummeling the top field in college golf by seven shots. His adrenaline-fueled coach still wanted more, of course, but while waiting to play Seawell smiled and told Shelton, “You know, I didn’t recognize you this morning.”

“I was tired of losing,” he replied. “I wanted to win this tournament.”

He did that, all right, and in the process also helped remind everyone here – teammates, opponents, coaches, agents, tournament officials, volunteers, media members – just how talented he is.

Playing alongside No. 3-ranked Lee McCoy of Georgia, Shelton dusted him by nine shots in the final round en route to a tournament-record 15-under 201 (67-69-65). After opening the season with six consecutive top 10s, Shelton earned the fourth individual title of his career, and by far his biggest.

Every chance Seawell gets he reminds observers that we’re watching the best player in college golf. He might be right.

“He just doesn’t take weeks off,” he said. “Heck, he doesn’t take shots off – mentally, physically, emotionally. Sure, he has weeks where things don’t go the way he wants them to. But he still finishes fifth.

To his point: In Shelton’s 19 career college starts, he has four wins, nine other top-five finishes and no result worse than 17th. That’s not a misprint.

“Consistency - I base my entire golf life after that,” Shelton said, “because then you’re basically just like an ATM on the PGA Tour.”

Alabama’s players aren’t padding their stats in cupcake events, either. According to the Sagarin rankings, the Crimson Tide’s schedule is the 15th-most difficult in the country. Shelton doesn’t hide. Everywhere he goes, he’s playing the best.

While his shy personality may keep him out of the spotlight, it’s his bulletproof mental game that distinguishes him from the rest of the elite players.

Shelton is infuriatingly unflappable – just ask the field at last year’s NCAAs. In the quarterfinals against SMU, he flipped a late 2-down deficit and won, 2 up. Later that afternoon, against LSU, he made back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 to win, 2 and 1. And then, in the championship match against Oklahoma State, he ran off six birdies in his last seven holes (and nine in his last 13) to stun the Cowboys, 1 up.

It’s cold-blooded, the way he welcomes a challenge and then crushes the competition.

“I love being under the radar,” he said. “I’m a quiet guy. I love just cruising along.”

On Wednesday, while tied for the lead in the No. 1-ranked college event of the year, he knocked his first approach shot to a foot, went out in 32 on the tougher back nine and matched the low round of the week.

“He just kind of plods,” Seawell said. “He jabs you to death. You don’t really notice that you’re getting nicked, but then you can’t keep up."

Sophomore Dru Love likes to say that he will walk past Shelton and can’t tell whether he’s 3 over or 3 under. And then later, when Shelton turns in the lowest score at the end of the day, he’s not the least bit surprised.

“He’s just so steady,” Love said. “It’s hard to explain how good his golf mind is. He does all the right things to win every week.”

Yet this season is markedly different for Shelton, still only 19.

For starters, this Alabama team is in the midst of a rebuilding effort. The two-time defending NCAA champions lost three starters to graduation and a GB&I Walker Cupper last fall because of homesickness. Here, they finished 14th in the 15-team field, and Seawell said this was the first time since May 2010 that his squad started on the back nine on the final day, a spot usually reserved for the also-rans.

Unlike last year, when Shelton was sheltered by three All-American seniors, this is undoubtedly his team. No, he hasn’t become a rah-rah cheerleader or, really, any more vocal; he just prefers to lead by example, with his play.

His body is changing, too. Since he arrived in Tuscaloosa he has packed on 20 pounds of muscle (up to 185), gained 30 yards of distance (now above-average in length) and increased his ball speed by about 15 mph. Despite drawing the attention of every top agent, Shelton has already committed to spending at least another year in school.  

“I just don’t think I’m ready yet,” he said. “I need one more year.”

Looking for a PGA Tour comparison? Shelton possesses many of the same attributes as Jim Furyk: Consistent. Student of the game. Blue-collar attitude. Complete command of his swing. Dogged competitor. Mentally strong. He has the results to back it up, too. 

“He’s ready for his coming-out party,” Seawell said. “He’s not just a little shy kid anymore. He’s ready for what his game is going to give him. Physically and mentally and emotionally, he has a chance to be a star on the big tour.” 

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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  

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; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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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.

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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.