Fowler hopes to rebound from sluggish summer

By Doug FergusonAugust 2, 2016, 4:13 pm

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Rickie Fowler is short on majors, not on class.

He returned to the 18th green at Baltusrol after an exhausting day because he wanted to congratulate the winner. He is friendly with Jimmy Walker and Jason Day, though there is a special connection with Walker. Both work with Butch Harmon. They were partners in all four matches in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, and two matches in the Presidents Cup at South Korea. They were housemates at Royal Troon.

''He's definitely one of my closest buddies on tour,'' Fowler said.

Sunday afternoon, however, was as close as Fowler came to a major championship trophy this year.

He was trending in a big way two years ago when he finished in the top five at all four majors, a feat previously achieved only by Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods until Jordan Spieth joined them last year. Even so, it appeared to be only a matter of time before Fowler broke through.

That now seems like a long time ago.

On a soft course at Baltusrol, in a major that produced five players who had all four rounds in the 60s, Fowler could only manage 70-71 in the last two rounds Sunday and tied for 33rd. That was his best finish of the year in the majors.

The British Open two weeks earlier was the first cut in a major he made this year. He shot 76-73 on the weekend at Royal Troon. He never shot better than 75 at Oakmont. He opened with an 80 at Augusta National.

Golf is hard, and so are the majors.

One year, Fowler had top 5s in all the majors without winning a tournament. The next year, he won a career-best three times and didn't feature in any of the majors.

There is no cause for alarm. He still is No. 7 in the world, and that's not a case of bad math. Fowler won in January at Abu Dhabi against the strongest field of the year on the European Tour. He lost the Phoenix Open in a playoff after leading by two shots with two to play. He had the 54-hole lead at Quail Hollow in early May and closed with a 74.

Since then, his only top 10 was at Firestone, a World Golf Championship with a small field and no cut.

''It's been a little slow the last couple of months,'' Fowler said Monday at the TPC Boston to promote his title defense next month in the Deutsche Bank Championship. ''Just golf's hard. If it was easy, then everyone would be out here playing and I wouldn't have a job. So it's just kind of fighting through it and continuing to put in the work, and it will turn back around here soon.''

The victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship last year, coupled with the victory in Abu Dhabi this year, put Fowler on the cusp of conversations involving the top players. He made people suggest a ''Big Four'' when there really were only three players battling for No. 1. And when Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open to move into the elite in today's game, Fowler lingered as No. 5.

That's no longer the case. Golf is done with ''Big'' any numbers, and Fowler wouldn't be part of that conversation at the moment.

Where the sluggish season has hurt him is in the Ryder Cup standings.

Fowler has dropped all the way to No. 12, a precarious place to be for a couple of reasons. Only the top eight automatically qualify for the U.S. team, and Fowler is running out of time to make it. He chose to play in the Olympics, and he's leaving this week to be there for opening ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

That means he won't be at the Travelers Championship, where the other three Olympians are playing - Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar. All of them are just outside the top eight, and just ahead of Fowler, in the Ryder Cup standings.

It's another reminder how little golf guarantees. Fowler never imagined this being an issue six months ago.

''I took a little bit more time off through the first part of the season to prepare for the busy summer that was ahead,'' Fowler said. ''Unfortunately, I haven't played as well as I would have liked to the past few months, which has kind of put me in a tough position.''

He was in reasonable shape at the halfway point in the last two majors, only to fade on the weekend. And as thrilled as he was for Walker winning a major, Fowler surely took notice that the 37-year-old Texan had been struggling over the previous 15 months.

It can be frustrating that it wasn't him, or it can provide hope that his turn his coming.

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Fleetwood: Carnoustie course record won't help at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, but he’s skeptical that his past experience will help him at The Open.

Last fall, in the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, Fleetwood birdied six of his last eight holes to card a bogey-free, 9-under 63, the lowest score ever at what is widely considered to be the most difficult course in the Open rota.

No one expects a repeat this week at Carnoustie – not with the conditions this brown, firm and fast.

“It’s a completely different course,” Fleetwood said Monday. “Shots that you’ve hit have literally no relevance for a lot of it.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It doesn’t do any harm to have played it for a few years. It doesn’t do any harm to have a course record, but it’s a completely different challenge to what we normally face.”

Fleetwood took a much-needed two-week break after the French Open, deciding to withdraw from last week’s Scottish Open for a bit more time in his own bed. (He said it was his last full week at home until mid-October.) Since his sparkling 63 to nearly steal the U.S. Open, the Englishman said that he’d “run out of steam” but now feels energized.  

“There’s not really a good reason why I couldn’t do it (this week),” he said. “It really doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past. The only thing they could do is build your confidence and give you examples of what you can do – examples that you can end up there, and you have the game to compete.”

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NBC Sports Group Kicks Off All-Encompassing Coverage From The 147TH Open

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 16, 2018, 1:25 pm

Five Past “Champion Golfers of The Year” Highlight Broadcast Team

Technology Enhancements: Links-Optimized Toptracer, Wind Gauges and Bunker Cams, Including “Johnny Miller Bunker” Along 18th Fairway

NBC Sports Group’s all-encompassing coverage from The 147TH Open kicked off today with Golf Central Live From The Open, which throughout the week will deliver nearly 50 hours of news and analysis on Golf Channel from Carnoustie Golf Links on the east coast of Scotland. The network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage will feature another 50 live hours being broadcast on linear television (Golf Channel, NBC), spanning from the opening tee shot at 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday through the final putt on Sunday. An additional 170 complementary hours of streaming coverage will include featured holes and groups, bringing NBC Sports’ overall production to more than 350 total hours surrounding The Open.

“The Open is unique. Golf’s original championship isn’t just steeped in nearly 150 years of tradition; it features a multitude of storylines that fuel our comprehensive coverage plan,” said Mike McCarley, president, Golf, NBC Sports Group. “Fans look forward to the best players in the world conquering nature’s elements – this year at iconic Carnoustie Golf Links – in their quest to become the Champion Golfer of the Year. Our extensive approach utilizes a deep roster of commentators to set the stage leading up to our unprecedented coverage from the first tee shot early Thursday morning through the last putt on Sunday evening.”

Led by the deepest and most-experienced roster of analysts, hosts, reporters and personalities in the game, coverage will set the scene for golf fans with a focus on key storylines and showcase the unique traditions synonymous with golf’s original championship, culminating in the winner being awarded the iconic Claret Jug and introduced as the Champion Golfer of the Year.

“CHAMPION GOLFERS OF THE YEAR” HEADLINE BROADCAST TEAM:

NBC Sports’ live tournament and news coverage will utilize several past “Champion Golfers of the Year,” including NBC Sports’ lead analyst Johnny Miller (1976), as well as Nick Faldo (1987, ’90, ’92) and Justin Leonard (1997). David Duval (2001) and Tom Lehman (1996) are in the field as past champions, and also are scheduled to contribute to coverage. *Full broadcast teams outlined below*

THE MOST LIVE COVERAGE FROM ANY GOLF EVENT: NBC Sports’ 50 hours of live tournament coverage will utilize more than 100 available cameras and employ several technology enhancements to showcase Carnoustie’s distinct characteristics:

  • “Links Toptracer”: A reverse ball flight configuration optimized for links golf will showcase not only where shots land, but also – given players’ strategic use of the ground in links golf – “Links Toptracer” will track how shots roll out.
  • “Bunker Cam”: Coverage will feature NBC Sports’ popular “bunker cam” technology in a total of eight bunkers on Holes 5, 8, 12, 13 and 18, including in several of Carnoustie’s challenging pot bunkers. For the first time, the network will use the embedded camera technology in the face of fairway bunkers (Holes 12 & 18), including the “Johnny Miller bunker,” positioned along the right side of the fairway on the par-4 18th hole. The bunker is named in his honor after it took him two shots to get out of it during The Open in 1975.
  • Influence of Wind: Wind indicators will be utilized around the course to measure changes in wind conditions in real-time, providing immediate ultra-precise data so viewers can easily distinguish what a player is facing over a given shot.
  • “Playing Through” Returns; Callaway to Feature Custom Creative Content: Enhancing both the viewership and commercial experience, NBC Sports’ popular “Playing Through” split-screen commercial format returns for The Open, ensuring viewers don’t miss key stretches of the action during commercial breaks. For the first time at The Open, Callaway has produced an innovative “Playing Through” 30-second spot featuring 2013 Open champion Phil Mickelson. During NBC Sports’ coverage of The Open at Royal Birkdale last year, an additional 200 shots of live golf were shown via “Playing Through.”

MORE THAN 170 HOURS OF COMPLEMENTARY LIVE STREAMING COVERAGE: Complementing traditional linear broadcast coverage, NBC Sports will showcase more than 170 hours of live tournament feeds being streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms and TheOpen.com. These feeds also will be available as part of DirecTV’s featured mosaic coverage of The Open. The four feeds will include a simulcast of tournament coverage; a “Marquee Group,” for both the morning and afternoon waves of competition; a “3-Hole Channel,” featuring tournament play on Holes 8, 9 and 10; and “Spotlight,” (also available in 4K) showcasing competition taking place on Holes 1 and 18, along with competitor interviews on the range and inside the press center.

Additional Highlights Surrounding NBC Sports’ Coverage of The 147TH Open:

  • NBC News’ Dylan Dreyer to Contribute from Carnoustie: Golf enthusiast Dylan Dreyer of NBC News’ TODAY will offer contributions from on-site at Carnoustie. Given the extensive influence weather tends to have on The Open, Dreyer’s experience as a weather anchor and a golf fan will provide a unique perspective.
  • NBC Universo Airing Simulcast of The Open: NBC Universo will deliver live Spanish-language coverage of the third and final rounds of The Open, Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22. Third round coverage will air live from 1-3 p.m. ET on Saturday, and final round coverage will air live from Noon-2 p.m. ET on Sunday. Coverage will be led by play-by-play host Miguel Gurwitz alongside analyst Edgar Lopez.
  • Conor Moore, Vernon Kay to contribute to NBC Sports’ Digital and Social Media Platforms:After grabbing the attention of the golf world leading up to the Masters earlier this year, social media influencer Conor Moore has partnered with NBC Sports to contribute to the network’s digital and social media platforms surrounding The Open, including a series of impersonations of top players in the field. Additional social media efforts throughout the week will offer expanded original content, including: a collaboration with British television host Vernon Kay, reports from Golf Channel social media correspondent Alexandra O’Laughlin, and a Lego recreation of Jean Van de Velde’s collapse in 1999.

NBC Sports Live Tournament Broadcast Team

Tom Abbott, Notah Begay, Billy Ray Brown, Curt Byrum, Nick Faldo, David Feherty, Jerry Foltz, Terry Gannon, Dan Hicks, Peter Jacobsen, Gary Koch, Justin Leonard, Todd Lewis, Jim “Bones” Mackay, Roger Maltbie, Johnny Miller, Frank Nobilo, Jimmy Roberts, Mark Rolfing, Tim Rosaforte, Steve Sands, Mike Tirico

Golf Central Live From The Open Broadcast Team

Cara Banks, Notah Begay, Steve Burkowski, Brandel Chamblee, Jaime Diaz, Rex Hoggard, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard, Rich Lerner, Todd Lewis, Frank Nobilo, Mark Rolfing, Tim Rosaforte, Ken Schofield

Morning Drive

John Cook and Damon Hack on-site at Carnoustie

Complementary Streaming Coverage Broadcast Team

Tom Abbott, Cara Banks, Steve Burkowski, Ryan Burr, Curt Byrum, John Cook, Damon Hack, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard

NBC Universo Broadcast Team

Miguel Gurwitz, Edgar Lopez

Golf Channel Digital

Mercer Baggs, Jay Coffin, Rex Hoggard, Ryan Lavner, Bailey Mosier, Ryan Reiterman, Brandon Tucker

Social Media Contributors

Vernon Kay, Conor Moore, Alexandra O’Laughlin

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What's in the bag: John Deere winner Michael Kim

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 1:11 pm

Michael Kim won his first career PGA Tour event at the John Deere Classic. Here's a look inside his bag:

Driver: Titleist TS2 (10.5 degrees), with Aldila Rogue Black 60X shaft

Fairway wood:  Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Rogue Black 70 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 816H1 (21 degrees), Graphite Design Tour AD DI-85 X Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (4), 718 AP2 (5-PW), with True Temper XP 115 shafts

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS Newport 350 prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 12:20 pm

Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Other notable groupings:

  • Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
  • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
  • World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
  • Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
  • U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
  • Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):

1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva

1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate

1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List

2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris

2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell

2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook

2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry

2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult

3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello

3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry

3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)

3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara

3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang

4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley

4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee

4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na

4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen

4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein

4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood

5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed

5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas

5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park

5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard

6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage

6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner

6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis

6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III

6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis

7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An

7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood

7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker

7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)

7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen

8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman

8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele

8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace

8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li

8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo

9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim

9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp

9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest

9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak

9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace

9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka

10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma

10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox

10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley

10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura

10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith

11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior

11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon