Tales from the Tour: Phil's tee; Rory's autograph

By Doug FergusonDecember 31, 2014, 2:05 am

Jim Mahoney parted with a tiny piece of U.S. Open history with hopes it could change Phil Mickelson's luck.

It was a broken tee in a plastic bag.

''A souvenir that money can't buy,'' Mahoney said in a telephone interview from his home in Connecticut.

Mahoney brought the tee to the Deutsche Bank Championship, along with a letter explaining the circumstances around it. This was the last tee Mickelson used at Winged Foot in the 2006 U.S. Open. His drive sailed far to the left on the 18th hole, like so many of his tee shots that Sunday, and caromed off a tent. From there, Lefty made double bogey and finished one shot behind.

The U.S. Open remains the only major keeping him from the career Grand Slam. Winged Foot haunts him more than his other five runner-up finishes.

''I was on the tee at Winged Foot, me and a friend of mine,'' Mahoney said. ''Phil got out his driver and was bouncing the ball off the face. Phil looked over to the 17th green and there's a scoreboard. It showed that (Colin) Montgomerie had just double bogeyed the 18th. His whole demeanor changed. But he hits this horrendous slice.''

Thousands of fans who had crowded around the tee box took off down the sides of the fairway. Mahoney and his friend walked across the teeing ground.

''We're the only ones there. The marshals gave up,'' he said. ''They were the last group to hit. And there's Phil's tee.''

Even after it was over, Mahoney's said his friends told him he should put the tee on a plaque. Instead, he stored it in a drawer. He wanted Mickelson to win that day, as did half of New York. He roots for him at every major.

And that's why he thought it might help to give it back.

Mahoney approached Mickelson's caddie during the pro-am at the Deutsche Bank Championship in September. He simply handed him an envelope that contained the broken tee and the letter.

''I will trade the tee for a photo-op,'' said the letter, addressed to Mickelson and Jim ''Bones'' Mackay. ''You can make peace with it and win the Open in 2015. Good luck.''

Mackay was looking for Mahoney after the round for the photo. He never found him.

Moments like these give tournament golf its texture, stories that go beyond numbers on a scorecard and trophies on a mantle. Here are more from this year's collection of ''Tales from the Tour.''


Rory McIlroy had a long day at The Players Championship, and it wasn't over when he signed his card. There was an interview with Sky Sports, PGA Tour radio, Golf Channel, another radio station, the writers and then the PGA Tour's website.

A large crowd behind a gated section began calling out to him as McIlroy walked away, wanting his autograph. McIlroy looked at the crowd, then at the clubhouse.

That's when his caddie, J.P. Fitzpatrick, stepped in.

''Those kids over there have followed you all day,'' he told McIlroy. ''You need to sign for them.''

McIlroy reached for the pen in his back pocket, walked over to the kids and spent the next 15 minutes with them.


Monday at the PGA Championship was a time to get registered, maybe hit a few putts but otherwise take it easy during the busiest stretch of the year. Matt Kuchar intended to do just that, and he pulled up a chair at a patio table to join Jim ''Bones'' Mackay, the caddie for Phil Mickelson.

Mackay pointed out that Kuchar was sitting in a famous chair.

OK, it wasn't the same chair. But it's where Rocco Mediate was sitting at Valhalla during the 2000 PGA Championship. Mediate was close to qualifying for the Presidents Cup that year. The chair broke suddenly and Mediate injured an already tender back. He withdrew from the final major. He didn't make the Presidents Cup team.

That was before Kuchar joined the PGA Tour. He had never heard the story.

Kuchar was running errands that afternoon when he was stuck in traffic so long that he wound up with a sore back. Three days later, he withdrew from the PGA at Valhalla.

Beware the chair.


Jordan Spieth describes her as the girl who keeps the family grounded, and the funniest member of the Spieth clan.

That would be Ellie, his 14-year-old sister who was born with neurological challenges. And she was part of the entourage at the Deutsche Bank Championship, watching big brother Jordan on the golf course while walking with her other brother, Steven, who plays basketball at Brown. She was talking to anyone who would listen about her big brothers and what they do.

The gallery was held back behind the seventh green while players and their caddies got on carts to take them to the next tee. Spieth spotted his little sister and waved her over. Ellie ran to the cart and sat on her big brother's lap as they drove off.

She looked like the happiest person at TPC Boston. And so did Spieth.


British humor has no rival in golf.

At the annual caddie awards dinner at the HSBC Champions, a slide show presenting the year in golf was on the screen. Bubba Watson won the Masters. Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open. Andrew Cotter of the BBC was the host for the dinner, and according to several caddies in attendance, Cotter mentioned how it wasn't long before one player took over the world of golf by winning two majors.

The dramatic commentary was accompanied by the next photo - Colin Montgomerie.


On Monday after the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the course was filled with a few corporate partners and several members of the CBS Sports crew, mainly the staff that never gets attention or publicity for the invaluable work on the broadcast.

Jim Nantz treated this Monday like any other. He lives not far from the 18th green. His wife, Courtney, was in the final months of her pregnancy. Every morning, they take as beautiful of a walk as there is in golf along the coast at Pebble Beach to the par-3 seventh green, where they were married.

This walk took longer than usual. Each time Nantz passed a group from the CBS crew, they wanted to hear his commentary on their shots.

Nantz delivered, as he often does.


Patrick Rodgers of Stanford was honored at the Memorial with the Jack Nicklaus Award as college player of the year. That included a trip to Muirfield Village and a presentation hosted by Nicklaus.

That was memorable on its own.

Typical of Nicklaus, he stayed around after the presentation to talk with Rodgers and the rest of the winners from the various divisions. Looking at Rodgers right in the eye, Nicklaus said, ''You ever need anything at all, just call me.''

Nicklaus didn't break the eye contact until Rodgers nodded back.

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Golf Channel Ramps Up Six Weeks of Comprehensive College Golf Coverage Culminating With The NCAA Women's and Men's Golf Championships, May 18-30

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 24, 2018, 9:00 pm

Golf Channel to Announce NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships Regional Selections on Wednesday, April 25 and Wednesday, May 2

 Golf Channel to Expand Coverage of NCAA Women’s and Men’s Regional Championships  

Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys, a Four-Part Docu-Series Executive Produced by Rickie Fowler, Premieres on Golf Channel Monday, May 7

 More than 100 News and Tournament Hours Planned for Women’s and Men’s Championships, Back-to-Back Weeks at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

 

ORLANDO, Fla., April 24, 2018 – With conference championships underway, golf fans will be able to follow their favorite college golf programs and alma maters as they attempt to qualify and compete in the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships in May at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., as Golf Channel expands its comprehensive on-air and digital collegiate golf coverage the next six weeks.

“Through our new long-term partnership, the NCAA and Golf Channel are successfully raising the profile of college golf by shining a spotlight on the game’s future stars and the passion these programs have in competing for national championships,” said Molly Solomon, Golf Channel executive vice president of content and executive producer. “With our expanded coverage of the regional championships and partnering with OSU alum Rickie Fowler for Driven, our viewers will be treated to the most college golf coverage in network history leading into the NCAA Golf National Championships.”

REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS SELECTION ANNOUNCEMENTS: On Wednesday, April 25 at 5:30 p.m. ET (women) and continuing Wednesday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET (men), Golf Channel will announce the teams and individuals selected by the NCAA to participate in the women’s and men’s regional championships, the first step on the road to the NCAA Golf Championships. Live streaming coverage of selection shows will be available through the Golf Channel Mobile App or GolfChannel.com, and Golf Channel will aggregate social content for the shows using the hashtag #NCAAGolf. 

  • Women’s Golf Championships Regional Selections, Wednesday, April 25, 5:30 p.m. ET: Golf Central will announce (live) the 72 teams and24 individuals selected to compete in the four NCAA Women’s Regional Championships, May 7-9 (18 teams and six individuals per regional). 24 teams and 12 individuals will advance from regional sites to the national championships.
  • Men’s Golf Championships Regional Selections, Wednesday, May 2, 5:30 p.m. ET: Golf Central will announce the 81 teams and 45 individuals selected to compete in the six NCAA Men’s Regional Championships, May 14-16 (13 teams and 10 individuals at three regionals and 14 teams and five individuals at three regionals). 30 teams and six individuals will advance from regional sites to the national championships.

GOLF CHANNEL TO EXPAND REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS COVERAGE: New for 2018, Golf Channel will feature expanded coverage of the final day of the NCAA women’s and men’s regional championships, Wednesday May 9 and Wednesday, May 16, respectively. Beginning within Morning Drive, Golf Channel’s daily lifestyle news show, and continuing hourly throughout the day via live Golf Central news updates from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. ET that will be published to Golf Channel Digital and Golf Channel’s social media handles. Coverage will conclude with live news segments, featuring highlights and interviews, announcing the teams and individuals who qualified for the women’s and men’s national championships.

RICKIE FOWLER AND NBC SPORTS COLLABORATE ON FOUR-PART DOCU-SERIES DRIVEN: OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS: NBC Sports Group is teaming up with PGA TOUR superstar Rickie Fowler to give viewers a dramatic behind-the-scenes look into Fowler’s alma mater in a four-part documentary series – Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys. Driven, executive produced by Fowler, will premiere Monday, May 7 at 10 p.m. ET and continue Monday, May 14 (10 p.m. ET) and Monday, May 21 (8 p.m. ET). The finale will air on NBC on Saturday, June 16, recapping their season that culminates with a run at a potential 11th national championship, taking place on their home turf.

NCAA GOLF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS COVERAGE: Contested in back-to-back weeks, May 18-30 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., Golf Channel will dedicate its full suite of production resources to the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships, featuring nearly 30 combined hours of live tournament coverage. In addition, Golf Central will feature nearly 30 hours of combined pre-and post-event live news coverage produced on location, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and Golf Channel Digital.                                             

Golf Channel NCAA Women’s Golf Championships Coverage

Monday, May   21       

Individual National   Championship  

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

Tuesday, May   22          

Quarterfinals, Team   Match Play  

11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET   (Live)

Tuesday, May   22                 

Semifinals, Team Match   Play 

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

Wednesday, May   23            

Team National   Championship  

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

 

Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage

Monday, May   28      

Individual National   Championship  

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

Tuesday, May   29          

Quarterfinals, Team   Match Play  

11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET   (Live)

Tuesday, May   29                 

Semifinals, Team Match   Play 

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

Wednesday, May   30            

Team National   Championship  

4-8 p.m. ET (Live)

 

COLLEGE CENTRAL – GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL COVERAGE: Golf Channel is providing comprehensive coverage leading up to and during the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships as part of College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, Ryan Lavner and Steve Burkowski, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS NEWS COVERAGE: Golf Channel will cover the conference championships with scores and analysis across its on-air news platforms - Morning Drive and Golf Central – and online within College Central.

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With help from partner, Burns could secure Tour status

By Ryan LavnerApril 24, 2018, 8:33 pm

AVONDALE, La. – This week Sam Burns has yet another chance to secure special temporary membership for the rest of the PGA Tour season, but his partner may determine whether he’s ultimately successful.

In an interesting twist, Burns is burning one of his seven available sponsor exemptions this week at the Zurich Classic. He is 80 non-member points shy of securing special temporary membership, which would allow him to receive unlimited sponsor exemptions for the rest of the season.

Burns needs at least a two-way tie for fourth to earn the necessary points, but it won’t all depend on how he plays this week. The Zurich is a two-man game, with two rounds apiece of fourballs and alternate shot.

Burns' partner this week is William McGirt. Their games couldn’t be more different – Burns ranks eighth on Tour in driving distance, at 309 yards per pop, while McGirt is 143rd (290) – but they hope to compliment each other over four days at TPC Louisiana.


Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“I got a good pair of spurs sharpened up last week while I was in San Antonio,” joked McGirt, who is looking for his first top-10 since the fall. “I told him I was going to ride him hard this week. It’ll be fun.”

Burns will have at least two (and maybe three) more opportunities to earn status, with starts lined up next week at the Wells Fargo Championship and also at the Memorial. He doesn’t face quite as much pressure because he won earlier this month on the Web.com Tour and currently sits fourth on the money list, essentially locking up his PGA Tour card for next season.

“It’s obviously nice to have that win,” he said, “but at the same time you have to be careful and make sure you play enough out there to where you’re secure for sure. You don’t want to get at the end of the year and then have two or three events left and you have to make a certain amount of money to get your card.

“So I’m just going step by step, tournament by tournament, and trying to figure out what’s the best route.”   

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Spieth-Palmer draw Rahm-Bryan early at Zurich

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 24, 2018, 7:49 pm

AVONDALE, La. – The PGA Tour’s only team event gets underway Thursday at the Zurich Classic. Here are some featured groups to watch at TPC Louisiana.

Justin Thomas-Bud Cauley/Daniel Berger-Gary Woodland: 8:39 a.m. ET Thursday off 10 tee, 2:08 p.m. Friday off 1: 

The Bama boys, Thomas and Cauley, team up for the second consecutive year, after tying for fifth a year ago on the strength of a final-round 61. Berger teamed with Thomas Pieters a year ago but missed the cut, so he’ll try his luck with Woodland, who also shares a management team at Excel Sports.

Jordan Spieth-Ryan Palmer/Jon Rahm-Wesley Bryan: 8:52 a.m. Thursday off 10, 2:19 p.m. Friday off 1: 

Spieth and Palmer finished fourth a year ago, five shots back of the leaders. Spieth is making his first start since his epic Sunday run at the Masters. Rahm and Bryan have opposite strengths – Rahm is one of the game’s preeminent drivers, while Bryan, statistically, is one of the worst – but the Spaniard is coming off a European Tour victory at home. Another wrinkle here: Even though no world-ranking points are on offer this week, Rahm is set to supplant Spieth as the third-ranked player in the world.

Jason Day-Ryan Ruffels/Brooks Koepka-Marc Turnesa: 1:31 p.m. Thursday off 1, 9:42 a.m. Friday off 10: 

Two stars with questionable sidekicks. Ruffels is an up-and-coming Australian who has been playing primarily in Latin America. (He also shares a manager with Day.) Turnesa, meanwhile, got the call late last week from Koepka, who is finally ready to return from a 15-week layoff because of a wrist injury. They both play out of Medalist in South Florida, but Turnesa, 40, has turned his attention to real estate instead of professional golf.

Patrick Reed-Patrick Cantlay/Jonas Blixt-Cameron Smith: 1:44 p.m. Thursday off 1, 9:53 a.m. Friday off 10: 

Reed makes his first start as Masters champion after taking off the past two weeks. This duo tied for 14th last year, undone by a Saturday 75 in foursomes play. Blixt and Smith are the defending champions, after shooting 27 under par last year and holding off Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown in a playoff. Blixt doesn’t have a top-10 on Tour since then, while Smith tied for fifth at the Match Play and the Masters.

Justin Rose-Henrik Stenson/Bubba Watson-Matt Kuchar: 1:57 p.m. Thursday off 1, 10:04 a.m. Friday off 10:

Rose and Stenson, who have proved to be a formidable pairing in the Ryder Cup, were a stunning missed cut last year, after shooting 6 under par for two rounds. Watson teamed up with J.B. Holmes to finish fifth last year, while Kuchar is making his first start in this event since 2009.

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Zurich Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 24, 2018, 7:09 pm

The PGA Tour tries team competition for the second year in a row at the Zurich Classic. Here are the key stats and information for play at TPC LouisianaClick here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $7,200,000 ($1,036,800 to each winner)

Course: TPC Louisiana (par 72; 7,425 yards)

Defending champions: Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt (-27) in a playoff over Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner


News and notes

• All four reigning major champions - Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed - are in the field this week. This is the first time all four reigning major winners have played this event since 1984 (Ben Crenshaw, Larry Nelson, Tom Watson, Hall Sutton).

 Both members of winning team this week will earn an official PGA Tour victory, two-year Tour exemptions, and exemptions into the Players and PGA Championships.

• That said, no Official World Golf Ranking points are awarded from this event and winners will not earn exemptions into the 2019 Masters.


Notable teams in the field 

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson

 Rose won this event in 2014, when it was individual stroke play. From 2012-16, he was a combined 60 under at TPC Louisiana in stroke play, seven shots better than any other player.

 Rose has dramatically improved his performance on the greens from last season, moving from 123rd in strokes gained-putting to 10th.

 Stenson's last three starts look like this: solo 4th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T-6 at the Houston Open, and T-5 at the Masters.

Jon Rahm and Wesley Bryan

 Rahm is coming off a victory at the Spanish Open, his second worldwide win in 2018 and fifth since Jan. 2017.

 Rahm outdrives Bryan by an average of 30 yards off the tee, 305.1 to 276.3.

 Rahm is second on Tour in the strokes gained-off the tee, while Bryan is 210th, last among qualifying players.

Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay

 Reed is just the fifth reigning Masters champ to play the Zurich since 2000, joining Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson (twice), and Bubba Watson.

 Reed has gone T-2, T-7, T-9, WIN in his last four starts.

 Cantlay broke through for his maiden PGA Tour win earlier this season at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.