After Further Review: Bubba's back after NTO win

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Bubba Watson's colorful personality, why he's a favorite for the Masters, Sunday's great finish at the Northern Trust Open and the secret to Riviera's greatness.

“The whole year is about rejoicing,” Bubba Watson said late Sunday afternoon. “I’m thinking about how blessed I am to be playing on the PGA Tour.”

Apparently, Bubba forgot the guiding principles for his 2014 when he barked at cellphone-wielding spectators lurking behind tee boxes and fairway rope lines at Riviera.

The emotional and tender Bubba – the guy who chokes up when talking about his wife and young son – is so at odds with the angry and agitated Bubba, the one who occasionally surfaces in stressful situations on the PGA Tour. It stands to reason, then, that many fans can’t decide whether to love or loathe his split personality, but the reality is this: When Bubba wins, so does the PGA Tour. He remains the game’s ultimate character. – Ryan Lavner

Bubba Watson should be one of the early favorites going to the Masters – if not the favorite.

Watson’s victory Sunday at the Northern Trust Open was impressive in how he dissected historic Riviera. He didn’t just overpower this classic layout, which was set up firmer and faster than long-time observers have ever seen it.

Watson led the field in driving distance, but he was also eighth in driving accuracy. His towering iron shots helped him finish third in greens in regulation. He was seventh in total putting on Riviera's slick greens.

That’s a terrific formula to win at Augusta National. Watson’s game looked dialed in perfectly to help him make a run at winning another green jacket. Now, if he can just keep his game dialed in for another eight weeks. – Randall Mell

Great finish, great golf course, good field.

In the ultimate analysis of this week’s Northern Trust Open, one is saddled with the unmistakable reality that everything about Los Angeles’ annual PGA Tour stop is top notch other than the tee sheet.

And this just isn’t about Tiger Woods’ yearly pass on his hometown event. Although the world No. 1 has not played the Northern Trust Open since 2006, the same could be said for Phil Mickelson, who passed on the event for the first time since ’06, and world No. 2 Adam Scott, and No. 3 Henrik Stenson. You get the idea. The point is Los Angeles deserves better. – Rex Hoggard

There are plenty of ways to rate a course as “great,” but my personal checklist begins with its inclusionary characteristics.

When a tournament is held there, does it offer a level playing field for all types of competitors? In other words, can anyone win there?

At Riviera this weekend, the list of contenders included Masters champions and a Monday qualifier, phenoms and journeymen, big bombers and peashooters, drawers and faders, ball-strikers and rock-rollers.

It was like the Statue of Liberty of golf tournaments: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ...”

Not many tracks can be this democratic, instead offering better chances to a single category of player. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, but the leaderboard at Riviera once again proved that the venerable course is among the best of the bunch on the PGA Tour schedule. – Jason Sobel

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.

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Watch: 100mph storm destroys tent at St. Andrews

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 20, 2018, 4:25 pm

The Old Course at St. Andrews has endured all sorts of wacky weather over the years, but things ratcheted up a notch this week with the arrival of Storm Ali.

The first named storm of the season struck Wednesday, bringing 100 mph gusts, killing two people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.

According to the Courier no one was injured in the St. Andrews area, but a video posted from the home of golf shows just how powerful the storm was as wind absolutely destroyed one of the hospitality tents set up in advance of the Dunhill Links Championship:

While plenty of clean-up is sure to be needed, officials say the Dunhill Links, which also be conducted at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, will go on as scheduled October 4-7.

Getty Images Tour releases 2019 schedule, trims Finals

By Will GraySeptember 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

The Tour has officially released its full schedule for the 2019 season, a slate that will feature a Labor Day finish and only three Finals events as opposed to four.

The developmental circuit will feature 27 tournaments, the same number as this season. Things will kick off in the Bahamas for the third straight year, as two events in the islands begin a stretch of five events in as many weeks across four different countries.

The Feb. 14-17 Suncoast Classic in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., will be the first domestic event of 2019, and one of three new events to the schedule. Also added are the Evans Scholars Invitational in suburban Chicago and the TPC Colorado Championship in Berthoud, Colo.

But with the PGA Tour overhauling its schedule and dropping a FedExCup playoff event to finish ahead of football season, the schedule also features changes next year. The Tour Finals, which are used to determine the 50 players who will be promoted to the PGA Tour for the following season, will now feature only three events and follow a similar timeline.

The first Finals event will be the Aug. 15-18 Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, followed by the Albertsons Boise Open. The season will conclude Aug. 30-Sept. 2 with the Tour Championship in Atlantic Beach, Fla., one week after the PGA Tour season ends with the revamped Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The DAP Championship at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio, a Finals event for each of the last three years, has been dropped from the 2019 schedule. Gone, too, are the North Mississippi Classic in Oxford and the Rust-Oleum Championship in Ivanhoe, Ill.

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Inside Attica: Interviewing Valentino Dixon

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 2:00 am


Some stories stick with you longer than others. First time you get to do a feature. First time you meet a sports legend (it was Allen Iverson for me). Seeing a championship isn’t bad, either. Been there, done that. Lawnmower museum on the east coast of England, tsunami survivors in California, re-connecting Al Geiberger with his lost 59 tape, all good, but no story or environment has stuck with me like going to Attica Correctional Facility in 2013 to tell the story of Valentino Dixon.

For starters, I’d never been searched before setting up for an interview. Not just me, everyone - all three cameramen, Jimmy Roberts, the guy escorting us in who worked there. Everyone. Attica trusts no one. Can’t blame them after 1971, when inmates protesting living conditions took members of the prison staff hostage. The ensuing police response left 29 inmates and 10 hostages dead.

Attica has a "shank wall," a collection of homemade weapons seized from inmates and displayed like baseball cards in a plastic case on the wall outside the guards' lunchroom. Prison interior decorating at its finest. Nice touch.

We went to do a story on an inmate who was introduced to the world in a Golf Digest article by Max Adler in 2012. "The golf artist who had never stepped foot on a golf course - Valentino Dixon.: He was in for murder. Second degree. You know, your standard golf story.

Wrongfully imprisoned man freed after nearly three decades

Dixon, a former aspiring artist before getting caught up in the Buffalo drug-dealing scene, started sketching photos from Golf Digest for the warden. I’ve never been to prison, but from what I have gathered from watching The Shawshank Redemption some 8,000 times, getting in the warden’s good graces is a smart habit to pick up if you’re doing serious time.

Dixon's art was insanely good. Even more so because he did it all with colored pencils. No paintbrushes allowed (see shank wall above). Jimmy, the crew and I stopped for a good 10-15 minutes to marvel at his creations before continuing with the interview.

We spent a solid 40 minutes talking to the man who supposedly killed a man 20-something years prior. In that time, he pleaded his innocence to us over and over again. He spoke like a man who had rehearsed every angle of his story over and over and over again. I give him credit - there were no holes in his story. I consider myself a pretty good judge of character, and he didn’t look like a killer, didn’t sound like one. either. But what did I know? I’d never met one - that I know of. And if you were stuck in prison for 20-plus years and all of a sudden had a camera in front of you and a platform to plead your innocence, wouldn’t you do your best to try to get out of there?

Since the guards wouldn’t allow any food, the crew and I stopped at the first deli we saw on the ride back into Buffalo. After we were done eating, we all looked at each other, knowing what we all were thinking: "Do you think he did it?”

Didn’t matter what we thought, we were just there to tell the story. On Wednesday, however, people whose opinions mattered made a decision and allowed someone who loves the game of golf, but has never stepped foot on a golf course, to do just that if he so chooses. That's a story that will stick with him for the rest of his life.