Punch Shot: Most anticipated event of 2017?

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 5, 2017, 2:20 pm

The Olympics was the most anticipated event in 2016, but what about 2017? Our writers weigh in on the must-see event of the year.

By REX HOGGARD

Maybe it’s just a proximity deal. The Masters is after all the event the players and press and fans spend the most time pining for, and the ’17 edition has all the markings of something particularly special.

There will be almost as many story lines as there are magnolias as players make their way to the year’s first major. How will Jordan Spieth respond to his Sunday meltdown last year? Will Rory McIlroy secure the final piece of his career Grand Slam puzzle? How many shots will Tiger Woods be favored to win by (regardless of his play before Augusta National, there will be some misguided betting house who will make him the favorite).

The best part about the Masters, it’s the only tournament in golf that almost never disappoints.


By RYAN LAVNER

2016 was the first year in forever that the Masters wasn’t the most-anticipated event in golf. The Olympics and Ryder Cup played a role in that.

Neither is on the schedule for 2017, which means that Augusta once again takes top billing. We’re still three months away, and already there are enough storylines to fill the headline rail on this website: How will Jordan respond to last year’s meltdown? Can Rory finally compete the grand slam? Will DJ’s improved wedge game lead to a green jacket? Do Tiger or Phil have another magical week left in them? How will the Masters remember Arnie? And the results in the spring will only crank up the hype machine.

Bring on April 6. 


By WILL GRAY

Anytime the USGA gets its hands on an untouched venue, it’s time to pay attention.

It was two years ago that the Chambers Bay setup became the biggest storyline of U.S. Open week – that is, until Dustin Johnson’s 72nd-hole three-putt. Even last year at Oakmont, the powers-that-be interjected themselves into the proceedings with a ruling that nearly ruined Johnson’s breakthrough victory.

Now all eyes will turn to Erin Hills, a young course built upon a sprawling Wisconsin landscape. Will the USGA push the yardage toward 8,000 yards? Will officials hand out another controversial ruling? Will course conditions become as big of a focal point as they were outside Seattle in 2015? Heck, will the grass at least be green this time around?

A new course means untold variables for the season’s second major. Add in Johnson defending his title, Jordan Spieth returning to a course where he played the 2011 U.S. Amateur at age 18 and Phil Mickelson again attempting to round out the career Grand Slam, and it makes for a can’t-miss tournament.


By RANDALL MELL

It depends where Tiger Woods makes his 2017 debut.

He’ll turn a regular tour stop into a major happening when he makes his first official tour start since late summer of 2015. It could be the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Jan. 26-29, or perhaps overseas, at the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Jan. 19-22.

And whatever start follows his debut will be the next most anticipated event of ’17.

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters: