Punch Shot: Most memorable part of Woods' season?

By May 15, 2013, 8:00 pm

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has regained the No. 1 ranking in the world and won four times on the PGA Tour, but he’s also been embroiled in several on-course incidents that have garnered national attention.

So we asked our panel of writers: If his season ended today, what would you remember most from Tiger Woods’ season?


By RYAN LAVNER

In a year with no shortage of Tiger-related controversies – or emphatic victories – his drop in the second round of the Masters resonates still.

Fairly or not – I’d argue the latter – that singular moment has trumped his best-ever start to a season.

What began simply as chat-room buzz morphed into a full-blown controversy, with every story an opinion, every sound bite a headline. The incident featured all the necessary elements of an epic golf controversy: the star player, the year’s biggest major, a buttoned-up club, bungled calls, cries of favoritism and misplaced priorities. Did Tiger receive a favorable ruling? Should he have done the honorable thing and withdraw? What about his race to catch Jack? The story was delicious, no doubt. But ultimately it seemed an unfair burden for one man to bear.

It’s a shame, too. For the past 13 months Tiger has played brilliant golf, winning seven times in his last 22 starts. But unless he soon pads his major total, Woods’ year is destined to be remembered for the one tournament he didn’t win, largely because of a debated penalty. 


By WILL GRAY

Were it to end today, the thing I’d most remember from Tiger’s 2013 season is the return of the “air.”

Not necessarily the air of invincibility seen during his peak – the heights reached in 2000-2001 will likely never again be matched. But still, Woods’ success this season has rekindled sentiments from years ago: the thought, for instance, that top-tier players enter rounds or entire events knowing that Woods must somehow falter to even have a chance at victory. The notion, especially at Torrey Pines and Doral, that the outcome of the event was known long before the final putt dropped. The general consensus that Woods’ next major win is not a matter of “if,” but rather “when.”

A wise man once said, “Don’t call it a comeback; I’ve been here for years.” While fans and writers alike can debate the depths to which Woods’ game once fell – and whether or not the 14-time major champion ever truly left – the fact remains that with four wins under his belt before the calendar hits June, the “air” is back for Tiger Woods.


By REX HOGGARD

His Farmers Insurance Open victory was textbook, as were those walk-offs at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational. But if Tiger Woods’ season ended today, it would be his two-stroke triumph at The Players that would stand out.

For the record, Woods had a combined 17 victories at Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill (counting the 2006 and ’05 Ford Championships at Doral and 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines), while Sunday’s tilt at TPC Sawgrass was just his second victory on the Stadium Course as a professional.

The Players was an enigma for Woods, through health and illness, solid play and slumps. Before last week, Pete Dye’s devilish design made Woods look, well . . . un-Woods-like.

He was 1-for-15 entering the week, hadn’t posted a top-10 finish in a decade and had last hoisted the crystal chalice in 2001. Truth is, in his last three starts at the PGA Tour’s flagship event he’d made it to the weekend just once following injury-induced withdrawals in 2010 and ’11.

It’s why last week’s victory was every bit the signature triumph, a ball-striking masterpiece that featured just one driver on Sunday, 55 of 72 greens in regulation (third in the field) and a par-5 scorecard of 12 under par. He finished at 13 under par.

All victories are to be cherished, but after a 12-year wait, this one was special.


By RANDALL MELL

Even when Tiger Woods wins in bundles, he can’t win.

I mean that in the sense that the scrutiny on him is so intense there seems always to be something for somebody not to like in his game. Woods has won four times this season, but every time he tees it up, we do an autopsy on the performance. We analyze his drop at Abu Dhabi, his drop at the Masters, his drop at The Players, his uneasy interactions with Sergio Garcia, his skipping Los Angeles again, his skipping Wells Fargo . . . Every notable step is a headline.

When you are the most recognizable and successful athlete on the planet, the scrutiny comes with the territory. Enormous fame and enormous riches have that price. And when you’ve created a standard of success never before reached, you’re plagued with the expectation of continuing to meet the standard. It’s all part of the bargain. It all drives interest in the game. It also must drive Woods crazy sometimes. That’s what I would remember about this year if it ended today.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.

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Chappell returns to Valero as defending champ

By Will GrayApril 18, 2018, 9:48 pm

It's impossible for any of the players at this week's Valero Texas Open to forget who captured the trophy last year.

That's because most players stay at the JW Marriott hotel that's a short walk from the first tee at TPC San Antonio, and the defending champion's face is emblazoned on the hotel's room keys. This week, that honor belongs to Kevin Chappell.

"You get some sly comments from players about their room key," Chappell told reporters Wednesday. "'Oh, I'm tired of looking at you.' And I'm saying, 'Believe me, I'm tired of being in everyone's room.'"

The position of defending champ is one Chappell relishes this week as he returns to the site of his maiden PGA Tour victory. A one-shot win over Brooks Koepka led to a euphoric celebration on the 72nd green, and it helped propel Chappell to his first career spot on the Presidents Cup team in October.

Chappell has missed the cut each of the last two weeks, including the Masters, but he also recorded top-10 finishes at the CareerBuilder Challenge, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Arnold Palmer Invitational. It's reason enough for Chappell to feel optimistic heading back to a course where he was a runner-up in 2011 and finished T-4 in 2016.

"This year's been a little bit of a strange year for me. I usually don't find form until about here, usually a slow starter," Chappell said. "But having three top-10s before this event, I've kind of found some form. I'm looking to turn those top-10s into top-5s, and the top-5s into wins. That's the challenge moving forward this year."

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Scott returns to Valero with major streak in jeopardy

By Will GrayApril 18, 2018, 8:34 pm

Adam Scott is back in the Lone Star State as he looks to keep alive a majors streak that has stretched across nearly two decades.

The Aussie tends to play a relatively light schedule during the spring, often times skipping every event between the Masters and The Players. But this time around he opted to return to the Valero Texas Open for the first time since 2011 in an effort to capitalize on the form he found two weeks ago at Augusta National, where he tied for 32nd.

"Hopefully kind of pick up where I left off on the weekend, which was really solid, and get a bit of momentum going because that's what I haven't had this year," Scott told reporters. "Trying to put four good rounds together and get the most out of my game for a change."

Scott has won each of the four stroke-play events held annually in Texas, completing the so-called "Texas Slam" before the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play relocated to Austin. That includes his win at TPC San Antonio back in 2010, when he closed with rounds of 66-67 for a one-shot victory.

After a seven-year hiatus, Scott is back San Antonio after a solid but underwhelming spring stretch. He cracked the top 20 at both the Honda Classic and Valspar Championship, but his worldwide top-10 drought stretches back nearly a year to the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June. As a result, the former world No. 1 has dropped to No. 59 in the latest rankings.


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"I'm trying to be really in tune with where my game's at and identify why I'm just not having better results," Scott said. "To kind of change that, I've got to change something, otherwise I'm just going to do the same thing."

That ranking will become even more important in the coming weeks as Scott looks to keep his streak of consecutive majors intact. He has played in 67 straight dating back to The Open in 2001, second only to Sergio Garcia's 75 among active players. But Scott's five-year exemption for winning the 2013 Masters has run its course, meaning he is not yet exempt for the upcoming U.S. Open.

Barring a win next month at TPC Sawgrass, Scott's only way to avoid a trip to sectional qualifying will be to maintain a position inside the top 60 in the world rankings on either May 21 or June 11.

The key for Scott remains easy to identify but hard to fix. While he ranks fifth on Tour this season in strokes gained: tee-to-green, he's 194th in strokes gained: putting. Scott won in consecutive weeks in 2016 with a short putter, but otherwise has largely struggled on the greens since the anchoring ban took effect more than two years ago.

"Hopefully a quick turnaround here and things start going in the right direction, because I think I can have a really great back end of the season," Scott said. "My ball-striking is where I want it; I like where my short game's at. I just need to get a bit of momentum going on the greens. It's easy to do that on the putting green at home, but that doesn't always translate out here. I think I've just got to make it happen out here."