Punch Shot: Who does Pinehurst setup favor?

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 22, 2014, 12:28 pm

Media members got a sneak peek at Pinehurst No. 2, site of this year's U.S. Open, on Monday. That got our writers thinking, which player does the setup favor the most? They debate here:


Dustin Johnson’s game should be well suited for Pinehurst No. 2.

Based on the dispatches from colleagues who attended media day at the U.S. Open venue on Monday, the greatest determining factor at this year’s national championship just might be a little thing called luck. That’s because the randomness of lies off the fairways will leave players in varying degrees of optimal positions.

And hey, while Johnson has certainly earned everything he’s attained, it always seems like he’s enjoyed a decent amount of luck, too.

This should also help: The USGA will have rules officials walking with each group, letting players know whether they’re in a hazard or a waste bunker. That should be, um, helpful for Johnson.

But really, the main reason the course suits his game is because he’s one of the best ball-strikers around. Of the current top 10 in that category, players like Billy Horschel, Graham DeLaet and Louis Oosthuizen are all potential contenders, but DJ has the most upside of the bunch.

That doesn’t mean he’s the favorite, nor does it mean he’ll win, but he should find some advantages in the surroundings during U.S. Open week.


Phil Mickelson will finally get his U.S. Open title.

This year’s championship at Pinehurst No. 2 will reward creativity more than most U.S. Opens. It will also reward bravado without overly penalizing failure.

That’s right down Mickelson’s alley.

With Pinehurst No. 2’s turtle-back greens making it difficult to hit greens, the short game will be especially important. Getting up-and-down regularly will be vital. 

That favors Mickelson.

With fairways framed by wire grass, sand and pine straw instead of traditional rough, you won’t be seeing the typical chop out when players miss fairways. You’ll see some creative recovery shots.

That’s Mickelson’s game.

Factor in the good vibes of having come so close to winning at Pinehurst No. 2 in ’99, and this feels like a great opportunity for Mickelson. 


The house always wins and your scribe has learned that betting against Las Vegas is a zero sum game, but it is not Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy who should be the favorites heading into June’s U.S. Open.

That honor belongs to Matt Kuchar, and this isn’t just about what he has done for his odds lately.

Sure, the smiling assassin has earned more money in his last four PGA Tour starts than Tom Weiskopf did in his entire career and he hasn’t finished outside the top 5 since the middle of March.

Kuchar’s victory on Sunday at the RBC Heritage may have been his first of the 2013-14 season, but consider that in 11 events he’s finished inside the top 10 eight times and is first on Tour this season in scoring average.

But that’s not why he should be the early favorite for this year’s Pinehurst Open. Kooch is our frontrunner because of how well his game has travelled this season.

From the bomber’s ballparks at the Golf Club of Houston (where he lost a playoff to Matt Jones) and Augusta National (where he finished tied for fifth) to the ballstriking haven of Harbour Town, Kuchar refuses to be typecast which is a perfect recipe for Pinehurst.


Only one player in the past 40 years has won the first two majors in a season, but Bubba Watson is positioned to make a run at the double dip. The Masters champion should also be the favorite for Pinehurst.

No. 2 will play more than 7,500 yards for the U.S. Open, with four par 4s stretching over 500 yards. That will put Watson, the Tour’s leader in driving distance, at a massive advantage, especially at a course that will feature virtually no rough. And with the severe slopes and runoffs around the greens, Watson will be able to rely on his deft touch and imagination to get the ball close to the hole, as he did a few weeks ago at Augusta.

If he can refocus in time for the year’s second major, Bubba has an opportunity to add his name to an elite list of Grand Slam winners.


The conditions at Pinehurst No. 2 will favor Graeme McDowell as he looks to win the U.S. Open for the second time.

The Ulsterman has quietly put together a solid campaign in 2014, with five top-10 finishes in just eight starts, but two statistics will make him a favorite in June. McDowell is 16th on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy, which is annually a key stat at the U.S. Open but may be more important at Pinehurst as players look to avoid the unpredictable sandy areas lining the fairway. He’s also second on Tour in strokes gained-putting, and whoever is best able to conquer the devilish, turtleback greens on No. 2 will likely contend.

McDowell is also 32nd in greens in regulation percentage and 18th in proximity to the hole this season. As conditions become more firm as the week progresses, the viable landing areas on the greens will continue to shrink, which will require players to become increasingly accurate with their approaches.

This will not be a typical U.S. Open setup, but McDowell’s game appears ideally suited for whatever Pinehurst – and the USGA – will throw at the field seven weeks from now. 

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 11:00 am

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

7AM-3PM (Watch): Jordan Spieth fired 65 to move into a three-way share of the 54-hole lead, while Tiger Woods (66) played his way into contention. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler and Thorbjorn Olesen.

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 am

Tiger Woods begins the final round of the 147th Open Championship four shots off the lead. He's out at 9:25 a.m. ET on Sunday and we're tracking him.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”