Punch Shot: Who will win Tour Rookie of the Year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 26, 2015, 8:00 pm

Two events into the new PGA Tour season, two rookie winners. That's already one more rookie champion than the entirety of the previous season. So, looking very far ahead, who will take home Rookie of the Year honors? Our writers weigh in.


Emiliano Grillo was an emerging star even before he won the season-opening Frys.com Open.

The 23-year-old Argentine was a heralded part of the high school class of 2011, as much of a talent in those days as Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas or Patrick Rodgers or Ollie Schniederjans. They went their separate ways – to the pros, to college, to Europe – but now have reconnected on the PGA Tour.

Grillo apprenticed on the European circuit for the past few years, and was in position to win the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open last season before blowing a 3-footer on the 72nd hole. A few months later, he ripped through the Web.com Tour Finals, a run that saw him win the Tour Championship with a cold-blooded 25-footer on the last.

Keep in mind that he’s had three major life changes recently – he got married, earned his card and won on Tour in a matter of weeks – so he’s due for a letdown at some point. But once he settles into a rhythm, he’ll be a weekly contender, just like the old days, with Spieth, Thomas and Rodgers. 


Emiliano Grillo is tough to bet against, but Smylie Kaufman came from seven strokes back and won in the betting capital of the world Sunday taking the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas with that brilliant 61.

Kaufman, 23, is yet another big-hitter, but he’s also a terrific putter. It’s a tough combination to beat these days. Kaufman was sixth in driving distance on the Web.com Tour this past season, but he ranked even higher with the flat stick. He was fifth in putting average and third in birdies. Sunday’s victory combined with his T-10 finish at the season-opening Frys.com makes Kaufman the early – yes, very early – man to beat in the Rookie of the Year race. He’s also atop the FedEx Cup standings.


Emiliano Grillo and Smylie Kaufman have gotten off to impressive head starts in the race for the 2015-16 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, but fellow first-timer Patton Kizzire has proven he has the consistency to claim the title.

Kizzire finished second to Kaufman on Sunday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open after skipping the season-opening Frys.com Open, which was won by Grillo, to get married.

But it’s what the 29-year-old did in 2015 on the Web.com Tour that makes him the favorite among a particularly strong list of rookies this season.

In his first full season on the secondary circuit, Kizzire finished in the top 10 in 12 of 23 starts, including two victories (Utah Championship and News Sentinel Open) and a pair of runner-up showings.

The former Auburn University standout won the regular and Finals combined money list on the Web.com Tour to secure his first trip to the PGA Tour and, more importantly, full status this season.

Kizzire will be able to play a full schedule, at least relative to this year’s other rookies, free from the worries of the priority list that dictates what events newcomers can play.

Kizzire may have spotted Grillo and Kaufman an early victory but he still has the time and the track record to emerge as this year’s top rookie.


It’s hard to pass on Emiliano Grillo, especially after his season-opening win, but I’ll side with the player who nearly followed Grillo to the winner’s circle last week: Patton Kizzire.

It took some time for Kizzire to find his footing in the professional game, but the 29-year-old experienced a breakthrough season last year on the Web.com Tour that was marked by impressive consistency. Kizzire won twice en route to challenging the circuit’s all-time, single-season earnings record, and his 12 top-10 finishes in 23 starts showed that his results were the product of steady play throughout the year.

Kizzire took a week off earlier this month to get married, then promptly finished T-2 in Las Vegas in his first start as a member, highlighted by a Sunday 63. PGA Tour courses aren’t the same as on the Web.com, but Kizzire hits it plenty long and should his putter remain reliable – he led the tour last year in birdie average, scoring average and total putting – he could challenge for a spot at the Tour Championship.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

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:

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 early 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 early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.