Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championships Player Blog

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2009, 10:03 pm

The following is a player blog from the 2009 Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championships in La Quinta, Calif. The championship takes place September 22-27 at PGA West.

Day 1

Not very good… I missed a number of shots that really cost me. Oh well. You know why they call it golf, the other four letter word was taken. Always enjoy golf.

– Broderick Rogers, Raleigh N.C.

Shot 77, had a tough time settling down on the first nine and on the back I knew I had to get it together or else I might as well pack it up and search for an early flight home. I got it together and shot even on the back to stay five over. Tomorrow is another day and in a four-day tournament, anything can happen.

– Andrew Wilson , Chicago North

The greens were very tough today… Wait, my putting was horrible. I should have practiced in the oven at the house to get ready for the heat!  My wife walked all 18 holes to support me. I hit a 212-yard shot to two feet from the hole. I ended up with a birdie on No. 8.

– Paul Whitehead , Houston

Amazing views at Mountain View. Greens were running about ten on the stimp, so fast but true. I’m probably in the middle of the pack with an 89 today but I can make it up tomorrow! :-P

– Kevin Avery, Washington, D.C.

With great anticipation I hoped for a good round… Well, that’s what happens when you start thinking ahead. I ended with a 96. T54. Another day tomorrow.

– Larry Goetz, Los Angeles

Managed a 33-42 to take 2nd.  Last four holes at Silver Rock where tough, including a 450-yard par 4 into the wind. 

– Greg Del Fium, Los Angeles

Every once in a while, you just have one of those days. Well, today was that day for me. Had the most birdies in my flight and still managed to dig a hole that took me to a tie for 20th. Oh well. Guess I just needed a little more fire under my ass before I decided to start playing “real golf”. I have a 12-shot deficit to make up in the next two days. The math is three shots a side, every side, over the next two rounds. I figure the current leaders will have some trouble eventually and I will just try to grind it out and see where it takes me. At least I have room to improve.

As far as the course and the conditions were concerned, it was as near to perfect as you could ask for. The tour staff, course staff, and folks from Golf Channel have done an outstanding job again and it looks to only get better as the week goes on.

Tomorrow I play PGA West Stadium. It will be my second time to play that course and I look forward to it. I played well last time at Stadium and I figure to improve on that number.

Before I log off tonight, I just wanted to thank everyone keeping up with me out here. Thank you for your support. Also, a HUGE thank you to the United States Coast Guard for giving me the time to come out and compete. If the crew in Alameda is reading, thank you and I will see you guys on Monday. Semper Paratus!

– Yancy Methvien, San Diego

Beautiful Day,  great playing partners. Shot 85, which all in all wasn’t bad given that I had to hit the comfort station four times! What the hell did I eat?

– Darrell Lee, Raleigh, N.C.

What a great day to play. Just a little hot, the course was in top level play. Shot okay but as of now I’m at T-42. Can only get better. The heat is around all week, topping over 100 degrees. Been drinking lots of water, now time for grown-up drinks and play a little better, leader at 74, I have some work to do. Big boy course tomorrow. Going low tomorrow.

– Craig Knight, Cincinnati, Ohio

Day 2

Today, went well. I dressed appropriately for my move on up in the rankings. Red/white for my “birdie” inspirations. Made 2 and moved from 54 to 25. The cut line has been made at 25% of the flights, which puts me close. Playing the LaQuinta Mountain, which I have played well. Thanks for the support.

– Larry Goetz, Los Angeles

I am playing golf on the most beautiful courses I have ever seen and enjoying this tournament and glad to be here.  Being in second place going into day three is a dream come true. Thanks to all my family and friends for the wonderful support and the guys here from my tour in Houston.  Thank you to the Golf Channel and all the tour directors for making this event and the entire year a memory to never be forgotten.  

– Jeff Stahlhut, Houston

Started on the back nine and thought it was a beautiful course, until I shot a snowman on the 15th hole. Ended up shooting a high 45 on my front 9 but came back with a 38 on the back. Love this course except my few blow up holes.

– Gary Kodani, Sacramento/Stockton, Calif.

Much improved from yesterday. Had a rough front nine starting on 10, but came back and shot 1 over on the back side. Made a 50 foot birdie put on hole 7 and won a skin!  Weather was fine. Good day, enjoying palm Springs area and appreciate the scoring sponsored by the Golf Channel and Sky Caddie. Met Kelly Tillman at Day One reception – wow!

– Gary Maniery, Sacramento/Stockton, Calif.

95. Tied for ninth place; fell apart the last three holes.

–- Steve Daughtrey, Los Angeles


Day 3

It was the day that the Golf Channel Tour Players stood still to witness the “disaster bunker blaster”. Yes, the signature hole at the La Quinta Mountain, in which I shot an 83 on practice day, became almost flipping that score. A 25 on a par 3, yes, you read it right!!!

A 69 on the back nine. I’ve never, I mean never, ever had this score and the total of 115 in 10 years will be recorded.

Needless to say I missed the cut but the team play is next and hope to do better… Will fill you in as I see each and everyone of you.

- Larry Goetz, Los Angeles


Had a great day today until the 17th (Alcatraz). Then we came in to some tool yelling at the cart guys cuz he wasn’t smart enough to get his clubs off the back of his own cart. Somebody owes the cart guys an apology.

- Big B & Phattie Caddie, Jacksonville



My trip to Hot Palm Springs is over. Missed the cut today, could not go that low after two poor days of golf. But had a great time here and all the host courses were wonderful to all of us. Hats off to the hot desert and all the golf staff at the seven courses we played. See you all next year.

- Craig Knight, Cincinnati


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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.