Punch Shot: Which celeb do you want as partner?

As we inch closer to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, GolfChannel.com writers debate which celebrity they'd like to spend the day with. While there are some obvious answers, others fly a little bit more under the radar. Good thing about this question is, there really is no wrong answer. Give us your take in the comments below.


By JASON SOBEL

Two years ago, I was dispatched to the Travelers Championship to shoot a TV piece with Carl Spackler himself, Bill Murray.

Instead of the standard Q&A that we've all seen a million times before, I aimed for something different. My goal was a feature in which I'd follow Murray around the course during his pro-am, talking to him as if we're old buddies and he wouldn't say a word. I know, I know. But trust me: It was even less hilarious than it sounds.

So I approached him on the driving range before he teed off, introduced myself and told him that I might ask him a few questions during the day, but he can just totally ignore me. "Well, I can do that!" he said extra cheerfully.

I didn't intrude too much, only speaking to him when he was walking down fairways and wasn't talking to any playing partners or signing autographs. And true to his work as brilliant actor, Murray ignored me the entire time.

To this day, I'm still not sure if he was ignoring me because that was the idea or because he just didn't want to be bothered. My guess is it was a little of both.

Anyway, he'd be the celeb I'd most want to hang with at Pebble Beach. I'd probably keep talking his ear off, acting like we were old buddies. Hopefully he'd actually respond back this time.


By RYAN LAVNER

There are so many delightful possibilities, aren’t there? An NBA world-beater like Kris Humphries. A talented musician like Soulja Boy. A multi-platform star and entreprenuer like Nicki Minaj. Hey, maybe one day we can form that dream foursome.

But really, if I’m going to spend five-plus hours at Pebble Beach, soaking in the sun and ruining all of the spectacular views with atrocious shots, it better be with Will Ferrell.

The reasons, I suppose, are obvious. He’s a Cali dude, so he’d know his way around, both before and, most importantly, after. He actually plays golf, which is a bonus. He knows how to tell a good story. And he’d keep the mood light, which means I’d play terribly and not care in the least. 


By WILL GRAY

Assuming that Ryan Lavner is unavailable, I’ll choose to play alongside Adam Duritz, the outspoken lead singer of the Counting Crows. Duritz may not carry a USGA handicap index, but he’s an avid sports fan and, let’s be honest – the scorecard takes a backseat when making your way around a course as beautiful as Pebble Beach.

A round of golf on the Monterey Peninsula is in and of itself a privilege, but to spend five hours (or so) shooting the breeze with one of the best songwriters of my generation would certainly add to the experience. If nothing else, we wouldn’t lack for conversation topics and the ever-relaxed Duritz likely won’t lose his cool when we inevitably combine for a three-putt double.


By RANDALL MELL

Bob Hope was “Mr. Golf.”

In the golden era of PGA Tour pro-ams, golf’s biggest stars were practically overshadowed by Hollywood’s stars. Hope, though, is one of just three celebrities enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame, joining Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore there.

Hope played in the 1951 British Amateur at Royal Porthcawl. He was once a 4 handicap. As a funny man, though, he was better than a scratch player. He documented his passion for the game in the book, “Bob Hope’s Confessions of a Hooker: My lifelong love affair with golf.”

Hope’s combination of skill and humor might have made him the greatest celebrity pro-am partner ever. He could reel off more entertaining one-liners in a round than any great pro could reel off birdies.

“I’m an international player,” Hope once said. “I can say `shank’ in 27 languages.”


By REX HOGGARD

Five hours with funnyman Bill Murray at Pebble Beach would be time well spent. Ditto for Ray Romano and Darius Rucker. But if you had to pick one all-time celebrity partner to play with at the National Pro-Am it would be the man himself, Bing Crosby.

The event that set the standard for celebrity golf is still referred to in these parts as the Crosby Clambake, the name it held until 1985 in honor of the famous crooner who invented the concept of the celebrity pro-am.

Crosby hosted the first Clambake in 1937 and the event is as unique now as it was then despite notoriously poor weather and a golf course rotation that has not exactly been among the most well-liked among PGA Tour types.

That’s all thanks to Crosby, who gave his name and personality to the event. He wooed his Hollywood friends to Monterey, including many members of the famed Rat Pack, and merged entertainment with sport in a way that had never been done before.

But more than anything Crosby was cool, entertaining galleries and amateurs with the perfect backdrop – Pebble Beach.

Arnold Palmer may have brought golf to the masses and Tiger Woods certainly introduced the game to an entirely new generation, but Crosby made golf cool.

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting a competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show in which he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing> Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


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"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.

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Vogel Monday qualifies for eighth time this season

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:27 pm

The PGA Tour's regular season ended with another tally for the Monday King.

While Monday qualifiers are a notoriously difficult puzzle to solve, with dozens of decorated professionals vying for no more than four spots in a given tournament field, T.J. Vogel has turned them into his personal playground this season. That trend continued this week when he earned a spot into the season-ending Wyndham Championship, shooting a 5-under 66 and surviving a 4-for-3 playoff for the final spots.

It marks Vogel's eighth successful Monday qualification this season, extending the unofficial record he set when he earned start No. 7 last month at The Greenbrier. Patrick Reed earned the nickname "Mr. Monday" when he successfully qualified six different times during the 2012 season before securing full-time status.

There have been 24 different Monday qualifiers throughout the season, with Vogel impressively turning 19 qualifier starts into eight tournament appearances.

Vogel started the year with only conditional Web.com Tour status, and explained at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May that he devised his summer schedule based on his belief that it's easier to Monday qualify for a PGA Tour event than a Web.com tournament.


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"The courses that the PGA Tour sets the qualifiers up, they're more difficult and sometimes they're not a full field whereas the Web, since there's no pre-qualifier, you have two full fields for six spots each and the courses aren't as tough," Vogel said. "So I feel like if you take a look at the numbers, a lot of the Web qualifiers you have to shoot 8-under."

Vogel has made three cuts in his previous seven starts this year, topping out with a T-16 finish at the Valspar Championship in March. The 27-year-old also played the weekend at the Nelson and the Wells Fargo Championship, missing the cut at The Greenbrier in addition to the RSM Classic, Honda Classic and FedEx St. Jude Classic.

While Vogel won't have another Monday qualifier opportunity until October, he has a chance to secure some 2019 status this week in Greensboro. His 51 non-member FedExCup points would currently slot him 205th in the season-long race, 13 points behind Rod Pampling at No. 200. If Vogel earns enough points to reach the equivalent of No. 200 after this week, he'd clinch a spot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals where he would have a chance to compete for a full PGA Tour card for the 2018-19 season.

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Woods adds BMW Championship to playoff schedule

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:01 pm

Tiger Woods is adding a trip to Philadelphia to his growing playoff itinerary.

Having already committed to both The Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship, Woods' agent confirmed to GolfChannel.com that the 14-time major champ will also make an appearance next month at the BMW Championship. It will mark Woods' first start in the third leg of the FedExCup playoffs since 2013 when he tied for 11th at Conway Farms Golf Club outside of Chicago.

This year the Sept. 6-9 event is shifting to Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., which is hosting the BMW for the first time. The course previously hosted the Quicken Loans National in both 2010 and 2011. Woods won the BMW en route to FedExCup titles in both 2007 and 2009 when it was held at Cog Hill in Illinois.


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Woods was already in good position to make the 70-man BMW field, but his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship vaulted him from 49th to 20th in the season-long points race and assured that he'll make it to Aronimink regardless of his performance in the first two postseason events.

Woods' commitment also means a packed schedule will only get busier leading into the Ryder Cup, where he is expected to be added as a captain's pick. Woods' appearance at the BMW will cap a run of five events in six weeks, and should he tee it up in Paris it could be his seventh start in a nine-week stretch if he also qualifies for the 30-player Tour Championship.