What We Learned: The Hyundai TOC in Maui

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 10, 2012, 1:30 am

Each week, the GolfChannel.com team will offer up thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent PGA Tour event. This week, the team ponders the aftermath of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where Steve Stricker held onto his substantial lead in Monday's final round to top Martin Laird and the other 25 players in the field for his first Maui victory.

I learned that a change in the calendar doesn’t determine a change in skill level or talent. At the beginning of every year, we try to prognosticate which golfers will enjoy a massive dose of success and which will see a major drop-off in results.

Steve Stricker seemed to fit the latter category. He turns 45 next month and owns a game predicated on putting – a skill that often starts eluding top players later in their careers. Maybe that will gradually be the case, but this week Stricker looked very much like the same player who won twice last season.

Just because the calendar has changed doesn’t mean everything will change with it. So much for that predicted drop-off. Stricker isn’t going anywhere for a while.  Jason Sobel

If the PGA Tour insists on starting the season this soon in the new year, I believe starting in Maui is the perfect place to set the tone for the year. The limited field, the breathtaking vistas from Kapalua's Plantation Course, and of course, the humpback whales frolicking in and around the Hawaiian waters.  Golf Guy

The season’s first turn proved for the umpteenth time that, like Savile Row, the London street known for its tailoring timelessness, good putting never goes out of fashion. At Kapalua, where statistics like greens in regulation and fairways hit are relatively meaningless, Steve Stricker cruised to victory on a 28.5 putts per round average.

We also learned that cortisone, although not considered a “performance-enhancing drug,” can work miracles. At East Lake in September Stricker sounded like a man on the brink of career-threatening neck surgery, two cortisone shots and four months later he’s halfway home to becoming the only player to record multiple PGA Tour victories in four consecutive seasons.  Rex Hoggard

I learned that Steve Stricker was faking a neck injury during the latter part of 2011. He just wanted our sympathy right? If his neck was that seriously injured, no way he'd have rebounded so shortly after with a dominating victory at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

It was only three-plus months ago when Stricker withdrew from the BMW Championship. He didn't play well at the Tour Championship, failed to rekindle the Presidents Cup magic with Tiger Woods in November then played poorly again at the Chevron World Challenge, finishing 16th in an 18-man field. He was a walking question mark.

What I really learned is that Stricker is good, damn good. Can't wait to see how he follows it up this week at the Sony Open.   Jay Coffin

Apparently, that’s not lava spitting from those Hawaiian volcanoes.

It’s bubbling cheese.

Wisconsin’s Steve Stricker won the Hyundai Championship Monday on the island of Maui, and now fellow cheesehead Mark Wilson takes center stage on Oahu. Wilson is the defending champion at the Sony Open this week.

Who knew Hawaii was a dairy state? It isn’t, of course. In fact, there are only three dairy farms in the state of Hawaii. Still, Wisconsin looks like it owns the state this week.

And at 44, Stricker looks like he won’t easily give up his perch as the highest ranked American in the Official World Golf Ranking.  Randall Mell

I learned that it’s never too early in the year for controversy, and the 2012 season-opener delivered.

After Nick Watney’s opening round at Kapalua, his caddie Chad Reynolds was brought in for questioning by PGA Tour rules official Slugger White. Reynolds was believed to have tested the surface of the green on the seventh hole, where he bent down behind Watney and moved his hand back and forth in a swiping motion on the green.

It was decided – Reynolds said he didn’t touch the surface, Watney stood by his caddie’s word and White concurred with the gentlemen – that there was no breach of the rules and Watney did not receive a penalty.

What’s a little golf without some drama and what’s a season opener without some controversy? – Bailey Mosier

Getty Images

Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle

By Grill Room TeamApril 19, 2018, 4:53 pm

Really, the headline says it all.

"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.

Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.

Getty Images

Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.