What We Learned: WGC-HSBC

By Damon HackNovember 4, 2012, 9:25 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This week, our writers weigh in on a 14-year-old phenom getting an invite to the Masters, Sunday comebacks for Ian Poulter and Stacy Lewis, the Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy 'friendly' that seemed to overshadow a big-time event, and Tom Lehman's impressive finish to his Champions Tour season.


I’d already marked 2012 as one of the greatest years in golf and that was well before I rolled out of bed Sunday morning.

Bubba’s hook shot from the pine needles, Rory’s summer surge and the European comeback at Medinah had been plenty for me.

But on Sunday we all got a little more. Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter dialed up a second straight 65 to win the WGC-HSBC Champions, officially moving into “Best Player Without A Major” territory. Stacy Lewis made up a seven-shot deficit to win the Mizuno Classic and all but locked up LPGA Rolex Player of the Year honors (she would be the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to do so). And a 14-year-old named Guan Tianling – winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand – will be chauffeured down Magnolia Lane next April. (Might Augusta National chairman Billy Payne allow him a one-time exemption to rollerblade down Magnolia Lane?)

The stories in golf continue to grow richer and more colorful. The game is becoming more global. And we’re all the better for it. – Damon Hack


The older I get, the less I feel I've accomplished. A 14-year-old qualifying for The Masters? The best I could do at that age was No. 3 singles on my high school tennis team. Enjoy it, kid. Next thing you know, you'll be 37, watching a 14-year-old win the Masters and thinking, 'I was never that good at that age.' – Mercer Baggs


Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy participated in a two-man hit-and-giggle money-grab exhibition in China this past week. Just about all of the world’s other elite players competed in a bona fide World Golf Championship in China this past week. It’s a toss-up as to which one received more worldwide attention, but the needle may be pointing slightly in favor of the four-hour Nike advertisement. Look, there’s no secret that interest in golf is dictated by superstars and it’s even less of a secret that Woods and McIlroy are the game’s two biggest superstars right now. Nothing wrong with that, just like there’s nothing wrong with them going all Rod Tidwell in their spare time. You know: “Show me the money!” But there’s something patently wrong with a meaningless round between the two drawing greater interest than a WGC leaderboard that included major champions and Ryder Cup players galore. There is a stark contrast between these two events, but those who nonchalantly shrug it off will be doomed to repeat it. Now that Rory is reportedly joining Tiger as a Nike stablemate, there will undoubtedly be more of these casual confrontations in the future. We can watch, we can enjoy the banter, we can even crave these meetings, but when they start usurping actual big-time tournaments, the game may be in some trouble. And that’s the worst news here, because they already have. – Jason Sobel


Despite a new contract extension through 2015, full FedEx Cup status beginning in 2013 and a permanent home, the WGC-HSBC Champions may have the pedigree to be Asia’s premier golf event but it hasn’t proven to be a must-play just yet. This year the HSBC was the victim of golf’s growing success in the region, losing world Nos. 1 and 2 Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, respectively, to appearance-fee events the week before. The HSBC may have plenty of new street cred, but it remains to be seen if it will be enough to woo all of the game’s top players in the future. – Rex Hoggard


It appears that Ian Poulter may be more than just a match-play maven. The fiery Englishman claimed his second WGC title Sunday in China and over the past four months has shown that perhaps his name needs to be included when creating a short list of Europe’s elite players. Poulter was considered one of the world’s best in match play long before his dazzling performance at Medinah, but questions lingered about a perceived lack of success in stroke play – a format in which he had only two worldwide wins since 2006 entering this week. In rallying for the victory at Mission Hills, Poulter put an exclamation point on a late-season surge that began when he posted top-10 finishes at both the British Open and PGA Championship in advance of his Ryder Cup heroics. For the second straight week, he closed with a Sunday 65 in China – a round that netted him a fourth-place finish at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, and one that yielded a trophy seven days later in Shenzhen. 

While he has yet to break through for a win in a major or a stroke-play event in the U.S., Poulter now has two WGC titles to his credit and will be a name to watch in tournaments – regardless of format – as the calendar turns to 2013. – Will Gray


The LPGA's season-ending Rolex Awards program looks like it will finally be something American women can relish. With Stacy Lewis' victory Sunday in Japan, she has all but clinched the Rolex Player of the Year award. Barring a spectacular finish by South Korea's Inbee Park, an American will be honored in two weeks as the LPGA's best player for the first time in 18 years. Beth Daniel last won the honor in '94. American women will likely go into next year being spared constant reminders of the drought, thanks to Lewis. – Randall Mell


For Tom Lehman to play the kind of golf he played this weekend in winning the Charles Schwab Cup Championship and Charles Schwab Cup speaks to Lehman's still-formidable talent and his powers of concentration. With his longtime teacher Jim Flick extremely ill with pancreatic cancer, it can't have been easy for Lehman to concentrate on something as mundane as a golf tournament. But he knew Flick would have wanted him to close the deal, and that's exactly what he did. – Al Tays

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What's in the bag: John Deere winner Michael Kim

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 1:11 pm

Michael Kim won his first career PGA Tour event at the John Deere Classic. Here's a look inside his bag:

Driver: Titleist TS2 (10.5 degrees), with Aldila Rogue Black 60X shaft

Fairway wood:  Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Rogue Black 70 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 816H1 (21 degrees), Graphite Design Tour AD DI-85 X Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (4), 718 AP2 (5-PW), with True Temper XP 115 shafts

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS Newport 350 prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 12:20 pm

Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Other notable groupings:

  • Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
  • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
  • World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
  • Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
  • U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
  • Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):

1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva

1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate

1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List

2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris

2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell

2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook

2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry

2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult

3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello

3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry

3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)

3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara

3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang

4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley

4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee

4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na

4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen

4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein

4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood

5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed

5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas

5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park

5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard

6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage

6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner

6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis

6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III

6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis

7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An

7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood

7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker

7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)

7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen

8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman

8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele

8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace

8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li

8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo

9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim

9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp

9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest

9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak

9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace

9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka

10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma

10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox

10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley

10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura

10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith

11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior

11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon

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Rahm's Carnoustie strategy: 'As many drivers as I can'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 10:57 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In his practice round Monday at Carnoustie, Jon Rahm bashed away with driver on the 18th tee, reducing one of the most intimidating finishing holes in championship golf into a driver-wedge.

Indeed, when it comes to his choice of clubs off the tee this week at The Open, Rahm has one strategy in mind.

“As many drivers as I can,” he said after playing 18 alongside Rory McIlroy. “I just feel comfortable with it.”

Playing downwind, the firm and fast conditions on the 18th have led some players, even a medium-length hitter like Brandt Snedeker, to challenge the burn fronting the green.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Rahm explained Monday why that was the prudent play.

“You can lay up with an iron farther back and have 140 or 150 meters to the front and have a 7-, 8- or 9-iron in,” Rahm said. “But if you hit a good one with a driver, you’re going to have nothing to the green.

“If you hit the rough this year, it’s not as thick as other years. You actually get a lot of good lies, so you can still hit the green with confidence.”

Rahm said that revelation was “quite surprising,” especially after encountering thicker fescue when he played the French Open and Irish Open, where he recorded a pair of top-5 finishes.

“But with this much sun” – it hasn’t rained much, if at all, over the past six weeks – “the fescue grass can’t grow. It just dies,” he said. “It’s a lot thinner than other years, so unless they can magically grow it thicker the next few days, it’s pretty safe to assume we can be aggressive.”

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Remembering Jean, because we'll always remember Jean

By Al TaysJuly 16, 2018, 10:38 am

The thing I remember about the 1999 Open Championship is that for 54 holes, it was boring. I can’t speak for the next 17, because I didn’t watch. I took advantage of a beautiful Sunday morning to play golf. When our group finished, we went into the clubhouse hoping to catch the last few holes or at least find out who won. Instead, we were greeted by an almost deafening buzz. It seemed everyone in the dining room was excitedly talking at once.

The wall-mounted televisions provided the answer. There stood Jean Van de Velde, resplendent in a white visor and blue shirt, and whatever the opposite of “resplendent” is with his trouser legs rolled up above his knees. He was up to his ankles in the burn that winds in front of Carnoustie’s 18th green, hands on hips, holding a wedge. He was staring down into the water the way you’d stare at a storm grate through which you had just accidentally dropped your car keys. You know, the “What the heck am I going to do NOW?” stare.

Van de Velde was the reason I had dismissed this 128th Open Championship as boring. Actually, he was one of two reasons. The first was that Tiger Woods was no factor. The second was that Van de Velde was running away with it, having taken a five-shot lead into the final round. It also didn’t help my interest level that I knew nothing about Van de Velde. I didn’t know Jean Van de Velde from Jean Valjean. The only thing I knew about him was that he was French, and the last great French golfer was … uh, I’ll have to get back to you on that.

As we got caught up on Van de Velde’s predicament – he had gone to the tee of the par-4 18th hole with a three-shot lead, but through a series of calamities now lay 3 … underwater – now my opinion of the guy did a 180. NOW I wanted him to win. It wasn’t going to be easy, though. Surely he would come to his senses and take a drop (4), then pitch onto the green (5) and hope to get that shot close enough that he could make the putt for 6 and claim the claret jug. A 7 – which would have plunged him into a playoff – was not a farfetched possibility.

Not farfetched at all; that’s the score he made, only it didn’t unfold quite as simply as I had envisioned. After taking his drop, Van de Velde hit his next shot into a greenside bunker. He then blasted out to 8 feet and, needing to make the putt to get into a playoff with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie, he did just that.

You think Leonard’s 45-footer at Brookline that won the Ryder Cup later that year was clutch? I’ll take Van de Velde’s putt eight days a week.



But there would be no happy ending for Van de Velde. In the four-hole, aggregate playoff, he opened with a double bogey and watched Lawrie win his only major.

Van de Velde got roasted in the media for “choking” and “making stupid decisions.” I felt this was unfair. So the next day, in my capacity as a sports columnist for The Palm Beach Post, I wrote this:

“I have a new hero. Jean Van de Velde, The Man Who Gave Away the British Open.” I wrote that Van de Velde had “remained true to himself” and that had he geared down and played the hole safely and won with a double bogey, he would have been quickly forgotten.

As it turned out, because of his tragedy (self-inflicted though it was), he gained far more fame for losing than Lawrie did for winning (which is unfair to Lawrie, but that’s a tale for another time). I’ll also wager that Van de Velde gained far more fans for the grace with which he took his defeat than he would have had he won. See Norman, Greg, Augusta, 1996.

Van de Velde may have made some questionable decisions – hitting driver off the tee, bringing water into play on his third shot when he had a horrible lie – but he had reasons for all of them. Nowhere do you see him saying “I am such an idiot” a la Phil Mickelson, or “What a stupid I am” a la Roberto De Vicenzo.

“Sure, I could have hit four wedges,” he recently told Golf Channel. “Wouldn’t they have said, ‘He won The Open, but, hey, he hit four wedges.’ I mean, who hits four wedges?”

There’s a great scene in the 1991 movie “The Commitments,” about putting a soul-music band together in the slums of Dublin. Against all odds, the band reaches the brink of success before sinking in a maelstrom of arguments and fistfights after its last gig.

Manager Jimmy Rabbitte is trudging home through the gloom, when saxophonist Joey “The Lips” Fagan rides up on his ever-present scooter. Joey tries to get Jimmy to see the bright side.

Look, I know you're hurting now, but in time you'll realize what you've achieved,” Joey says.

“I've achieved nothing!” Jimmy snaps.

“You're missing the point,” Joey replies. “The success of the band was irrelevant - you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it's poetry.’

That’s what Jean Van de Velde created on that memorable Scottish day in July 1999.

Poetry.