What Tour players can be thankful for this Thanksgiving

By Jason CrookNovember 22, 2012, 7:44 pm

When it comes to professional golfers, there’s no shortage of things for which to be thankful. For starters, playing golf for a living. But in the spirit of the holiday season, we dig a little deeper. As these pros sit around the table this Thanksgiving, after a season of general improbability becoming the norm, here is what they ought to be giving thanks for.

Rory McIlroy: He’s a 23-year-old two-time major champion with a firm grip on the world No. 1 ranking and more money than he knows what to do with (even without Nike's purported deal). Oh yeah, and his new best bud is his childhood idol, Tiger Woods. Is there anything he shouldn't be thankful for? Maybe his hairdo, but $200 million in the bank makes even that adorable.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods: Three wins, his health, a new best friend – if he wasn't trying to live up to the standards of say ... Tiger Woods, that's a pretty good year. It's nice to have Tiger back in the mix at majors and fist-pumping his way down the stretch on Sundays. It was a long 2 1/2 years between Tour wins. Long for the sport, and probably even longer for him. He should be thankful he's back to winning, even if he's not dominating the way he once did.

Jim Furyk in the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational final round

Jim Furyk: It's tough to imagine a worse year for a professional golfer than the one Jim Furyk just had. He played well, but couldn’t close. As he digs into the mashed potatoes and washes them down with, what else, a 5-Hour Energy shot, he should just be thankful that the season is finally over.

Ernie Els

Ernie Els and Webb Simpson: The two individuals who benefited most during the “Year of the Meltdown.” This season’s U.S. and British Opens will be remembered more for who lost them than who won, which is sad. But Simpson and Els will go into the record books as champions, and record books don’t have room for the whole story, so they can be thankful for that.

Rory McIlroy and Patrick Rollins

European Ryder Cup team: Every member of that team should be forever thankful to that Chicago policeman who was nice enough to escort Rory McIlroy to Medinah Country Club just in time for his singles match. If not for him, the Europeans have no shot at making that Sunday charge. Hopefully they did the right thing and sent him a card or something. By the way, in two years, maybe put someone in charge of wakeup calls? Just a thought.

Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson: Be thankful for that homemade golf swing; without it you wouldn't have a green jacket. And without that, you might not be invited back after you drive the General Lee down Magnolia Lane as defending champion at The Masters.

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler: Obviously, be thankful for the win – don’t take those for granted. But on a more important note, be thankful that you are a person that other people aspire to dress like, even though you repeatedly dress in one solid color from head to toe; that’s got to be a cool feeling. Don’t take that for granted, either.

Carl Pettersson at the 2012 RBC Heritage

Carl Pettersson: Of all the professional golfers out there, he’s probably going to have the best Thanksgiving, just based on sheer number of calories consumed. The man who won this year’s RBC Heritage should be very thankful that the more he eats the better he seems to play. After dropping 30 pounds in 2009, he had one of his worst seasons, so he went back to his diet of “10 beers and a tub of ice cream before bed,” and hasn’t looked back. You have to applaud his efforts to hone his craft; hopefully he washes down those beers and ice cream with some turkey and extra gravy this week. Carl has the problems we mere mortals can only dream of.

Brandt Snedeker

Brandt Snedeker: Be thankful that you can buy a really, really big turkey this Thanksgiving with the $11.44 million you earned in one weekend this year by winning the Tour Championship. Or maybe you did something a little more conventional with the money? The turkey thing was just my idea. Either way be thankful, you hit the jackpot.

Jason Dufner and Amanda

Jason Dufner: We’ve all heard of the breakout year; this guy had himself a breakout month, for which he should be giving thanks every day for the rest of his life. Between the end of April and middle of May, he won his first two Tour events, sandwiched around his wedding to longtime girlfriend Amanda Boyd. He should also be thankful that here in America we like winners; because somehow this breakout month got a man – who shows no emotion ever – a starring role in a sneaky-funny Comcast commercial.

Mike Davis and Bird Man

Mike Davis: Of all the lunatics who have come barging into a sporting event trying to ruin everyone’s good time, the U.S. Golf Association executive director should be thankful he got Jungle Bird, a “deforestation activist” who just wanted to let out a few bird calls for the camera. But after seeing Davis spring into action like golf’s version of Batman, he suddenly looks like a tough guy. Expect him to be up on stage next year when the trophy is presented, welcoming any new challengers. A precedent has been set.

TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

“Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”

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Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

“It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”