Is Day ready for a major breakthrough?

By John FeinsteinJune 11, 2014, 9:07 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – If you walk the grounds at Pinehurst this week you will be surrounded by avid golf fans, true devotees of the game.

And yet if you ask this question, chances are you will not get a correct answer: Who finished second to Justin Rose in last year’s U.S. Open at Merion?

That’s easy, right? Phil Mickelson finished second and declared it the biggest heartbreak of his career.

Mickelson did finish second at Merion – his sixth second-place finish in a U.S. Open. But he didn’t finish second alone. He tied for second with … wait for it … Jason Day.

Day has finished second twice in the Open - 2011 in the Rory McIlroy runaway at Congressional and last year at Merion when, like Mickelson, he was in contention until the last few holes. In his first Masters, in 2011, he tied for second - two shots behind Charl Schwartzel. Last year he finished third at Augusta, two shots shy of the Adam Scott-Angel Cabrera playoff.

It is easy to forget that Day is still only 26 because he’s been on so many major leaderboards, even though his first one wasn’t until the 2010 PGA, where he tied for 10th.  He hasn’t made it look easy, but he has made it clear he can play very good golf when the heat is on. Just not quite good enough - yet - to get where he wants to go.

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“I’ve been close in a few majors now,” he said Tuesday. “So close you can almost taste it. It’s disappointing and encouraging at the same time. It really is all how you look at things. I can stew on it and say I kind of have blown a major or two or I had a real opportunity to win and I just didn’t quite get there.

“But I look at it as experience.  I just have to keep giving myself the opportunities. If I can put myself there more and more and more, it’s bound to happen.”

If it happens this week at Pinehurst, you can bet much will be made of the fact that Day’s father, Alvin, who gave him his first golf club when he was 3, passed away, a cancer victim, when Jason was 12. Now that Jason is a father himself - his son Dash will be 2 in July - the Father’s Day theme that frequently dominates an Open Sunday would be very much in play - just as it was a year ago when Rose blew a kiss skyward to honor his dad after his final putt on 18.

Day has thought about what it might mean to him to be in that position. “I know, watching Rosie last year, his dad passed away and just for him to talk about what the impact his father had on his life, to be able to recognize that and say it in his speeches, you know it’s pretty special,” Day said. “Hopefully, one day Dash will be able to see me playing and winning tournaments, not only the U.S. Open, but other tournaments as well. And we can look back on it together as father and son and really enjoy it and have those memories that go a long way. Because I never really got to experience that with my father.”

Day has never been one to dwell on setbacks - the biggest one being his dad’s death. This year he’s dealt with injuries - one to his thumb and one to his knee - that set him back after he won the Accenture Match Play in February. He appeared poised to make a serious run at being ranked No. 1 after that victory jumped him to No. 4.

Instead, he had to take time off, tried to play through pain at the Masters - finishing tied for 20th - and then had to take another few weeks off to try to allow the thumb and knee to heal.

“It was frustrating,” he said. “I’ve been icing my thumb and taking anti-inflammatories every day just to make sure that it doesn’t pop up again. If it’s going to pop up, it’s going to pop up.”

Day arrived in Pinehurst on Friday so he could play his way into the tournament without pushing his body too hard. He played nine holes Tuesday and took Wednesday off to rest for his early tee time Thursday. He’s played only once - the Memorial - since the Masters, so this might not be his week to win a major - yet.

Either way, Day will handle what comes with grace because he’s a remarkably mature young man. When he was asked Tuesday about losing his father at an early age he made the point that, as sad as it was, he isn’t the only person to deal with that sort of loss.

Day was 19 when he made it through the first two stages of Q-School and played what was then the Nationwide Tour in 2007. He and Erik Compton, who has had two heart transplants, became friends during that year.

 “Spending time with Erik taught me a lot about life and about adversity,” Day said. “We golfers tend to get pissy if we get rained on for 15 minutes. Or if the wind changes on us during a round. I saw what Erik had to go through every day just to get to the first tee - the pills, the headaches he gets all the time - and it made me realize that I’ve suffered some loss but I’ve got a pretty easy life right now. In a sense, I was lucky to find that out even before I got to the Tour.”

He became the youngest player ever to win on that tour in July 2007 and was on the PGA Tour in 2008, shortly after turning 20. He won for the first time in 2010 at the Byron Nelson Classic and has steadily improved since. His ability to deal with what comes – whether near-misses in majors or injuries at inopportune times - makes it easy to forget that he’s still just a kid when it comes to golf.

On Tuesday, someone pointed out that the two Australians who have been ranked No. 1 - Greg Norman and current No. 1 Adam Scott - were both in their 30s when they reached that ranking. Day won’t be 30 until July 2017.

“Yeah, I’d like to do that (be No. 1 before 30),” he said with a grin. “It would be awesome just to be No. 1 in general but I really want to achieve that No. 1 spot before I’m 30. And then get into my real peak of my golfing career and see what I’ve got.”

Based on what he’s shown, Day appears to have plenty. And plenty more still to come.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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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.