Hawks Nest: Where's the Match Play madness?

By John HawkinsFebruary 18, 2013, 2:00 pm

Midway into the first quarter of my 9-year-old daughter’s basketball game a few weeks back, I got up to use the men’s room, then waited until play had stopped at the far end of the gym before jogging across the court and returning to my seat. As soon as the quarter ended, the referee came over and scolded me for crossing the floor while play was in session.

“Don’t ever do that again,” he said with undue emphasis, which still would have bothered me if my older daughter, my wife and a good friend of ours weren’t sitting right there. Still, I let it slide, at least for a couple of minutes, until the awkward silence threatened to transform me into the little-league dad I so despise.


Bracket Challenge: Make picks for WGC-Match Play


The guy had downsized me in front of my family. In an unnecessary tone, no less, as if this were Game 7 of the NBA Finals. At moments like these, a man is forced to make a couple of crucial decisions in a short period of time. Does my reply come in the form of a five-knuckle, four-letter-word combo? Am I strong enough to not reply at all? And why does my wife always get mad at me, regardless of how these situations turn out?

I saw an open left lane on the high road and walked out, regretting only that I didn’t cross the court again while exiting the building. Some guys, you give them a whistle and they want to rule the world. You might also say that one overreaction deserves another.


ELSEWHERE IN THE department of Much Ado About Nothing, I’m thinking no big PGA Tour event has undercut the swell of pre-tournament buzz more often than the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Wednesday’s 32-match opening round might be the most interesting weekday on the schedule, but in general, things seem to get more anticlimactic as the week goes on.

After a rough start in terms of getting the game’s biggest names into the late rounds, each of the last four finals have featured marquee matchups. None of the four were all that compelling or close. We’ve seen a couple of insufferable blowouts – not once have we seen a late charge by someone to win the thing, or a stretch of spectacular golf even the most devout cynic would have to classify as memorable.

Too bad. Match play is a format with a lot of cool qualities, and the Tour does it only once a year. From a business standpoint, Accenture has been a terrific title sponsor – the only company still around since the WGC series was instituted in 1999. I like the event a lot and look forward to watching it, but when it comes to riveting, talk-about-it-around-the-water-cooler stuff, it simply hasn’t produced.

Maybe this week will be different, but I’ll admit to having very little interest in filling out a bracket. More than any other tournament, it’s total guesswork. I remember the first couple of Match Play gatherings at La Costa – people were giddily calling it pro golf’s version of the NCAA basketball tournament, aptly dubbed March Madness, but those notions were quickly dispelled.

There were way too many upsets, which isn’t a bad thing from a competitive standpoint, but commercially, the random nature of the results led to an unappealing absence of rhyme and reason. At the majors, we’re very likely to have one or two superstars in the hunt. At the Match Play, we can get Jeff Maggert and Andrew Magee.

One of these years, we’ll get an instant classic. At this point, however, the tournament is 0 for 14.


OTHER THAN FREDRIK Jacobson himself, nobody was more surprised than me to see him miss a 5-footer on Riviera’s 18th green Sunday evening – a putt that would have gotten him into the playoff with eventual winner John Merrick and Charlie Beljan. The Junkman, as we call Jacobson, is a good guy to whom I was introduced years ago by fellow Swede Jesper Parnevik.

We were standing on a practice green somewhere – it usually doesn’t matter with Jacobson. “Which side of the hole do you want him to make it on?” Parnevik asked me. I was perplexed. The Junkman was grinning. “Seriously, this guy is the best putter in the world,” Parnevik added. “Now which side of the hole do you want it to go in on?'

Jacobson was about 8 feet from the hole. “Right side,” I responded, and sure enough, Jacobson dispatched his ball to the right lip, where it gently curled into the cup.

“Pretty good. Left half,” I requested.

Bingo.

“Straight in the heart.”

Swish.

“If the guy could hit a fairway,” Parnevik announced, “he’d be the best player in the world.”


UPON READING MY recent lament on slow play last week, a player texted me with an intriguingly valid point: why would the Tour feel compelled to make these guys play faster when the Sunday telecast routinely runs long – and into the giant audience owned by “60 Minutes,” a CBS franchise for 45 years?

I don’t know how television ratings work, but I do know there is a separate number for the final hour of an extended-length sports presentation – and that nobody extends the length quite like the PGA Tour. Intentional? Can’t see that being the case, but a deterrent to enforcing slow-play policy with the game on the line? Not only is it possible, it makes a lot of sense.


WHILE CLEANING OUT my computer last week, I was quickly sidetracked by the large collection of Tiger Woods stories I’ve written over the years. I think I wrote the lead piece for Golf World at 11 of Woods’ 14 major-championship victories. Among the three I missed was Tiger’s beat-down of history at the 2000 U.S. Open, where he won by 15 and I was about to become a father for the first time.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the smartest and dumbest Woods-related things I’ve done as a golf journalist.

Dumbest – Lots of candidates here, but one clear winner: a 2005 column I wrote proposing that Tiger’s father, Earl, should be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. My intentions were honest, my reasoning two levels below shallow, and the “you’re an idiot” mail I received in response from readers did a superb job of pointing that out.

Smartest – In collaboration with my longtime editor, Geoff Russell, we conceived a cover for the 1996 year-end issue of Golf World that had Tiger’s face on Mount Rushmore, along with those of Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones. Again, we got a ton of mail, almost all of it negative, but 16-plus years later, I think it’s fair to surmise that the dunce cap didn’t fit.


WHEN I GOT home from my daughter’s basketball game that Saturday in January, I was still pretty angry over some fourth-grade ref giving me the business about walking across the court. So I called the guy who runs the rec center – he could not have been more courteous or understanding when I told him what had transpired.

Privately, he was probably thinking I’m a little crazy, but then, I think the people who run the basketball league are a bit off themselves. The one thing they make super-duper clear when you walk in the door, whether it’s as a parent or a coach, is that winning and losing mean absolutely nothing.

Maybe that’s another reason this country is going to hell in a haywagon.

When I attended the clinic for first-time coaches a couple of years ago, that point was driven home, oh, seven or eight times. I’m no John Wooden, but I’ll tell you this: Most 9-year-old kids want to win as much as Michael Jordan. Don’t believe me? Have yourself a 9-year-old, then get back to me.

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Woods: New putter should help on slower greens

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:35 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.

The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”

To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.

“You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”  

For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.

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Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:26 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.

“I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.

“Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.

That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.

“You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

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"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

  • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
  • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
  • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.

 

“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange

 

“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico

 

Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 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 GolfChannel.com.  

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; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)