What I Miss and What I Love to Do
What do you miss most about competing as a professional? ' Erin, Alberta
I think the thing I miss most about being a professional golfer is the competition. Ever since I was 5 years old, Ive played some kind of sport. Being athletic is a big part of my personality. Even though I dont play on the tour anymore, I still have fun in casual games with my friends. I also try to treat my television career as if it were a sport. I liken each show to a new game and I always want to play better each time. Granted it doesnt make you physically fitter but it gives you a mental workout.
Thanks for the question.
I have a 9 year old son who has developed a talent for playing golf but I feel at this point that I should no longer give him advice as it pertains to his golf skills. I feel it may be best to have him rely solely on his teacher for lessons. What are your thoughts? ' Paul, Lexington, S.C.
My best advice would be to listen to the child. If he wants help from you then you should give it to him but try not to confuse your information with anything his teacher is telling him. I would recommend talking with his instructor and finding out what he or she would like you to convey to your son. This guarantees that you two are always on the same page. Theres only one thing worse than too much information and thats conflicting information! Good luck!
I saw on the Golf Channel that you wake board. Cool. What would be your wake boarding handicap, and do you surf or do any other watersports? ' Tim, California
I love wakeboarding! Its such a rush to be outside on the water, getting as much air as I can. Granted Im no Dallas Friday but Im not a total slouch! Its hard to put a handicap on it but I would say that Im an intermediate boarder. I have about 6 or 7 tricks in my arsenal and Im hoping to add a few more before all is said and done. The only problem is the wear and tear on your body. When you wipe out, the water feels like concrete. It takes a while to recover from the big spills. Ive already had a concussion and I dont want another one. As for other water sports, I love water skiing, knee boarding and surfing. Every year I cover the Sony Open, I surf each morning before the broadcast. Occasionally, Ill go with my dad and brother, too! My dads an inspiration, still surfing at the age of 63!
What is your favorite club in the bag and do you buy the new clubs that are out there? ' Bill, Grande Prairie, Canada
My favorite club in the bag is my driver, by far. I get a big rush trying to pound drives and hit them straight. I know its a terrible habit but Ive always enjoyed the art of trying to position myself off of the tee. Im not the longest hitter but todays technology makes it much more fun than the old days! Right now Im hitting the Nike Sasquatch driver. I try to keep my bag relatively up to date by adding a few pieces of the latest equipment but Im not one to pour a ton of money into my bag. I still have the same putter I used when I was 15 years old and Ive had the same irons for a few years.
Good luck with your game.
Do you keep in touch with any of your old teammates from Duke or have anything to do with the program today? ' William, North Carolina
The short answer is yes. As a matter of fact, Ive had dinner with two of my former teammates in the last three weeks. I stay in touch with my coach as well. He has a heck of a team on his hands this year. They look good to win another national championship in 07. We recently had a team reunion on campus at Duke University. It was a real treat to see, not only my old teammates, but also members of teams from other years. All of us stay in touch because of the bond that we share as friends and as alumni. We share a special camaraderie.
Thanks for the question.
What have you noticed about the pro game from the play-by-play booth that is different from your previous experience? ' Kirk, Temple, TX
Thats an interesting question. I would have to say that the biggest difference in covering the action from the booth versus covering it in post-game shows is that we spend most of our time setting up the action rather than looking back on it. It keeps you much more in the moment. This opportunity has also afforded me the chance to pick the brains of many of the best players to ever compete while the action is unfolding. Its a real treat working with the analysts in the game today.
Thanks for your interest, Kirk
I met you a few years back at Bay Hill. You were so nice and made me feel great. With this being your first year doing shot by shot commentary (and doing a great job) how do you prepare for each event? ' Chris
Good to hear from you. I was lucky enough to have Bay Hill on my play-by-play schedule this year. I had my first home game! It was great. I was able to prepare for the event in the comforts of my own home which is a refreshing change of pace from hotel rooms. Each event calls for a different method of preparation because they are all so different. Some of the things I always try to do are stay on top of the games news, talk to the players before and after their practice sessions or, even at times, join them for dinner because its a much more relaxed setting. I also spend time with my partner in the booth, scouting the golf course so that Im aware of the areas that may garner the most attention. I know it sounds like a lot of work but I enjoy all of it. Thanks for taking the time to write.
Thanks for the questions,
Email Kelly with your questions for next month's Q&A
Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open
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.
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.
Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:
The Monday morning headline will be …
REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.
RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.
MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.
JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.
Who or what will be the biggest surprise?
HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.
LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.
BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.
COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.
Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?
HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.
LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.
BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.
COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.
What will be the winning score?
HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.
LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.
BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.
COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.
Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty
Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.
Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.
This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):
While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:
Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.
McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.
Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.
“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”
McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.
“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”
He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.