And the Best is Yet to Come
Tough for me to give the perspective you might. But for what it's worth, this show is a blast to be a part of! Lots of panel members, lots of interviews, lots of topics to toss around. And we do it in a spectacular new studio setting that really gives us a shot of enthusiasm before we say hello.
An hour on Wednesday nights (this week it was Tuesday because of the Bob Hope's five-round format), the Golf Channel Pre-Game is meant to get you prepped for the week's tournament play. Yes, there will be interviews. Yes, there will be features and stat-driven information. But the key to the show's flow will depend on plain old fun-loving entertainment value.
The Golf Channel Post-Game airs on Sunday right after network coverage of the day's golf. Usually that will mean 6 PM ET. We'll wrap it up, listen to the winners and also those who came close. You'll get a breakdown of the moments that decided the event and we'll also keep you up on the latest topics.
The goal is to toss around those topics like they're unwanted pennies. Some will grab your interest more than others... but all are designed to give you a better feel for the week's world of golf.
As I see it, we've got a studio full of enthusiastic insiders. Mark Lye and Kelly Tilghman should be familiar to those of you Golf Channel loyalists. Lye's won on the PGA Tour, where he spent nearly 20 years playing some pretty sound golf with the best. Kelly played collegiate golf at Duke University and made a run at the LPGA before getting into this crazy business. Good luck finding a non-tour playing woman who knows more about golf. Listen when she speaks. She tells me I need to all the time!!
But enough about those you know. Let me tell you a little bit about those you might not be so familiar with.
Brian Hewitt's been seen on our air many times, but now comes to The Golf Channel full-time from GolfWeek where he certainly set a high standard for journalistic integrity and creative insight. Brian's been around the block in this business. A long-time golf writer, he first spent time working in the Windy City for one of Chicago's 'big-two' dailies. Among his assignments, Brian covered the Bears like the Buccaneer defensive backs recently blanketed Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. Not much gets past Hewitt no matter what he's covering, and his insight will be valuable on these shows.
How much do you know about Peter Oosterhuis? Born in London, he now lives in the Scottsdale, Ariz., area. Certainly you've seen him on CBS Sports coverage of the PGA Tour. But he started in television on The Golf Channel as our European Tour telecasts. 'Oosty', as he's known, played in six Ryder Cups and won the British Order of Merit money title for four straight years from 1971 to 1974. Runner-up twice at the British Open, Oosterhuis has 20 worldwide wins to his credit.
And when it comes to insightful commentary, Oosty never lets you down. This guy is a wealth of well-researched information. What I'm hoping for is that Hewitt or Lye will take him to task a time or two with some of their own 'homework.'
I'm told its my 'job' to steer the ship. That's great, and I love it. If I do my job, you'll get to know these guys and gals a lot better than you might on any other show. And hopefully this ship steers its way into your living room on a regular basis!
I'm biased of course, but I think this show has great days ahead.
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.
Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.
Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.
Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose
20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed
40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton
50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick
60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson
80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele
100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.
Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.
Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.
There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.
There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.
Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.
John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”
Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.
Hoylake in 2006.
That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.
So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?
“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”
With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?
“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”