Anticipation builds as Daly's Champions debut nears

By Mercer BaggsMay 4, 2016, 9:30 pm

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – This was already going to be a good week. Weather forecasts for the Insperity Invitational have temperatures in the mid-80s with no chance of rain.

No. Chance. It sounds really good, but people in this part of east Texas need to see it – or not see it – to believe it.

They’ve received nearly 12 inches of rainfall since April 17, more than three times the normal amount this time of year, because of deadly flooding in the Houston area.

Now there is sun. And optimisim. And John Daly.

Daly is making his PGA Tour Champions debut at The Woodlands Country Club, as you may have heard. And his arrival has brought with it great anticipation.

“I don’t think we’ve ever promoted a guy’s debut on our tour as much as we’ve promoted him,” Bryan Naugle, executive director of the Insperity Invitational, said Wednesday. “We have billboards, banners, signage all over town, television commercials that we run constantly and radio spots.”

As PGA Tour Champions president Greg McLaughlin indicated recently, promoting Daly promotes the tour and, “what’s good for the tour is good for the players.”

Daly’s arrival is a boon for the senior circuit, and for his professional career. He’s played only two tournaments this year, missing the cut at the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open in March and missing the cut at the European Tour’s Qatar Masters in January. That’s four official rounds in four months.

Because of that, Daly is admittedly nervous. He knows there are a lot of expectations on him. He can handle the meet-and-greets, cocktail parties, autograph sessions and media obligations. “He’s very, very sponsor-centric,” McLaughlin said. “He gets it.”

Being a personality isn’t a problem for Daly. Being competitive, however, is.

“My game is really awful right now,” he said. “My game is nowhere where I want it to be, because I haven’t played a lot.

“I’m trying to be as prepared as I can.”

That preparation began on Sunday, when he played the Tournament Course by himself, using three balls on each hole. He then asked in for a spot in pro-ams on both Monday and Tuesday, in addition to the ones he was already slated for on Wednesday and Thursday.

Daly has an affinity for this area. He had three top-10s at this venue when it hosted the Shell Houston Open and two more when it moved to Redstone Country Club. He had only 35 top-10s in his PGA Tour career, so that’s a pretty good percentage.

Daly expects the confidence to come around at some point. He said he needs three or four starts under his belt to shake off the rust and settle in. He’s scheduled for 10 of the next 11 Champions events, as well as the Open Championship and PGA Championship on the regular circuit. He's been craving a steady schedule for years – without a full-time PGA Tour card since 2007 – and he now has it.

But until he finds his comfort zone, you might see a milder Wild Thing. He’s carrying a 1-iron in his bag this week and expects to use it off the tee more than his driver. “I feel like I’m hitting that really, really well,” he said. “It’s the best part of my game right now.”

Of course, fans could alter his game plan. And there’s going to be a lot of them out there this week.

Naugle said the tournament doesn’t sell tickets, rather they have corporate sponsors (Insperity, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Woodforest National Bank and MD Anderson Cancer Center) pay the daily gate fees. They are also giving fans Daly bobbleheads during Round 1, in addition to hosting Loudmouth Friday, where people can wear their garish apparel for a chance to meet Daly and get his autograph.

Not that getting Daly’s signature should be too difficult. As McLaughlin, who was president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation for 14 years before his current position, noted, this isn’t the PGA Tour.

“You have a realistic chance to get an autograph here,” he said. “Fans are different here, they are more respectful. And the players are more accommodating. It's a more mellow atmosphere. ... These aren’t the huge crowds of Greg Norman in the ‘90s or Tiger Woods in the 2000s."

Friday, however, could be different as Daly plays alongside good friends Fuzzy Zoeller and Peter Jacobsen, teeing off at 1:30 p.m. ET.

“This is a big deal. John Daly is a star," Naugle said. "If we have weather like we’ve had today, Friday is going to be crazy.”

Getty Images

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 (

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.