Dream Come True

By Michael CollinsMarch 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
 
I don't care who wins the Zurich Classic because I've already won.
 
Here's how my dream week began.
 
This past Christmas I told my best friend his present was a trip to any tournament I'm going to. Having never been to New Orleans, and because I'm not out on the course for 12 hours a day and we could actually have some fun, he chose this week. Good choice.
 
I told him I was performing at the pairings party. What I didn't tell him was that Tommy Fonseca, Tournament Director of the Zurich Classic (and my new hero), had gotten me a spot in the Wednesday pro-am itself. What Tommy didn't tell me was with whom he had paired me.
 
So I got up on stage Tuesday night and proceeded to make fun of Jim Furyk (who was there with his wife), Stewart Cink, and pretty much all of my buddies out on TOUR.
 
I really shouldn't drink before I go on stage.
 
After the pairings draw it was time for the music, the band Better Than Ezra. I was hanging out backstage with Tim Petrovic who informs me he's going to get up on stage and play with the band. SWEET!
 
Here comes John Daly. He wants a hug and now he's coming in for a kiss! Oh dear God, he ain't backin' down ... POW! Plants one right one the kisser! Now I need a tetanus shot and fast. I am feeling very dirty right now ' even writing this makes me feel ... itchy.
 
What I'm not telling you is the look on my best friends face as this night is unfolding. I tell you, watching him was even better for me than it was for him. He's screaming at me now, 'No way dude!' Eating, drinking and being merry until about midnight I tell him we have to get back to the hotel and get some sleep; he was caddying for me in the pro-am the next day. I thought he was going cry, or break my ribs hugging me.
 
See, Jose loves to live through me. He's a full-time cop with a wife and four kids. I love his family. As an only child he's my brother; I've known him since I was 8. He was the one who got me into comedy, he was the one who told me I'd make a great caddie, and he's the one who tells me when I get famous he wants to be my 'head of security.'
 
He had always dreamed of caddying someday and now he was getting his chance and the best is yet to come.
 
We showed up at the golf course around two hours early for the 12:20 p.m. tee time. Man, did my fellow caddies have a lot of ribbing for me! Then here comes the media. Now I seriously know how a player feels when he has to warm up and a bunch of knuckleheads (myself included) want to come up and 'chat.' I will never do that to a player again.
 
I end up playing with 2005 champ Petrovic. I give him a little ribbing for 'not really PLAYING' the guitar on stage with the band, just flinging it behind his back and throwing the pick to the crowd.
 
'Did Elvis ever really play his guitar on stage?!' he replied.
 
You're no Elvis, Timmy, but I love ya anyways.
 
So we go to the first tee just in time to meet our other playing partner, who just happens to be Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints.
 
Well, they won't let me turn this column into a book so I'll tell you the Cliff's Notes version.
 
I have never been so nervous hitting a tee shot in my life. We started on No. 10, which is 390 yards down wind, making driver too much club. Drew gets introduced to a long, loud ovation. I get my intro... crickets. I laughed and then almost threw up bending over to put my tee in the ground.
 
Jose says, 'Relax, it's gonna be great.'
 
I pop up the 3-wood and hit into the bunker right. I did calm down and really hit it well off the tee for a while.
 
Drew is awesome (and I'm an Eagles fan) and plays to a single digit handicap ' and he hits it LONG. I did hit it by him a couple times, until my driver broke on our back nine.
 
We threw a football around on the course and ended up getting put on the clock, IN A PRO-AM (oops)! I made some really nice putts (these greens are going to die by Friday if they don't water them). Drew made a couple of birdies. We hit every tree in the fairways on the back nine. Even Drew's agent (Chris) is cool. He played, too; he's a hack just like most of us.
 
By the end of it all, my best friends back and knees were killing him ' and I brought my CARRY BAG! Guess two boxes of balls and rain gear wasn't really necessary.
 
We didn't 'win' the pro-am, but I got pictures with my best friend, Drew Brees, and Tim P., so it's a win for us.
 
Now, as I write this, I gotta get some sleep cause I gotta 'work' Thursday. Jose is passed out in the bed next to mine. Wait until you see the pictures we get Friday night on Bourbon St.!
 
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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 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)

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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.