2013 Golf Channel Am Tour Crowns Six National Champions at PGA WEST

By Golf Channel Public RelationsOctober 1, 2013, 9:28 pm


Half of Champions Earn Title in Home-State

Kent, Wash.'s Oakley Murphy Prevails in Championship Flight Playoff

Keller, Texas' Nick Eason Celebrates 50th Birthday by Cruising to Victory in Jones Flight

Largest Golf Channel Am Tour National Championship Field in History

LA QUINTA, Calif., Sept. 26, 2013 – Six champions bested their respective flights in the final round of the 2013 Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships - some by way of a playoff, others in convincing fashion as golfers representing 47 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Canada convened at the famed PGA WEST in La Quinta, Calif. with nearly 650 players making up the largest field in Am Tour history. Three of the six champions won in their home state –hailing from Fair Oaks, Santa Clara and San Jose, Calif. respectively.

Oakley Murphy (Kent, Wash.), claimed the Championship Flight (handicap 3.9 or less) by following up a disappointing opening round of 82 with rounds of 71-68-73. A clutch five-foot par save on his final hole forced a playoff with defending champion Paul Erdman (Erie, Colo.), and Murphy prevailed on the first extra hole.

Largest in the field with 138 competitors, the Sarazen Flight produced a playoff finish as well. Rafael Rodriguez (San Jose, Calif.) earned top honors thanks to a trusty 5-iron approach on the difficult 18th hole of the Nicklaus course on the lone playoff hole. Rodriguez strung together rounds of 88-82-84-84 to capture his Flight (handicap of 12-15.9).

The Snead Flight (20+ handicap) included no such drama, with Daniel Guerra (Phoenix, Ariz.) surging to an 11-shot victory thanks to rounds of 87-83-96-92.

The 72-hole national championships served as the Tour’s culminating event and were contested on four PGA WEST courses including the Palmer Private Course – home to the PGA TOUR’s Humana Challenge – the TPC Stadium Course, Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course and Greg Norman Course. Beginning today, the Senior National Championship (age 50+) will commence on the same four courses with a field of more than 500 players.

Snead Flight (20+ handicap) Daniel Guerra of Phoenix, Ariz. cruised to an 11 stroke victory after keeping himself near the top of the leaderboard throughout the week. With a slim two shot lead entering his final round, Guerra’s 92 was good enough to distance himself from the field and complete his week with rounds of 87-83-96-92.

“When I woke up I felt good on the range,” Guerra said. “And I felt good with my putting. I felt pretty comfortable throughout the day.”

Jones Flight (16.0-19.9) A second round 79 on the Nicklaus course went a long way in helping Nick Eason of Keller, Texas to earn a 10-shot victory. The 79 – Eason’s first-ever –gave him an insurmountable cushion entering the final round. The lefty added a championship to his resume and celebrated his 50th birthday in style.

“There were some things that happened on the course this week you just can’t explain,” said Eason. “There were shots ricocheting off of things… I thought ‘hey, there’s something going on here.’”

Sarazen Flight (12.0-15.9) A reliable 5-iron amidst windy conditions helped Rafael Rodriguez (San Jose, Calif.) to claim the Sarazen flight in a playoff. Consistent play throughout the week led to rounds of 88-82-84-84 to earn championship honors.

“Nothing compares to this,” said Rodriguez. “The adrenaline of going back in a playoff and having everyone cheering and lining just like you see on TV was special.”

Hogan Flight (8.0-11.9) A first and third round 76 afforded Kevin Capps (Santa Clara, Calif.) some breathing room, and a steady final round 83 was good enough to win the Hogan Flight by five shots. Finishing 37th in the 2012 Nationals at TPC Sawgrass, Capps competed in every Am Tour weekend event this summer between June and August, compiling one win and nine other top-5 finishes on his way to winning the Hogan Flight.

“This is top of the list,” Capps said. “To come out here and compete against guys from all over the place, there’s a lot of great competitors out here.”

Palmer Flight (4.0-7.9) Johnny Frink (Fair Oaks, Calif.) shot rounds of 75-80-77-81 to edge out the next closest competitor by just one shot to win the Palmer Flight.

A Sacramento-area native, Frink won his two-day local Tour Championship in August, which gave him confidence heading into Nationals.

“I’m still in shock,” said Frink. “I can’t believe it. It was a grueling four days and I’m just happy I’m still standing.”

Championship Flight (<3.9) An opening round 82 couldn’t steer Oakley Murphy (Kent, Wash.) from contention in his final round of the Championship Flight. A cool 73 on the Palmer Private course put Murphy in a playoff where he prevailed on the first hole to win the title.

Murphy, who credits his grandpa for introducing him to the game while he was in high school, called his national victory his top golf achievement this far.

“I like the pressure,” said Murphy. “I like playing the game. It’s hard to go low when it’s windy, so I just tried to hang in there and make par.”

About the Golf Channel Am Tour

As the largest amateur golf tour in North America with more than 7,000 members, the Golf Channel Am Tour is open to the public and provides the most professional tournament experience for players of all ages and abilities, as well as offering unparalleled access to some of the most renowned and challenging golf courses across the country.  Divided into 55 local chapters throughout North America, the Golf Channel Am Tour in 2013 conducted more than 700 local championships and 31, two-day “Major” Championships throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.  For more information about the Golf Channel Am Tour and the national championships, visit www.gcamtour.com.

About Golf Channel:

As the fastest-growing network on television, Golf Channel is a multimedia, golf entertainment and services company based in Orlando, Fla. The Golf Channel cable network, co-founded by Arnold Palmer in 1995 and part of the NBC Sports Group, is available in more than 120 million homes worldwide through cable, satellite and wireless companies. As part of the NBC Sports Group, professional golf coverage on NBC is branded “Golf Channel on NBC,” further extending the Golf Channel brand to NBC’s broadcast audiences. Exclusive partnerships with the world’s top tours allow Golf Channel to feature more live golf coverage than all other networks combined, added to a programming schedule distinguished by golf’s best news, instruction and original programming. Golf Channel’s digital platform of businesses is led by www.GolfChannel.com, a leading golf destination on the Internet, delivering unmatched coverage of the world of golf, as well as services that help the recreational player with how to play, what to play and where to play golf.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

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.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

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.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

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.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

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.  

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Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”