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Golf Channel Announces U.S. Open Week Coverage Plans, June 11-17

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 7, 2018, 7:40 pm

Golf Channel announced its programming plans for the 118th U.S. Open, taking place June 11-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton on Long Island (N.Y.), led by Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open contributing to more than 50 total hours of live news coverage throughout the week.

Labeled by Golf Digest as “the best 19th hole in television golf,” Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open will originate from a dedicated set adjacent to the practice green, with Shinnecock’s clubhouse serving as the backdrop. On-site coverage will provide viewers with an inside-the-ropes perspective, including vantage points from the practice green and short game area, along with the driving range, where Toptracer technology will be utilized to showcase those in the field preparing for competition.

Anchoring Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open (beginning on Monday, June 11) will be Rich Lerner in primetime, along with Cara Banks and Ryan Burr during the day. Analysts on-site for the network in primetime include Brandel Chamblee, David Duval and Frank Nobilo, in addition to Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard and Mark Rolfing during the day. Todd Lewis and Steve Burkowski will serve as reporters from the golf course. Golf Channel Insiders Jaime Diaz, Rex Hoggard and Tim Rosaforte will discuss emerging storylines as the tournament unfolds, while Ken Schofield and Geoff Shackelford will join as contributing guests over the course of the week. Award-winning NBC Sports host Mike Tirico also will help preview the championship with a one-hour special of Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open, airingin primetime at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, June 12. The hour will include Tirico’s interview with Phil Mickelson, reflecting on his near misses over the years at the only event that’s eluded him in his effort to claim the career Grand Slam.

Coverage of Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open will be complemented by a number of dedicated features, including:

  • A Retrospective on the 2008 U.S. Open: It’s often referenced with an implication of bewilderment as the site of Tiger Woods’ last major championship victory. 10 years removed from the 2008 U.S. Open, the principal individuals having called the broadcast reflect on the week that was, including Woods’ physical limitations that came to light on the biggest stage.
  • Jimmy Dunne’s Inconceivable Fate: A Long Island native, Jimmy Dunne has become a known figure in the golf world thanks to his friendships with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed. Mike Tirico examines the severe burden facing the longtime Wall Street trader, along with Dunne’s perpetual mission.
  • Lessons Learned from Misfortune: The final round of the 2004 U.S. Open will forever be remembered for its disastrous, virtually unplayable conditions, most notably on Shinnecock’s par-3 7th hole. Geoff Shackelford offers insight from the USGA on lessons learned from that unforgettable day, and how they’re protecting against letting it ever happen again.
  • Floyd’s Family Inspiration: Early in his career, Raymond Floyd was seen by many as a tremendous talent who seemed to lack the focus needed to become great. Tim Rosaforte shares the story of how Floyd’s car ride to Shinnecock at the 1986 U.S. Open with his late-wife Maria ultimately altered the arc of his career; so much so that the Floyd family celebrated her life after her passing in 2012 on Shinnecock’s 18th green, site the of couple’s greatest triumph.
  • Mickelson’s Empire State Adulation: New York’s steadfast fan base can be a difficult faction to impress. But as Rich Lerner demonstrates, it’s no wonder that Phil Mickelson’s go-for-broke style to the tune of four heartbreaking runner-up finishes in New York-hosted U.S. Opens has earned the Empire State’s unwavering support for their favorite lefty.

Additional features include: Todd Lewis’ conversation with defending champion Brooks Koepka, discussing his victory at Erin Hills last year and injury-driven season to-date, and Matt Ginella embedding himself with the grounds crew at Shinnecock to showcase what goes on behind-the-scenes in order to prepare for a U.S. Open.

Morning Drive

Morning Drive will kick off each day of U.S. Open week with the latest news and storylines surrounding the competition. 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy will join the show on Tuesday and Wednesday to offer perspective leading into the competition on Thursday. The show also will feature live reports with guests joining from Shinnecock Hills, including Jaime Diaz, Rex Hoggard, Tim Rosaforte and Geoff Shackelford.        

PGA TOUR Champions Learning Center

On Monday, June 11 at 11:30 p.m. ET, PGA TOUR Champions Learning Center will air a new episode dedicated to the U.S. Open. The episode will feature Corey Pavin as a guest, where he’ll re-enact his famous 4-wood on the 72nd hole at Shinnecock to win the 1995 U.S. Open. Reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Kenny Perry also will join the episode in advance of being a participant in the field at Shinnecock.

Digital Coverage

Golf Channel Digital will feature expanded coverage from its team of writers on-site at Shinnecock Hills: Rex Hoggard, Ryan Lavner, Randall Mell and Will Gray. Beginning Thursday, June 14 and continuing through the tournament’s conclusion, Golf Channel Digital will feature a live blog with up-to-the-minute analysis and reaction to the latest news. Coverage also will include up-to-the-minute scoring updates, features, analysis and reaction to emerging storylines and photo galleries. Lisa Cornwell, George Savaricas, Brian Bateman and Tripp Isenhour will provide previews, analysis and news coverage throughout the week via Golf Channel Digital, originating from Golf Channel’s headquarters in Orlando, Fla., including “Instant Analysis” once tournament play begins.

International Programming

Golf Channel will produce international U.S. Open news programming from its Orlando World Headquarters in both Japanese and Mandarin, featuring reports and custom content throughout the week. These productions will complement the international distribution of Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open, which is distributed to markets within Golf Channel’s worldwide footprint of nearly 500 million viewers in 78 countries and nine languages around the world.


U.S. Open Week Programming Air Times (all times ET):


Monday, June 11

7-9 a.m.                                   Morning Drive

1-4 p.m.                                  Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open

7-9 p.m.                                  Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open


Tuesday, June 12

7-9 a.m.                                   Morning Drive

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.                     Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open

7-10 p.m.                                Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open


Wednesday, June 13

7-9:30 a.m.                             Morning Drive                       

Noon-5 p.m.                            Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open

7-9 p.m.                                  Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open


Thursday, June 14

6-7 a.m.                                   Morning Drive

7-9:30 a.m.                             Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open

7:30-9:30 p.m.                        Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open


Friday, June 15

6-7 a.m.                                   Morning Drive

7-10 a.m.                                 Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open

7:30-9:30 p.m.                         Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open


Saturday, June 16

6-8 a.m.                                   Morning Drive

8-11 a.m.                                 Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open

7:30-9:30 p.m.                         Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open


Sunday, June 17

6-8 a.m.                                   Morning Drive

8-10 a.m.                                 Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open

7-9 p.m.                                  Golf Central Live From the U.S. Open

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Bhatia loses U.S. Am match after caddie-cart incident

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 2:21 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One of the hottest players in amateur golf had his U.S. Amateur run end Wednesday under unusual circumstances.

Akshay Bhatia, the 16-year-old left-hander who has been dominating the junior golf circuit over the past year, squandered a late lead in his eventual 19-hole loss to Bradford Tilley in the Round of 64.

Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.

“The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.

It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

Even more interesting was what Darnell said happened earlier in the match.

“I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

Bhatia won the 15th hole to go 1 up, but lost the 17th and 19th holes with bogeys to lose the match. He didn’t blame the outcome on the cart incident.  

“What can you do? I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in this tournament, so I’m not too upset about it,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I deserved to win that match. That wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I can’t do anything about it.”

Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., has been a dominant force in the junior ranks, going back-to-back at the Junior PGA (including this dramatic hole-out), capturing the AJGA Polo, taking the Sage Valley Invitational and reaching the finals of the U.S. Junior.

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1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.

Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.

Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.

Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.

The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.

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Fiery Augenstein outduels Morikawa at U.S. Amateur

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 12:55 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Around the Vanderbilt golf team John Augenstein’s nickname is “Flash,” and it’s easy to see why.

The swing loaded with speed.

The on-course charisma.

The big shot in the big moment.

The Commodores junior added another highlight to his growing collection Wednesday, when he defeated world No. 3 Collin Morikawa in 19 holes during a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur.

Out of sorts early at Pebble Beach, Augenstein was 2 down to Morikawa after butchering the short seventh and then misplaying a shot around the green on 8.

Standing on the ninth tee, he turned to Vanderbilt assistant coach/caddie Gator Todd: "I need to play the best 10 holes of my life to beat Collin."

And did he?

“I don’t know,” he said later, smirking, “but I did enough.”

Augenstein won the ninth hole after Morikawa dumped his approach shot into the hazard, drained a 30-footer on 10 to square the match and then took his first lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on 14.

One down with three holes to go, Morikawa stuffed his approach into 16 while Augenstein, trying to play a perfect shot, misjudged the wind and left himself in a difficult position, short and right of the green. Augenstein appeared visibly frustrated once he found his ball, buried in the thick ryegrass short of the green. He told Todd that he didn’t think he’d be able to get inside of Morikawa’s shot about 6 feet away, but he dumped his pitch shot onto the front edge, rode the slope and trickled it into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

“Come on!” he yelled, high-fiving Todd and tossing his wedge at his bag.

“It was beautiful,” Todd said. “I’m not sure how he did that, but pretty cool that it went in.”  

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

Morikawa answered by making birdie, then won the 17th with a par before both players halved the home hole with birdies.

On the first extra hole, Augenstein hit his approach to 15 feet while Morikawa left it short. Morikawa raced his first putt by 6 feet and then missed the comebacker to lose the match.

It may not have been the best 10-hole stretch of Augenstein’s career, but after that pep talk on 9 tee, he went 4 under to the house.

“He’s a fiery little dude,” Morikawa said of his 5-foot-8-inch opponent. “You don’t want to get him on the wrong side because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s not going to give shots away.”

The first-round match was a rematch of the Western Amateur quarterfinals two weeks ago, where Augenstein also won, that time by a 4-and-2 margin.

“It’s the most fun format and where I can be my true self – emotional and aggressive and beat people,” Augenstein said.

That’s what he did at the 2017 SECs, where he won the deciding points in both the semifinals and the finals. He starred again a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, last season went 3-0 in SEC match play, and now has earned a reputation among his teammates as a primetime player.

“I’ve hit a lot of big shots and putts in my career,” said Augenstein, ranked 26th in the world after recently winning the Players Amateur. “I get locked in and focused, and there’s not a shot that I don’t think I can pull off. I’m not scared to fail.”

The comeback victory against Morikawa – a three-time winner last season at Cal and one of the best amateurs in the world – didn’t surprise Todd. He’s seen firsthand how explosive Augenstein can be on the course.

“He’s just fiery,” Todd said. “He does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to do. He’s just a special kid.”

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.