Golf Channel's Morning Drive Expands to Seven Days and Unveils New Format, New Co-Hosts, New Set

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 24, 2013, 9:39 pm

The list of reasons to wake up to television’s only live morning golf show got longer with today’s announcement that Golf Channel’s popular Morning Drive will re-launch on Feb. 4 with a new format, a new cast of co-hosts, state-of-the-art studio and an expanded, seven days a week schedule.

“If you love golf, Morning Drive has become the way to start your day,” said Mike McCarley, President of Golf Channel. “In just two years, the show has become weekday appointment viewing for those who share a passion for the game and on the few weekends when Morning Drive has aired, Golf Channel has seen a three-fold increase in ratings. This move to seven days a week, with a new set and new additions to the cast will allow us to engage in a broader range of topics covering all aspects of the game and give viewers a reason to wake up with Morning Drive every day of the week.”

NEW AND EXPANDED CO-HOST TEAM: By expanding to seven days each week, the new Morning Drive cast naturally is going to grow. Current Morning Drive co-hosts Gary Williams, Damon Hack and Holly Sonders will be joined by Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer to form the on-air “foursome” typically covering Thursdays through Mondays. Williams, Hack and Sonders have been the regular co-host team of Morning Drive over the past few months and will build upon that camaraderie. Rymer will bring his exuberance for the game to the morning, in addition to his continued work as an analyst for Golf Central.

Longtime Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman will be a central figure mid-week on Morning Drive, typically on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tilghman will continue to be an anchor for Golf Central and a central figure of Golf Channel’s Live From coverage of the biggest events in golf. Matt Ginella comes to Morning Drive after 11 years as the travel editor for Golf Digest magazine. Ginella has garnered a keen sense for what makes a golf course a destination for golfers of all tastes and will be co-host throughout the week. And Lauren Thompson, who has been a regular contributor to the show, now will have a permanent role, providing news updates and reports for midweek shows.

Several regular contributors and guest hosts include:
- Emmy Award-winning sports broadcaster, Ahmad Rashad, headlines as a new guest host. A former All-Pro wide receiver, college football Hall of Famer and 25-year network veteran with ESPN, ABC, NBC and NBA TV – and a voracious golfer – Rashad will bring a unique perspective.
- John Cook is an 11-time PGA TOUR winner and recent champion of the 2013 Mitsubishi Electric Championship on the Champions Tour. The 1993 U.S. Ryder Cup team member will join the show during some of the biggest weeks on the golf calendar.
- Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam will continue to make weekly Morning Drive appearances, providing insight into the professional ranks to the amateurs, and sharing her passion on growing the game.
- Other Golf Channel analysts and reporters also will continue to contribute to Morning Drive on a daily basis, both in studio and on location at various tournaments. Golf World’s Tim Rosaforte will continue to appear weekly on the show; analyst Brandel Chamblee will regularly set up that day’s tournament action on weekends; and Golf Channel on NBC’s Jimmy Roberts will be a frequent contributor in support of his new series, In Play with Jimmy Roberts.

NEW FORMAT: Since Morning Drive’s debut in January 2011, the show has become appointment viewing for viewers seeking the latest golf news and information, as well as expert analysis and discussion about all things golf. The show’s new format will continue to set the table for what’s new each day in professional golf, while expanding its scope to cover the golfing lifestyle including how to play, what to play and where to play. Resident Golf Channel experts and show guests will cover such topics as trends in golf equipment, the hottest travel destinations for golf and the latest fashions turning heads on the course.

Morning Drive’s daily polls and interaction with the show’s loyal audience will be conducted through social media, as well as themed weeks exploring unique aspects of golf.

Viewers can take Morning Drive with them via a “Best of” highlight podcast hosted by Sonders available online each afternoon and the series’ audio will continue to be streamed live at GolfChannel.com/MorningDrive.

NEW STUDIO: Morning Drive is moving into a new, state-of-the-art studio for the re-launch on Feb. 4. The studio features four dedicated sets: a main anchor desk, an interview area, a product demonstration area and a news update desk. The new home is nearly four times larger than the show’s original studio.

Panoramic, high-definition video backdrops throughout the studio will make viewers feel like the Morning Drive cast is broadcasting from just inside the picture windows of their local clubhouse. This signature Morning Drive look is accomplished by linking 20 90-inch and 10 52-inch monitors to create golf course morning vistas.

Morning Drive’s production team is led by coordinating producer Jeff Neubarth, producers Kyle Brown and Bill Hentschel, and directors Charlie Reynolds and Eric Rutledge. For Golf Channel, Molly Solomon is executive producer, Geoff Russell is executive editor and Mike McCarley is president.

MORNING DRIVE TALENT BIOS
JOHN COOK
@johncookgolf
Professional golfer, John Cook, is an eleven-time winner on the PGA TOUR, was a member of the 1993 U.S. Ryder Cup team and won the 1978 U.S. Amateur. He was ranked in the top 10 for 45 weeks between 1992-’93 and currently plays on the Champions Tour. Most recently, Cook won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in January 2013.

MATT GINELLA
@Matt_Ginella
Matt Ginella joins Morning Drive as Golf Channel’s new travel expert where he will appear regularly with discussions on travel trends, his favorite trips and overall news regarding golf travel. Ginella comes from Golf Digest where he served as the senior travel editor and penned the blog “Where’s Matty G?” and orchestrated “Golf Digest Ambush,” where unsuspecting golf outings got a major makeover.

DAMON HACK
@DamonHackGC
Damon Hack joined Golf Channel in 2012 and can be seen on-air on various shows including Golf Central, Morning Drive and Grey Goose 19th Hole. Hack will also contribute regularly to GolfChannel.com. Hack comes to Golf Channel from Sports Illustrated where he covered golf and the NFL. Before joining the magazine, he covered golf and the NFL for The New York Times and golf and the New York Knicks for Newsday.

AHMAD RASHAD
Emmy® Award-winning sportscaster Ahmad Rashad is a former college and pro football star who was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007. He is a four-time Pro-Bowl selection for the Minnesota Vikings, and was voted to the Vikings All-Time 25th Anniversary Team and their 40th Anniversary Team. Currently hosting for NBA TV, Rashad has covered a wide spectrum of sports for NBC, ABC and ESPN across his career. Rashad is an avid golfer, who plays with a who’s who of sports and Hollywood foursomes.

CHARLIE RYMER
@CharlieRymerGC
Charlie Rymer treats fans to his quick wit and “down home” humor as a studio analyst for Golf Central and the network’s Live From telecasts from golf’s major championships and premier events. A former PGA TOUR professional and a two-time All-American golfer at Georgia Tech, Rymer’s 15-year broadcast career includes 10 years at ESPN and USA Network before joining Golf Channel. In 2008, Rymer joined the network as a cast member on Road Trip: Myrtle Beach, an original series that focused on Myrtle Beach, S.C. as a golfing destination, and also co-hosted Big Break: Prince Edward Island alongside Stina Sternberg. Rymer joined Golf Channel as a full-time studio analyst in 2009.

HOLLY SONDERS
@HollySondersGC
Holly Sonders joined Golf Channel in January 2011 as a co-host for Morning Drive. In 2012, Sonders has an increasing role in Golf Channel’s instruction franchises, where she contributes to The Golf Fix, joined Martin Hall as co-host of School of Golf and hosts Playing Lessons. Sonders was a four-year member of the Michigan State Women's Golf Team and helped the Lady Spartans to a Big Ten Championship in 2007.

LAUREN THOMPSON
@LThompsonGC
Lauren Thompson joined Golf Channel in 2009 as host of Top 10, a Golf Channel original series that provides an entertaining and informative review of controversial and compelling stories in golf. In addition to Top 10, Thompson hosts the network’s travel documentary series, GolfNow, and is a weekly contributor to Morning Drive.

KELLY TILGHMAN
@KellyTilghmanGC
A member of Golf Channel’s original cast and one of the network’s most versatile anchors, Kelly Tilghman serves as show host for the network’s PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour coverage and play-by-play host for the network’s PGA TOUR broadcasts. She also co-anchors Golf Channel’s signature news program, Golf Central, as well as Live From telecasts from golf’s major championships and premier events. In 2007, Tilghman became the first full-time female play-by-play commentator in the history of the PGA TOUR when Golf Channel embarked on its 15-year contract as the TOUR’s exclusive cable home.

GARY WILLIAMS
@GaryWilliamsGC
Gary Williams joined Golf Channel as a co-host for Morning Drive when the morning news series first launched in January 2011. In 2012, Williams’ on-air responsibilities expanded to include live tournament coverage for select tournaments and serving as host for On the Range, a weekly news and informational show that gives viewers an inside look at players’ preparations on the various professional golf tours. Williams came to Golf Channel from Sirius/XM Satellite Radio where he served as a lead host on PGA TOUR Network.

Follow Morning Drive on Twitter: @GCMorningDrive
Follow Golf Channel on Twitter: @GolfChannel
Become a fan of Morning Drive on Facebook at: Facebook.com/GCMorningDrive
Become a fan of Golf Channel on Facebook at: Facebook.com/GolfChannel

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."