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

Getty Images

First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 12:20 pm

Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Other notable groupings:

  • Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
  • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
  • World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
  • Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
  • U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
  • Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):

1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva

1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate

1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List

2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris

2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell

2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook

2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry

2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult

3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello

3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry

3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)

3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara

3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang

4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley

4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee

4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na

4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen

4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein

4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood

5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed

5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas

5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park

5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard

6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage

6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner

6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis

6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III

6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis

7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An

7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood

7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker

7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)

7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen

8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman

8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele

8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace

8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li

8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo

9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim

9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp

9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest

9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak

9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace

9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka

10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma

10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox

10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley

10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura

10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith

11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior

11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon

Getty Images

Rahm's Carnousite strategy: 'As many drivers as I can'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 10:57 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In his practice round Monday at Carnoustie, Jon Rahm bashed away with driver on the 18th tee, reducing one of the most intimidating finishing holes in championship golf into a driver-wedge.

Indeed, when it comes to his choice of clubs off the tee this week at The Open, Rahm has one strategy in mind.

“As many drivers as I can,” he said after playing 18 alongside Rory McIlroy. “I just feel comfortable with it.”

Playing downwind, the firm and fast conditions on the 18th have led some players, even a medium-length hitter like Brandt Snedeker, to challenge the burn fronting the green.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Rahm explained Monday why that was the prudent play.

“You can lay up with an iron farther back and have 140 or 150 meters to the front and have a 7-, 8- or 9-iron in,” Rahm said. “But if you hit a good one with a driver, you’re going to have nothing to the green.

“If you hit the rough this year, it’s not as thick as other years. You actually get a lot of good lies, so you can still hit the green with confidence.”

Rahm said that revelation was “quite surprising,” especially after encountering thicker fescue when he played the French Open and Irish Open, where he recorded a pair of top-5 finishes.

“But with this much sun” – it hasn’t rained much, if at all, over the past six weeks – “the fescue grass can’t grow. It just dies,” he said. “It’s a lot thinner than other years, so unless they can magically grow it thicker the next few days, it’s pretty safe to assume we can be aggressive.”

Getty Images

Remembering Jean, because we'll always remember Jean

By Al TaysJuly 16, 2018, 10:38 am

The thing I remember about the 1999 Open Championship is that for 54 holes, it was boring. I can’t speak for the next 17, because I didn’t watch. I took advantage of a beautiful Sunday morning to play golf. When our group finished, we went into the clubhouse hoping to catch the last few holes or at least find out who won. Instead, we were greeted by an almost deafening buzz. It seemed everyone in the dining room was excitedly talking at once.

The wall-mounted televisions provided the answer. There stood Jean Van de Velde, resplendent in a white visor and blue shirt, and whatever the opposite of “resplendent” is with his trouser legs rolled up above his knees. He was up to his ankles in the burn that winds in front of Carnoustie’s 18th green, hands on hips, holding a wedge. He was staring down into the water the way you’d stare at a storm grate through which you had just accidentally dropped your car keys. You know, the “What the heck am I going to do NOW?” stare.

Van de Velde was the reason I had dismissed this 128th Open Championship as boring. Actually, he was one of two reasons. The first was that Tiger Woods was no factor. The second was that Van de Velde was running away with it, having taken a five-shot lead into the final round. It also didn’t help my interest level that I knew nothing about Van de Velde. I didn’t know Jean Van de Velde from Jean Valjean. The only thing I knew about him was that he was French, and the last great French golfer was … uh, I’ll have to get back to you on that.

As we got caught up on Van de Velde’s predicament – he had gone to the tee of the par-4 18th hole with a three-shot lead, but through a series of calamities now lay 3 … underwater – now my opinion of the guy did a 180. NOW I wanted him to win. It wasn’t going to be easy, though. Surely he would come to his senses and take a drop (4), then pitch onto the green (5) and hope to get that shot close enough that he could make the putt for 6 and claim the claret jug. A 7 – which would have plunged him into a playoff – was not a farfetched possibility.

Not farfetched at all; that’s the score he made, only it didn’t unfold quite as simply as I had envisioned. After taking his drop, Van de Velde hit his next shot into a greenside bunker. He then blasted out to 8 feet and, needing to make the putt to get into a playoff with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie, he did just that.

You think Leonard’s 45-footer at Brookline that won the Ryder Cup later that year was clutch? I’ll take Van de Velde’s putt eight days a week.



But there would be no happy ending for Van de Velde. In the four-hole, aggregate playoff, he opened with a double bogey and watched Lawrie win his only major.

Van de Velde got roasted in the media for “choking” and “making stupid decisions.” I felt this was unfair. So the next day, in my capacity as a sports columnist for The Palm Beach Post, I wrote this:

“I have a new hero. Jean Van de Velde, The Man Who Gave Away the British Open.” I wrote that Van de Velde had “remained true to himself” and that had he geared down and played the hole safely and won with a double bogey, he would have been quickly forgotten.

As it turned out, because of his tragedy (self-inflicted though it was), he gained far more fame for losing than Lawrie did for winning (which is unfair to Lawrie, but that’s a tale for another time). I’ll also wager that Van de Velde gained far more fans for the grace with which he took his defeat than he would have had he won. See Norman, Greg, Augusta, 1996.

Van de Velde may have made some questionable decisions – hitting driver off the tee, bringing water into play on his third shot when he had a horrible lie – but he had reasons for all of them. Nowhere do you see him saying “I am such an idiot” a la Phil Mickelson, or “What a stupid I am” a la Roberto De Vicenzo.

“Sure, I could have hit four wedges,” he recently told Golf Channel. “Wouldn’t they have said, ‘He won The Open, but, hey, he hit four wedges.’ I mean, who hits four wedges?”

There’s a great scene in the 1991 movie “The Commitments,” about putting a soul-music band together in the slums of Dublin. Against all odds, the band reaches the brink of success before sinking in a maelstrom of arguments and fistfights after its last gig.

Manager Jimmy Rabbitte is trudging home through the gloom, when saxophonist Joey “The Lips” Fagan rides up on his ever-present scooter. Joey tries to get Jimmy to see the bright side.

Look, I know you're hurting now, but in time you'll realize what you've achieved,” Joey says.

“I've achieved nothing!” Jimmy snaps.

“You're missing the point,” Joey replies. “The success of the band was irrelevant - you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it's poetry.’

That’s what Jean Van de Velde created on that memorable Scottish day in July 1999.

Poetry.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 16, 2018, 10:20 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.