NBC Sports Group Plan for 2014 U.S. Open Championship Includes More Than 75 Combined Live Hours of Coverage During Tournament Week From Pinehurst

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 5, 2014, 9:45 pm

On the eve of the 15th anniversary of a historic victory on one of championship golf’s most celebrated venues, NBC and Golf Channel are scheduled to present 75 combined live hours of television surrounding the 2014 U.S. Open Championship from the famed Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.

Golf Channel on NBC will showcase 19 live hours of tournament coverage of the season’s second major championship Thursday through Sunday, June 12-15, which will be complemented by 57 live hours of news, analysis and highlights on Golf Channel – the most in network history – via daily editions of Golf Central’s Live From the U.S. Open and Morning Drive.  All programming will originate from Pinehurst, including a special edition of The Golf Fix with Michael Breed (Monday, June 9 at 6 p.m. ET) and a State of the Game  panel discussion that will tackle the biggest stories surrounding Championship week (Tuesday, June 10 at 9 p.m. ET).  Additionally, following the overwhelming success of its debut film, Arnie, Golf Channel Films will present Payne, a remembrance of the late Payne Stewart on the 15th anniversary of his U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst (Sunday, June 8 at 5 p.m. ET on NBC; Monday, June 9 at 10 p.m. on Golf Channel).

Live streaming of tournament action, news and analysis will be offered via NBCU digital properties NBCSports.com and GolfChannel.com, and mobile applications NBC Sports Live Extra and Golf Live Extra.

Broadcast Team:  Dan Hicks and 1973 U.S. Open Champion Johnny Miller will anchor NBC’s four-day coverage, which also will feature Peter Jacobsen and Gary Koch in outer tower positions; Notah Begay, Roger Maltbie and Mark Rolfing walking and reporting from the golf course; Steve Sands conducting player interviews; and Jimmy Roberts presenting his signature video essays.

Ryan Burr, Rich Lerner and Kelly Tilghman will anchor Golf Channel’s Live From the U.S. Open telecasts from Pinehurst, and will be joined by analysts Brandel Chamblee, Brad Faxon, Steve Flesch, Frank Nobilo and Arron Oberholser.  Steve Burkowski and Todd Lewis will provide reports from the field.

U.S. Open Airtimes on NBC (all times ET):

June 12                        Thursday                     Round 1                      3-5 p.m.

June 13                        Friday                          Round 2                      3-5 p.m.

June 14                        Saturday                      Round 3                      Noon-7:30 p.m.

June 15                        Sunday                        Final Round                Noon-7:30 p.m.

Surrounding Programming:  News and stories will be plentiful during U.S. Open week and Golf Channel will capture it all with nearly 60 hours of U.S. Open-themed programming surrounding tournament play, including tournament highlights, inside analysis, player interviews and news conferences, compelling features, discussion, instruction and a documentary film.

  • Live From the U.S. Open, which will originate entirely from its set overlooking the clubhouse at Pinehurst, begins the week with pre-tournament player news conferences and airs throughout the week before and after tournament play.  Colin Montgomerie and John Feinstein will join the team as guest analysts during the week.
  • Morning Drive will begin each day from Golf Channel’s Orlando studios with the latest news from Pinehurst – Monday through Wednesday at 7 a.m. ET, and Thursday through Sunday at 6 a.m. ET.
  • The Golf Fix with Michael Breed will be live on the driving range at Pinehurst No. 2 on Monday, June 9 at 6 p.m. ET to learn how the pros are gearing up for competition and how to hit the shots required to become the next national champion. Breed will interact live with viewers by answering social media questions and will be joined by kids from The First Tee throughout the show.
  • State of the Game continues its presence at golf’s biggest events on Tuesday, June 10 at 9 p.m. ET with a panel discussing and debating the biggest stories of the week.  Planned topics include:  pressure on Phil Mickelson to complete the career Grand Slam; impact of Tiger Woods’ absence on Tour in 2014; 15th anniversary of Payne Stewart’s victory at Pinehurst; and renovations to Pinehurst No. 2.  Host Dan Hicks will be joined by panelists Brandel Chamblee, Gary Koch, Roger Maltbie, Johnny Miller, Frank Nobilo and Mark Rolfing.

Features:  Throughout the week, Live From the U.S. Open will present compelling features built around the best stories surrounding the 2014 U.S. Open Championship:

  • Phil’s Close Calls – Rich Lerner takes a look at Phil Mickelson’s record six times a runner-up at U.S. Open Championships.
  • The “It” Factor – Who will be the heirs apparent to the superstar status of Tiger and Phil?  Lerner looks at young players like Jordan Spieth and what tools they will need to possess to step into a new role.
  • McRae – Pinehurst holds a lot of great stories, but none more compelling than 82-year-old caddie Willie McRae, who has caddied there for more than 70 years.
  • 2004 Evolution – it’s hard to forget the 2004 U.S. Open when Shinnecock Hills’ 7th green was virtually unplayable due to USGA’s controversial course set-up.  Ten years later, John Feinstein recounts the story and takes a look at the evolution of the USGA course set-up at U.S. Open Championship venues.
  • No. 2 – Matt Ginella takes a look at the architectural changes made to Pinehurst No. 2, and why Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore were chosen to be the ones to make them.
  • The Crash Site – it’s been 15 years since the tragic event that took the life of 1999 U.S. Open Champion Payne Stewart.  Golf Channel cameras visit the site of the plane crash in rural South Dakota and discover a heartfelt memorial by the land owner.
  • Ernie in ’94 – Frank Nobilo remembers the three-man playoff and the unlikely round of golf that gave Ernie Els his first major championship victory.
  • Memories – it’s been 25 years since Curtis Strange won back-to-back U.S. Opens.  Lerner interviews Strange and his wife, Sarah, about life on tour in the late ‘80s.

PAYNE:  Commemorating the life of one of the game’s legendary figures – Payne Stewart – Golf Channel Films will present a one-hour film, Payne, as the U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst on the 15-year anniversary of Stewart’s victory. Produced by 15-time Emmy Award winner Peter Franchella, Payne will showcase Stewart’s journey into becoming not only one of the game’s most-beloved players on the golf course, but also a dedicated family man, entertainer, jokester and golf fashion icon with his signature plus-fours and tam-o’-shanter caps. And after Golf Channel Films’ critically acclaimed Arnie trended on Twitter during its three-day premiere, the conversation will be following #Payne via Golf Channel’s social media platforms. Payne will premiere Sunday, June 8 at 5 p.m. ET on NBC and Monday, June 9 at 10 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

DIGITAL:  GolfChannel.com will feature expanded editorial content during U.S. Open week with up-to-the-minute blogs and fan interaction, including:

  • News & Features GolfChannel.com writers will post U.S. Open-related features throughout the week, beginning with preview content about Phil Mickelson’s quest for a U.S. Open victory, the 15th anniversary of Payne Stewart’s victory at Pinehurst, changes to No. 2 and what the ladies can learn from the men when the U.S. Women’s Open follows the week after at Pinehurst.
  • Live Chats GolfChannel.com editorial staff will host live chats Thursday-Sunday to keep fans up-to-date and answer their questions as the action unfolds.
    • Thursday & Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET
    • Saturday & Sunday: 2-7:30 p.m. ET
  • Exclusive Video Content GolfChannel.com will provide exclusive “Instant Analysis” video updates delivered by a Golf Channel expert about the day’s biggest story.

INTERACTIVE:  Live From the U.S. Open will incorporate the use of polling technology, iPowow, which will give fans the opportunity to actively participate in Golf Channel programming through a computer or mobile device.  Only Internet access is required, making the process simple for anyone to use.  Viewers will be invited by Golf Channel personalities to answer poll questions on a variety of topics, which then they can track by the second at GolfChannel.com/vote.  Golf Channel has the option to air ongoing results or reveal updates at any given moment. 

U.S. Open Programming on Golf Channel and NBC, June 8-15 (all times live ET):

Sunday, June 8

Payne                                                                                     5-6 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, June 9

Morning Drive                                                                        7-9 a.m.

Live From the U.S. Open                                                        11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

The Golf Fix                                                                           6-7 p.m.

Live From the U.S. Open                                                         7-8:30 p.m.

Payne                                                                                     10-11 p.m.

Tuesday, June 10

Morning Drive                                                                         7-9 a.m.

Live From the U.S. Open                                                          9 a.m.-5 p.m.

                                                                                               7-8 p.m.

State of the Game                                                                    9-10 p.m.

Wednesday, June 11

Morning Drive                                                                          7-9 a.m.

Live From the U.S. Open                                                           9 a.m.-5 p.m.

                                                                                                7-9 p.m.

Thursday, June 12

Morning Drive                                                                          6-7 a.m.

Live From the U.S. Open                                                           7-9 a.m.

U.S. Open Championship                                                         3-5 p.m. (NBC)

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

Friday, June 13

Morning Drive                                                                          6-7 a.m.

Live From the U.S. Open                                                           7-9 a.m.

U.S. Open Championship                                                         3-5 p.m. (NBC)

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

Saturday, June 14

Morning Drive                                                                         6-8 a.m.

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

Morning Drive                                                                         11 a.m.-Noon

U.S. Open Championship                                                         Noon-7:30 p.m. (NBC)

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

Sunday, June 15

Morning Drive                                                                         6-8 a.m.

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

Morning Drive                                                                         11 a.m.-Noon

U.S. Open Championship                                                        Noon-7:30 p.m. (NBC)

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

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

Hailed as a hero to some and as golf royalty to others, Peter Thomson, a five-time winner of The Open and the only player in the 20th century to win the championship for three straight years, died Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members, Golf Australia said.

The first Australian to win The Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.

The Australian's wins came in 1954, '55, '56, again in 1958 and lastly in 1965 against a field that included Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Only Harry Vardon, with six titles between 1896 and 1914, won more.

Thomson also tied for fourth at the 1956 U.S. Open and placed fifth in the 1957 Masters. He never played the PGA Championship.

In 1998, he captained the International side to its only win over the United States at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Asked by The Associated Press in 2011 how he'd like to be remembered, Thomson replied: ''A guy who always said what he thought.''

Veteran Australian golfer Karrie Webb was among the first to tweet her condolences, saying she was ''saddened to hear of the passing of our Aussie legend and true gentleman of the game .... so honored to have been able to call Peter my friend. RIP Peter.''

Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Thomson was ''a champion in every sense of the word, both on the course and in life.''

''Many know him as a five-time champion golfer of the year or as a three-time captain of the Presidents Cup International team.'' Finchem added. ''But he was also a great friend, father, grandfather and husband. He was golfing royalty, and our sport is a better one because of his presence.''

Former golfer and now broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open champion, called Thomson his ''hero'' - ''Peter - my friend and mentor R.I.P. Australian golf thanks you for your iconic presence and valuable guidance over the years.''

From Britain, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers praised Thomson's plans for the game's future.

''Peter gave me a number of very interesting and valuable thoughts on the game, how it has developed and where it is going, which demonstrated his genuine interest and love of golf,'' Slumbers said. ''He was one of the most decorated and celebrated champion golfers in the history of The Open.''

Born in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Brunswick on Aug. 23, 1929, Thomson was a promising cricketer. He scored an unbeaten 150 runs for the Carlton club against a men's side as a 15-year-old.

But golf became his passion, and he turned professional in 1947.

He won the national championships of 10 countries, including the New Zealand Open nine times and Australian Open three times. He first played on the PGA Tour in the U.S. in 1953 and 1954, finishing 44th and 25th on the money list, respectively. He won the Texas International in 1956.

Thomson won nine times on the Senior PGA tour in the U.S. in 1985, topping the money list. His last tournament victory came at the 1988 British PGA Seniors Championship, the same year he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Overall, he won 26 European Tour events, 34 times on the Australasian PGA tour and 11 on the seniors tour in the U.S, as well as once in Japan.

In later years, Thomson wrote articles for many publications and daily newspapers, was club professional at Royal Melbourne and designed more than 100 golf courses. In the 2011 Presidents Cup program, Thomson provided an insightful hole-by-hole analysis of the composite course at Royal Melbourne.

Thomson was always reluctant to compare his wins with anyone else's.

''All records are qualified in that they were made at a certain time in history,'' Thomson told golf historian and author Brendan Moloney for a story on his 80th birthday.

''The circumstances change so much, and so do the players' attitudes. In golf, only in the last 30 years or so has there been a professional attitude to playing for money. The professionals in the USA and Britain and anywhere else all had club jobs as a backstop to their income.

''When they did play and make records, you have to understand that they were taking time off from the pro shop,'' he said. ''So the records that were set were pretty remarkable.''

Thomson always had stories to tell, and told them well. With a full head of hair and a lineless face that belied his age, the Australian wasn't afraid to let everyone know his feelings on any subject.

That was true as far back as 1966. As president of the Australian PGA, Thomson was indignant that Arnold Palmer's prize for winning the Australian Open was only $1,600, out of a total purse of $6,000, one of the smallest in golf.

''Golf Stars Play for Peanuts,'' blared the headline of a story he wrote. ''Never before has such a field of top golfers played for what $6,000 is worth today. Canada offers 19 times that. I know 19 other countries who give more.''

But he was always happy on the golf course.

''I've had a very joyful life, playing a game that I loved to play for the sheer pleasure of it,'' Thomson said. ''I don't think I did a real day's work in the whole of my life.''

Thomson served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years and worked behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

In 1979, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf, and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.