October is Long Drive Month on Golf Channel, Led by 2016 World Long Drive Championship Oct. 11-12 in Primetime

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 15, 2016, 2:05 pm

Golf Channel Featuring Long Drive-Themed Programming Across News, Instruction and Digital Platforms Throughout October

Renowned Orange County Choppers Partners with Golf Channel to Build New Winner’s Belt for the Champion; Product of 100+ Hours of Hand-Crafted Labor

Towering tee shots, exorbitant swing speeds, and enormous adrenaline collide as Golf Channel once again will celebrate “Long Drive Month” in October. The month of programming will center around back-to-back nights of the 2016 World Long Drive Championship (8-10 p.m. ET on Golf Channel), Tuesday-Wednesday, Oct. 11-12, live and under the lights from WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. Throughout the month, Golf Channel also will integrate the long drive theme into its instruction, studio and digital platforms in celebration of the long ball.

2016 WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIP: The World Long Drive Championship (Oct. 6-12), will feature an 80-man match play bracket, which will be narrowed to 16 competitors ahead of Golf Channel’s back-to-back nights of coverage, with the champion earning a $125,000 first place prize. The winner also will be presented with a new, custom-designed Championship belt, built by renowned Orange County Choppers, featured on the popular reality TV show on Discovery, American Chopper. The belt itself is the result of more than 100 hours of craftsmanship with hand-tooled leather and precision machined 6061-T6 aluminum.

Golf Channel’s expanded coverage of the Championship will be featured across its on-air and digital news platforms, with results of the qualifying rounds, Oct. 6-10, leading up to live on-air coverage of the competition Oct. 11-12.

“Long Drive is a fascinating segment of the sport, and by showcasing the pure adrenaline of hitting it long, Golf Channel simultaneously will provide our viewers with live golf competition on back-to-back nights outside of the traditional tournament week schedule,” said Phil Piazza, Senior Vice President, Programming, Golf Channel. “Through expanded coverage of the Championship across our Golf Channel platforms, fans will have an opportunity to witness the tremendous talents of the longest golfers in the world playing out in primetime and under the lights.

FORMAT: Competitors will have an opportunity to hit eight (8) drives within a 3-minute time limit in head-to-head matches. The Open Division will consist of 80 players competing in a match play bracket. The field will be made up of exempt competitors, regional qualifiers, tour event winners and international representatives. 53 of the 80 players have already gained entry into the Championship, while the remainder of field will be rounded out by 27 of the 76 entrants scheduled to compete in a “Last Chance Qualifier,” taking place Thursday, Oct. 6 on the first day of the World Long Drive Championship. For a full list of player rankings (and criteria) visit HERE.

The Senior Division (age 45+) will be made up of a field of 41 competitors, also being contested in a match play bracket that consists of exempt competitors, regional qualifiers and international representatives. The Ladies Division will be comprised of 16 competitors, who will compete in a points merit format that will determine the eight players advancing to match play. Golf Channel on-air personality Blair O’Neal will be among the 16-player Ladies Division field, where she’ll look to lean on her reputation for length off the tee dating back to her college golf career at Arizona State. During her freshman year while competing for the Sun Devils, O’Neal won the long drive competition staged in conjunction with the 2000 NCAA Women’s Golf Championships.

The 2016 Long Drive season welcomed the return of local and regional qualifying for the World Long Drive Championship, staged as part of the Callaway World Long Drive Qualifying Series, where competitors had an opportunity to earn an exemption into the field at WinStar. The Series also introduced a new ball to Long Drive competition, with Volvik’s Vista iV becoming the official golf ball of Long Drive competition, with its signature offering of golf balls in four different color options.

LONG DRIVE MONTH THEMED PROGRAMMING: Golf Channel will integrate the long drive theme across its instructional and news programming featuring tips and other dedicated segments throughout the month. The shows also will welcome Long Drive competitors to share their secrets:

  • The Golf Fix, Monday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. ET: Host Michael Breed (and World Long Drive Championship analyst) will be joined by two-time World Long Drive winner, and defending champion Tim Burke (2013, 2015). The show will focus on adjustments amateur golfers can make to add distance to their drives.
  • Playing Lessons, Monday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m. ET: A special encore presentation of Playing Lessons will air on Monday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m. ET, featuring World Long Drive champions Joe Miller (2010) and Jamie Sadlowski (2008, 2009) joining Golf Channel host Charlie Rymer in Southern California to offer insight on how to increase distance off the tee.
  • PGA TOUR Champions Learning Center: Throughout the month, several PGA TOUR Champions players will be featured onPGA TOUR Champions Learning Center to provide insight on getting longer off the tee. Players expected to be featured include: John Daly, Tom Lehman, Bernhard Langer and Fred Funk.
  • School of Golf: Co-hosts Martin Hall and Sara Brown will incorporate the Long Drive theme in eachSchool of Golf episode airing throughout October.
  • Morning Drive: Morning Drive throughout 2016 has welcomed Long Drive participants in-studio to showcase their distance on-air in addition to regularly featuring segments focusing on the longest drives of the week on the PGA TOUR. In anticipation of the World Long Drive Championship, Morning Drive will welcome long drivers Ryan Reisbeck (tomorrow, Sept. 15), and two-time Champion Tim Burke (Tuesday, Oct. 4).
  • Golf Central: Golf Channel’s evening news program will feature daily updates the week of the Championship (Oct. 6-12) following each stage of the competition.
  • Golf Channel Digital: In the weeks leading up to Golf Channel’s coverage of the World Long Drive Championship Oct. 11-12, Golf Channel Digital will feature dedicated Long Drive tips and analysis preparing viewers for back-to-back nights of the Championship. Coverage will be featured across the network’s Digital platforms, including the Golf Channel Academy instruction App.

For more information, visit: http://www.longdrivers.com

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.

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Chappell returns to Valero as defending champ

By Will GrayApril 18, 2018, 9:48 pm

It's impossible for any of the players at this week's Valero Texas Open to forget who captured the trophy last year.

That's because most players stay at the JW Marriott hotel that's a short walk from the first tee at TPC San Antonio, and the defending champion's face is emblazoned on the hotel's room keys. This week, that honor belongs to Kevin Chappell.

"You get some sly comments from players about their room key," Chappell told reporters Wednesday. "'Oh, I'm tired of looking at you.' And I'm saying, 'Believe me, I'm tired of being in everyone's room.'"

The position of defending champ is one Chappell relishes this week as he returns to the site of his maiden PGA Tour victory. A one-shot win over Brooks Koepka led to a euphoric celebration on the 72nd green, and it helped propel Chappell to his first career spot on the Presidents Cup team in October.

Chappell has missed the cut each of the last two weeks, including the Masters, but he also recorded top-10 finishes at the CareerBuilder Challenge, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Arnold Palmer Invitational. It's reason enough for Chappell to feel optimistic heading back to a course where he was a runner-up in 2011 and finished T-4 in 2016.

"This year's been a little bit of a strange year for me. I usually don't find form until about here, usually a slow starter," Chappell said. "But having three top-10s before this event, I've kind of found some form. I'm looking to turn those top-10s into top-5s, and the top-5s into wins. That's the challenge moving forward this year."