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The Pebble Beach Pro-Am has its swagger back

By Randall MellFebruary 7, 2018, 1:58 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The pros like to stop and admire the sea lions frolicking along the rugged shore off the 18th tee at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but nature just might turn the tables this week.

The field is that good.

Who can blame the sea lions if they jockey for position on the rocks here to get a look at world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, No. 2 Jon Rahm and No. 3 Jordan Spieth.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am continues to get its swagger back in a big way, with some of the game’s biggest stars looking to put on a show as spectacular as what mother nature delivers here.

While this event lost some luster struggling to attract strong fields in down years over the last decade, it has bounced back strong with the support of the game's youngest stars. This will mark the third straight year the world No. 1 will tee it up here, but the first time in more than a decade that the top three players in the world rankings are all here.

Rory McIlroy may not be among the top three, but he gives the event another boost, making his first start in this tournament. He’s No. 8 in the world, with designs on returning to No. 1.

Throw in former world No. 1 Jason Day and four-time AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am champ Phil Mickelson, and there is plenty of star power to spread around the three courses hosting the first three days of play.

Somewhere in the cosmos, Bing Crosby is crooning “Stardust.” It would be a nice week for a clambake with Bill Murray, Ray Romano, Toby Keith, Jake Owen, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kelly Rohrbach, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and CBS NFL analyst and former quarterback Tony Romo among those in the pro-am competition.

“You can’t not love this place,” said Gary Woodland, who will try to win back-to-back titles after claiming the trophy at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last weekend. “This place is unbelievable.”

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s best will be looking to deliver the West Coast Swing yet another good show.

“Anytime you get a chance to play against the top three players in the world, it’s a fun week,” said William McGirt, winner of the Memorial in 2016. “We don’t get to do it that often anymore. There are so many tournaments. With the four majors, The Players and three World Golf Championships, regular tour events that have been around forever get hurt, because of the scheduling. So this is great it’s happening here.” 

Maybe it’s fitting Doral doesn’t host a PGA Tour event anymore. The old adage that the year in golf doesn’t begin until Doral wouldn’t hold up any longer. Today’s stars aren’t using the West Coast swing to get warm in a run up to the Masters. They hit the year hot with Johnson, Rahm and Jason Day among the big names getting on the board with victories in January.

The intensity only builds this week with Spieth looking to rebound from a missed cut in Phoenix last week. He is defending the title he won last year. It also builds with McIlroy making his first PGA Tour start of the year after coming off second- and third-place finishes on the European Tour last month.

Johnson will be doing more than trying to win this event for the third time. He will be trying to hold off Rahm’s bid to take the No. 1 ranking from him.

Rahm can overtake Johnson if he wins this week and Johnson finishes 45th or worse.

“I think I’m in a really good place,” Johnson said. “The game feels really good. I’ve got a lot of confidence in it, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”

Johnson and Spieth are the favorites here, and the PGA Tour has paired them together for the first three rounds. Johnson will play with NHL great Wayne Gretzky as his pro-am partner once again, while Spieth is with country music singer Jake Owen.

In 10 starts in this event, Johnson has two victories among seven top-10 finishes. Spieth’s scoring average on the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am venues is 68.8, the best over the last 30 years by anyone who has played at least 10 rounds. Johnson is second, at 69.3.

Still, Woodland showed the increasing depth of the Tour, overtaking Rickie Fowler, Rahm and Mickelson on Sunday to win in Phoenix.

“It seems like every week you have more and more guys able to win,” Woodland, 33, said. “And then you have guys like Justin [Thomas] and Jordan and Dustin that seem like they can win five times a year. You’re battling, it seems to me, more guys every week, and it seems like more guys are younger.”

And that’s making the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am feel young again.

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More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.