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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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Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole, No. 9.

Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

"Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

"It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

"I'm not," harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

"I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from some TV cables, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.

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Na (62) leads Hoffman by one at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 24, 2018, 10:38 pm

Kevin Na leads the Fort Worth Invitational by one over Charley Hoffman following a first-round 8-under 62. Here's where things stand through 18 holes at Colonial.

Leaderboard: Na (-8), Hoffman (-7), Emiliano Grillo (-6), Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Andrew Putnam (-6), Beau Hossler (-6)

What it means: The veteran Na is in search of just his second PGA Tour victory in 367 events played. The 34-year-old's lone victory came at the 2011 Shriners to go along with nine runner-ups, the most recent of which was a tie for second at this year's Genesis Open. Na missed three straight cuts in April but has rallied back with a weekend stay at The Players and a T-6 at last week's Byron Nelson. Ranked 75th in the world, he is not currently qualified for the U.S. Open or the Open Championship. 

Round of the day: Na turned in a clean card Thursday with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 first, his 10th hole of the day. He closed with a chip-in birdie at No. 9 following a friendly disagreement with his caddie (more on that below). 

Best of the rest: Hoffman was likewise bogey-free, drawing seven circles. The four-time Tour winner and typically steady performer has yet to register a top-10 finish this season.

Biggest disappointment: Not that a round of 1 under is tragically disappointing, but Jordan Spieth has a pretty solid history of going low at this event and contending for the title. He's seven back through Round 1.

Shot of the day: Satoshi Kodaira recorded the second albatross in tournament history when he holed a 3-iron from 234 yards at the first.

Honorable mention: Na got into a pretty good back-and-forth with his caddie about whether to lay up or try to clear the water from the right rough at No. 9. Na went for it, avoided hazard, and holed this chip for birdie. 

Quote of the day: "I told you." - Na, after his chip-in

Golf Channel's NCAA Golf Coverage Continues Mon-Wed., May 28-30 With the NCAA Men's Golf Championships

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMay 24, 2018, 10:24 pm

Two National Championships to be Decided Over a Three-Day Span – Individual (Mon., May 28) and Team (Wed., May 30)

 Eight of the Top-10 Ranked Programs in the Country Set to Compete; Reigning NCAA Men’s National Champions Oklahoma and Current Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Paired Together Starting Friday

 Buick and Stifel Co-Presenting Sponsors of Golf Channel’s Coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships

ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2018 – Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s dramatic championship match where Arizona defeated Alabama in a playoff to claim their third women’s golf team national championship, Golf Channel returns to Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. next week for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf National Championships. Taking place Monday-Wednesday, May 28-30, Golf Channel’s coverage will feature nearly 30 hours of live tournament and on-site wraparound news coverage, showcasing the top men’s college golf programs in the country.

NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage: Coverage begins on Monday, May 28 to crown the individual national champion and to track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30 will include all three rounds of the team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion.

In addition, Golf Central will surround live tournament action with pre-and post-event news coverage produced on-site at Karsten Creek Golf Club, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and online via Golf Channel Digital. News and tournament coverage also will be live streamed on Golf Channel Digital. College Central, Golf Channel’s online home for college golf, will provide comprehensive editorial coverage throughout the championships.

Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

Monday, May   28

Individual   National Championship

4-8 p.m.   (Live)

Tuesday, May   29

Quarterfinals,   Team Match Play

11   a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday,   May 29

Semifinals,   Team Match Play

4-8 p.m.   (Live)

Wednesday, May   30

Team Match   Play National Championship

4-8 p.m.   (Live)

Stifel and Buick Sign on as Co-Presenting Sponsors for Golf Channel’s NCAA Golf Championships Tournament Coverage: New for 2018, Stifel Financial Corp. and Buick have signed on as co-presenting sponsors for Golf Channel’s tournament coverage of the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. In addition, Stifel has extended its partnership with the Fred Haskins Commission, Golf Channel and Golfweek as presenting sponsor of the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to nation’s outstanding male collegiate golfer.Golf Channel will announce the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel following the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, on a live edition of Golf Central, Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. ET. The show will include profiles on the top candidates for the award and a live interview with the winner, who also will receive an exemption to compete in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR. The Haskins Award honors the nation’s most outstanding male Division I collegiate golfer as selected by his peers, coaches and the golf media.

Semifinal Teams in Match Play to Receive Invitations to Compete in East Lake Cup: The East Lake Cup, taking place in late October at historic East Lake Golf Club, will feature the top-performing teams from the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Invitations for the field have been extended to Arizona, Alabama, Southern California and Stanford – semifinalists in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, and also will be extended to the semifinalists in the Men’s Championships. Modeled after the NCAA Golf Championships, the format for the East Lake Cup consists of an opening round of stroke play to crown an individual male and female champion and determine seeding for the following two days of match play competition. Golf Channel will air live coverage of the East Lake Cup Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 29-31.

College Central – Golf Channel Digital Coverage: Golf Channel will provide comprehensive coverage via College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, and Ryan Lavner, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.

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Country singer Owen shoots 86 in debut

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.

Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open

Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics: