Playoffs still seeking a dynamic, defining moment

By Randall MellSeptember 3, 2015, 12:48 pm

NORTON, Mass. – They’re putting their fingerprints all over the major championships now.

Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day have combined to win five of the last six majors.

So why not the FedEx Cup, too? Why shouldn’t they also put fingerprints on these playoffs?

There’s a crackle in the air over TPC Boston this week with Spieth, McIlroy and Day leading the field at the Deutsche Bank Championship. They’re carrying their own energy and momentum into golf’s postseason with Day winning The Barclays last weekend, the first of the four season-ending playoff events.

You know McIlroy’s here this week looking to get back in the mix after skipping last week and missing so much of the summer recovering from his ankle injury. And you know Spieth wants to bounce back from last week’s missed cut and aim the intensity he used winning a pair of majors this summer at these playoffs.

While it may be asking too much for this trio to find their best form together, the possibility intoxicates.

They could take the FedEx Cup playoffs to a whole new level putting their mark on this continually evolving postseason experiment. They could give it the defining moment it still craves nine years into its existence. Because that’s the weird thing about these playoffs: as much fun as they are, there is quirkiness to their nature that we never fully grasp with the convoluted math and fluctuating points.

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It’s almost as if we’re still waiting for that eureka moment, that instance where we stop and say, “Yeah, this is it. This is what the playoffs are all about. This is the moment that folds it all together, that defines the nature of playoff golf. This is what makes it more than a $10 million jackpot for the winner.”

In nine years of the playoffs, we really don’t have that. Sure, we have some great moments. We have that image of Jim Furyk spinning his hat backward in the rain to putt out for the victory at the Tour Championship in 2010, that image of him pumping his fist in exuberance.

But if there’s anything close to a defining moment, it’s probably Bill Haas winning the Tour Championship at East Lake in 2011. His holing out from the water to keep the playoff alive is part of it, but it’s mostly his reaction after he won. It’s his confusion seeing the Tour Championship trophy and the FedEx Cup being set out in front of him without immediately knowing he had won both.

“Both trophies were there, and there was no other player,” Haas said that day. “I looked at my wife, and she nodded her head, so that was when I realized.”

There was the same kind of quirky moment for Phil Mickelson in 2009 after he won the Tour Championship but watched Tiger Woods take home the FedEx Cup.

Woods finished second to Mickelson at East Lake that day, leaving Mickelson with a wry smile.

“His check is for $10 million,” Mickelson cracked.

The FedEx Cup has been a home run in how it has given the PGA Tour the big bang finish its season needed. There’s compelling theater getting the best players in the world together for a series of four events in a row. Who doesn’t like that?

And yet there remains an uncertainty over what winning the playoffs really mean beyond the biggest payday in golf.

While Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay appreciates what the FedEx Cup brings to the game, he still wrestles with the meaning of these playoffs and where they fit into the game’s great achievements.

“It’s almost difficult to legitimize a playoff series that almost never rewards the best player,” Begay said in a national conference call advancing the FedEx Cup Playoffs. “I don’t know how many times the FedEx Cup champion and the Player of the Year coincided, but it’s probably only a handful of times.”

Three times the FedEx Cup champ has also been the PGA Tour Player of the Year. It happened when Woods won both in ’07 and ’09 and when Furyk won both in 2010.

NBC analyst Johnny Miller says he has warmed to the drama the series offers, and he doesn’t need a pretty bow on a perfect ending.

“I’m actually becoming a pretty big fan of the FedEx Cup Playoffs,” Miller said. “It used to be the Tour would just sort of fade off into the sunset, so to speak, with not too much interest. I think now there’s a second crescendo after the majors. I think it’s really interesting, and it’s getting bigger every year.”

It’s sure to grow bigger than ever if Spieth, McIlroy and Day are able to battle together to the final hole of these playoffs this year, to give us the pretty bow to the perfect ending of a terrific year in golf.

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Woods: New putter should help on slower greens

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:35 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.

The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”

To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.

“You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”  

For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.

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Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:26 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.

“I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.

“Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.

That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.

“You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

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"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

  • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
  • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
  • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.


“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange


“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico


Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 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 (