Quick Round with Brian Gay

By Randall MellJanuary 8, 2010, 12:57 am

Brian Gay could see something grand on the horizon during practice rounds at the SBS Championship in Hawaii earlier this week.

“From out on the golf course, you can see whales on the ocean,” Gay said. “You can see the spray coming off them.”

From up on the hills on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Gay can see other grand events on his personal horizon. At 38, he’ll get to play in his first Masters in April. He’s set for the first time in his career to play in all four major championships. He’s also got his eye on something big at the end of the year. He’s eager to make the Ryder Cup after enduring the disappointment of not making the Presidents Cup last fall.

Kapalua is a reward for his best season on the PGA Tour, for claiming a pair of impressive victories in 2009. Gay won the Verizon Heritage in a 10-shot rout. He won the St. Jude Classic in a wire-to-wire victory.

While Gay isn’t one of the longest hitters on Tour, he has a reputation as a terrific putter and scrambler, skills that have helped him win three PGA Tour events in his career. Gay is sharing the rewards for last year’s success with his entire family this week in Hawaii. His wife, Kimberly, and their two children, Makinley and Brantley, are with him. So is his mom. He took them all on a whale watching expedition Tuesday.

Senior writer Randall Mell caught up with Gay for a Quick Round before the SBS Championship began:

How was the whale watching expedition?

The surf was a little rough, but we saw a giant whale jump up about 50 or 60 yards from the boat. It was pretty good.

As a professional golfer, you’ve seen a lot of the world, but how much do you really see outside the golf course and your hotel room? Do you see the sites?

I’m usually busy. It’s usually the family seeing more than I do, but, occasionally, early in the week, I’ll do something like what we did together this week whale watching. We’re trying to do a helicopter tour of the island. It’s supposed to be great.

My wife, she sees a lot. When I played in China, she went to Tiananmen Square and other sites. I was playing the Asian Tour, but I didn’t do any of that. She did all the touring by herself and she would tell me about it. She’s the cruise director putting together things for the family. I jump in when I can.

You will get to see one exotic destination close up this spring, playing in your first Masters. What will it mean to you to play Augusta National for the first time?

Growing up, I lived in Georgia. My mom’s from near Augusta. I got to go to the Masters when I was 9. It’s always been my favorite tournament in the world. I always dreamed of winning the Masters, and I’m finally going to get to go play in it. I’m excited about that.

What do you remember about that first Masters?

I remember Andy Bean taking me out onto the second tee box. I asked for his autograph, and he waved me out with him. That was pretty cool. I also remember Tom Watson snubbing me two or three times when I asked for his autograph. I hated him for like 15 years (laughing). I tried to get his autograph, and he kept shunning me away. It was a Monday or Tuesday. I was a huge Nicklaus fan, and it just gave me more reason to root against Watson. Since then, I have become a Tom Watson fan.

You’ve visited Augusta National a few times, but you’ve never played the course, right?

Never have. I’m good friends with some members. I certainly could have gone and played, but I’ve always said I was going to wait until I got into the tournament. I’ve never really tried to set up a casual round.

Why not?

I don’t know. I just said I’m going to wait. I didn’t want to be a Tour player just going to play Augusta. I wanted to earn my spot.

You’re such a good putter. You led the PGA Tour in all-around putting last season. How eager are you to test your skill on Augusta National’s famed greens?

It should be interesting. I’m sure there will be a lot to learn in a short amount of time. Short hitters have won there since they made the course longer. I didn’t think it would be that way, but a lot of people are telling me that I can do well there. Zach Johnson is not a long hitter, and he won it. Mike Weir and guys who don’t hit it really far have done well there despite the added length. We’ll see.

How did you get to be such a good putter. Is that a gift, or the reward for hard work?

I think there are people who are born good putters, and people who are born not good putters. But if you aren’t a power player growing up, you strive and work to be a good putter. It’s like in basketball. There are big guys in the middle who aren’t going to be good shooters but they get rebounds and play good defense. It’s like that in golf. I was never a power hitter. When I first started playing junior tournaments at 11 and 12, guys were outdriving me a long ways. Some of the par 4s, I couldn’t reach and I had to chip and putt well. I always had that being a touch and feel player and not a power player.

What about your putter? Are you loyal to a putter, or are you a love'em-and-leave‘em kind of guy who likes to try different putters?

I don’t change putters that much. I’ve kind of used that old Anser style, if you will, which turned into the Scotty Cameron Newport. That same look, I’ve probably used 90 percent of my golfing life. I’ve used different models or brands but the same style. I got into grooves on the face a few years ago. It’s been the same head, but I’ve used different materials on the face for feel but pretty much the same look for a long time.

What are you using now?

Bettanardi. It looks like the old Anser style, but I have grooves cut in the face, which help the ball get turning over fast. It gives you better roll. I like the feel better. It feels a little softer coming off the face. That seems to help me on faster greens. The ball doesn’t jump off the face as fast.

Your wife, Kimberly, loves to watch you play and is out there a lot. Didn’t you play an Asian tour event on your honeymoon?

I went over to Asia at the beginning of ’97. I was playing the Golden Bear Tour in South Florida, wherever I could play. I decided to go to Asia just for somewhere to play. It was decent money and more experience. I flew home for the week of our wedding, and we left the day after. She flew with me to the next tournament in Singapore. She caddied for me that week. I shot 68 the first round together, which was nice.

Yeah, but after that tournament, she has never caddied again. What happened?

We got in a big argument. I forget which round. I hit it in a bunker left of the pin. I finished the hole, and she didn’t go back and rake the bunker. I told her she had to go back and rake it. She said no, the group behind was ready to go. I said you have to go back and rake it. I told her they would rather wait for her to rake that bunker than hit in one of my footprints. She wouldn’t go back, and I ended up going back to rake the bunker myself. I was a little sore at her about that.

Your wins last season were dominant performances. You won Verizon by 10 shots and St. Jude in a wire-to-wire win. Winning is supposed to be hard, but did it feel easy that week?

At the time it might have seemed like it, but it is not easy to win. It was a pretty unbelievable magical week (at Verizon). All parts of my game were sharp. The talent out here is deep. There’s a fine line being in the middle of the pack and on the cut line and leading a golf tournament. It’s humbling. People ask me, `How did you do that?’ I say I didn’t do anything I normally can’t do. It was a matter of staying in the zone for four straight days. I didn’t pull off some extraordinary shots I’ve never done before. It’s hard to explain.

As good as last year was, there was disappointment not making the Presidents Cup team on points and then not getting picked by Fred Couples. I know you had a back injury that you tried to play through late in the year that hurt you. How did not making the team affect you?

It stung for a little bit. I felt like I had a good enough year to be on the team.

I hurt my back right before going to Scotland. I was playing really good golf, but I tried to play through the back problems and I couldn’t get it done. I had a tough stretch on some tough courses, like Hazeltine (at the PGA Championship). I probably should have taken some time off to get my back right, but I was pressing through to try to make the team. If I had not been hurt, I think I would have made that team and not had to worry about being picked.

I had hoped winning twice by big margins that I would get selected, but I understand it’s hard to pick a guy who has never been on the team.

How focused on making the Ryder Cup are you this year?

That’s my big goal for the year. So is winning again. If I play the way I’m capable of playing, I think I’ll be in the running for that team.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 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 GolfChannel.com.  

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; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Other notable groupings:

  • Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
  • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
  • World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
  • Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
  • U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
  • Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):

1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva

1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate

1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List

2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris

2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell

2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook

2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry

2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult

3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello

3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry

3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)

3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara

3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang

4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley

4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee

4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na

4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen

4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein

4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood

5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed

5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas

5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park

5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard

6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage

6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner

6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis

6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III

6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis

7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An

7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood

7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker

7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)

7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen

8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman

8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele

8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace

8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li

8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo

9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim

9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp

9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest

9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak

9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace

9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka

10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma

10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox

10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley

10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura

10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith

11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior

11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon