2016 Olympics affects players' fall scheduling

By Rex HoggardOctober 21, 2015, 3:00 pm

For Butch Harmon, this week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open doubles as an impromptu mini-camp for his stable of high-profile PGA Tour players.

The Tour’s nonexistent offseason has led players and coaches to make the best use of what little off time there is, and this week’s stop for the Las Vegas-based Harmon is a perfect chance to multitask with a few of his clients, including Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker and Jimmy Walker.

For Harmon, it’s a chance to focus on what went well in 2014-15 and what needs to be refined for the 2015-16 season, which got underway last week at the Frys.com Open.

Harmon explained that Fowler needs to improve his proximity to the hole from 140 yards and in, while Walker’s slow finish to the season - he had just one top-10 after the Florida swing - had more to do with his schedule than any type of swing issue.

“We talked about what happened at the end of the year,” Harmon said. “He ran out of gas a little and we talked about picking our places to play. He starts fast and then pushes real hard at the end of the year to make sure he makes the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.”

Harmon’s observations will become a familiar theme next season when an already condensed schedule is squeezed even more by the addition of the Olympics in August.

The Rio Games made officials dramatically overhaul next year’s schedule, moving the PGA Championship to late July, just two weeks after the Open Championship.

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: Articles, photos and videos

In a 16-week span to close next season, beginning with the U.S. Open in June there will be 10 tournaments that would normally qualify as must-play stops, including three major championships, a World Golf Championship, the Olympic Games, four FedEx Cup Playoff stops and the Ryder Cup in early October.

The schedule will be particularly hard on those players who split their time between the Tour and the European circuit, like Rory McIlroy.

“It's tough the way a couple of the tournaments clash before the Olympics, like the French Open and the Bridgestone [Invitational],” McIlroy said last week. “Then having the Olympics in there and playing the PGA Championship in July is going to be sort of strange. But they had to accommodate for it somehow.”

The championship congestion will lead to more last-minute scrambling for players vying to maintain status on both tours, like Ian Poulter, who this week was an 11th-hour addition to the Hong Kong Open field to assure his 13-event minimum after he failed to qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions in two weeks.

Even Patrick Reed, who took up membership in Europe this season, had to add to his schedule this season after missing two starts earlier this year (BMW PGA Championship and Irish Open) because of a death in his family.

Reed plans to play this week in Hong Kong, the HSBC event in China and the BMW Masters the following week to meet his minimum.

“It's tough. After I play [the Hero World Challenge] and Shark Shootout, I'll be at 35 or 37 weeks of the year I'll be gone,” Reed said. “It's a lot.”

The inevitable crush that awaits players next season likely explains what appears to be much more active schedules this fall for some of the game’s top players.

Fowler hadn’t played the Las Vegas stop since 2010, and although McIlroy's participation last week was based on an earlier agreement with the Tour, he had never played the Frys.com Open before.

Any gain this fall, however, will likely result in a net loss early next year for events on the West Coast swing - which will not include a World Golf Championship for the second consecutive year - and as the Tour heads through Florida toward the Masters.

Most players polled over the last few weeks said they plan to add a start in the fall, like this week’s Las Vegas stop, in exchange for a week they would normally play in the spring or early summer next year as a result of the condensed schedule and the addition of the Olympics to golf’s landscape.

“The sponsors and the tournaments understand the value of why we are in the Olympics,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said at last month’s Tour Championship. “In the short term everybody has contributed. There is some awkwardness to some of it, but in balance they understand the bigger view.”

That bigger picture is the impact golf’s return to the Olympics will have on the game globally and the reality that this is a fire drill players will have to endure just once every four years. But in the short term, like Harmon, players should get used to multitasking for the next few months.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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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)