Celebrating the Clambake

By Rex HoggardNovember 5, 2009, 2:15 am

The 2010 PGA Tour schedule was released on Tuesday. It was unveiled a little later than normal, and was a little lighter than status quo, but all things considered not a bad lineup in a Bear market.

Among the highlights is a new date for the Turning Stone Resort Championship, the belle of the Fall Series ball which will be played opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Not sure the event will get a better field, but it will assuredly get better weather.

There also appears to be a general architectural upgrade, with new ballparks at the Texas Open (TPC San Antonio), AT&T National (Aronimink), Canadian Open (St. George’s) and The Barclays (Ridgewood), which are all improvements, or in the case of Aronimink no-less than a lateral move, over where the events were played in 2009.

There is one tournament, however, that should be fighting the urge to celebrate Christmas in November. Although the date (Feb. 11-14), sponsor (AT&T) and general location (Monterey Peninsula) remain the same, Bing Crosby’s old “Clambake” may be the most anticipated early-season event not named the Masters.

After years of wanting fields and Crosby weather, the National Pro-Am began its upgrade earlier this summer when it dumped oft-maligned Poppy Hills from its rota in favor of Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course in what we can only assume was the first “cash for clunkers” exchange in golf.

The Pro-Am was already going to serve as a U.S. Open prelude for players who have avoided the Monterey Peninsula like a 6-10 split in recent years.

Although the seaside gem has changed little in the decade since Tiger Woods lapped a stunned field by more than two touchdowns (15 strokes) for his first national bottle cap, Ollie Nutt, president and CEO of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, believes subtle tinkering will be enough to woo the curious star back to an event that has pulled more of Hollywood’s top players than those off the World Golf Ranking in recent playings.

Specifically, there will be three new teeing grounds at Nos. 9, 10 and 13 that will “put driver back into their hands,” said Mike Davis, the U.S. Golf Association’s top setup man.

Stillwater Cove will also be pulled closer to the action, with fairway adjustments at Nos. 6 (which was shifted 20 yards to the right and toward the scenic cove), 8, 9 and 10, which will feature a wider fairway for the Open than it does for resort play.

“Pebble is an awesome test because we can make it firm and fast (in June), you have the wind and you have some of the smallest greens we play,” said Davis, who plans to be among the masses drawn to next year’s “Clambake” with an eye toward June.

Of course the elephant on the “Crosby” tee sheet has always been Woods, who has played the event six times since 1997 but not since 2002 citing long rounds and bad weather, to say nothing of bumpy greens.

Officials also helped their cause when they announced this week a reduction in field size for next year’s event from 180 to156. Nutt also says the Shore Course will favor faster play, particularly among high-handicapped amateurs.

“It’s something we had been looking at for some time,” said Nutt, who will lose revenue from 24 pro-am partners with the move ($14,500 per amateur). “That takes two groups off each nine. If you got behind on a tee the group coming around the turn would have to wait. This should help that.”

Woods’ history should also help. In 2000, the year he shattered Old Tom Morris’ record for margin of victory at a major, he prefaced that masterpiece with a back-nine 31 on Sunday and a two-stroke victory at the Pro-Am. The world No. 1 may not be superstitious, but that’s hard history to ignore.

Yet even without the engine that turns the Tour wheel, Nutt knows 2010 is an opportunity.

“We have to show them that they need to come back in 2011,” he said. “The schedule works in our favor, the new venue, the field size, it’s all things that help us.”

Nutt has already noticed an uptick in interest, if not among the circuit’s elite than at least from the Tour’s high-profile core. Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson and Chad Campbell – a group that has a collective total of four starts at the Pro-Am – all recently indicated interest and during a recruiting trip to last month’s Presidents Cup Japanese phenom Ryo Ishikawa said he wanted to play.

Baby steps to be sure but steps in the right direction, and a reason other than Bill Murray’s shenanigans to tune in next February.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.