Day dream: Jason finally breaks through at PGA

By Rex HoggardAugust 17, 2015, 1:38 am

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – The prognosticators figured it would be a Tiger-esque performance – and it was, only not by the player everyone thought would deliver.

Jason Day came full circle on Sunday after having started what some were beginning to see as a misguided major quest at Whistling Straits when he tied for 10th at the 2010 PGA.

Five years after that first brush with Grand Slam greatness the affable Australian laid a Heisman on the field with a near-flawless round and then both hands on the Wanamaker Trophy, the 27-pound chalice that had started to feel like the weight of the world on Day’s broad shoulders.

Unlike so many times in his career, there were no missed putts at crucial moments like at the Open Championship, no debilitating bouts with vertigo like at the U.S. Open and, most importantly, no heartbreak.

This time the five-time Tour winner – who as a gangly 12-year-old showed up at the Kooralbyn International School in Australia with a decent but not spectacular game and a 460cc-sized chip on his shoulder – didn’t allow fate to intervene on another’s behalf.

Day forged his way into the lead heading into Sunday at a major for the third time this season with a third-round 66. He defied the unseen forces and internal demons that had made him a perennial bridesmaid at the biggest events through utter force of will.

He birdied the first, fifth, sixth and seventh holes in what quickly became a dart-throwing contest to maintain his two-stroke lead and never allowed anyone, not even Jordan Spieth, to get any closer on his way to a closing 67.

“It was probably the hardest round of golf I’ve ever played,” said Day, who came up five strokes shy to Spieth at the U.S. Open and one shot out the playoff at last month’s Open Championship. “I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t know how tough.”


PGA Championship: Full-field scores


The PGA has historically been the more user friendly of the four major championships in terms of scoring, but as a warm morning turned to a scorching afternoon the year’s final Grand Slam gathering descended into a skins game with players trading birdies and boring down on historical scoring records with each swing.

For the record, Day’s 20 under total is a new major championship mark for relation to par. Not bad considering they’ve been playing these things for 155 years.

Spieth, who found himself in a familiar spot late on a major championship Sunday, finished the year 54 under par in four Grand Slam starts. That’s four strokes better than the previous mark set by Tiger Woods in 2000.

While red figures may not be everyone’s brand of vodka when it comes to major championships, the scoring frenzy did entertain.

In order, Branden Grace, Justin Rose and ultimately Spieth all made spirited runs at Day, but the kid from Kooralbyn – a sports specific school on the outskirts of Australia’s Gold Coast where the notion of golf greatness first took root – answered every challenge.

Grace rolled in birdie putts from Manitowoc to Mequon – the Cheeseheads in the crowd know what that’s about – to move to within two shots before the turn, but was ultimately undone by a double bogey-6 at the 10th hole.

Rose also cut Day’s advantage to three shots with a birdie at the 11th, but a hole later faded with a double bogey at the 13th.

And finally Spieth, of course it would be Spieth, cut the deficit to three shots with a 15 footer for birdie at the 13th hole, but Day continued the volley with a birdie at the 14th hole.

The only moment that passed as even remotely tense came on the 15th hole when Day teed off with a four-stroke lead with four to play but made bogey, and briefly conjured up memories of another Australian (Adam Scott) who had a commanding four-shot lead but collapsed at the 2012 Open Championship.

Day would have none of it.

In the ultimate show of respect, Spieth shot Day a thumbs up sign after he lagged a lengthy birdie putt to within inches at the 17th hole for what felt like a walk-off par.

From there Day took the walk up the 18th hole with a three-shot cushion that not even Dustin Johnson and one of Whistling Straits’ ubiquitous bunkers/sand boxes could mishandle.

“We play a lot of golf and we’ve played a lot of major championship rounds together and that was the best I've ever seen him play,” said Spieth, who at least enjoyed the consolation of overtaking Rory McIlroy atop the World Golf Ranking with his runner-up finish at Whistling Straits. “He's impressive to watch strike the ball, but it was nothing like today. He took it back and he wailed on it and it was a stripe show. It was really a clinic to watch.”

Spieth, who could have joined Woods and Ben Hogan as the only men to win three majors in one year in the Masters era, instead closed with a 68 to put the finishing touches on the best major championship season since Woods collect three in 2000.

His bid to hit for the Grand Slam cycle came up two swings short, the first from the Valley of Sin at the Open Championship and then along the shores of Lake Michigan when he tugged his second shot into a bunker left of the 16th green. He ended up making birdie on the hole, but he needed something truly heroic.

Spieth’s perceived lack of driving distance has always been a question mark, or maybe it’s an easy out for those who struggle to pinpoint his brilliance, but those who have played and lost to the twenty-something contend he’s long enough at 76th on Tour just after Retief Goosen and just before Jim Herman.

Yet while that game plays well if you are putting like Spieth at, say any of this year’s other majors, on Sunday it proved to be too much of a handicap against Day.

For the week, Day averaged 305 yards off the tee and was third in the field in driving distance. In practical terms, he was able to dismantle the par 5s (playing them in 15 under) thanks to drives like his 382-yard effort on No. 11.

“[Spieth] said to me in scoring, ‘Man, there was nothing I could do,’” Day said.

For so long it felt like there was nothing Day could do to shed his major monkey, but that all started to change when he rebounded from his St. Andrews swoon with a clutch performance at the RBC Canadian Open and arrived at Whistling Straits with a different, even demur, outlook.

“I sensed this week he was more relaxed and calm,” said Colin Swatton, Day’s swing coach and caddie who began working with him when he arrived at Kooralbyn. “At a major sometimes you can get consumed by everything that’s going on, but this week he didn’t allow that to happen.”

Day had found so many ways to lose majors, from V (vertigo at the U.S. Open) to Z (Zach Johnson at the Open Championship), one would have thought he’d simply run out of roadblocks. But this time neither vertigo nor unseen vulnerabilities would deny him.

Twenty years after Steve Elkington became the last Australian to win the PGA Championship Day hoisted the same trophy, but his achievement went well beyond the numbers on a scorecard or a chapter in the history books.

Your scribe first met Day in 2007 at a Web.com Tour event in Australia, and the then-19 year old didn’t flinch when asked what he wanted to accomplish in golf.

“I want to be No. 1 in world,” he said without a trace of false modesty.

His victory at Whistling Straits moved Day to No. 3 in the World Golf Ranking, but for the first time since he formulated that dream as a 12 year old it seems a lot closer.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 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 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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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.