Fun Zone

By Rex HoggardMay 5, 2010, 10:14 pm

The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – As Rory McIlroy’s manager Chubby Chandler made his way down the TPC Sawgrass practice tee on Wednesday we couldn’t resist: How was the party?

“A hell of a lot of fun,” he smiled, referring to the 21st birthday/first PGA Tour title shindig at Lulu’s Waterfront Grille near TPC Sawgrass for the young Northern Irishman on Tuesday.

The same could be said for golf lately.

The combination of a down economy and a superstar that has been down and out since Nov. 27 had cast a pall over the golf world for the better part of a young season, but a B-12 shot of young and old have rejuvenated the game like few thought possible in recent weeks.

Phil Mickelson’s Masters moment left few with a dry eye or a steady pulse less than a month ago, and McIlroy’s four-shot walk-over at Charlotte’s mid-major matched the hype, a rarity in a game that tends to award star status based on potential more so than practical application.

There was a lot of water-cooler talk on the TPC practice tee over which accomplishment was more impressive, McIlroy’s closing 62 or Ryo Ishikawa’s final-round 58 to win the Japan Tour’s Crowns tournament? Chandler, hardly an impartial bystander, said it best.

“They are both amazing rounds, aren’t they?” he said. “It’s good for golf, that’s the important thing. You really can’t compare the two.”

No, you can’t compare the two. One was played on a 7,400-yard, par-72 behemoth against a world class field with the weight of an entire nation weighing heavily on young shoulders. The other came against a field of understudies on a 6,545-yard, par-70 layout that, although widely applauded as a fine track, will never be confused for a major championship venue.

It’s hard to say who needed the Quail Hollow clinic more, McIlroy or golf?

If golf is at its best when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are going head-to-head, it proved downright entertaining last week. Lament the early exit of Woods last week all you want, if McIlory’s 62 didn’t get the blood flowing you should seek medical attention.

For McIlory, however, the victory was the tonic for a 400-pound gorilla that was getting heavier with each pedestrian week, with each missed cut.

Before Quail Hollow McIlory’s best U.S. finish in a stroke-play event was 40th, and his decision to take up PGA Tour membership this year was starting to appear premature if not problematic.

No one knew this more than Padraig Harrington. Although he’s from the other side of the Irish tracks he knows the pressure of unfulfilled expectations, be they self-imposed or otherwise.

“He wasn't contending, wasn't winning,” said Harrington late Sunday at Quail Hollow where he’d lingered to congratulate a player nearly half his age. “It's a lot of pressure on him, a lot of focus on him at home, and it's putting him under enormous pressure to deliver, and obviously every week that he doesn't deliver, it's getting on him.”

Five events into a rookie campaign is hardly a complete sample, but when you’ve been dubbed the next world-beater-in-waiting back-to-back missed cuts, like McIlory suffered before arriving in North Carolina, can do strange things to a 20-year-old psyche.

Interesting then that the simple thought that got him back on track is the one thing one would expect a 20 year old to have plenty of: “Just going out and playing like you’re a kid again. Go, hit it, find it. Hit it, find it again. Hole the putt, go to the next tee. Just really look forward to hitting the next shot.”

Swing gurus call that “caveman golf,” and it is good advice for anyone playing this week’s Players Championship, particularly a someone like McIlory who missed the cut in his first start at TPC Sawgrass last year.

On Sunday McIlroy called it the “zone,” but those who watched the Northern Irishman make quick work of Quail Hollow figured it’s something closer to a “fun zone.”

“It looks like he’s having fun again,” Chandler smiled.

The same could be said for golf these days.

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Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
(1) D. Johnson: 0-1-0 (2) J. Thomas: 1-0-0 (3) J. Rahm: 0-0-1 (4) J. Spieth: 2-0-0
(32) K. Kisner: 0-0-1 (21) F. Molinari: 1-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat: 1-0-0 (19) P. Reed: 2-0-0
(38) A. Hadwin: 0-0-1
(48) P. Kizzire: 0-1-0 (43) C. Reavie: 0-1-0 (34) H. Li: 0-2-0
(52) B. Wiesberger: 1-0-0
(60) L. List: 0-1-0 (63) K. Bradley: 0-0-1 (49) C. Schwartzel: 0-2-0
Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
(5) H. Matsuyama: 1-0-0 (6) R. McIlroy: 0-1-0 (7) S. Garcia: 1-0-0 (8) J. Day: 1-0-0
(30) P. Cantlay: 0-1-0
(18) B. Harman: 0-0-1 (20) X. Schauffele: 1-0-0 (25) L. Oosthuizen: 1-0-0
(46) C. Smith: 1-0-0 (44) J. Vegas: 0-0-1 (41) D. Frittelli: 0-1-0 (42) J. Dufner: 0-1-0
(53) Y. Miyazato: 0-1-0 (51) P. Uihlein: 1-0-0 (62) S. Sharma: 0-1-0 (56) J. Hahn: 0-1-0
Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
(9) T. Fleetwood: 1-1-0 (10) P. Casey: 1-0-0 (11) M. Leishman: 0-1-0 (12) T. Hatton: 1-0-0
(26) D. Berger: 0-2-0 (31) M. Fitzpatrick: 0-1-0 (23) B. Grace: 0-1-0 (22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0
(33) K. Chappell: 1-1-0 (45) K. Stanley: 1-0-0 (35) B. Watson: 1-0-0 (36) B. Steele: 1-0-0
(58) I. Poulter: 2-0-0 (51) R. Henley: 0-1-0 (64) J. Suri: 1-0-0 (55) A. Levy: 0-1-0
Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
(13) A. Noren: 2-0-0 (14) P. Mickelson: 0-1-0 (15) P. Perez: 0-0-1 (16) M. Kuchar: 0-0-1
(29) T. Finau: 2-0-0 (17) R. Cabrera Bello: 1-0-0 (24) G. Woodland: 0-0-1 (27) R. Fisher: 0-1-0
(39) T. Pieters: 0-2-0 (40) S. Kodaira: 0-1-0 (37) W. Simpson: 0-0-1 (47) Y. Ikeda: 1-0-0
(61) K. Na: 0-2-0 (59) C. Howell III: 1-0-0 (50) S.W. Kim: 0-0-1 (54) Z. Johnson: 0-0-1
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Watch: Bubba hits 366-yard tee shot ... with an iron

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 22, 2018, 6:47 pm

You know Bubba Watson is plenty long off the tee. And when you put a little wind to his back and let him hit downhill, the ball is bound to travel a great distance.

But, still, this is a 366-yard tee shot at the par-4 ninth hole at Austin C.C. ... with an iron. Yeah, it runs for a long time. But, again, 366 ... with an iron.

Watson won the hole with a par and made the turn, 2 up, in his Day 2 match against Marc Leishman at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

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Romo starts hot, stumbles to 77 in PGA Tour debut

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 5:14 pm

There was plenty of good, but also plenty of bad for Tony Romo in his PGA Tour debut.

Playing in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship on a sponsor exemption, Romo shot an even-par 36 for his opening nine holes in the Dominican Republic. The former NFL quarterback bogeyed his first two holes, but steadied the ship with three birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 4-8.

The early highlight of the round came at the par-4 fifth hole, where Romo drained a putt from across the green for his second straight birdie:

But the back nine wasn't as kind for the 37-year-old, who dropped five shots in a four-hole stretch from Nos. 13-16. It added up to a 5-over 77 in the opening round, which left Romo ahead of only Guy Boros among the players who had finished in the morning wave.

"I hit two poor tee balls. Just didn't commit to it, and ultimately just got put in a tough spot where you're just trying to make par," Romo said. "I hit a lot of good shots, and they ended up a couple times in some poor spots. But you learn the golf course as you play it throughout the week."

Romo has played as an amateur partner in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and has played individually in U.S. Open local qualifiers and mini-tour events as an amateur. But this marks his first attempt to gauge his game against the best players in the world who are not in Austin for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Romo was even par through 12 holes before a three-putt bogey from the fringe on No. 13. A nasty lie in the rough led to a double bogey on the par-5 14th, and Romo had to hit provisional tee shots on both Nos. 15 and 16. While he ultimately found his original ball on both holes, he left with a pair of bogeys.

"I really hit some good shots, and I'm close," Romo said. "I had a chance to be under par pretty easily there for a while, and then two or three shots on the back nine cost me. But that's golf."

Romo will tee off at 1 p.m. ET Friday in the second round alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

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Horschel, Kisner & Perez join "Feherty," Monday, March 26 at 9 p.m. ET

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMarch 22, 2018, 5:10 pm

PREVIEW: Perez details rocky collegiate golf experience at Arizona State

Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner and Pat Perez – each winners of multiple events on the PGA TOUR – will join David Feherty on his self-titled, Emmy-nominated series Feherty presented by Farmers Insurance®, Monday at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

“This might be the biggest group of benign social deviants I’ve ever had the privilege of speaking to,” said Feherty. “They’ve been responsible for nine career wins on TOUR collectively, but they’re each also capable of getting into some mischief.”

The episode – filmed in Naples, Fla. – will touch upon several topics, including:

  • Their respective upbringings and corresponding introductions to golf.
  • Reflections on their junior golf and collegiate playing days, and how it helped prepare them to compete as a professional.
  • Contemplating which mulligan(s) they’d take in their life if given the opportunity.

Future guests on Feherty this year include Paul Azinger, Stewart Cink, Boo Weekley and Paul Goydos, among others.

A two-time Emmy-nominated host (Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Host) Feherty has been described as “golf’s iconoclast,” by Rolling Stone, and “the last unscripted man on TV,” by Men’s Journal. His all-star lineup of golf-enthused and culturally relevant guests feature celebrities from across entertainment, sports and politics. To date, Feherty has sat down with four U.S. Presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump); sports legends Charles Barkley, Nick Saban, Stephen Curry and Bobby Knight; Hollywood icons Matthew McConaughey, Larry David and Samuel L. Jackson; World Golf of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson; and a host of current golf superstars including Paula Creamer, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Michelle Wie. Feherty is produced by Golf Channel’s original productions group, which also oversees production for Driver vs. Driver and Golf Films.