PGA could have handled weather woes better

By Rex HoggardJuly 30, 2016, 11:13 pm

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Golf is an outdoor sport and as such is subject to the worst Mother Nature can throw our way. Rounds are delayed, suspended and resumed with regularity and those who follow the circus from city to city accept that as an occupational hazard.

What shouldn’t be accepted, however, is a curious indifference to the facts on the ground. Storms have been in the forecast this week since players arrived for this week’s PGA Championship. Officials acknowledged as much, albeit with a healthy amount of optimism.

“I am so excited for the championship to come tomorrow. I wish it were tomorrow,” Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s chief championships officer, said Wednesday. “But we have some weather possibilities; we do have a 30 percent chance of sunshine on Friday, so we're looking very positive on that.”

That answer prompted a playful response from the PGA official running Wednesday’s press conference, “Kerry 'the glass is always half-full' Haigh, ladies and gentlemen.”

But when the weather warning horn drove players off Baltusrol on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. (ET), 30 minutes before the last group was scheduled to tee off, the playfulness had faded.

Weather delays may be unavoidable, but they can be mitigated. Officials could have sent players off both the first and 10th tees in threesomes on Saturday beginning at 7 a.m., which was the starting time for Rounds 1 and 2.

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Under that proactive scenario the leaders would have headed out at 9:20 a.m. and would have been somewhere around the 15th or 16th holes, depending on pace of play, before the skies opened.

Instead, officials stayed with the traditional championship window, with groups heading off the first tee in twosomes starting at 7:35 a.m. with an eye toward a 7 p.m. finish. Maybe it was nothing more than a botched forecast, maybe it was misguided optimism, maybe it was pressure from the PGA’s television partners to keep the event in prime time.

Either way, it was the wrong choice.

It’s a decision that will likely be compounded by a less-than-stellar forecast for Sunday, when the rain chance hovers around 60 percent for most of the day.

“It's a major championship, and we want it to be ran and perform as a major championship,” Haigh said when asked why the PGA didn’t go to a two-tee start for Round 3. “We feel it's important for all the players, in an ideal world, to play from the first tee and play the holes in order.”

The game clings to its history, often for all the right reasons. But in this case, particularly for the third round, there was precedent for a two-tee start.

In 2014 at Royal Liverpool the R&A, which holds to tradition like few others, sent groups off both sets of tees earlier than normal to beat an approaching storm for the first time in that championship’s history. The final group completed that round just as the storm arrived, validating what was certainly a difficult decision.

PGA officials will press hard on Sunday to finish on schedule, resuming third-round play at 7 a.m. and sending groups off for Round 4 beginning at 8:40 a.m. with the leaders heading out at approximately 3:25 p.m. They could still finish on schedule, but the margin of error has been narrowed dramatically.

“The forecast, actually the last three days, has called for very similar weather, summer weather; it's 90 degrees with a chance of afternoon storms,” Haigh said. “Our hope is that those showers or storms hit elsewhere.”

Perhaps Haigh & Co. got the wrong end of the forecast, but doesn’t luck favor the prepared?

The desire to keep things on schedule and in prime time is understandable, but the alternative of a Monday finish does no one any good. Crowds are predictably thinner, the audience watching at home a fraction of what it would have been and the buzz normally associated with the final round of a major much more subdued.

There’s also the issue of this year’s condensed scheduled. The PGA got started less than two weeks after Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson traded blows at Royal Troon, which had its own weather woes, sans lightning, but still managed to crown a champion on schedule.

In five days Stenson and a handful of others are scheduled to fly to Rio to participate in the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics. A Monday finish will only make what is already a difficult schedule that much more demanding.

“I was a little surprised they didn’t do threesomes; we were talking about maybe there was too many guys; I don’t really know the answer,” said co-leader Robert Streb. “I don’t know if they would have gotten done, but they would have been close; but it’s not our tournament to run, it’s theirs.”

There’s nothing in the small print that says a championship must end on Sunday, and when a Grand Slam title is on the line 72 holes is a perfectly understandable requirement. But when a schedule adjustment could have prevented, or at least mitigated, unexpected delays it seems like an opportunity lost at best and a blunder at worst.

There will be a champion crowned at Baltusrol this week just as there was at the 2005 PGA when Phil Mickelson waited out the delays for his Monday coronation at Baltusrol. The PGA took a chance and Mother Nature won, it happens. But it might have been avoided.

As novelist George Santayana once famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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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  

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; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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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.

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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.