POY race coming down to Day, DJ

By Rex HoggardSeptember 4, 2016, 12:11 am

NORTON, Mass. – In between high-fives and unrestrained cheers Steve Stricker contemplated the question.

Actually, he tried his best to split his attention between the topic at hand - who would get his nod for PGA Tour Player of the Year, and the LSU vs. Wisconsin game, which was won by his beloved Badgers.

“I don’t know. Who would you vote for?” Stricker shot back while anxiously watching the closing minutes of the Wisconsin game.

It was a common response to a strangely difficult question, at least by Tour standards.

Most years, players have already made up their minds – or at the least penciled in the leader in the clubhouse – by the time the Tour arrives in New England for this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship. But that status quo is largely a nod to Tiger Woods’ dominance, as well as the play in recent years by the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

But whether it’s the newfound parity that has gripped the game since Woods began his competitive swoon or the FedEx Cup, which in its 10th year has taken on a unique importance to players, this year’s race for the Jack Nicklaus Award is very much in play – at least for two players.

The two leading candidates for Player of the Year, and to be honest the only two candidates, are Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, but a brush of the resume doesn’t exactly reveal a clear front-runner.

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Johnson won a major, the U.S. Open, and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational the following week; while Day has three victories: The Players, WGC-Dell Match Play and Arnold Palmer Invitational.

When pressed, most of those players polled by GolfChannel.com at TPC Boston gave the nod, however slightly, to Johnson.

“You’d probably lean to the guy who has a major, and I’m sure Jason Day would rather have a major,” Stricker said. “But you can’t snuff The Players and the WGC and the extra win. It’s like a flip of the coin there.”

A further examination of the two players’ seasons would also suggest that Johnson would have a narrow advantage with three events remaining in the season.

Johnson has two more top-10 finishes (12) than Day, and is second in strokes gained tee to green while the Australian is 54th in that category; but Day is first in strokes gained putting to DJ’s 44th rank on the greens.

“[Johnson] seems to play good every single week,” Russell Knox said. “One of them is going to win again the next three weeks, but right now my vote would be Dustin Johnson.”

But then Day has earned more ($7.9 million) than Johnson ($7.3 million) and leads the American in the FedEx Cup race, with the duo ranked second and third, respectively.

If the uncertainty of those polled is any indication, it will be that FedEx Cup list that ultimately decides the Player of the Year race.

If either player were to win one of the final three events and take the season-long race that would give them the advantage in the balloting, which will occur after the Tour Championship later this month.

If recent form is any indication there’s no clear-cut leader on that front, either.

Day finished tied for fourth place in the playoff lid lifter, five strokes ahead of Johnson. But Johnson is currently tied for fifth place at TPC Boston after a second-round 66 despite a double bogey-7 to finish his round on Saturday; while Day narrowly made the cut and is tied for 62nd.

“I would go Dustin, right now,” Brendan Steele said. “Those two guys have separated themselves from everybody else, for sure. But it depends on the next three weeks. It could change.”

That tie breaker, however, may depend on FedEx Cup front-runner Patrick Reed, who won The Barclays and is currently tied for seventh at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

If neither Johnson nor Day were to win the FedEx Cup, the ultimate tipping point may come down to the value of winning The Players, which is considered in some circles the game’s “fifth major,” compared to a proper Grand Slam.

“The Players is a pretty big win. I don’t know, that’s a tough question,” Stricker said.

It’s an esoteric debate that hasn’t come up since 2013 when Woods won The Players, along with four other Tour titles but no majors, and was voted the Player of the Year over Adam Scott, who won only twice but that list included the Masters and The Barclays.

For now, players are content to let the rest of the season be the ultimate arbiter of success, hoping that one of the leading men separates himself over the playoff stretch.

“I think it would come down to the last tournament,” Steele said.

As tough as the decision seems to be for most players, it might be more accurate to say those casting votes are hoping it comes down to the last tournament.

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Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.

"I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

"What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

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Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

And now, Greg Norman.

Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.


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DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

(All Times Local)

Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.