Rahm exceeding expectations in young career

By Rex HoggardMay 12, 2017, 9:00 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In practice the void between potential and production, at least in golf, is a three-shot par 5 with a couple forced carries thrown in.

As a rule rather than exception, can’t-miss kids almost always miss. Some go quietly, slipping into mediocrity without much fanfare; while others crash loudly into oblivion.

An actual prodigy, a genuine article who exceeds even the most lofty expectations is the most uncommon, an urban legend managers and equipment manufacturers search for but rarely find.

There were familiar conversations when Jon Rahm turned pro last fall, hushed comments about how good the Spaniard could be and a rush to sign the would-be world-beater to an endorsement deal.

Could the 22-year-old be the real deal? Would he be able to succeed where so many others have failed? In just 23 starts the answer is starting to become a resounding yes.

Rahm finished tied for third in just his third event as a pro (Quicken Loans National) and was runner-up in just his seventh (RBC Canadian Open).

He’s missed just a single cut and won his first PGA Tour event in January at the Farmers Insurance Open. He’s gone head-to-head with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and even finished fourth last week following a brazen attempt at the post in Wilmington, N.C.

Oh, and he’s back at it again this week with rounds of 68-72 for a spot within the top 10 at The Players in his first start at TPC Sawgrass. But then every start is his first start.

“I still compete to win, my mindset doesn't change,” Rahm said following another windy and wild day at The Players. “I'm a lot more experienced, I make less mistakes, I feel like I find myself more comfortable every day in this position and I don't think anything's changed. I just see myself trying to win tournaments.”

But if Rahm’s results have exceeded those early expectations, his play has only given fuel to a higher bar.

The Players Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo said Rahm, who is currently No. 12 in the world, will be the next world No. 1, and Phil Mickelson refuses to play practice round “games” against him. A few months back one veteran Tour player even went so far as to make a friendly wager with another frat brother that the Spaniard would be inside the top 10 within two years.

Turns out it doesn’t appear it will take near that long.

Not that anyone is interested in travelling down the World Ranking rabbit hole, the minimum divisor used by the number crunchers is 40 events over a two-year window. Rahm has just 23 starts, which means he’s done more with less than anyone not named Dustin Johnson.

“Jon Rahm's a superstar, he's just amazing to the entire world of golf,” said Rafa Cabrera Bello, who was at 5 under and a stroke clear of Rahm after Round 2. “I played with him many practice rounds now, I obviously got to be more friends with him and it's just the amount of confidence that he has, but also proper based confidence on him.”

His play, which is defined by what most would call an unorthodox swing, has been nothing short of spectacular, but it’s been his presence of mind that may impress the most.

“I think he’s very comfortable with all of the surroundings, you know, with the atmosphere,” said Martin Kaymer, who was paired with Rahm for the first two days at TPC Sawgrass. “It seems like he has been here already for a couple of years. He’s very relaxed with the people, he doesn’t feel intimidated much. Usually it takes two or three years to get used to it, but he got used to it fairly quick. I think that’s a big difference.”

There was a telling moment last week when he forged his way into contention at the Wells Fargo Championship and talked of being “scared” over a shot.

When was the last time he was scared?

“I wouldn't say scared, maybe too tentative or too passive, trying to not be aggressive, try to not make mistakes and try to hit the shots. That's what I mean by scared,” he explained.

Much of this is premature. Great players are measured at the major championships and Rahm’s record on this front is best considered a work in progress. But that does nothing to mitigate his early body of work or his potential.

His resume aside, Rahm has many advantages as he ascends the World Ranking, including his unique swing that will likely temper his desire to tinker in the pursuit of perfection.

He’s already won, so there is no pressure to get that breakthrough, and his World Ranking is already high enough to assure him access to the game’s biggest events.

Regardless of what happens this week at The Players, Rahm has already proven to be the rarest of breeds – a golf unicorn.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 11:00 am

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:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

7AM-3PM (Watch): Jordan Spieth fired 65 to move into a three-way share of the 54-hole lead, while Tiger Woods (66) played his way into contention. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler and Thorbjorn Olesen.

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.

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 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 marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 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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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 am

Tiger Woods begins the final round of the 147th Open Championship four shots off the lead. He's out at 9:25 a.m. ET on Sunday and we're tracking him.

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”