Whose ultra-low round was best?

By Rex HoggardJanuary 14, 2017, 2:30 am

HONOLULU – They gushed and gawked, spoke in hushed tones about the loftiness of the accomplishment and how Justin Thomas was playing a different game.

There have now been eight sub-60 rounds in PGA Tour history by seven players, and Thomas’ 11-under 59 on Thursday at the Sony Open certainly came with its share of style points.

Thomas, 23, became the youngest player to join the sub-60 club and just the second to complete his round with an eagle, a clutch 15-footer up the hill on the ninth hole. That his 59 came less than five days after he’d won the SBS Tournament of Champions also added a degree of difficulty to the moment for Thomas.

“Man, what a round. I’ve been coming here a lot of years and I’ve never seen a 59 around here,” said Charles Howell III, who in 15 trips to Waialae Country Club has never posted a score better than 62. “Windy, not windy, I don’t care, that’s one heck of a round.”

But as impressive as Thomas’ round was, if you break it down statistically and strategically it might not be the best round on Tour in the last 12 months.

The most straightforward way to compare rounds is measuring how it stands up to the field average for that day. For example, Thomas’ 59 was 9.25 strokes better than the Day 1 average (68.25) in Hawaii.

Using that measurement, Jim Furyk’s 58, which was 10.65 strokes better than the field average, during the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship is the most impressive card over the last year.

By comparison, Ken Duke’s 7-under 65 on Saturday at last year’s Players Championship might have been a more impressive turn, beating the field average on a ridiculously tough day at TPC Sawgrass by 10.59 strokes.

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Some might even say Brandt Snedeker’s closing 69 at last year’s Farmers Insurance Open, which was delayed by wind gusts to 35 mph, should be in the conversation at 8.9 strokes under the average. It might not be an apples-to-pineapples comparison, but Stephan Jaeger’s 71 in Round 1 last week at the Web.com Tour season opener in the Bahamas was 9.4 strokes better than the collective average.

Thomas’ opening effort in Hawaii was certainly impressive, historic even, but when ranking the best rounds most players went beyond the initial sticker shock of the total score.

“I don’t want to say 59 is becoming normal, but anything in the 50s is just spectacular,” said Zach Johnson before considering Duke’s 65 at TPC Sawgrass. “That was ridiculous, that golf course was essentially unplayable. I was getting it to 20 feet and was like, OK, I’m not going to three-putt this. That was my mentality. That’s not good. To me, that one sticks out.”

Still, there’s a certain aura to Furyk’s 58 at TPC River Highlands that most players always return to, that at 46 years old, the veteran was able to become the first player in Tour history to achieve has an intoxicating appeal.

“Jimmy’s 58, I actually played with him on Thursday and Friday [at the Travelers Championship]. I don’t know if you can rank them,” Johnson said.

For Duke – who, for the record, contends Furyk’s 58 was the best round on Tour last year – it’s not necessarily the number that impresses as much as it is the degree of difficulty.

“I look at the conditions more than anything,” Duke said. “Yesterday, here you can do that around this place, there are a lot of shorter clubs and conditions are perfect. But conditions weren’t perfect when I played and when Furyk played.”

On Saturday at TPC Sawgrass, for example, the Stadium Course played to the second toughest third-round scoring average on Tour last season; and Torrey Pines posted the year’s highest final-round average (77.9) in 2016 as a backdrop to Snedeker’s accomplishment.

Another way to judge the relative quality of a low round would be to compare it to others who played well on the same day.

“What’s the next best score?” Johnson asked of Thursday’s action in Hawaii. “Justin shot 59 and what was the next best score [Hudson Swafford’s 62]? So there’s three shots, six-, seven-shot gap, then you have a low round.”

By that measure, Furyk – who was four shots better than the next player, who was Thomas, on Sunday at the Travelers Championship – and Thomas (four shots) would get the nod over Duke, who was two clear of Hideki Matsuyama (67) on that demanding Saturday, and Snedeker, who was three ahead of the next best (Robert Streb) in San Diego.

But then it should also be pointed out that there were only three scores in the 60s on Day 3 at The Players, and Snedeker’s was the only sub-70 card in Round 4 at Torrey Pines, which had to be completed on Monday because of a violent wind storm.

“That’s tough,” Johnson said when pressed for an answer. “Every round is different.”

Although it might be a debate over varying shades of perfection, the one thing that isn’t up for discussion is that every one of these rounds was impressive.

TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.

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DeChambeau gets foursomes, fourball mixed up

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Bryson DeChambeau is an accomplished player when it comes to match play, having captured the U.S. Amateur and starred on a Walker Cup team. But don’t ask him to explain the semantic difference between the formats in play at this week’s Ryder Cup.

DeChambeau became crossed up Tuesday at Le Golf National when he was asked about the intricacies of foursomes play – better known to many Americans as alternate shot.

“Fourball, foursomes, I always get those mixed up,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just easier for me to say alternate shot.”

Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Thankfully for DeChambeau, he still has some time to make a distinction between the two before the matches begin in earnest. And when they do, it’ll be fourballs for the morning sessions both Friday and Saturday, with foursomes in the afternoon – a change from the 2016 matches when DeChambeau was on the grounds at Hazeltine as a spectator.

While the foursomes format brings with it added pressure in an already tense environment, one of the biggest concerns is how well players can adjust to using the ball of their partner on a given hole. DeChambeau is known to leave nothing to chance in his preparation, and he’s already circled that particular factor as he gets set to make his Ryder Cup debut.

“It’s key because we want to be comfortable. Each player needs to be comfortable with the ball that they are playing,” DeChambeau said. “So for compatibility reasons, it’s one of the most important things out there in regards to alternate shot. It is the most important.”