#AskLav: Very, way too early 2015 major predictions

By Ryan LavnerOctober 23, 2014, 1:30 pm

Signs we’re in the fall portion of the wraparound schedule:

• The big winner in Vegas was not Ben Martin but rather the photographer who got the plum assignment of hangin’ by the pool at TPC Summerlin. Women in bikinis, fruity drinks and a haunting, photobombing teddy bear ... tough gig!

• The story that occupied a precious headline spot on every major golf website: Jack Nicklaus weighing in on embattled Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s scribbling habits. Like we really expected the Golden Bear to bash the guy who feeds his grandson in the red zone.

• Tiger Woods’ return to the range prompted a BREAKING! message on ESPN’s mobile alerts. Dial back the enthusiasm, text-typers! We do realize that Tiger’s event is now only six weeks away, yes? It’s time to go to work.

As a young stringer covering high school sports, my editor once told me: “Not every night is Game 7.” His point, of course, was that not every inning/quarter/period/whatever should be subject to microanalysis, that not every nine-inning baseball game was profound or significant or offered a glimpse into the future.  

That’s even more important to remember in pro golf, now a year-round pursuit. Just as quickly as Billy Horschel deposited $11.44 million, Sang-Moon Bae won the first of 47 events in the new season.

This week’s stop in Sea Island holds the unofficial distinction of being the Most Laid-Back Tournament of the Year … even for those trying to author a Jimmy Walker-type breakthrough or simply get a head start in FedEx Cup points. The McGladrey is the best full-field PGA Tour event this fall, and it certainly offers the best environs, what with the good eats, the beach, the perfect weather and the Wiffle ball games. Amid a crowded Tour schedule, this event has a kick-your-feet-up vibe.

But chances are this week’s result won’t be terribly significant. Not every night is Game 7, just as not every week is the Masters. I kinda prefer it that way.

Now, for your (very few) mailbag questions:  


 

 

Call these educated guesses, because these days seemingly no player is immune to injury, lawsuit, confidence-shattering slump or self-imposed leave of absence. So here goes …

Masters: Adam Scott. His putter still goes cold a bit too often, but his record at Augusta in recent years is indisputably excellent – four consecutive top 15s, including the win in 2013. Even if he doesn’t slip into another green jacket, he’ll still be a major factor next year.

U.S. Open: Jason Day. Assuming he stays healthy, J-Day is in store for a monster 2015. (Alas, we seem to type these exact words every year.) His best bet to win a major is at the Open, where he already has three top-4s in four career starts. Because Chambers Bay is such a mystery to everyone except the young pros – the 2010 U.S. Amateur was held there – you can expect the best ball-strikers to rise to the top.

Open Championship: Rory McIlroy. Now that he’s rekindled his love for links golf, there should be no stopping Boy Wonder next year at St. Andrews, where his driver should give him a massive advantage. We all remember the opening 63 at the home of golf in 2010 (followed, of course, by the Friday 80), and his T-3 there still represents his second-best finish in the year’s third major. His rounds of 64-68 at this month's Dunhill Links only bolsters the belief that he’ll be a prohibitive favorite in Scotland next year.    

PGA: Rickie Fowler. Gut call here. Whistling Straits favors the big hitters, and the 150-pound Fowler is sneaky long. He had top 5s in all four majors this season, and he’s likely to be even better in Year 2 under Butch Harmon, especially with his iron game (ranked 100th on Tour in greens hit). Plus, his close calls should leave him plenty motivated in 2015, so we’re banking on a few Ws – perhaps in the year’s final major. 


 

 

There isn’t one, besides an obvious lack of fan interest in the fall and a watered-down product overall. As long as companies are still willing to pony up to sponsor events, these C-level fall events – and the tiresome wraparound schedule – aren’t going anywhere.

Really, I’ve come to view the PGA Tour as essentially two separate seasons: One that starts in the fall, for the Tour’s middle class and those bored by the thought of an offseason, and one that starts in March, for the superstars. There’s nothing wrong with this, mind you. With the nation’s sporting attention on playoff baseball or the NFL season or LeBron, the Tour’s fall events can help establish an early theme, or maybe a rising star like Jimmy Walker. And then when the Tour heads to Florida, in early March, the “real” season can commence, with Tiger and Phil and Rory gearing up for the Masters. Hard-core golf fans – those likely reading this mailbag on Oct. 23, with little going on – can still get their fill all year long.  


 

 

Good question, because we are indeed beginning to see a changing of the guard. In the past, players tested equipment during the fall and then debuted the new stuff at the start of the calendar year. Now, with the wraparound schedule, those players can no longer afford to simply ease into action, which means an abbreviated test period during the season for those searching for the latest and greatest. Many companies still offer contracts that run through Dec. 31, but recent moves by Keegan Bradley (re-upping with Cleveland/Srixon) and Ian Poulter (moving to Titleist) show that equipment companies are starting to adapt as well.  

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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 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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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.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


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.