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Handing out major grades: From A+ to F

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 5:00 pm

The Masters is 237 days away, which means these definitive major grades will hang on players like a scarlet letter for nearly eight months.

OK, maybe not.

Brooks Koepka, obviously, gets an A+. He won two majors, and became just the fourth player to take the U.S. Open and PGA in the same season, and did all of this while overcoming a career-threatening wrist injury at the beginning of the year. Very impressive.

Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari – you passed with flying colors, too. Reed showed that he can access his best stuff in an event other than the Ryder Cup, while Molinari’s three-month heater culminated with him surviving a wild final day at Carnoustie to hoist the claret jug. Welcome to the major club, gents.

As for everybody else? Hey, you’ve now got plenty of time to recover, reassess and round into form in hopes of improved marks in ’19.


TIGER WOODS

Grade: A

Why: Sure, a few shots from his major season will linger for years – his too-cute pitch shot on Carnoustie’s 11th hole and his sliced drive on Bellerive’s 17th immediately come to mind – but let’s not forget how far we’ve come: Two years ago, Woods could barely walk because of debilitating back pain; at this time last year, he’d just exited a treatment facility for overusing his pain/sleep medications, following an embarrassing DUI arrest. Now, he’s top 30 in the world, with a pair of top-6s in the majors and undoubtedly the most stirring final round of the year, in any event, with his career-best Sunday 64 at the PGA. If you still think that Tiger doesn’t have what it takes to win another major, you’ve lost touch with reality.


JUSTIN ROSE

Grade: B+

Why: He was one of only two players (Webb Simpson) who finished top 20 in all four majors, and he’ll probably look back at 2018 as a year in which he easily could have bagged a second title. At the U.S. Open he was only one shot off the lead after 54 holes but stumbled on the final day. A month later, he tied for second at The Open, but only after a weekend rally once he made the cut on the number. Across all four majors he had the best cumulative score to par of any player (12 under). This was a what-could-have-been year.


RICKIE FOWLER

Grade: B

Why: His 65-67 finish at the Masters left him one shot back of Reed, but it felt like the final obstacle had been cleared. Nothing was stopping Fowler now – he proved he could go low when it counted. Except then he imploded with an 84 in the third round of the U.S. Open and shot over par in both weekend rounds at The Open, before again getting into the mix at the PGA. Alas, battling an oblique strain, he regressed each round after an opening 65 and tied for 12th. Maybe next year …


JORDAN SPIETH

Grade: B

Why: Give him credit: He played better in the majors than he did the rest of the season. He shot an electric 64 on the final day at the Masters (though he’ll rue his tee shot on the 72nd hole) and grabbed a share of the 54-hole lead at The Open, despite not having his best stuff. That he shot a birdieless 76 on the final day was more a product of his form this year than succumbing to major pressure. Like Kopeka, he’s figured out how to perform when the lights are the brightest.


JON RAHM

Grade: B

Why: With the completeness of his game, it’s a little surprising that he hasn’t given himself better chances to break through. But he’s still only 23, and the chances will come in bunches before long. His fourth-place showings at the Masters and the PGA are steps in the right direction. 


Rory McIlroy on No. 18 on Saturday at the 2018 Masters.

RORY MCILROY

Grade: B-

Why: Asked Sunday how he’ll remember the major season, McIlroy replied bluntly: “Probably won’t. I don’t think there was anything all that memorable about it.” Of course, we’ll remember plenty, such as when he played his way into the final group at Augusta, only to fade over the course of the day, thus squandering another shot at capturing the career Grand Slam. And we’ll remember his tie for second at Carnoustie, where he eagled the 14th hole but then, with a chance to apply pressure on Molinari, couldn’t hit a wedge within 20 feet on the 18th green. He’s fallen into bad habits with that majestic swing, but there are holes in McIlroy’s game that need filling – holes that some of the other top players don’t have. And until he refines his wedge play and putting, that majorless drought (now four years and counting) will continue. 


JUSTIN THOMAS

Grade: C+

Why: No one has been better than Thomas over the past two seasons, but he’s likely frustrated by his major performance in 2018 – three top-25s, but only one realistic chance to win. Four shots off the lead heading into Sunday at the PGA, he had erased his deficit midway through the front nine but made critical mistakes on Nos. 14 and 16 to dash his hopes of defending his title. Of all the big-name players, he’s probably the best bet for a major rebound in 2019.


JASON DAY

Grade: C

Why: This has been a resurgent season for Day, with a pair of wins, but he didn’t bring it in the year’s biggest events. It’ll look good on paper, with three top-20s, but the only time he had a chance to win was the PGA, and he was one of the few to back up on the final day, carding a 1-over 71 when he sat just four shots off the lead.


DUSTIN JOHNSON

Grade: C-

Why: The floodgates were supposed to open after the 2016 U.S. Open, and it just hasn’t happened. Yet. He top-tenned at the Masters but was a non-factor, then jumped out to a four-shot lead halfway through the U.S. Open. He couldn’t make a putt during a Saturday 77, then got worked on the final day, head to head, against Koepka. He backed it up with a missed cut at The Open (where he blamed a lack of focus) and finished outside the top 25 at the PGA at a soft, straightforward course that suited plenty of other bombers. He can – and should – fare better.


PHIL MICKELSON

Grade: D-

Why: His series of lowlights at the U.S. Open – where he bizarrely whacked a moving ball on the green and then staunchly defended his actions – underscored that his window is all but closed at the majors. His major results since getting demoralized by Henrik Stenson at the 2016 Open: T33-T22-MC-MC-T36-T48-T24-MC. ’Nuff said.


SERGIO GARCIA

Grade: F

Why: No doubt, marriage and fatherhood are massive adjustments for everyone, but he’s missed the cut in his last five majors (and didn’t break par in any major round this year), plummeted down the world rankings (to 25th!) and put European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn in a difficult position of deciding whether to burn a pick on the slumping Spaniard. Memories of that breakthrough Masters victory are already drifting further and further away.

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GOLFNOW EXPANDS INTO EUROPE, NOW OFFERING TEE TIMES IN FRANCE

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 21, 2018, 4:29 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 21, 2018) – GolfNow today announced its expansion into France – its first entree into continental Europe – via agreements with two of the country’s leading multi-course management companies. The arrangement provides golfers residing throughout GolfNow’s footprint – including the U.S., U.K., Ireland and Australia – with the ability to book tee times on GolfNow at nearly 50 golf courses throughout France.

Coinciding with the growing anticipation of the 2018 Ryder Cup being contested next week at Le Golf National golf course outside of Paris, GolfNow’s agreements with Open Golf Club and UGOLF will showcase a collection of courses throughout France, which is considered to be one of the best countries in Europe to play golf due to its extensive variety of courses and year-round playing conditions. Tee times will be promoted across multiple GolfNow distribution platforms, depending on golfers’ geographic locations: GolfNow (U.S., U.K. and Ireland), Teeofftimes by GolfNow (U.K. and Ireland) and Qantas Golf Club by GolfNow (Australia).

“We’ve been planning this day for some time and are excited about our expansion into France through great partnerships with Open Golf Club and UGOLF,” said Brian Smith, general manager, GolfNow & Emerging Businesses International. “We anticipate that U.S. golfers will be motivated to play in France because of what they see whilst watching the Ryder Cup. Golfers worldwide can easily book tee times via GolfNow for a future trip, and because the U.K. and Ireland remain the number-one source of all golf tourism in France, GolfNow and Teeofftimes.co.uk now can be part of any golfer’s travel planning.”

“Open Golf Club is very happy to welcome GolfNow into France,” said Laurent Boissonnas, CEO, Open Golf Club. “As a leading high-end golf operator, we offer a portfolio of top quality courses, including three in the top-50 on the European continent. In addition to its famous ‘art de vivre,’ France offers a unique variety of golf courses and we are proud to give GolfNow customers the opportunity to discover them.”

“UGOLF is proud to join the GolfNow marketplace and, thus, offering special access to its French golf courses to international golfers,” said Pierre-André Uhlen, Director General, UGOLF. “Customer satisfaction is a UGOLF priority and we strive to offer our golfers the best services and technology at the forefront of innovation.”

Among the more than 600 golf courses throughout France, among the top-rated Open Golf Club courses that are making tee times available via GolfNow and TeeOffTimes are:

  • Golf des Yvelines – just 35 miles west of Paris, in the heart of the Île-de-France region and nearby Ryder Cup host Le National Golf, these two courses are nestled in a natural environment, bordering the forest of Rambouillet.
  • Le Touquet Golf Resort – An award-winning 45-hole golf destination, with its La Mer (The Sea) course among continental Europe’s Top 35 and ranked first in France.
  • Golf d’Hardelot – Home to Les Pins (The Pines), this 36-hole club is a top French golf destination located inside a lush forest and one of the most beautiful golfing sites in Europe.

Among the top courses available on GolfNow and featured within the UGOLF portfolio are:

  • Golf de Courson – host of the French Open qualifiers for 12 years, this property offers two distinct, 18-hole designs of varying difficulty that were crafted by architect Robert von Hagge.
  • Golf du Château de Cely – located less than 50 miles south of Paris on the edge of the Fountainebleau Forest, this recently renovated gem has been transformed.
  • Château de Rochefort – Designed by famous British architect Fred Hawtree, this par 71 is surrounded by the natural beauty of a French forest in Yvelines.

Reviews about golf courses located throughout France, including many that now can be booked via GolfNow, can be found at Golf Advisor, which currently features more than 700,000 golf course reviews of more than 15,000 golf courses around the world.

About GolfNow

GolfNow is an innovative technology company specializing in golf-related products and services that is creating frictionless ways for golfers and golf courses to better connect. GolfNow operates the largest online tee-time marketplace in the world, offering more than 3.5 million registered golfers a variety of ways to stay connected to their favorite courses and the ability to easily book tee times online and via mobile devices any time of day. With offices in Orlando, Fla., and Belfast, Northern Ireland, GolfNow also provides technology, support and marketing services to nearly 8,000 golf courses in 24 countries around the world. GolfNow is included in the suite of digital businesses owned by NBC Sports and managed by Golf Channel, which is available to more than 500 million viewers worldwide. For more information, go to GolfNow Business.

About Open Golf Club

Open Golf Club is the first high-end French golf management company. Founded in 1987, it provides management services to 55 internationally renowned golf courses in Europe, including the full management of 15 courses in France and Belgium, and a network of partners of 40 clubs in six countries, including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Open Golf Club partnered with the French Golf Federation in hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup 2018 at Le Golf National.

About UGOLF

UGOLF is the leader in French golf course management, currently operating 50 golf courses in France and employing 700 people. Nearly 20,000 subscribers and 27,000 licensees trust UGOLF every year for golf enjoyment. UGOLF Academy trains 3,500 new golfers each year. Through its subsidiary, LeClub Golf, UGOLF operates a network of more than 140 golf courses in France, more than 300 golf courses in Europe and approximately 700 courses around the world. UGOLF is a subsidiary of Duval Group, a family-owned company operating in real estate, tourism and golf management.

 

-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 21, 2018, 4:20 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.


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Fisher becomes first in Euro Tour history to shoot 59

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 11:29 am

There’s never been a sub-60 score on the European Tour, and Oliver Fisher almost went two strokes better Friday at the Portugal Masters.

Fisher’s 40-footer on the final green burned the edge, but he tapped in the short par putt to record the first 59 in tour history.   

“It feels great,” he said after getting sprayed with champagne. “It was in the back of my mind all day.”

It didn’t look like it.

The 287th-ranked player in the world, Fisher made 10 birdies, an eagle and seven pars during his magical round.

All of the other major pro tours have produced a 59 – nine times on the PGA Tour; once on the LPGA – but this was the first time that a player on the European Tour broke the sub-60 barrier. (There have been 19 rounds of 60.) Earlier this year, at the Scottish Open, Brandon Stone narrowly missed an 8-footer on the final green during the final round. This tournament has produced a few chances, as well, with both Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts coming up just short over the past few years.

Fisher went out in 28 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, then made three birdies in a row to start the back nine. He tacked on another birdie on 15 to give himself a shot at history, then played the closing stretch in 1 under. On 16, he needed a 20-footer for par after leaving his tee shot well short of the flag. He two-putted for birdie on 17 and then coolly made par on the last, after his birdie try from 40 feet just missed on the left edge.

Two years ago, he arrived in Portugal needed a good result just to keep his card. He shot a final-round 64. 

On Friday, he made tour history.

“I kept that in the back of my mind, thinking things could be worse,” he said. 

To this point, Fisher had a forgettable season. Ranked 72nd in the Race to Dubai, he didn’t have a top-10 in a stroke-play event since late February. His last four results: MC-T71-MC-MC. He opened the Portugal Masters with a 71 and was in danger of missing the cut.

Now, improbably, he’s in position to score his second European Tour title, after capturing the 2011 Czech Open.

“I tried to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s not often that we get a chance to shoot a really low one.”

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Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.