Under pressure: Regular events vs. majors

By Ryan Reiterman April 8, 2015, 1:15 pm

On Sunday, one player will not only win a golf tournament, but he will also make history by winning one of the four major championships.

But the pressure is not only immense four weeks out of the year. Every week on the PGA Tour, a missed putt here, a bad drive there can be the difference between winning, making the cut or being sent down to the mini tours.

So I talked to major champions past and present, and a few players who have been oh-so-close to winning one of the four biggest prizes in the game, to hear their thoughts on the pressure of trying to win a regular Tour event vs. a major championship.


Jack Nicklaus, 18-time major champion: "It’s the same, in my opinion. In other words, to me the tournament has nothing to do with it. Historically, I put more emphasis on trying to win a major, and I built my schedule around the majors. But because of my preparation, a major was, in some ways, probably easier to win because I was better prepared to win it. But I put the same effort, thought and focus no matter what tournament it was. I just played golf."


Retief Goosen, 2001 and '04 U.S. Open champion: “They both are tough. The pressure is tough. In the majors it’s just more embarrassing if you fail. And it’s so much easier to fail because of the toughness of the courses. But otherwise it’s just that little bit of extra pressure because of what it is, and it’s a major. And it depends how your game is. For instance the first U.S. Open I was very nervous coming down the stretch, and in the second one I was a little bit more comfortable because I had more experience.”


Gary Player, nine-time major champion: "The difference is night and day. Every tournament is a challenge, but the major championships are in a class of their own. The prestige of a major win is what so many golfers strive towards. When you’ve won a major, you know you’ve made it as a golfer. As a boy in Johannesburg, winning a major seemed like the ultimate test in golf. All of my hard work would finally pay off, and I could be counted as one of golf’s top players. So I dreamed that I would one day win these tournaments, and I have been blessed to attain that dream nine times and achieve the career Grand Slam."


Justin Leonard, 1997 Open champion: “It’s different just because the opportunity doesn’t happen that often. When you do, the tendency is to try almost too hard to make it happen. So if you’re sitting there contending, you’re obviously playing well and in your element. But especially the first time or two it’s a little daunting because you just don’t really know how often it’s going to happen.”


Curtis Strange, 1988 and '89 U.S. Open champion: "The pressure was ten-fold at times. You knew how big of an event it was. You knew subconsciously the history of the event. You knew this was one of the four. You knew … everything. You didn’t think about it, but you knew subconsciously. For instance you take the Masters, there’s pressure there. You know the history of the event, the history of the club. You’re going to the same golf course every year. The greats of the game, the ghosts in the pine trees of Hogan, Nelson, Snead, Nicklaus, Sarazen, all of them. That to me was pressure because it was the same golf course every year. You try not to think about any of that stuff, and you really don’t, but you can’t help it. You know. You’re a fan of the game, you know the history of the game. You just kind of had to block it out. But it was hard.”


Jason Day, three-time PGA Tour winner: “They’re similar pressure, but I would say that the majors are intensified by … I couldn’t put a number on it. It’s intensified to the point where you can seize up. Like when I was leading Augusta on 16 (in 2013), and I had three holes left, and I honestly felt like I couldn’t breathe. It’s pretty amazing. Rather than if I’m at a normal tournament, obviously there’s a lot of pressure and you want to win, and you’re thinking about it, but it’s intensified that much more.”


Nancy Lopez, three-time major champion: "There was always so much hype that went with the majors that it could get into your head. You thought that you had to be better than you normally had to be, because the rough was higher, and you had to hit it straighter, and the courses were longer. You would prepare practicing from the back tees.

"But I didn’t mind pressure. I felt it, but I liked it. I like that sensation, of almost being able to feel every nerve in your body. I seemed to be able to pull off shots when I felt pressure, not all the time, but I loved doing it, hitting that great shot knowing it was a pressure shot.

"When I was over putts that mattered at the end of tournaments, I’d tell myself, 'It’s now or never.’ I didn’t want to go extra holes, and I was able to make a lot of those putts at the end of tournaments."


Jordan Spieth, two-time PGA Tour winner: “I like to think not much, but when you’re at a major it’s different. It’s a different feeling. You know you’re there, you know it’s the ultimate goal instead of the goal between the ultimate goal … There’s just a little bit of extra ambience around the air and just kind of makes it feel a little more special, and maybe that makes it a little bit harder to win.”


Keegan Bradley, 2011 PGA champion: “You realize the significance … it’s a lifetime. As opposed to winning a tournament, it’s amazing, it’s great, but majors last for a lifetime. So it’s significantly different.”


Webb Simpson, 2012 U.S. Open champion: “Yeah, it’s a little more in a major, but at the end of the day fundamentally you’re still trying to win a golf tournament. So the pressure is there, but you still want to perform. Just a little bit more, nothing crazy.”


Hunter Mahan, six-time PGA Tour winner: "All the majors have so much outside pressure. Everything’s amped up, you can see it and feel it. Everything about it is different. You can feel that as soon as you get there, so it’s just a lot … a lot of outside influences."


Davis Love III, 1997 PGA champion: "Ten times. I think a regular tournament you get nervous the last nine [holes]. In a major you get nervous before you start.”


Zach Johnson, 2007 Masters champion: “Well, technically there shouldn’t be any difference, but there is because of the magnitude, the history, just what it requires mentally down the stretch and the experience that it demands. Winning a Tour event is not easy. It’s hard to win. The other difficult thing is it’s not like half of our events are majors, there’s only four. So that adds to it, too.”


Trevor Immelman, 2008 Masters champion: “Well, the actual answer is no because golf is golf and winning a tournament is winning a tournament. The only difference is with the major championship that’s how people are remembered in the game is winning championships – Super Bowls or Stanley Cups or Oscars or in our case major championships. From that stand point you can separate yourself if you win one.”


Brandt Snedeker, seven-time PGA Tour winner: “It’s just ratcheted up a little bit. Obviously there’s pressure when you’re trying to win a tournament. But majors, obviously I haven’t been able to do it, but majors there’s more of a fine line between good shots and bad shots. Good decisions, bad decisions. There’s a really, really fine line. Everything is just magnified. It’s just the most intense pressure you can put yourself under besides the Ryder Cup, I think major pressure probably goes hand-in-hand.”


Vijay Singh, three-time major champion: “I think it’s the same. I think there’s more pressure on the guys who’ve already won the regular tournament and have not won a major The pressure of playing the tournament’s the same. One creates their own pressure. One makes their own pressure.”

Additional reporting by Randall Mell

Getty Images

How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:00 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)

Getty Images

Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

Getty Images

Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.

Full-field scores from the American Century Championship

''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

Getty Images

Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh hit a perfect approach to set up the winning playoff birdie. His celebration as the ball rolled into the cup was nowhere near as spectacular.

Singh closed the door on Jeff Maggert on the second playoff hole to win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday, giving an understated fist pump as his birdie putt dropped from about 2 feet. It was the first major title on the PGA Tour Champions for the 55-year-old Fijian, a past winner of the Masters and two PGA Championships.

''It's a little different,'' Singh said. ''It's a senior major, you know, so it's - any time you win a tournament no matter what it is, you feel accomplishment, and that's what I feel. I feel like I played well, and it's a win. A win is a win.''

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268 at Exmoor Country Club. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert began the day tied with McCarron and Bart Bryant for the lead. Singh was one shot back, but a crowd at the top of the leaderboard thinned out, turning it into a two-man race.

''I wasn't really watching the scoreboard or Vijay,'' Maggert said. ''Like I said, I thought I needed to shoot 5-, 6-, 7-under today to really kind of ice it. So I was really focused in on making seven or eight birdies today. ... You know, I thought some other scores would come into play there toward the end, but the last two or three groups looked like they were struggling, other than me and Vijay.''

Singh and Maggert posted identical scores through the first 15 holes. But Maggert bogeyed 16, and then missed chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

''We played toe-to-toe all day,'' Maggert said. ''He hit a nice shot on 18, and I had a chance to make a few putts throughout the day, but they just didn't go in.''

Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

Singh made just one bogey this week, and that came in the third round. He had five birdies Sunday and made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But Singh blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par and send a senior major to a playoff for the first time since the 2015 Regions Tradition.

Singh played sporadically on the over-50 tour during his first few years of eligibility but is playing more often against men his age these days.

''To win the first major on this tour, I'm really excited about that,'' Singh said. ''Winning my first tournament at the beginning of the year was big, and now I've won this one, so I look forward to winning a lot more now. I always say, the first one, you get the first one out of the way, you can win a lot more after that.''

McCarron was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

Bryant (72) and Kenny Perry (68) finished in a pack at 16 under. Illinois golf coach Mike Small (71) finished one shot behind them, while three-time champion Bernhard Langer closed with a 74 to finish at 12 under after starting the day two strokes back.