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Monday Scramble: Good 'bye' for others

By Will GraySeptember 11, 2017, 4:00 pm

The PGA Tour takes the week off, the Presidents Cup rosters are finalized, the Walker Cup takes center stage and more in this week's edition of the Monday Scramble:

Halftime is officially over.

The lightest week on the golf calendar has come and gone, as both the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour Finals sat idle last week. But both circuits will soon return to full force to begin a three-week sprint through the end of the season.

For the game's biggest names, the Tour Championship sits just one week away with the Presidents Cup after that. The BMW Championship is a last chance for some to qualify for East Lake, while others like Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas will look to rekindle their postseason momentum to retain their coveted positions within the top five in the points race.

Meanwhile, the race for status renews in Boise as a mix of Web.com and PGA Tour pros vie for the handful of cards still up for grabs for next season, with stops still to come in Ohio and Florida.

The calendar reads September, and football is in full force. But there's still plenty to play for on the course.


1. What was old is new again.

Thanks in large part to a T-6 finish at TPC Boston, Phil Mickelson snagged one of the last two spots on the U.S. Presidents Cup team thanks to a pick from captain Steve Stricker.

Mickelson's inclusion on the roster at Liberty National was never really in doubt, especially when other bubble contenders like Brian Harman and Gary Woodland failed to mount a late charge. But it serves as another impressive mark of consistency for Mickelson, who hasn't won in more than four years but still hasn't missed a team competition since 1993.

Consider this for perspective: Mickelson has played in either the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup every year of 22-year-old Jon Rahm's lifetime.

2. Expect a strong showing later this month from Charley Hoffman, the second recipient of a pick from Stricker who will make his team debut at age 40.

Hoffman has had a remarkably consistent season, but it didn't include a victory and he was edged out by the thinnest of margins by Kevin Chappell for the final spot. Leaving him off the team when it essentially came down to a single shot over a two-year window would have been borderline cruel.

Hoffman has had a knack for stepping up in big events this year, and now he'll have a chance to do so once again - this time donning the red, white and blue.

3. International captain Nick Price's selection of Emiliano Grillo seemed a likely choice, while he has opted to offer Anirban Lahiri a shot at redemption.

Lahiri was nearly inconsolable after missing a short putt on the last hole of his singles match against Chris Kirk at the 2015 Presidents Cup that proved pivotal in the narrow American win. It capped an 0-3 week for the Indian, and he hasn't cracked the top 15 since his runner-up at the Memorial in June.

But largely devoid of other viable options near the bubble, Price went with a veteran who has some playing experience in the U.S. - and who will be eager to make up for previous shortcomings.



4. After authoring another impressive performance, Lexi Thompson took a big stride toward the No. 1 ranking.

Thompson went wire-to-wire at the inaugural Indy Women in Tech Championship, finishing four shots clear of Lydia Ko after making 23 birdies across the 54-hole event. It's her second win of the season, ninth of her career and lifts the 22-year-old back to a career-best No. 2 in the world.

Thompson's 2017 campaign will likely be remembered for the controversy that surrounded her playoff loss at the ANA Inspiration in April. But to her credit, she was able to move on from a bitter defeat and has now continued to assert her position as the best American in the women's game.

5. Ko's runner-up finish was a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.

The former world No. 1 has dropped all the way down to eighth in the world rankings, and this was just her second top-5 finish of 2017. Ko made headlines in the offseason when she changed basically every aspect of her game, from clubs to caddie to instructor.

It's been an uphill battle ever since, but her performance in the Hoosier State shows that all is not yet lost for a player who still can't legally buy a beer in the U.S. for another six months.



6. It might be time to start paying attention to what Matthew Fitzpatrick has been able to achieve early in his European Tour career.

The Englishman won the U.S. Amateur back in 2013, and he has played plenty of professional golf in the U.S. But he seems to play his best on the other side of the Atlantic, including Sunday when he topped Scott Hend in a playoff to win the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

It's Fitzpatrick's fourth career win in Europe at the ripe old age of 23, a sure sign that he is able to capitalize on more than his fair share of chances once he gets within arm's length of the lead. Fitzpatrick showed his age at last year's Ryder Cup, and he has struggled for much of this season.

But with yet another trophy on his mantle, he has again reminded folks that he packs plenty of potential - and should continue to do so for years to come.



7. The Walker Cup is back on American soil.

Collin Morikawa and Norman Xiong's 8-and-7 victory in the tournament's opening match was an indicator of what was to come, as the U.S. team took an 8-4 lead after the first day and won back the trophy in a 19-7 rout.

The Americans were heavy favorites on paper, and they played like it from start to finish. Three players finished the week a perfect 4-0: Morikawa, U.S. Amateur runner-up Doug Ghim and Maverick McNealy, who found a fitting way to cap a standout amateur career before embarking on his pro debut next month.

8. While the Americans left with the trophy, the big winner at the Walker Cup was Los Angeles Country Club.

The North Course shined under a rare spotlight, showcased in pristine conditions and offering players a stern but interesting test. It left many in the golf world salivating for the 2023 U.S. Open, when the course will host a major for the first time and should make a much more well-received debut than either Chambers Bay or Erin Hills.

9. The Walker Cup continues to boast one of the most underrated venue rotations of any event in golf, pro or amateur.

Two years from now the scene will shift to Royal Liverpool, while 2021 will mark a return to the U.S. at storied Seminole Golf Club. Then in 2025, it heads to Cypress Point.

Tough to beat that lineup.

 

 


I mean ... we've all thought about doing it. Kudos to this guy for having the dedication to follow through, and hopefully he can re-stock his bag at a discount rack sometime soon.

This week's award winners ... 


Mult-Sport Fan: Tiger Woods. The 14-time major champ hasn't been seen on the course in more than seven months, but he made another public appearance this weekend to take in some tennis at the U.S. Open alongside his kids in New York. And, of course, he did so while sporting some gear for "his" Raiders.

Troll Game on Point: Patrick Reed, who broke out some Notre Dame gear just in time for the Fighting Irish to play a football game against Georgia, where Reed's college career was both brief and controversial. Reed did use the occasion to share that he and his wife, Justine, are expecting a second child:

Target Golf: The 15th hole at LACC, which played to a devilish 78 yards during the first day of the Walker Cup. With par-3s trending these days to 250 yards and beyond, it was refreshing to see that a hole could be well under 100 yards and still pose a challenge.

Impressive Debut: The Japan Airlines Championship, which marked the first trip to Japan by the PGA Tour Champions and seemed to be well-received by all players involved, including champion Colin Montgomerie. Look for a similar response when the PGA Tour branches out to South Korea with a new event next month.

Making the Most of It: Ken Duke, one of several pros who battled the elements of Hurricane Irma in Florida. But I don't think any of Duke's peers would be able to match the catch his daughter reeled in between rain bands:

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: None! One of the few benefits of a bye week. Rest assured, plenty of misguided selections on tap this week at Conway Farms.

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Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle

By Grill Room TeamApril 19, 2018, 4:53 pm

Really, the headline says it all.

"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.



Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.