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This time, Leishman slams the door shut

By Will GraySeptember 18, 2017, 12:22 am

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – With the tournament reaching its final stage, the leaderboards surrounding each green reflected a familiar scenario. Marc Leishman had amassed a two-shot lead after more than 60 holes of golf, and the trophy was within reach.

It’s the same script that played out two weeks ago at TPC Boston, where Leishman fumbled away his lead down the stretch by shooting a back-nine 40. But faced with an opportunity for redemption and with Justin Rose quickly making up ground, the Aussie didn’t blink and instead walked away with a five-shot, wire-to-wire victory at the BMW Championship.

It’s a win that vaults Leishman to fourth in the FedExCup standings, and up to 13th in the newest world rankings. It’s also another stark reminder that his time as one of the more underrated players on the PGA Tour may quickly be coming to an end.

“Backing up that back nine last week at the Dell (Technologies Championship), when the pressure got put on by Rosie, I reacted with birdies,” Leishman said. “Just tried to keep doing my own thing and give myself chances, and managed to roll a couple in there at the end which was nice walking up the last there with a bit of a buffer.”

Leishman started the day with a five-shot lead, one that he revealed after the fact was large enough that he should win – but not large enough to put him out of reach. After Rose birdied No. 14, Leishman's advantage was trimmed to the same two-shot edge he was unable to maintain two weeks ago when Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth raced past him.

This time around, he answered the call with a birdie on No. 15 – and another on the next hole to remove any doubt about the outcome.


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It’s the second win this year for the 33-year-old, who also captured the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He heads into the Tour Championship as perhaps the hottest player on Tour, and he’ll be a key cog for the International Team at the Presidents Cup later this month.

While it’s a somewhat surprising ascent for a player who won just one event in his first eight seasons on Tour, his peers have long realized Leishman’s potential.

“I think he’s a great player, especially I grew up playing amateur golf against him,” said Jason Day. “I don’t think he may have projected himself standing where he is today when we were sitting on a tee back when I was 16 and he was 18 or so. He’s done a tremendous job, obviously, getting to where he is. I think there’s still a ton left in the tank for him.”

To see Leishman sandwiched between two trophies on the 18th green and surrounded by his three children, including daughter Eva born this summer, is a far cry from the depths of 2015 when his wife, Audrey, nearly died from complications tied to sepsis.

But with his wife once again healthy and a new arrival to celebrate, Leishman has found harmony both on and off the course this year – even if it has caused little change to his largely unflappable demeanor.

“He’s a very humble guy, and so I think sometimes people maybe underestimate his drive. But he’s always had that drive,” Audrey said. “He’s always given it 110 percent, but he just has been content to lie low and he doesn’t really feel the need to have all the media stuff. So I think because of that, him flying under the radar, people sort of assume that.”

Leishman is candid about the fact that, while many of his peers set ambitious goals and strive to be the best player in the world, that has never been his aim. He enjoys having a work-life balance, and his off weeks are spent with his growing family and usually far away from the practice range.

“I feel like, with the life I live, that’s probably very hard for me to do that,” he said. “I feel like you have to dedicate your whole life – not your whole life, but you have to work very, very hard. I’m happy doing what I’m doing now with the life I’ve got and the way I’m playing and all that, to be happy with where I am.”

Armed with a wire-to-wire victory against an elite field, Leishman now has plenty to be happy with heading into the season’s final event. His goals may be modest and his tone understated, but make no mistake about it: Leishman deserves every inch of real estate he now occupies among the game’s elite.

Golf does not often afford mulligans, especially at the highest level. But granted another chance to close out a lead coming down the stretch, Leishman this time around left no room for doubt.

“It’s just nice to put four good rounds on the board and in a really big event,” he said. “Backing up what happened last week was probably the most satisfying thing for me.”

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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.