Leonard to take part in Golf Channel / NBC coverage of Hero World Challenge: 12-time PGA TOUR winner, major champion and 1999 Ryder Cup hero Justin Leonard will work as a tower analyst for Golf Channel and NBC’s live coverage of the event.
Elite field: The field includes six of the top-10 players in the world, and each of the 18 players are currently ranked in the top-43 in the world. 11 of the 12 members of the victorious United States Presidents Cup team also are in the field.
New venue: This week marks the 17th playing of the event, but the first time being held at the Albany Resort on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas. The event is not an official PGA TOUR stop, though players will receive Official World Golf Rankings points.
Spieth defends: World No. 1 Jordan Spieth separated himself from the field with a 10 shot victory at Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Florida last December.
Headlining the field: Paul Casey, Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas, J.B. Holmes, Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Chris Kirk, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson.
PGA TOUR OF AUSTRALASIA / EUROPEAN TOUR
Australian PGA Championship
Dates: Dec. 3-6
Venue: RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, Australia
Chalmers defends: Greg Chalmers defeated Adam Scott and Wade Ormsby on the seventh playoff hole for his second Australian PGA Championship title.
Final event of “Australian Triple Crown”: This week marks the third and final event of the “Australian Triple Crown,” which also features the Australian Masters and Australian Open. Australian Masters winner Peter Senior is in the field but Australian Open champion Matt Jones is not. And for the first time, the event is being co-sanctioned by the European Tour and will count as an official event.
Headlining the field: Brandt Snedeker, John Senden, David Lingmerth, Peter Senior, Cameron Smith, Peter Uihlein, Jarrod Lyle, Robert Allenby, Greg Chalmers and Paul Dunne.
Nedbank Golf Challenge
Dates: Dec. 3-6
Venue: Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, South Africa
Event changes: This is the 35th edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the first of two times that it will be contested during the 2016 Race to Dubai season. The event will move to November in 2016 and become the second leg of the European Tour’s Final Series. The field of 30 this week will increase to 72 next November. Following the conclusion of play on Sunday, the European Tour will take a four-week hiatus and resume in 2016 with the South African Open in Johannesburg on January 7.
Willett defends: Danny Willett defeated Ross Fisher by four shots to earn his second career European Tour win.
Headlining the field: Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Robert Streb, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Danny Willett, Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley.
Ho Tram Open
Dates: Dec. 3-6
Venue: The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip, Vietnam
Inaugural event: This week marks the first playing of the Ho Tram Open, being contested in Vietnam, two hours southeast of Ho Chi Minh City.
Headlining the field: Sergio Garcia, Geoff Ogilvy, Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn, Robert Rock, Oliver Wilson, David Lipsky, Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal.
LADIES EUROPEAN TOUR
Dates: Dec. 4-6
Venue: Miyoshi Country Club, Aichi, Japan
Format: The inaugural match play event features four nine-person teams comprised of members of the Ladies European Tour (captained by Laura Davies), LPGA of Japan, Korean LPGA Tour and Australian Ladies Professional Golf Inc. The format features 34 matches being contested over three days: eight fourball matches on day one, eight foursomes matches on day two, and 18 singles matches on day three, with 102 total points available. Each match is worth three points to the winning team, and one point will be given for matches ending all square.
Ladies European Tour Team: Laura Davies (captain), Hannah Burke, Karine Icher, Nanna Madsen, Catriona Matthew, Gwladys Nocera, Emily Kristine Pedersen, Melissa Reid and Marianne Skarpnord.
LPGA of Japan Team: Momoko Ueda (captain), Erika Kikuchi, Ayaka Watanabe, Misuzo Narita, Akane Iijima, Shiho Oyama, Erina Hara, Miki Sakai and Ritsuko Ryu.
Korean LPGA Team: In Gee Chun, Sei Young Kim, Sung Hyun Park, Jung Min Lee, Yoon Ji Cho, Jin Young Ko, Seon Woo Bae, Min Sun Kim, Bo-Mee Lee.
Australian Ladies Professional Golf Team: Rachel Hetherington (captain), Nikki Campbell, Nikki Garrett, Whitney Hillier, Sarah Kemp, Katherine Kirk, Stephanie Na, Sarah Jane Smith and Lindsey Wright.
Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday Day Three Re-Air (Noon-3:30 p.m.)
Sunday Final Day Re-Air (Noon-6 p.m.)
Format: The biennial match play event will feature five foursomes matches contested on Day 1; five four-ball matches on Day 2, four morning foursomes and four afternoon four-ball matches on Day 3, and 12 singles matches on the Final Day. The total number of matches this year has been reduced from 34 to 30, and a team must earn 15 ½ points to win the Presidents Cup. Each player must compete in at least two of the four sessions of play prior to the singles matches on the final day.
Event coverage: NBC Sports Group will dedicate nearly 60 hours of live news, analysis and tournament coverage surrounding the 2015 Presidents Cup, Oct. 5-11, including more than 25 hours of live tournament coverage on Golf Channel kicking off each night in primetime. Golf Central’s Live From the Presidents Cup will feature comprehensive news, highlights, and expert analysis; player/captain news conferences; exclusive “look-ins” that will show players preparing for their matches; the Opening Ceremony (Wednesday, Oct. 7, 5 a.m. ET) and Closing Ceremony (Sunday, Oct. 11, 3:30 a.m. ET) and compelling feature stories throughout the week.
Captains to Set Day 1 Foursome Matches Lineup Live on Tuesday, 7-11 p.m. ET: Captains Jay Haas (United States) and Nick Price (International) will announce their respective lineups for Day 1 foursome matches live within Golf Central’s Live From the Presidents Cup on Tuesday, Oct. 6 from 7-11 p.m. ET.
United States Team: Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Chris Kirk, J.B. Holmes, Bill Haas and Phil Mickelson.
International Team: Jason Day (Australia), Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa), Adam Scott (Australia), Hideki Matsuyama (Japan), Branden Grace (South Africa), Marc Leishman (Australia), Anirban Lahiri (India), Charl Schwartzel (South Africa), Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand), Danny Lee (New Zealand), Steven Bowditch (Australia) and Sangmoon Bae (South Korea).
Dates: Oct. 9-11
Venue: Prestonwood Country Club, Cary, N.C.
Triplett defends: Kirk Triplett defeated Tom Lehman by three strokes for his fourth career Champions Tour victory.
Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Kenny Perry, Tom Lehman, Jeff Maggert, Marco Dawson, Kirk Triplett, Corey Pavin, Lee Janzen and John Cook.
Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
Dates: Oct. 8-11
Venue: Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (East Course), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday Noon-2 p.m. (Tape delay) / 11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Wednesday (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Friday 5-7:30 a.m. (Tape delay) / 11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Wednesday (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape delay) / 11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Wednesday (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Sunday Noon-3:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Wednesday (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Elite field: The field features nine of the top-10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, including Inbee Park (No. 1), Lydia Ko (No. 2) and Stacy Lewis (No. 3).
Feng defends: Shanshan Feng finished three shots ahead of Pornanong Phatlum for her fourth career LPGA Tour win.
Headlining the field: Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson, Hyo-Joo Kim, Shanshan Feng, Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer, Charley Hull and Michelle Wie.
Dates: Oct. 8-11
Venue: Woburn Golf Club (Marquess’ Course), Milton Keynes, England
Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 7 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Friday 7:30-10 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday 8-11 a.m. (Live) / 11 a.m.-Noon (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Sunday 8 a.m.-Noon (Live)
British Masters returns for first time since 2008: This is the 63rd edition of the British Masters, but the first since 2008. The event was discontinued in 2009 after struggling to find a sponsor, but was revived this year with the support of Sky Sports and backing of Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood, who will rotate hosting duties and have input on the host course over the next four years. Poulter will act as tournament host this week at Woburn Golf Club.
Headlining the field: Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood, Danny Willett, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington.
I was watching the (British) Open Championship and a Masters Tournament broke out! A crowd of 47 billion players was in the hunt, with somewhere around nine players holding or sharing the lead during the final round today, Monday.
History Almost Made
The storyline possibilities coming into the final round were all-world. The hype coming into the event of course was the possibility that Jordan Spieth could capture the 3rd leg of golf’s “grand slam,” winning all four major championships in one season. Spieth was close all day and an unlikely 50 foot birdie putt on the 16th made it seem as if his fate was to win. At that point he was tied for the lead. Unfortunately Spieth is better from over 20 feet than he is from eight feet. He missed an eight footer for par on the 17th Road Hole to drop back to one shot behind the lead. Fortunately he had the super-easy 18th hole, a driveable par-4. Left with an awkward shot which was between clubs, Spieth’s 2nd shot found the “Valley of Sin,” a depression short of the green. The birdie putt to join a playoff was off-left. Grand slam dream over.
An even more unlikely and probably more historic dream was the possibility that an amateur could win the Open. 22-year-old Paul Dunne incredibly had brought himself to a tie for the lead after three rounds and was in the final group. The last time an amateur was in the final group in the Open was Bobby Jones in 1927. Nerves were too much for Dunne, who finished with a 78, taking him out of low amateur honors. Still, he impressed the golfing world. We’ll see him again.
Jason Day was one shot off of entering the playoff, along with Spieth. At 25 I wonder if anyone has come so close in majors, so many times by this age. Heartbreak hotel. I really like Day and hope his time will come.
Adam Scott was in the mix. He completely melted on the final nine with a 40 which included missing a putt which looked to be no more than 12-18 inches. That’s why he has the anchored putter I suppose. Despite his 40, he still shot 71. Wow.
Marc Leishman was one of three players to enter the 4-hole aggregate playoff, the other being Zach Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen. Leishman’s story is one of inspiration, having nearly lost his wife to sickness. In the playoff he could only manage +2.
Louis Oosthuizen made birdie on the 18th to join the playoff. He struck the ball fairly poorly in the final round but managed his way well enough to tie for the lead at the end. Even par for the four playoff holes (1, 2, 17, 18) was one stroke shy.
Hats off to Zach Johnson. He managed his game around the Old Course, which was being eaten alive by long hitters for the first couple of days. Johnson’s win is mostly attributable to his short game. Hitting 94% of his fairways didn’t hurt, however. Johnson birdied the first two playoff holes to open up a lead and never gave the lead up. Surprisingly and quietly, Johnson stuck around and produced winning shots at the perfect time to become the champion golfer of the year.
Missed the Cut
Tiger Woods… what can be said about Woods? He shot his worst round ever at the Old Course (76) in the first round and couldn’t get it together. Woods’s fall from the top is perhaps the biggest, fastest, most dramatic fall from the pinnacle the sporting world has seen. Woods said he needed to check his spin rates to see what the problem was.
Yeah, go do that.
Bubba Watson has the length to eat up the Old Course, but links golf is a bit of a mystery to him. When he figures it out he could win an Open, but as long as it frustrates him he will not be a factor.
Tom Watson’s history in the Open Championship is nearly without comparison, unless you go back to the 1800’s when Old Tom Morris was winning the even almost yearly. Five times Watson has hoisted the Claret Jug. Watson said goodbye to major championship golf on the Swilken Bridge, just like Jack Nicklaus did 10 years ago in 2005.
Thanks for the memories Tom. Well played.
The Old Course
The Old Course played a little too easy for my taste this time around. Players were taking divots and spinning balls back on some of the greens. The ground has been so hard every time I’ve played there that I never saw a single divot. In fact, getting a tee in the ground was a chore. I would have liked to see the Old Lady show her teeth a little more with harder surfaces and more wind.
2015 was a fantastic open. So many great stories, some which I covered. The Open Championship is always special at the Old Course in St Andrews.
On a course where many complained the big hitters had an unfair advantage, the player with the best short game won.
Sergio Garcia has a mathematical shot at gaining golf’s #1 world ranking this week. Mr. “Spit In The Hole” (see video below) would have to win at Doral and Tiger Woods would have to finish 27th or worse. They might as well anoint me #1. It makes as much sense.
I can think of several golfers who are obviously (at least in my walnut sized brain) better at this point, Geoff Ogilvy (two wins this year), Padraig Harrington (two majors last year), Anthony Kim, Phil Mickelson (one win so far this year), even Camilo Villegas.
Perhaps too much weighting has gone into 2nd place finishes? Perhaps not enough for major victories (Harrington)? But then again, too much weighting on majors might skew the slide toward players like Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman.
And also, this whole discussion can raise the question: How can a player sit out for eight months and still be ranked #1 (Tiger)?
.44 points behind Sergio is Phil Mickelson. Why not any pundits discussing the possibility of Phil becoming #1?