A look ahead at golf’s 2017 major championships: Schedule, locations, more

There’s another 164 days to go until the first tee ball goes up in the air at the 2017 Masters, but it is never too early to look ahead to the major championships. In so many ways, the four majors have come to define golf’s entire season.

It wasn’t always like this. Other tournaments used to matter more. To be sure, the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Players Championship and a handful of WGC eventsmatter, but I believe the gap between those tournaments and the four big boys is widening.

This is mostly because the majors are easy to measure. You can quantify them without question. Other tournaments are more complicated. Is the Abu Dhabi Championship better than the Wells Fargo Invitational? Is the HSBC Champions a more desirable title than, say, The Memorial Tournament?

These questions become nearly impossible to answer with fractured fields across multiple continents. The majors are a unifying force in golf. They bring almost all of the very best players together at the very best courses for a week-long game of “who is the best in the world right now?”

Let’s take a look at the four major courses for 2017.

Masters — Augusta National (April 6-9)

Augusta, have you heard of it? The storylines are innumerable. Tiger Woods’ probable return to the Masters. Phil Mickelson trying to win one at the same age Jack Nicklaus won one (46). Rory McIlroy’s quest for the career Grand Slam. Bubba Watson going for three. Danny Willett going for two in a row. Patrick Reed still looking for that first major championship top 10.

The one that sticks out to me, however, is that Jordan Spieth has never finished worse than second here: 2nd in 2014, 1st in 2015, T2 in 2016. That is preposterous and impressive. And he can’t keep it up … right?

U.S. Open — Erin Hills (June 15-18)

Speaking of Spieth, he made it to the quarterfinals of the 2011 U.S. Amateur, which was the last USGA event played at this course. Erin Hills is in middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin and will play nearly 8,000 yards (five miles!) depending on the setup. There is a real chance the course could be the longest in U.S. Open history, which bodes well for the big bombers.

What doesn’t bode well for the big bombers is that like every other U.S. Open, if you miss a lot of fairways, you won’t win. Here’s the Wisconsin State Journal.

But length is only part of the challenge. It also features a number of blind shots and a terrain that will present golfers with a wide variety of shot options. While trees won’t be an obstacle — there are only six remaining on the course after 385 were removed in 2009 and 2010 — wayward shots likely will nestle in the fescue that will be 12 to 15 inches long in the rough.

Yep, sounds like a proper U.S. Open.

Open Championship — Royal Birkdale (July 20-23)

The Open Championship returns to Royal Birkdale for the first time since Padraig Harrington won his second Open back in 2008 by four over Ian Poulter. Birkdale will actually be a return to England for this tournament after a two-year hiatus in Scotland.

It has produces some grand champions over the years. Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino all won Opens at this course. It is not a long track at just over 7,000 yards, but each of the last two winners (Harrington and Mark O’Meara in 1998) have failed to shoot scores under par.

Birkdale, like almost all Open courses, is affected most by the wind. If it doesn’t blow, you can score. It is a fair course, but the wind almost always blows. Watch that video above. There are almost no clips where wind isn’t whipping at the pants of those golfers. The Open, as always, should be fascinating.

PGA Championship — Quail Hollow (Aug. 10-13)

The engraver of the Wannamaker Trophy should just get a head start and put the R-O-R on the trophy already. Rory McIlroy has won the Wells Fargo Championship at this course twice already, and he has been circling August 2017 for a long time.

This course recently got a sizable renovation for next year’s tournament,according to Charlotte Magazine.

That led to one of the most remarkable renovations of a golf course in the country, involving three new holes, overhauled fairways, reshaped greens, and the addition of areas for grandstands and spectators–all in three months. “I don’t think I’ll ever come up with any project like this again in my career,” said [superintendent Keith] Wood, a 20-year veteran in the industry.

About that McIlroy thing? Yeah, he should be the 1-1 favorite even now. Even with the renovation. Consider this from Charlotte Magazine.

Throughout the renovation process, crews took into consideration the environment around the course. At least three bald eagles live on the property, including one that was rehabilitated at the Carolina Raptor Center earlier this year. When the raptor center released the eagle at Quail Hollow in March, it announced that the eagle’s name would be Rory, after Rory McIlroy, a two-time winner of the Wells Fargo Championship, Charlotte Magazine reported.

So those are your four major championship courses for 2017. Will we get four brand-new champions like we did in 2016, or will a former winner win yet again? Golf is in a thriving, upbeat spot going into a new calendar year, and I can’t wait for these four tournaments to play out.

Source: http://www.cbssports.com/

2016 golf gift guide: Equipment, clubs and clothes that you must have this fall

With the 2016-17 PGA Tour season about to kick into gear, it’s time for you to stock up so you can get in some cool afternoon rounds as we head towards the winter when you have to put the sticks away for another long offseason.

I have a few items you should check out over the next few months as you enjoy those last few rounds of 2016. Let’s jump right in.

New Era Ryder Cup Beanie

My favorite new addition to an ever-growing collection of headwear. I’m ready for my first U.S. Ryder Cup next week. Now we just need to lower the temperatures by about 35 degrees.



$25.99 | New Era

Titleist Vokey SM6 Wedges

I have been absolutely loving these wedges this summer. I have a 58-degree, 54-degree and 52-degree wedge and love them all. Could not recommend more highly.


$169 | Titleist

Johnnie-O Russell 1/4 Button Sweater

This sweater is incredibly versatile. I can tape video segments with it (and I do), or I can go hit balls for a couple of hours (after the weather cools down). A terrific addition to any golfer’s closet.


$145 | Johnnie-O

EvolveGolf Little Black Box

I’m a big fan of what the folks over at EvolveGolf are doing here. The concept is to take the Netflix monthly subscription model and send you tees and ball markers and other little golf accessory items you need ever four weeks. The upshot is that I don’t have to go to the store and purchase in bulk because I know a new box is coming every month.



$13/month | EvolveGolf

Enertor Performance Insoles

I use a standing desk in my office most days, so sometimes the last thing I want to do is go to the course and walk around a lot. These insoles help alleviate some of that stress on my feet and back and are incredibly comfortable to boot. Usain Bolt also uses them, which makes me feel more athletic than I actually am.




Parnevik: Woods is ‘flushing everything’ in practice

As Tiger Woods‘ return to competition draws near, questions continue to surround the current state of his game. According to fellow proJesper Parnevik, Woods has plenty of answers.

Woods has not played since the 2015 Wyndham Championship while he recovered from multiple back procedures. He announced last month that he intends to return to the PGA Tour at next week’s Safeway Open.

Parnevik told Golf Digest in a recent interview that he has played with Woods at Medalist Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., and that the 14-time major champ seems ready to go.

“By the way, he’s been hitting a lot of balls, and he’s hitting it great,” Parnevik said. “He’s pounding it a mile and flushing everything. On the range at least, his trajectory and ball flight are like the Tiger we knew 15 years ago.”

The field for next week’s event in Napa, Calif., will be finalized on Friday. In his Sept. 7 update, Woods also announced intentions to play in the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open Nov. 3-6, as well as the Hero World Challenge in December, which his foundation operates.

“My rehabilitation is to the point where I’m comfortable making plans, but I still have work to do,” Woods wrote. “Whether I can play depends on my continued progress and recovery. My hope is to have my game ready to go.”

Woods will turn 41 in December, but after watching him at Medalist Parnevik believes that Woods may still be able to turn back the clock.

“Comebacks are never a sure thing,” Parnevik said, “but something tells me his might be spectacular.”


Source: golfchannel.com

U.S. Wins Ryder Cup Over Europe for First Time in Eight Years

CHASKA, Minn. – After Davis Love III holed the putt that won the 1993 Ryder Cup at the Belfry in England, he was so excited that he forgot to pick his ball out of the cup. He never saw it again.

Love watched Ryan Moore clinch America’s first Ryder Cup victory in eight years on the 18th green at Hazeltine National on Sunday, then saw Moore make the same mistake. Love retrieved the ball, and when he went to Moore for a celebratory hug, the captain handed it to him.

“And then Ryan gave it back to me,” a moved Love said a few hours later at the winners’ press conference.

Moore, the last of Love’s four captain’s selections, didn’t win this Ryder Cup, although his clinching point made it official. Patrick Reed didn’t win it by beating Europe’s biggest hitter, Rory McIlroy. Phil Mickelson didn’t win it with his 10 birdies against Sergio Garcia, and Rickie Fowler didn’t win it by knocking off Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose.

This is a cliché, the most trite of all sports clichés, but America’s 17-11 Ryder Cup victory over Europe was truly a team effort. And it’s maybe been longer than anyone wants to admit since the United States fielded a true team, and that the U.S. had won only won two of the eight previous Ryder Cups was no coincidence.

“I’ve never seen a team come together like a family before,” Love said.

If Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson volunteered to be vice captains and subjugated their egos to be part of this revamped effort, you had to believe it was a step into a new frontier.

It all paid off. This marked the first time since 1975 that all 12 players earned at least one point (and 10 won at least two points) and the first time since ’75 that the Americans swept the opening session. The captain of that team? Arnold Palmer, whose golf bag from that year loomed on the 1st tee as inspiration.

“Arnold was looking over us this week,” Love said.

RELATED: Patrick Reed Taunts Rory McIlroy in Singles Win

As for the finish, after a player who had been picked for the team only a week earlier scored the point that won the Cup, Love said, “If you wrote that in a movie, nobody would probably believe it.”

Moore, 32, was left shaking his head and at a loss for words. “It’s kind of hard to explain,” he said. “I didn’t even know I’d be here a week ago.”

But when teammates and new best friends Reed and J.B Holmes came out to cheer him on at the 15th green, with Moore two down in his match against Lee Westwood, he said he told himself, “I’ve got to try to flip this match around for my team.” He did just that. Not a long hitter by trade, Moore nevertheless reached the par-5 16th hole in two and sank a short eagle putt. Then he evened the match with a birdie at the watery par-3 17th. At 18, he hit the iron shot of his life in close and watched Westwood miss a par attempt. Moore lagged it close, and the match and the Cup were conceded. Pandemonium ensued, although compared to Ryder Cup celebrations past, it was pretty tame.

Moore was mobbed by his teammates—his other newly acquired lifelong best friends—after he shook hands with the classy Westwood.

Photo: Getty ImagesDavis Love III finally got his Ryder Cup win as a captain.

Davis Love III finally got his Ryder Cup win as a captain.

It was the first U.S. victory since Paul Azinger captained the 2008 squad at Valhalla in Louisville and only the second since the Americans rallied improbably at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., in 1999.

Love, the captain in 2012 when the Europeans made a stunning Sunday comeback from a four-point deficit, was chosen by a task force to turn around the Americans’ fortunes. His appointment came after an embarrassing loss in Scotland in 2014 and an even more embarrassing session of blaming, shaming and finger-pointing during the post-Ryder Cup press conference.

“It all started when some dumb-ass opened his mouth two years ago at the press conference,” Mickelson said, making a joke at his own expense since it was he who made clear his dissatisfaction with the team’s direction under captain Tom Watson. The result was a new system modeled after the one used by the Europeans. The vice captains would learn the team system and be groomed to take over, so when the reins were passed on the change would be seamless. Until then, the newly appointed captain would rip everything up and start over every two years with nothing learned, noted or gained from the experience.

But maybe this win was as simple as this: The Americans just played better. They ran the Euros off the field on Friday morning with a 4-0 sweep and led at the end of each session. They out-putted the Europeans, a reversal of form, and even had more fun, possibly a first. The week was capped with a session for the ages.

It began with McIlroy versus Reed, a sort of Ryder Cup Match of the Century (well, the 21st century, anyway). Their duel got emotional and heated early on amid some stellar play. After Reed pulled even at the par-4 5th hole with an eagle, they halved the next three with birdies and exchanged one-upmanship theatrics.

McIlroy made a putt and shushed the crowd, copying Reed’s gesture from Scotland. Reed made a putt and did an exaggerated bow, mocking McIlroy’s bow on Friday after he’d finished a four-ball win with an eagle. McIlroy responded with a monster 50-foot birdie putt at the 8th hole in which he held one hand to an ear and shouted, “I can’t hear you!” to the gallery. Moments later, Reed rolled in a 30-footer for a matching birdie and wagged a finger directly at McIlroy, then began flapping his arms and celebrating.

At that point, McIlroy could only laugh. As Reed came off the green, McIlroy was waiting for him with a fist bump and a smile. They exchanged pats, Reed kept grinning and the Ryder Cup not only enjoyed a moment of sportsmanship when things were heating up a little too much, but also a stretch of remarkable golf—an eagle and seven birdies over a four-hole span.

RELATED: The Full Scoreboard From a Wild Sunday Singles Session

They had to cool off. “We didn’t run out of gas on the back,” a mildly offended Reed replied to a questioner, “we just went back to playing normal golf.”

Reed moved ahead for the first time after McIlroy bogeyed the 12th, went two up with a birdie at 16, gave a hole back with a bogey at the next and birdied the 18th for a 1-up victory, rendering Rory’s closer birdie attempt irrelevant. Reed seemed dazed after his donnybrook match finally ended with the day’s first point for the U.S. “It was hard,” he said. “I watched some of the coverage last night. They were saying Rory hadn’t been down in a match all week. I knew it would be tough. It was a fun and hard-fought match. Having my first team event at home was amazing. To play the way I did this week, I don’t really know what to say.”

The Europeans needed a big early rally to cut into the Americans’ three-point advantage and they responded by winning three of the first five matches, but captain Darren Clarke sent out four rookies in the last six games and all trailed most of the afternoon. So the Americans had a big finish cooking most of the day even if their front end failed, which it didn’t.

Jordan Spieth lost to Henrik Stenson, shaking hands with him in bare feet after Spieth hit into the hazard at the 16th hole and ended up conceding the match. In a match in which neither player had more than a one-up lead, Rickie Fowler edged Rose, who had a tough day with the putter.

It fell to Mickelson to score a criticial halve that helped inch the Americans closer to the magic number of 14½ points. He and Garcia played superbly. Reed-McIlroy may have been the Match of the Century, but this game was better. Neither player had more than a one-up lead. Garcia settled for a halve despite making nine birdies. The last came at the 18th hole, after Mickelson had rolled in a longer attempt of his own. “This was a hard-fought battle today, a lot of emotion,” Mickelson said. “We both played really well. It’s probably a fitting end to have a tie, but I wanted the W there. These guys [U.S. teammates] have played some incredible golf.”

Photo: Getty ImagesPhil Mickelson of the United States celebrates with champagne after winning the Ryder Cup during the closing ceremony of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Phil Mickelson of the United States celebrates with champagne after winning the Ryder Cup during the closing ceremony of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Mickelson’s halve got the U.S. to a 13-10 lead.

“It was amazing,” Garcia said of a match that featured 19 birdies. “He played well, he definitely putted very well, and I played extremely well. I was out there to get a point, not half a point. I tried to deliver. I was a little bit short, but I was very proud of the way I played all week.”

When Brandt Snedeker closed out Andy Sullivan at the 17th hole, Moore needed only to halve his match with Westwood to secure the Cup. Moore hit it tight at the tough 18th and earned the full point.

There were tears in the eyes of many Americans. Zach Johnson said he woke up feeling sick on Sunday, but he gutted out a 4-and-3 victory over Matthew Fitzpatrick. “I was so happy for Davis and the vice captains,” Johnson said. “This was a real team victory. This is complete joy. I didn’t feel great this morning, but I had a peace. I just played. I hope this is just the beginning.”

At the closing press conference, the giddy U.S. contingent seemed like a team. They joked, they tossed champagne corks at each other when no one was looking—Rickie, you know you did. They sometimes answered questions that were directed at their teammates.

Tiger Woods was asked if this experience as vice captain made him want to be a future Ryder Cup captain.

“A vice captain?” Woods asked with a big grin. “Yeah.”

The journalist repeated the question, emphasizing “captain.”

Woods smiled again. “Yeah,” he repeated. “A vice captain.”

Woods gave a serious explanation, saying how much more complicated his role was than he thought it would be and how much work he watched Love put into his job. “I like playing,” Woods said.

The next U.S. team won’t have the pressure that this one had, though as they prepare for the 2018 event in Paris, the Americans will most certainly be reminded that they haven’t won on foreign soil since Love holed that putt at the Belfry 23 years ago. “Well, the thing is that we need to build on this,” Mickelson said. “Otherwise, it’s all for naught. We created a very solid foundation. For us to go to Europe and try to win the Cup in two years will be a whole different feat that’s going to require a whole different level of play, of solidarity, of fortitude. It’s great that we had success this week, but it’s about a multitude of success for decades to come.”

A champagne cork popped loudly, interrupting Phil. Love was the guilty party. “That’s my cue to shut up,” Phil said with a chuckle.

The members of the U.S. team at long last had something to laugh about. Make that Team with a capital T.


Source: Golf.com