Thursday, April 17

Golf on TV: RBC Heritage, LPGA LOTTE Championship, Greater Gwinnett Championship, Maybank Malaysian Open

By Golf Channel News

(The following edited content was supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.)

Golf Channel will feature the LPGA LOTTE Championship from Hawaii in primetime, with an impressive field headlined by Inbee Park. The PGA Tour shifts to South Carolina for the RBC Heritage. World Golf Hall-of-Famers Tom Watson and Nick Faldo are in the field, which also includes Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk. The Champions Tour is in Georgia, where Miguel Angel Jimenez will make his first-career start on the over-50 circuit. Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood headline the European Tour's Maybank Malaysian Open.


RBC HERITAGE
(PGA Tour)
Dates: April 17-20
Venue: Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head, S.C.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)

On CBS:
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6 p.m.

Event Notes

McDowell Defends: Graeme McDowell outlasted Webb Simpson on the first playoff hole last year to earn his first PGA Tour victory since winning the 2010 U.S. Open.

Headlining the Field: Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Ernie Els, Patrick Reed, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk, Jason Day, Harris English, Tom Watson and Nick Faldo.

* * *

LPGA LOTTE CHAMPIONSHIP
(LPGA Tour)
Dates: April 16-19
Venue: Ko Olina Golf Club, Oahu, Hawaii

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday 6:30-10:30 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Thursday 6:30-10:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday 6:30-10:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday 6:30-10:30 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Tournament to be Featured in Primetime on Golf Channel: The LPGA LOTTE Championship began a day earlier than usual, with coverage airing Wednesday-Saturday in primetime.

Headlining the Field: Inbee Park, Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko, So Yeon Ryu, Anna Nordqvist, Lizette Salas, Ai Miyazato, Azahara Munoz and Cristie Kerr.

* * *

GREATER GWINNETT CHAMPIONSHIP
(Champions Tour)
Dates: April 18-20
Venue: TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-5:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / Midnight-3 a.m. (Replay)

Event Notes

Jimenez Makes Champions Tour Debut: Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez will make his Champions Tour debut this week, coming off a fourth place finish at the Masters.

Building Momentum: There are seven players in the field who competed in the Masters, including five of the record six players over the age of 50 that made the cut last week, including two top-10 finishes (Jimenez, 4th and Langer, T-8th).

Langer Defends: Bernhard Langer won by three shots over Tom Lehman and Tom Pernice Jr. last year, claiming his 18th-career Champion Tour victory in the inaugural showing of the event.

Headlining the Field: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Nick Price, Colin Montgomerie, Kerry Perry, Rocco Mediate, Mark O’Meara and John Cook.

* * *

MAYBANK MALAYSIAN OPEN
(European Tour)
Dates: April 17-20
Venue: Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (West Course), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Friday 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Saturday 6:30-10:30 a.m. (Tape Delay)
Sunday 6:30-10:30 a.m. (Tape Delay)

Event Notes

Aphibarnrat Defends: Kiradech Aphibarnrat edged out Eduardo Molinari by one to capture his first-career European Tour win in last year's event.

Headlining the Field: Louis Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood, Matteo Manassero, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Francesco Molinari, Nicolas Colsaerts, Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Wednesday, April 16

Bubba Miles Ahead in Ryder Cup Points Standings

FRESH OFF HIS SECOND MASTERS VICTORY, Bubba Watson is a long, long way in front in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race. Bubba's nearly 1,800-point lead on Jimmy Walker reminds me of his massive driving distance advantage, like the one he uncorked on Augusta's par-5 13th during the final round of the Masters.

"Way to go Bubba!!! Enjoy your victory," tweeted U.S. captain Tom Watson. "See you on the plane to Gleneagles."

The top nine players will automatically qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Captain Watson has three discretionary picks. Watson said that one pick is reserved for Tiger Woods if Tiger is healthy and ready to play in September.

U.S. Ryder Cup Points Standings
(As of April 14)

1. Bubba WATSON - 6,258.984
2. Jimmy WALKER - 4,459.071
3. Dustin JOHNSON - 3,759.812
4. Jordan SPIETH - 3,437.864
5. Patrick REED - 3,023.091
6. Matt KUCHAR - 2,881.333
7. Jason DUFNER - 2,668.448
8. Phil MICKELSON - 2,662.862
9. Harris ENGLISH - 2,646.047
-------------------------------------
10. Zach JOHNSON - 2,584.519
11. Chris KIRK - 2,254.956
12. Webb SIMPSON - 2,214.857

The 2014 Ryder Cup (the 40th edition) will be played September 26-28 on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles in Scotland.

Tuesday, April 15

Back Story: Tiger Not Only One Hurting

By John Christensen

Copyright © 2014 John Christensen. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Tiger Woods (Allison)
TIGER WOODS MAY RECOVER FROM his back injury and play more Masters, and he might even win more majors. But another important story after his recent surgery—the back story, if you will—is that Tiger's not the only one who's hurting.

Golfers are getting injured in unprecedented numbers—amateur and pro alike—and the culprit is the modern golf swing. That's the only possible conclusion based on information I found while researching my ebook about Mike Austin (Perfect Swing,Imperfect Lies: The Legacy of Golf's Longest Hitter).

Here's an excerpt from the book:
In 2008, a report published by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine cited a two-year study which found that 60 percent of golf professionals and 40 percent of amateurs sustained "either a traumatic or overuse injury while golfing." Low back pain was the most common injury by far, followed by those to the elbow, shoulder and wrist. The society also cited a PGA study, which found that one out of three golfers had low back problems that lasted for at least two weeks.

In August 2011, the PGA Tour posted an article on its website by Sean Cochran, who was identified as an expert in golf fitness. Cochran began this way: "Statistics indicate one out of every two golfers will incur a lower back injury at some point in their playing careers."

"Axial rotations" of hips and shoulders, Cochran writes, "load the musculature of the core." On the downswing, the hips and pelvis are subjected to "angular velocities" of 400 to 500 degrees per second while the velocities in the shoulders and back reach 1100 to 1200 degrees per second.
"Every time golfers swing," Cochran concluded, "they are subjecting their lower spine to eight times their body weight." No wonder injuries have reached epidemic proportions. Given those numbers, golf isn't a sport, it's Russian roulette, and it seems to have gone largely unnoticed.

I put together a list of Tour pros with significant injuries based solely on random remarks during telecasts or in online accounts and came up with 30 names. It ranged from older golfers like Fred Couples and Retief Goosen (backs) to younger players in their prime like Dustin Johnson and Ricky Fowler (also backs).

The modern swing winds the upper body against the stationary lower body to create all that velocity Cochran was talking about. But the classic, old-school swing of Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead and Bobby Jones allowed the front heel to rise and fall with the rotation and weight shift, taking pressure off the spine and pelvis and injuries were almost unheard of.

Austin was a journeyman range pro in 1974 when he hit a 515-yard drive with a persimmon driver and a gorgeous, old-school swing. Videos of his swing have been viewed on YouTube more than a million times, and the Golf Channel's Martin Hall featured him on his School of Golf show in April 2013. Hall praised Austin for being "years ahead of his time."

After the show, a golfer named Cyd posted the following on the network's website:

"I've had three back surgeries and I find the Mike Austin swing to be easy on my back. I can go out and hit hundreds of balls and suffer no back pain. With a conventional swing and the torque that is placed on my back, I cannot hit 100 balls and play a round in the same day. Not to mention that after hitting 100 balls using a conventional swing I can barely walk for a day. With the Mike Austin swing, I can practice and play. No problems!"

Fans of the Austin swing have hoped for years that players on the Tour would revive their careers using Austin's explosive and effortless swing. But they never dared dream it might be Tiger Woods—until now.

John Christensen is an author and award-winning freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous books, magazines, newspapers and websites.

Monday, April 14

Bubba Golf: Green Jackets and Hash Browns


Bubba Watson, wife Angie and friends celebrate at Waffle House. (Courtesy @judahsmith)
WE KNEW BUBBA HAD ALL THE SHOTS, but this time, this Sunday, the new Lefty was in total control of his game even when the kid (Jordan Spieth) threw a haymaker at him on Augusta's front nine. Bubba took it, and countered with his own combination at holes 8 and 9, cruising to a 69 and a three-shot Masters victory, his second Green Jacket in three years.

None of the other closest challengers broke 70. Runners-up Spieth (72) and Jonas Blixt (71) were unable to mount a back-nine charge. Fifty-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez (71) finished solo fourth. Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler couldn't make it happen on Sunday. Their sluggish 74s landed them in a tie for fifth. Meanwhile, two-time champion Bernard Langer, also on the other side of 50, and Rory McIlroy posted closing 69s to share the eighth spot.

There was an odd tone to the final day.

Judging from the TV coverage and social media, the collective will of the golf universe seemed to be focused on young Spieth. If the sheer force of the media and golf populace could determine the outcome, the former University of Texas standout might today be the youngest Masters champion at age 20. It seemed preordained. At least that's the feeling I got listening to the early coverage. I was reminded that it had been exactly 17 years since Tiger Woods was the youngest player to slip on the Green Jacket, which was 17 years since Seve Ballesteros was the youngest, which was 17 years since Jack Nicklaus was the youngest.

No one told Bubba, who was totally uncooperative and apparently had no sense of history. The fact was, he was just too good, too steady, too smart. Yes, smart. Guile was a part of his arsenal. This was a new Bubba.

There was something odd about that front nine, although I readily admit hindsight is 20/20.

Spieth played some incredible shots and carded four birdies on the first seven holes to take a two-shot lead over the 2012 champion, and yet I didn't feel he was in control of his game. His hand was coming off the club; his misses with his driver and iron shots were going left. My sense was that he didn't have a swing problem, but rather was quick or out of sync with his timing because of the gravity of the situation. It was Sunday at the Masters. The pressure got to him long before he began talking to himself on the final nine.

Bubba took the kid's best punches early and never flinched. After Spieth holed a bunker shot for an improbable birdie at the long par-3 4th hole, Bubba cooly sank his five-footer for a matching two. When the 20-year-old stuffed his iron shot at the par-3 6th hole, Bubba rolled in his mid-range putt for birdie.

Who was this man from Bagdad?

A two-time champion, as it turned out. Bubba controlled his golf ball better than anyone and never stumbled on those frightening Augusta greens.

Spieth made the kind of mistakes you would expect from a 20-year-old, although veterans make them, too, don't they? He parred 8, was short of the green at 9, splashed down at 12. This wasn't his time, but he reminded us of players named Seve, Tiger and Rory. He showed us that he can win a Green Jacket, and nearly did before the young McIlroy.

"This one's a lot different," said Watson after slapping hands with the patrons, his son Caleb on his arm. "The first one, for me, it was almost like I lucked into it."

No, this wasn't luck.

By the way, that "17" number the talking heads were touting early on Sunday afternoon did have significance after all. Bubba Watson is the 17th player to win the Masters twice.

Friday, April 11

'ARNIE': Golf Channel Documentary Begins on Sunday



By Golf Channel Communications

GOLF CHANNEL'S PRIMETIME TELEVISION EVENT, "Arnie," begins with the questions: "How do you tell a story of a life that's larger than life? How do you find a way to put together all the memories, all the accomplishments, all the impact? And do what a story is supposed to do? And ensure it lasts forever? Someday—even decades—maybe centuries from now, they'll hear the name Arnold Palmer and they'll want to know everything."

"Arnie" showcases how the golfing legend revolutionized and transcended the game to become one of the most beloved figures in sports history. "Arnie," a three-night television event, will air on consecutive nights at 10 p.m. ET from Sunday, April 13, following Golf Channel's Live From the Masters, through Tuesday, April 15.

Golf Channel spent the last year traveling with Palmer, collecting interviews from more than 100 people, sifting through hundreds of hours of archived film—including hours of Palmer family video that has never been seen before—and shooting in locations around the world to create television's definitive story of the most influential man to ever pick up a golf club.

"ARNIE": 3-Part Golf Channel Event

Arnie & His Army
Sunday, April 13, 10 p.m. ET (following Live From the Masters)

Arnie & His Majors
Monday, April 14, 10 p.m. ET

Arnie & His Legacy
Tuesday, April 15, 10 p.m. ET

Unbelievable Putts at the Masters



ABSOLUTELY NO WORDS FOR THIS. Just watch the video.

Thursday, April 10

2014 Masters TV Schedule and Tournament Notes




IT’S THE MASTERS, PATRONS! Magnolias, azaleas, Amen Corner, pimento cheese sandwiches and Chuck Norris-style security.

MASTERS NEED TO KNOW

Purse: $8 million
Winner’s share: $1.44 million
Defending champion: Adam Scott

2014 Masters Leaderboard

Masters field
Augusta National Golf Club
First and second round groupings and tee times
Masters photo gallery
Masters newsroom
Masters tournament information
Masters winners
Official Masters site

Masters Talk

"At my first Masters, I got the feeling that if I didn't play well, I wouldn't go to heaven."
Dave Marr

"If the Masters offered no money at all, I would be here trying just as hard."

Ben Hogan

"I miss, I miss, I miss, I make."
Seve Ballesteros, explaining four-putt green at 16

"I've never been to heaven, and thinking back on my life, I probably won't get a chance to go. I guess winning the Masters is a close as I'm going to get."

Fuzzy Zoeller

"I told Hord Hardin I was getting too old to play in the Masters, but he kept saying, Gene, they don't want to see you play, they just want to see if you're still alive."
Gene Sarazen

"On the 15th hole I started thinking how I'd look in the Green Jacket. The next thing I know, they're giving it to Charley Coody."

Johnny Miller 

TV SCHEDULE

Between ESPN, CBS and GOLF CHANNEL, hours and hours of TV coverage are scheduled for the 2014 Masters. Just turn on your TV. (All times are ET.)

Note: Sky Sports has the UK coverage.

Thu, Apr 10
3-7:30 p.m. ESPN (tournament action)
8-11 p.m. ESPN (replay)
GOLF CHANNEL:
Live from the Masters 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Live from the Masters 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Fri, Apr 11
3-7:30 p.m. ESPN (tournament action)
8-11 p.m. ESPN (replay)
GOLF CHANNEL:
Live from the Masters 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Live from the Masters 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Sat, Apr 12
3-7 p.m. CBS (tournament action)
GOLF CHANNEL:
Live from the Masters 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Live from the Masters 7-9 p.m.

Sun, Apr 13
2-7 p.m. CBS (tournament action)
GOLF CHANNEL:
Live from the Masters 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Live from the Masters 7-10 p.m.

(Image courtesy of PGATour.com)

Wednesday, April 9

My 2014 Masters Preview

Rory McIlroy seems destined to win a Green Jacket. (internetsense)
I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S MASTERS EVE. I just got home from a trip to California and figured I better get up to speed fast when asked to go on the radio to preview the Masters.

Some things don't change. Augusta, for one. Pristine fairways and greens. Big, undulating, screaming-fast greens. But no Eisenhower tree in the 17th fairway. It's dead and gone. And no Tiger in the field. He's recovering from surgery. Woods's quest for a 15th major will have to wait.

So who can win on this slice of golf heaven? Who will win?

Throw a dart at the names. The Masters is wide open. That's the way it looks to me. New players are winning week in and week out on the PGA Tour. It's not that much different at Augusta. First-time Masters winners have won six of the last seven. Phil Mickelson is the only recent champion (2010) with multiple victories.

But Mickelson probably doesn't agree that the 2014 edition of the Masters is wide open. The other day he said the greens are at Masters speed, which, according to Lefty, means there are less than a dozen potential winners. Maybe. Or maybe Phil is playing mind games.

So, okay, maybe the Masters isn't utterly wide open. Former Masters champions Ben Crenshaw and Larry Mize won't slip into the Green Jacket again. But there are more than a Mickelson dozen who could make the trip to Butler Cabin on Sunday evening.

In advance of my radio segment at 4:06 p.m., I looked over the names on the odds list ... Adam Scott ... Rory McIlroy ... Phil Mickelson ... Jason Day ... Matt Kuchar ... Sergio Garcia ... Dustin Johnson ... Bubba Watson ... Henrik Stenson ... Justin Rose ... Brandt Snedeker ... and on and on and on and on.

My head started to spin. How do you handicap the Masters, or a major, for that matter?

I jotted down a few thoughts, a Masters criteria of sorts: Who's hungry? Who's playing well right now? Who's ready to win?

Nick Faldo put it another way. The three-time Masters winner said he likes guys with "mental strength." Who are Nick's mentally tough guys? Jason Day, Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed are three he named.

Here are my thoughts on a handful of players:

Adam Scott - I don't expect him to repeat. Too hard. Only three have done it. Their names are Nicklaus, Faldo and Woods.

Rory McIlroy - He's as good a pick as anyone because I think he will definitely win a Green Jacket. It's only a matter of time, or, perhaps, a matter of days.

Phil Mickelson - A three-time Masters winner who you can never count out as long as he's healthy. Keep an eye on Phil.

Matt Kuchar - Kooch might be more dangerous and more ready because he didn't win last week at Houston. Does he have the mental fortitude?

Jason Day - I like him, but I also think the long layoff because of the thumb is not in his favor.

Bubba Watson - Sort of like Phil. All things seem possible with Bubba, whether good or bad.

Dustin Johnson - A lot of people seem to like DJ, but he hasn't had good finishes at Augusta and I wonder about his putting.

I'm just scratching the surface. There are many other players, including up-and-comers such as Reed, Jordan Spieth, Harris English and more. It's an impossible business. Handicapping the Masters, that is. Picking a winner. A bunch of yakkity yak. The talking is about finished. The Masters starts early on Thursday morning.

I do know this: There are plenty of sublime ball-strikers in the Masters field, but the answers will ultimately come on the greens. The winner will have to putt well. Bet on it.