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Television

Brandel Chamblee: Pot bunkers, not putting, were Jordan Spieth's downfall

Those looking to explain Jordan Spieth’s failure to win the British Open might be looking in the wrong place, Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee suggested.

SpiethBunker.jpg
Spieth in bunker at 17 in first round (Getty Images)

“People will nitpick this and talk about Jordan Spieth’s putting, and probably that’s why he didn’t win,” Chamblee said Monday evening from St. Andrews. “He did have five three-putts and a four-putt, but Louis Oosthuizen had six three-putts. Zach Johnson had four three-putts.

“He started this championship in grand fashion with a 31, but he did drive it in a pot bunker on the 13th hole and he found a pot bunker on the 17th hole on the back nine on Thursday. And he found a pot bunker on the fifth hole on Friday.”

He bogeyed those holes in each case.

“Ultimately he played the par fives in two-under par. Zach Johnson was four-under par, Louis Oosthuuizen was four-under par [on the par 5s]. He did everything this week except avoid the pot bunkers, which is a no-no here. He lost by the thinnest of margins.”

Recall that when Tiger Woods won the British Open at St. Andrews in 2000, he did not hit a single bunker and won by eight strokes.

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Television

Did Zach Johnson's spikes threaten to derail his British Open bid? Maybe so, Azinger says

Soft spikes might have been among the least likely topics to emerge late in the telecast of the final round of the British Open on Monday.

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Zach Johnson after his par putt slides by at 17th hole (Getty Images)

But when eventual winner Zach Johnson slipped on the wet turf on his second shot on the 17th hole of the Old Course at St. Andrews and hit it fat, it turned a difficult par into virtually a certain bogey that threatened to derail his bid. It dropped him two strokes behind leader Marc Leishman.

“You’d have to pay me a million dollars a day to wear those things,” ESPN’s Paul Azinger said. “If slipping in soft spikes cost him a major championship…if ever there was a place for that to happen, this is a good spot, 17 a bogey hole for the field. When you’re trying to generate all that power, the power comes from the feet. That’s the reason there’s nails on the bottom of your shoes. This whole soft spike generation, I don’t know how they do it.”

This isn’t a new opinion for Azinger. As long ago as 1998, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he was railing against soft spikes. “I haven’t bought into all the soft-spike propaganda, personally,” he said then. He still doesn’t.

Johnson might have bogeyed the hole anyway, of course, but a birdie at 18 ultimately enabled him to finish in a tie, and he won in a playoff.

Update: Turns out Johnson was wearing metal spikes, so Azinger's comments were unfounded.


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Television

Paul Azinger on Jordan Spieth: 'He is not afraid'

ESPN’s Paul Azinger said on Monday morning that Jordan Spieth, in his quest to win the British Open and complete the third leg of the Grand Slam, ‘is not afraid.’

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(Getty Images)

“He’s kind of counter-intuitive to what the sports psychologists are telling guys today — go out there and have fun, don’t look at the board and all that,” Azinger said. “To me, that’s the coward’s way out. There’s nothing fun about trying to win this golf tournament. It’s fun when it’s over.

“He’s been very candid, that he has a formula. And that formula is that he’s structured and strategic in his approach. And he is not afraid. It is refreshing.”

Azinger’s colleague Curtis Strange said that his ability to deal with nerves on the greens probably holds the key.

“When the nerves get at their outmost, what does it affect?” Strange said. “The putting. If he makes the putts, he can do this today.”

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Television

Azinger knows what he's talking about (unless he's talking about history)

It is hard to find fault with anything that ESPN has done in this, the most difficult of British Opens to televise, given the long days and short nights brought about by bad weather.

Well, except for this: Its lead analyst Paul Azinger saying on Sunday’s telecast that the New Course at St. Andrews “is more than twice as old as the United States.”

ZingerPaul.jpg

The New Course, adjacent to the Old Course, was built in 1895. The U.S. declared its independence in 1776. Then again, Azinger wasn’t hired by ESPN to teach history.

This is why he was hired: “Everyone wanted to swing like Tiger, except Tiger,” he said earlier in the week, a succinct summation of the various swing changes Woods has made to his detriment.

And this, regarding Jordan Spieth’s quest to win the third leg of the Grand Slam on Monday: “Jordan Spieth said one thing to me that makes me think he’s the man to beat. With all the pressure on Jordan Speith, he’s remained composed and all that. But he said he found something on the greens. He made an adjustment. And a lot of times those adjustments last weeks. He only needs it to last one day.”

Whether Azinger is right or wrong, whether you agree or disagree, he’s a quality analyst (and one we don’t hear from often enough throughout the year) and a straight shooter, “straighter than train smoke,” to borrow the line he used for one of Sergio Garcia’s tee shots on Sunday. Recall his likening Woods to “a middle of the pack hack.”

He can be amusing, too. Late in the telecast Sunday, Spieth and his caddie Michael Greller were shown having a friendly competition on the practice tee, throwing golf balls at a distant target.

“Obviously the pressure going for the third leg of the Grand Slam has got him all tied up in knots,” Mike Tirico said.

“I think Hogan and his caddie were doing that back in the days,” Azinger quipped about one of the more dour players in the history of the game.

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Dottie Pepper: 'Golf played here for hundreds of yrs. What does it say about modern green speeds?'

There does seem a reluctance for television entities to pointedly criticize governing bodies, as Fox Sports demonstrated with its tempered analysis of Chambers Bay during the U.S. Open.

That was not the case with ESPN and the Royal & Ancient on Saturday morning, though we should note that the network has only this and 2016 left on its contract to televise the British Open. Nevertheless…

“I think I’ve just seen the most unfair thing ever on a golf course,” ESPN’s Dottie Pepper said. “Louis Oosthuizen had putted up from about 100 feet to 18 inches. Did not address the ball after he put it back in play and now has the better part of 5 ¿ feet from the opposite side of the hole for par. It blew the ball that far that quickly.”

openwind.jpg
(Getty Images)

Paul Azinger then raised the question of the day. “Oosthuizen’s only two shots off the lead,” he said, “so the question remains: Why did they even start?”

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” Pepper said.

Pepper and Azinger were no less critical on Twitter:

“The only real problem here is that the modern day green speeds are just a little too fast for this kind of wind,” Azinger said. “They’ve played in this kind of wind before. We’ve seen black-and-white footage of it from past Open Championships. When the greens are running nine-and-a-half to ten-and-a-half over here they can’t handle a 35 to 40-mile an hour gust and the balls rolled around.”

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Television

Golf Channel's Oberholser on Tiger Woods: 'I think his best days are long behind him...Nicklaus's record very, very safe'

Golf Channel’s Arron Oberholser, a contemporary of Tiger Woods, said on Thursday night that Woods ought to redirect his focus away from Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championship to Sam Snead’s 82 PGA Tour victories. Woods is stuck on 14 majors and 79 victories.

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Tiger Woods preparing to take a drop on first hole on Thursday (Getty Images)

“I think his best days are long behind him,” Oberholser said on Golf Channel’s “Live from St. Andrews.” Woods shot a 76 to open the British Open on Thursday. “Right now, the best thing that he can do is concern himself with potentially breaking Sam Snead’s record on the PGA Tour of all-time wins. I believe right now that Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors is very, very safe.”

Oberholser, 40, went to San Jose State and competed against Woods in college, even outplaying him in winning the Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif.

“At one point today,” Oberholser said, referring to Woods’ front nine of 40 at St. Andrews, “I thought to myself, ‘he’s just lost the ability to grind, or he’s lost the fight to want to grind.’”

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Television

ESPN begins two-year farewell to British Open with 37 hours of live coverage

It is somewhat an odd occurrence that this British Open telecast, 37 hours of live coverage, represents both the ultimate and penultimate opportunity for ESPN.

An Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews is the ultimate for any broadcast entity, of course, but it is the penultimate British Open for ESPN, the second to last it will do before giving way to NBC following the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon.

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But it’s no time to lament the future, and Mike McQuade, vice president production for ESPN, promises that that isn’t the case.

“While we are all deeply disappointed that we won't be able to continue doing it after next year,” he said, “I think we are so busy and so wrapped up into making this as good as it can be that no one is thinking about the idea that we only have two to do. I think we just want to make sure we can get in there and do this great, and that is always the focus, and how do we tell the best stories.”

The story lines, as ESPN’s lead analyst Paul Azinger said, “are killer,” notably with Jordan Spieth’s quest for the third leg of the Grand Slam. What could be better for what is the beginning of the end for ESPN?

Here is the British Open television and live video stream schedule (all EDT): 

ESPN

Thursday and Friday
4 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Saturday
7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Sunday
6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

ESPN3.com (Live video streams)

Thursday and Friday
4 a.m. to 3 p.m.
-- Marquee group (players TBD)
-- @TheOpen Live (No. 17/Road Hole feed)
-- BBC world feed
-- The Open in Spanish

Saturday
7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
-- Marquee group (players TBD)
-- @TheOpen Live (No. 17/Road Hole feed)
-- BBC world feed
-- The Open in Spanish

Sunday
6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
-- Marquee group (players TBD)
-- @TheOpen Live (No. 17/Road Hole feed)
-- BBC world feed
-- The Open in Spanish

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The U.S. Open on television: Ready for drones, rail cams and robotics?

The U.S. Open is the centerpiece of Fox Sports’ entry into golf coverage, the reason why the network reportedly is paying $100 million a year to televise USGA events. It begins Thursday and includes prime-time coverage.

Joe Buck will anchor the telecasts, with Greg Norman serving as the lead analyst.

Among technologies it will introduce (see video below) are drone flyovers, drop-down remote robotics cameras around the course, a small remote-controlled car with an HD camera attached to it and “set loose on the grounds at Chambers Bay,” rail cams and augmented reality graphics.

“We are going to try and do a lot of things there to make the viewer feel like they are playing the golf course right in front of them,” Fox coordinating producer Mark Loomis said. “We’re trying to get some dimensions to the greens, increase the audio from the course, and give you a better look of what the shot looks like to the golfer from the golfer’s view. The technology is part of the experience. It’s not the experience.”

Here is the television schedule for Fox Sports/Fox Sports 1 and Golf Channel coverage of the Open at Chambers Bay:

Fox and Fox Sports 1 (all times EDT)

Thursday and Friday (first and second round)
12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1
8 p.m. to 11 p.m., Fox

Saturday (third round)
2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fox

Sunday (final round)
2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fox

Note: In addition to the above, FoxSportsGo.com will have three live-streaming channels (featured group, featured holes, and U.S. Open 360) from 1 to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Golf Channel (all times EDT)

Monday
7 to 9 a.m.: Morning Drive
2 to 6 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
7 to 9 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open

Tuesday
7 to 11 a.m.: Morning Drive
11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
3:30 to 4 p.m.: Golf Central Special, Live From Seattle
4 to 5 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
7 to 9 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open

Wednesday
7 to 11 a.m.: Morning Drive
11 a.m. to Noon: Live From the U.S. Open
Noon to 1 p.m.: Golf Central Special, Live From Seattle
1 to 5 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
7 to 9 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open

Thursday and Friday
7 to 9 a.m.: Morning Drive
9 a.m. to Noon: Live From the U.S. Open
11 p.m. to 1 a.m.: Live From the U.S. Open

Saturday
9 to 11 a.m.: Morning Drive
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
10 p.m. to Midnight: Live From the U.S. Open

Sunday
9 to 11 a.m.: Morning Drive
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.: Live From the U.S. Open

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Television

The Top Ten memorable golf moments on "The Late Show"

Before we say a final farewell to "The Late Show with David Letterman" Wednesday night, let's countdown the funniest golf-related moments, Top-Ten lists and interviews from the past 21 years. We're going to miss you Dave!

10. The 2003 British Open champ Ben Curtis debuts the long-standing tradition of tour players chatting with David Letterman.



9.
After winning the 2009 U.S. Open, Lucas Glover presents the "Top Ten Things Lucas Glover Would Like To Say After Winning The US Open."




8.
In 2008, Annika Sorenstam appeared on The Late Show to read the "Top 10 Reasons Why Annika Sorenstam Is Retiring."



7.
On April 11, 2011, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was the topic of the Top Ten list.



6
. Justin Rose appeared on the show after his 2013 U.S. Open win at Merion. He presented this Top Ten list, "The Top Ten Questions People Ask Me About Golf."



5. In 2014, while promoting "The Hunger Games" trilogy Jennifer Lawrence appeared on the show and mentioned how much she loves going to the driving range.



4
. After his 2012 Masters victory, Bubba Watson sat down with David Letterman to talk about winning his first major, the advantages of being a lefty, his early influences in the game and more.



3. Jordan Spieth celebrated his record-breaking 2015 Masters win with a NYC media tour that included an appearance on the Late Show.



2.
Back in 2008, David Letterman talked about competing in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and being paired with Ernie Els. It turns out he played much better than expected - he shot a 62!



1.
When Letterman brings down the curtain on his last broadcast tonight, he'll have a hard time topping his final NBC show, "Late Night with David Letterman" that aired on June 25, 1993. It featured Tom Hanks recalling how he broke legendary comedian Slappy White's golf clubs:

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Television

This commercial for the Hammer X driver should be the standard for all other golf commercials

We're not really sure where to start with this retro commercial for the Hammer X driver, so let's just count down its many levels of awesomeness.

1. Spokesman and former long-drive champion Jack "The Hammer" Hamm grunts "Boom!" or "Wham!" upon impact of every shot. Why isn't there more of this in golf? Maybe because not enough people are playing the Hammer X.

2. The random footage of the Space Shuttle, and other rocket ships, presumably a symbolic reference to the Hammer X's immense power. Either that or a well-struck drive REALLY DOES SET OFF THE SPACE SHUTTLE. That would seem distracting in the middle of a tight match, but maybe that's just me. 

3. Hamm, who has the type of hair Jordan Spieth would kill for, literally swings himself out of his shirt. Notice how it gets untucked in the back? Why does he even bother with a shirt at all? Shirtless Jack Hamm yelling "Boom!" and setting off the Space Shuttle might be too much for the Internet to handle.

There's plenty more, so see for yourself. The Hammer X is non-conforming, by the way, but conforming seems to be the least of Jack Hamm's concerns.



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