Forward Press: Fifth major, Evian Championship, gives LPGA rare TV spotlight

September 14, 2016

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The LPGA Tour has been criticized for scheduling majors on the eve of men’s majors, costing the attention-deficient tour key publicity and network coverage. Not this week.

Given the crowded golf schedule, there isn’t much LPGA commissioners can do to avoid the men’s majors, so Mike Whan added a fifth major.

The Evian arrives, and as always will be played at Evian Resort Golf Club, with Lydia Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson, Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim, Stacy Lewis, Anna Nordqvist, So Yeon Ryu and Gerina Piller headlining.

With gold medalist Inbee Park sidelined and perhaps retired, Ko and Jutanugarn are in a tight battle for Rolex Player of the Year.

Meanwhile, in one of the more fascinating moves, Jutanagarn will once again play without a driver this week.

“I tried to hit driver on Monday but I’m not really feel comfortable because this course is really narrow and it’s not that long to me to hit driver, so no driver this week.”

She’s won five times without one.

Golf Channel will air live coverage of the first three rounds Thursday-Saturday, with Golf Channel and NBC combining for final round coverage. NBC airs the final 90 minutes starting at 12:30 pm ET.    Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):

Thursday: 5-8 a.m. / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)

Friday: 5-8 a.m. / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)

Saturday: 6:30-11:30 a.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)

Sunday: 8 a.m.-Noon (Tape delay) / 5:30-11:30 a.m.

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):

Sunday: 12:30-2 p.m. (Tape delay)   Champions Tour Returns To Pebble Beach

The Nature Valley First Tee Open is hosted by Pebble Beach Golf Links & Poppy Hills Golf Course, where 81 geezers are paired with one junior golfer from The First Tee representing 55 First Tee chapters. Twenty-three pro-junior teams will advance to the final round at Pebble Beach on Sunday.

Esteban Toledo defends after holding off Tom Watson. Also joining them in the field: Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, John Daly, Tom Lehman, Vijay Singh, Mark O’Meara, Rocco Mediate, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite and Peter Jacobsen.

The much maligned green, which had become too sloped for modern green speeds, has been softened. Last year the tournament marked the debut of a restored 17th green, which has been met with widespread praise for delivering more hole locations.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):

Friday: 6-9 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-5 a.m. (Saturday replay) Saturday: 6-9 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-5 a.m. (Sunday replay) Sunday: 6-9 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Monday replay) Tour Playoffs Continue With Albertsons Boise Open

One of the tour’s venerable fall stops returns closer to its old date and, as always, Hillcrest Country Club in Boise hosts. This time it’s the second leg of the Tour finals, with Nos. 1-75 on the Tour’s regular season money list, as well as Nos. 126-200 in the FedExCup standings. The field is rounded out by non-members who earned enough FedExCup points to finish in the 126-200 range.

The Albertson’s Boise Open is headlined by the ubiquitous Andrew “Beef” Johnston, last week’s winner Bryson DeChambeau, three-time 2016 Tour winner Wesley Bryan along with Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Erik Compton, Will MacKenzie, Gregory Bourdy and Camilo Villegas.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):

Thursday: 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-3:30 a.m. (Friday replay)

Friday: 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 5-6:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)

Saturday: 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 5-7 a.m. (Sunday replay)

Sunday: 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 5-6 a.m. (Monday replay)   Italian Open: Chance To Scout Ryder Cup Stars

Rikard Karlberg defeated Martin Kaymer with a birdie on the second playoff hole to earn his first career European Tour victory in last year’s Italian Open. But this year the attention will undoubtedly be on the games of Ryder Cuppers Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):

Thursday: 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Tape delay)

Friday: 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Tape delay)

Saturday: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Tape delay)

Sunday: Noon-2:30 p.m. (Tape delay)   Broadcast Notes:

Headlining the field: Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Padraig Harrington.   Dude! Hank Haney, Red Bull And X Games Types Go For Distance

A short three-part YouTube series starring Hank Haney teaching action sports stars is now live and features some incredible Red Bull-infused production values (and huge page view numbers too).

BMXer Corey Bohan, skateboarder Alex Midler and wakeboarder Steel Lafferty want to hit the ball farther than they ever imagined and Haney is the man to show them how. Lafferty supposedly picked up 39 yards, Bohan 67 yards and Midler, just 18, went from 191-yard drives to a 266-yarder.

All three episodes are live at Here is the first episode: