There’s More To Golf In Morocco Than The Trophee Hassan II

There’s More To Golf In Morocco Than The Trophee Hassan II

There’s More To Golf In Morocco Than The Trophee Hassan II This week, the European … Read more.

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Royal Golf Dar Es Salam – Host of The European Tour’s Trophee Hassan II

Royal Golf Dar Es Salam – Host of The European Tour’s Trophee Hassan II

This week, the European Tour visits Morocco for the Trophee Hassan II. The tournament has … Read more.

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Tiger Woods practices at Augusta

Tiger Woods during the final round of the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

Tiger Woods is excited and ready to go with Masters week just days away, and that’s according to none other than the man himself.

In an interview published Friday on his official website, Tiger Woods laid out where his mind and game are heading into next week’s Masters, his first since 2015, and the first major of his surprising comeback on Tour.

“I’m just really looking forward to playing,” said Woods. “It’s the best run tournament in the world. The golf course, the patrons, the entire atmosphere. It’s a golfer’s heaven… the course was in fantastic shape. My yardage book was basically the same.”

Woods revealed that he played two practice rounds at Augusta National last week, including some holes with rising PGA Tour star Bryson DeChambeau. He said the course played “brutally long” while noting that it “will play much, much faster in the tournament.”

Woods also got into just how shocking his most-recent return to the game has been, considering that less than a year ago he was bed-ridden recovering from a major fusion back surgery, not knowing whether he would ever swing a club again, let alone in golf’s greatest event.

“I got a second chance on life. I am a walking miracle.”

But don’t think that the miraculous nature of his comeback—which has seen him finish 12, T2 and T5 in his last three starts—has affected his usual sky-high expectations, as Tiger noted at the end of the article, “I’m just there to win.”

As for details on his preparation, Woods is testing new setups for his driver and fairway wood shafts, and he has yet to decide on a firm schedule for his practice rounds next week, though he did say he might play in the Masters Par-3 Contest on Wednesday.

courtesy of Kevin Cunningham (Golf.com)

Sergio is a Father!

Sergio Garcia’s wife Angela gave birth to the couple’s first child, a girl, early in the morning on Wednesday (at 1:54 a.m., according to Augusta Chronicle reporter Scott Michaux). The best part? They gave her an Augusta National-inspired name: Azalea.

Garcia had a momentous year in 2017, both on the course and in his personal life. The PGA Tour veteran finally captured his first major championship victory at the Masters, defeating Justin Rose in a playoff. Garcia was embraced on the green by his then-fiancée Angela Akins. The couple tied the knot in July in Akins’s home state of Texas.

Azaleas are a flowering shrub that can be found all over the grounds at Augusta National, which used to be a nursery before it was converted into the legendary course we know it to be today. The bright pink Azalea blooms are as much a part of the Masters as the CBS theme song for the event. The par-5 13th hole at Augusta, part of the famed “Amen Corner”, is named Azalea.

Garcia will return to Augusta National in just a few weeks to defend his 2017 title, which is now sure-to-be an even more memorable experience for the new father.

Courtesy of Kevin Cunningham (golf.com)

‘I was totally nervous’: The last time Tiger Woods played a tournament at Innisbrook, he had a partner, Kelli Kuehne

Tiger Woods and Kelli Kuehne line up a put during the J. C. Penney Classic at the Innesbrook Country Club in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

When Tiger Woods announced Friday that he would make his first-ever appearance at the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship, at the Innisbrook Resort in Florida next week, memories came flooding back to Kelli Kuehne.

That’s because the last time Woods played Innisbrook’s Copperhead course in competition, it was as Kuehne’s partner — in the 1996 JCPenney Classic mixed-team event.

When reached by phone Friday, Kuehne said she and Woods were both still kids at heart — she was 19, Woods was 20 — and longtime friends who spent as much time goofing off that week as they did playing golf.

“One day we had a contest to see who had the most Nike logos on their clothes and clubs,” said Keuhne, who was then a rising star with a U.S. Girls Amateur and a pair of U.S. Women’s Amateur titles on her resume. “I think I wound up with 21 logos. He had almost that many, but I still beat him.”

“Another day his caddie Fluff [Cowan] spent time showing my brother and caddie Trip how to read a yardage book and how he marked each hole. It was my first event as a professional and I was totally nervous.”

Woods not so much. Though he, too, was a newbie pro, Woods was accustomed to the spotlight. He had already won his first professional event, in Las Vegas, so Tigermania was in full swing when he and Kuehne arrived at the Tampa-area resort.

“We were having dinner one night at the resort and this lady just walks up and hands Tiger her baby and says, ‘Please take a picture with my baby.’ I mean, right in the middle of dinner. I don’t think it even fazed him. He said, ‘Sure, I’ll take a picture.’

“He was just rolling at the time, he was Tiger, and he was the next one.”

Woods was close friends with the Kuehne family and often stayed with them when he was competing in junior events in North Texas. He and Kelli would play together, alongside her brothers, Trip and Hank, who were also serious sticks.

Woods and Kelli finished second in the Innisbrook event, one behind Mike Hulbert and Donna Andrews, but Woods still stole show.

“I remember really fast greens and tree-lined fairways everywhere, which I spent a lot of time chipping out of,” Kuehne says. “He didn’t have any problems — he just blasted it in the fairways, chipped it close and made some putts.”

The galleries lapped it up.

“I saw some big crowds in my career, but never anything like that,” Kuehne says. “I know I will never forget it as long as I live the craziness of the entire scene of people everywhere and just wanting to touch Tiger. I was just totally overwhelmed by the entire circus of the event.”

Kuehne won once on the LPGA tour, in 1999, but injuries ultimately forced her into retirement. She recently moved back to her hometown of Dallas, where she still plays golf with friends and does some teaching.

When Woods returns to Innisbrook next week, she will be watching the telecast.

“Just to relive those fun memories together,” she says. “It’s something I will never forget.”

Courtesy of Art Stricklin (golf.com)

Fred Couples dishes on Tiger Woods, playing with back pain, the Ryder Cup and if he’ll ever earn that captaincy

Fred Couples is back in your earbuds. The 58-year-old is set to host monthly shows for SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio beginning Tuesday with former Super Bowl champions Eli Manning and Justin Tuck joining him on show No. 1. He’ll wrap up the two-hour show with some golf talk, joined by a popular voice himself, Jim Nantz.

Couples joined the GOLF.com Podcast this week to talk about the show, Tiger Woods, his prospects as a Ryder Cup captain and the gravity of the Ryder Cup itself. He attended the 2016 Ryder Cup as a fan and plans to fly to Paris for it again this year, where, as he discussed on the podcast, he expects it to be the the best 24 players ever assembled for the event.

Simply put, why does Fred Couples do sports talk radio? What do you get out of it?

To be honest, I know this is going to sound crazy but I live in L.A. and Newport for my whole life and am not a music person. I listen to talk radio and I’m not big on news, so it’s usually sports. I just enjoy it. When I got the call to do this show, I thought, ‘Wow, can I handle this.’ Golf is what I do, so I thought, ‘Can I do more than golf? Can I do other sports? Can I get athletes that play golf to come on, certainly athletes that don’t play golf.’ It was very intriguing to me. It’s very nerve-wracking.

What is your favorite non-golf sport to play or non-golf sport to watch?

Well, I’m a baseball fan. My dad played baseball. My brother played baseball. I really enjoy everything. As I get older — I’m 58 — everyone knows I love TV but it’s very difficult for me to sit through a full football game. Thirty years ago you couldn’t turn the channel every two seconds and watch golf on one channel, college basketball on another, hockey on another, lacrosse on another…I enjoy just watching people. I like to watch other people. I might go to a basketball game and not even look at the guy with the ball half the time just to see what everyone else is doing. It’s intriguing.

In terms of golf, you’ll have plenty of time to talk about Tiger Woods, who played this weekend at Torrey Pines, another step on the comeback trail. Everyone tends to say the same things about him seeming happy, seeming fast, smiling. What have you seen out of him that hasn’t already been said 100 times?

That’s a great question. He’s someone I have fun texting with. We talk about his kids and golf very rarely comes up. It wasn’t that long ago that we were at the Presidents Cup — I was an assistant, he was an assistant — golf never came up in seven straight days. I didn’t ask him. I don’t know if some of the other team players asked him…my caddie Joey (LaCava) of 20-something years is caddying for him. He never gives out much. All he said is that he’s just very excited. I can see that…Now, is he the player he once was? Of course not. Can he be? Yeah, if he’s feeling good and healthy. There is another thing where you have these little back issues. At the end of the day, you’re exhausted. There was a time where I was miserable. I just couldn’t take it. It’s like having a toothache all day long.

His back injury history is well-documented. So is yours. I understand they’re not the same, but it was reported last week that he might be warming up with driver first, and that that tip came from you. Is that true, and what is the idea there?

It may have come from Joey [LaCava]. There was a time where I couldn’t hit a pitching wedge or a sand wedge. Even when I played OK golf, I would go practice and by the time I would warm up hitting sand wedges and nine-irons, my back would already hurt. I would start out with driver and hit them at 70 percent. It was just a fluid swing and I would stand really tall and it never affected my back. There were some days where I never putted, never hit any irons, just swung drivers to warm up and headed to the first tee. I think there’s nothing wrong with that. Tom Watson for the longest time has warmed up with a three-iron. That absolutely blows my mind.

Obviously, Tiger has been stretched and worked out. When he goes to the driving range, there’s that little time of 20 minutes. Tiger would tell you that if he plays golf and there’s a wait on the tee for two groups, or if someone loses a ball, he stands there for 10 minutes, it’s like you’re starting over. Your back is a very controlled thing and once it gets going, I used to say I could play 36 holes once I started if I never stopped. The problem was if I sat down, if I waited and stood and stood. It was horrible. I think he’s doing this drill. I don’t know if he did it in San Diego, he may be doing at home. But it’s really just something to get your body going where you don’t feel the strain of the bending of your back to hit wedges.

NFL great Brett Favre wants his grandkids to play golf not football

Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre smiles during the celebrity golf scramble on the 18th hole during the second round of the 2016 Champions Tour American Family Insurance Championship.

The true dangers of football become clearer and clearer every year, and NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre is joining a growing list of current and former pro football players who want their progeny to look elsewhere to get their sports fix, preferably golf.

Favre appeared on the CBS Sports Pick Six podcast to discuss a new documentary that features interviews with the former Green Bay Packers star. The documentary, called “Shocked,” explores the overlooked concussion dangers from athletes hitting their heads against artificial playing surfaces.

Favre says the movie has opened his eyes to how serious the concussion problem is in the game that made him famous, especially for kids. Favre noted that he has three young grandchildren, and he hopes they find a safer sport to play.

“I’m not going to encourage them to play. I’m not going to discourage [them]. But I say this to everyone who will listen: if my grandsons were to say, and they call me Paw-Paw, if they were to say ‘Paw-Paw, will you be my caddy in golf, I think I’m going to do golf instead of football,’ I would be much more happy, satisfied and excited by that then by them playing football.”

“Every tackle I would be cringing, hoping they get up and not shaking their head and saying they got a headache. But the likelihood of that happening by them playing football is very high. So I’d much rather them choose a safer route.”

Favre is not the only NFL star to feel this way. Earlier this year, current Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger echoed a similar sentiment, saying he hopes his son ends up playing golf as opposed to the ‘violent’ sport of football.

“Shocked” premieres Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET on WatchStadium.com.

Courtesy of Kevin Cunningham (golf.com)

The Masters had its lowest TV rating in 13 years. Why?

On the surface, the 2017 Masters had all the makings of an engaging, captivating broadcast. A beautiful day in Augusta. The leader board littered with big names. A fight to the finish, one prolonged via sudden death. The enthralling narrative of a maligned soul finally breaking through. Must-see theater, incarnate.

Except, not that many people saw it.

According to Sports Media Watch, the final round of the Masters drew a 7.6 overnight rating. That’s 11-percent lower than last year, a 21-percent drop from 2015 and the tournament’s worst showing since 2004. And Sunday was far from an aberration; third-round coverage was down 19 percent from last spring, with Friday’s broadcast suffering an 18-percent drop. What gives?

Save for a rain delay, there’s rarely a clear-cut answer to viewership issues. However, Neal H. Pilson—the former president of CBS Sports and president of Pilson Communications, Inc.—has some theories.

Pilson’s first assertion involves the weather. Not at Augusta, but across America.

“The weather can be an important factor,” said Pilson, who also teaches at Columbia. “Extraordinarily good weather in parts of the country can bring numbers down. Cumulative number watching could be down for all television audiences.”

This was especially true in the Northeast and the South, the two biggest areas for golf viewership. “Good weather is a killer in swing months. In the fall, people are sneaking in one last trip to the park, and in the spring, it’s more pronounced, going outside for the first time,” Pilson says. “It was a gorgeous day in the Northeast, where 20 percent of America’s households are located. I had to struggle to stay inside myself.”

Then there’s the matter of the aforementioned big names. Or specifically, the lack thereof. While Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose are known entities to golf fans, they’re not recognized outside of the sport.

“To the people that watch only one or two tournaments a year, they’re not well known,” says Pilson. “All due respect to two guys who are very good, they’re not names that leap in front of the casual viewer. One is from Spain, the other England. I don’t think they resonate with the American fan, at least relative to who could have been leading.”

Speaking of which, the play of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler did the broadcast no favors. Though the pair was in the penultimate group, they fell out of contention—and off our televisions—early.

“No Spieth, no Rory McIlroy or Jason Day,” said Pilson. “Dustin Johnson was not even in the tournament. They are the hottest golfers right now, and were absent on Sunday afternoon.”

However, the Masters’ ever-expanding second-screen experiences should not be chalked up for this decrease. To Pilson, the industry views these platforms as additions to the broadcast, rather than as substitutions. Watching featured groups or the action from Amen Corner doesn’t mean a viewer opts to put something else on the big screen.

“Besides, the people who watch the Masters are not the ones who go, ‘Well, I can watch this on my phone, I guess I can leave the house now,'” Pilson remarks.

Pilson doesn’t think this is part of a growing trend in sports viewership, one which saw a decrease in last summer’s Olympics and the NFL season. “Yes, we are dealing with overall drops in viewership, but this goes in peaks and valleys,” Pilson says. “It’s hard to say from just one tournament.”

It wasn’t all bleak news for the Masters. As Austin Karp of Sports Business Dailypoints out, the last 90 minutes of the telecast grew from 8.0 to 9.1 before peaking at 11.2. And the viewership of the Masters still far outweighs the expected returns from other major champions; last year’s U.S. Open pulled a final 3.4 rating on Sunday.

Courtesy of Joel Beall

Michael Bolton says he would caddie for Tiger Woods

Musician Michael Bolton hits a shot during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club on February 14, 2015 in Pebble Beach, California.

Bolton has been a regular fixture on the celebrity golf circuit for years, getting in rounds with Bill Clinton, Bill Murray and Darius Rucker.

Courtesy of Extra Spin Staff (golf.com)

US President Donald Trump to play golf with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson

Donald Trump’s list of illustrious golf partners just keeps getting bigger.

Mere weeks after playing a round with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the US President is to take to the course in Jupiter, Florida, with Tiger Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

“Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East,” tweeted Trump.

“After Turkey call I will be heading over to Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, to play golf (quickly) with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson.

“Then back to Mar-a-Lago for talks on bringing even more jobs and companies back to the USA!””

Trump has already played golf with Woods, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and women’s world No. 3 Lexi Thompson during his time at the White House.

The 71-year-old lavished praise on Matsuyama, who branded it “an honor” to be given the opportunity to take to the course with the US President.

“[Matsuyama] is the greatest player in the history of Japan,” Trump told reporters during his maiden diplomatic visit to Asia earlier in November. “Possibly their greatest celebrity … He’s a truly great player, a great athlete.”

During the trip, Trump took time to praise the skill of South Korea’s female golfers.

To applause in Seoul, Trump acknowledged that “Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth,” before referencing their success at the 2017 US Open.

“The women’s US Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and it just happened to be won by a great Korean golfer, Park Sung-hyun, and eight of the top 10 players were from Korea,” Trump said.

“And the top four golfers — one, two, three, four — the top four were from Korea. Congratulations.”

READ: What’s it like playing golf with the US President?

CNN Living Golf host Shane O’Donoghue spent time with the future US President back in 2014 at Trump’s golf course in Scotland.

According to O’Donoghue, Trump “doesn’t possess the prettiest swing,” but is “deadly accurate” from the tee.

Courtesy of CNN