Category Archives: PGA

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Brooks Koepka Opens PGA Championship Defense with 63

FARMINGDALE, NY– Brooks Koepka doesn’t seem too affected by the PGA Championship date change from August to May. Whenever the phrase “major championship” predicates a particular tournament, it perks Koepka’s attention. These are the events where the three-time major winner unleashes his complete, powerful game.

The PGA Championship defense could not have started more impeccably for Koepka, who fired a seven-under 63 to take a four-shot clubhouse lead and set a new course record. For Brooks, this is business as usual for someone who has been at the top of his game the last year.

When asked what his favourite hole was at Bethpage, Koepka candidly responded: “All seven I birdied today.”

That’s a golfer who is in the zone.
Steadiness & Execution Critical for Brooks Koepka’s Opening Round Success
Playing alongside Tiger Woods, who is coming off his historic victory at The Masters, is no easy task. Except for Brooks Koepka. Last year at the PGA Championship in St. Louis, when the gallery of Bellerive Country Club was rooting for Tiger, Koepka’s laser focus and stellar shot making got him to the PGA Championship winner’s circle.

While Tiger Woods would experience a roller-coaster in his opening round of 72, Koepka exemplified unwavering steadiness and execution. With the rest of the field experiencing the immense, punitive difficulty of Bethpage Black, Koepka was steadfastly solid. Among his competitors, Koepka is first in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (6.543), Strokes Gained: Approach to the Green (4.261) and Strokes Gained: Putting (3.189). His 14 of 18 greens in regulation (77.8 percent) and 9 of 14 fairways hit (64.3 percent) demonstrated that when Koepka is firing on all cylinders, he is going to shoot low scores. And in major championships, when the stage is large and the expectations are high, it is where Koepka performs superbly.
It’s Early, but Brooks Koepka Is Not Slowing Down
At The Masters, Brooks Koepka was in the driver’s seat to win his first Green Jacket and fourth major in eight appearances. But hitting his tee shot in the water on the par-3 12th, paved the way for Tiger Woods to claim his 15th major championship.

While initially disappointing, it does not falter Koepka’s motivation and belief that he can still compete in major championships.

“It’s just golf, there’s nothing to rebound from,” affirms Koepka. “Second
place, it’s not fun, but at the same time you’ve just got to move on. It’s in the past. I could care less what happened last week or a couple years ago. It’s all
about this week.”

Even with the success Koepka has had in major championships, propelling him to a brief stint at World No. 1, there still is room for more universal respect from golf fans worldwide. Despite winning two majors last year, Koepka was still not listed in the world’s most dominant athletes. But over time, it is clear Koepka is accepting his persona and is less inclined to put his guard up towards the same media who disrespected him for years.

“I think you’ve got to find a chip or you’ve got to find something to motivate yourself and give you that extra little something going into a tournament or going into an event, whatever it might be, to really want to push
you over that line,” said Koepka.

If you don’t like or doubt Koepka’s abilities, it is at your own risk. With his sixth consecutive round at the PGA Championship in the 60’s complete, it is hard to imagine Brooks Koepka not in the mix for the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday afternoon.The post Brooks Koepka Opens PGA Championship Defense with 63 appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Tiger Woods struggles in Opening Round

The reigning Masters champion and 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods got out to a slow start Thursday at the 101st PGA Championship. No stranger to New York’s Bethpage Black, Woods won wire-to-wire here at the 2002 U.S. Open and was the only player out of 156 to finish under par that year. Thursday Woods marked up his scorecard with everything from bogeys and double bogeys to birdies and even an eagle.
A difficult opening nine
Starting out on the difficult 502-yard par-4 10th hole Thursday, Woods went right off the tee for his first drive of the day. With fairways at a premium this week he was forced to lay-up from 201 yards out. A third shot over the green led to an eventual double bogey to open Woods’ quest for a record-tying 82nd PGA victory.

After four straight pars, the four-time PGA Championship winner bounced back with a birdie at the par-4 15th. A dialed in approach left Woods with a 15-footer which he rolled home with precision. Unfortunately, that was the last of the good news over his opening nine.

There was nothing positive coming out of the par-3 17th. Woods’ opening tee shot found the greenside bunker before he again flew it over the green with his second. While he was finally on the green with his third shot, he still had over 37 feet to go. Two strokes later the 43-year old carded another double bogey and a drop to 3-over par.

A routine par stopped the front nine bleeding for the time being. Woods took his opening round turn with a 38 and still plenty of work ahead of him.
From good to great to worse
In a tale of two nines, Woods came out of the gate at the turn on a mission. At the 430-yard par-4 1st hole he fired a 295-yard drive again down the right side into the rough. This time he was able to get out and send home a 14-foot putt for birdie to work his way back to 2-over.

Seemingly working out the kinks over the first half of the round Woods went back to back with another birdie at the short par-4 2nd hole. A picture perfect approach left Woods with just a little over three feet left with his third shot. From there

If back to back birdies wasn’t enough to ignite the crowd Tiger certainly lit the fuse at the 517-yard par-5 4th hole. With a 298-yard drive, Woods launched a 220-yard approach to 31 feet. From there he settled in over his putt for three, sent it reading the left break and straight into the heart of the cup as the crowded roared Tiger back to life with an eagle to soar to 1-under par.

The crowd quickly quieted after bogeys at five, seven and eight brought the roller-coaster round all the way back to 2-over par. As he turned in his scorecard, playing partner Brooks Koepka finished 7-under for the early commanding lead giving Woods and the rest of the field a lot of ground to make up Friday.

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Last Word on Golf Roundtable: PGA Championship Predictions

This week’s roundtable of predictions by Last Word on Golf’s talented group of writers tackles the 2019 PGA Championship. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf team make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your PGA Championship picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Paul Casey (50 to 1)

The last Major memory golf fans have of Paul Casey is a missed cut at The Masters. Despite that, in 13 starts this season Casey has not only made the cut in 10 events but in each of those has finished no worse than a tie for 25th. Half of his made cuts were all top-10 performances including his latest start at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago with a tie for 4th. The Englishman currently sits 17th in Driving Accuracy and could finesse his way around the treacherous Black Course.

Brenden Martin (@brendenmartin28)- Henrik Stenson (70 to 1)

Bethpage Black is a narrow course. You have to be accurate, especially off the tee. Stenson is ranked 7th on Tour in driving accuracy and has been in the mix in previous majors.

Brandon Eisenman (@BrandonEisenman)- Rory McIlroy (12 to 1)

McIlroy needs to have solid drives off the tee and hit as many fairways as possible to have a chance to contend. The former PGA winner may have a tough time at Bethpage this week, but look for him to be in contention as the weekend nears.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Patrick Reed

With such a strong field this week this was the toughest prediction to have much confidence behind. While it’s true the last time the PGA Tour played Bethpage Black, Patrick Reed found victory but the 2018 Masters champion has had a tough 2019. He has yet to break through to a top-10 finish this year and has missed the cut twice in his last six starts. Additionally, Reed currently sits 169th in Driving Accuracy, 132nd in Greens in Regulation Percentage, and 126th in Total Putting; all stats you want with you, not against you at the PGA Championship.

Martin- Jordan Spieth

Spieth has been inconsistent with his play for the last few years and has struggled in key moments since he was a Major champion. He’s a great person, but he needs to regain his confidence and his game.

Eisenman- Jason Day

Day has played great golf all year long so far. However, Bethpage is one of the toughest courses in the country and he may have trouble making par on many holes. With his performance last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Day comes into this week looking to contend. But, he will miss the cut and fall in the rankings.
2019 PGA Championship Runner-Up
Walton- Tommy Fleetwood

There’s a gut feeling inside that says a European is going to make a run this week. The adverse weather conditions and thick rough set up perfectly for someone like Fleetwood to take advantage. Last week the Southport native made a strong run at the Betfred British Masters finishing tied for 8th. The 28-year old has made the cut in his last seven PGA Tour Major appearances and could take home his first Major victory this week in Farmingdale.

Martin- Tiger Woods

What Masters hangover? This is one of the greatest players in history and he has returned to glory. Watch him make a run on Sunday in his legendary red shirt.

Eisenman- Brooks Koepka

Koepka won the PGA Championship in 2018 with four solid rounds of play. Bethpage Black is a tough course to play on, but Brooks knows what it takes to contend for another major victory. Being paired with Tiger Woods this week should give Koepka a challenge as he seeks another win on the TOUR this season.
2019 PGA Championship Winner
Walton- Dustin Johnson

The 2016 U.S. Open champion is due for another Major victory so why not this year at the PGA Championship. Thus far this season Johnson has teed it up in 11 events featuring 11 made cuts, seven top-10’s and a victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship. The top-ranked golfer in the world nearly pulled off a comeback victory at the Masters but had to settle for a tie for second. Look for DJ to take advantage of his length off the tee and his continued Strokes Gained success to come home with the coveted Wanamaker Trophy this year.

Martin- Brooks Koepka

Koepka, of course, has a history of winning this tournament and has played well going into it. It will be close and not an easy course to play, but Koepka should be playing with a ton of confidence this week.

Eisenman- Tiger Woods

Woods comes into the PGA Championship searching for another major win. The 2019 Masters winner reclaimed his title of being one of the best golfers in the world with the win at Augusta in April. Tiger leads the PGA in reaching the green in regulation at 72%. Solid drives and nice shots on the green could land Woods his next major win.

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Spieth looks to complete the Grand Slam at PGA Championship

At just 25-years old three-time Major winner Jordan Spieth enters Bethpage Black with his eyes on one of the richest prizes in the world of golf. Winning the PGA Championship is a coveted title in its own right. But a victory this week in Farmingdale will earn Spieth the distinction of being a Grand Slam winner.

Just five other competitors have completed the modern day Grand Slam of golf. Gene Sarazen was the first to complete the feat in 1935. Since then Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods have each joined the club. Nicklaus and Woods, the two most decorated Major champions, have each cycled through the Grand Slam on three occasions.

In his 7th PGA Championship appearance, Spieth will look to make it an even six. Following his first PGA Tour victory, the Texas native soared up the World Golf Rankings with 10 Tour victories between 2015 and 2017. In just over that two-year stretch he added all three of his Major victories including The Masters, U.S. Open and his last victory at the 2017 Open Championship.

After claiming the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale with a commanding three-stroke victory Spieth’s recent run has less than lived up to expectations. Despite two top-10 finishes in his last six Major starts, the 2015 Player of the Year missed the cut last year at the U.S. Open and has finished tied for 28th and tied for 12th in his last two PGA Championship attempts.

The last time the PGA Tour teed off from Bethpage Black Spieth did see some success. Sharing a tie for 10th with close friend Justin Thomas, who withdrew from play Monday, Spieth finished at 5-under par and four shots off the lead. With the switch to May, Bethpage will offer a much different look than Spieth saw in 2016.

At 45-to-1 Spieth is a considerable underdog heading into Thursday’s opening round. But if he can keep it in the fairway and navigate the treacherous Black Course with poise and precision, he will put himself right back into a familiar place down the stretch Sunday.

With Spieth’s putting getting back on track this season, currently 5th in Putting Average at 1.703, the Grand Slam still seems not a matter of if but rather when for the University of Texas Alumni.

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Justin Thomas withdraws from PGA Championship

The fifth-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings Justin Thomas has officially withdrawn from the 2019 PGA Championship. The 2017 PGA Championship winner has cited an ongoing wrist injury as the reason for missing the 101st playing of the coveted Major tournament. Thomas took to Twitter Monday afternoon to inform the golf world of his decision personally.

“Unfortunately I will be withdrawing from the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black this week as my wrist is not yet fully healed. Obviously, as a past champion, this tournament is extra special to me. It consistently has the strongest field in golf and I’m disappointed to not be among those competing this year but I’m optimistic about a return in the near future.”

Entering Bethpage Black, the 26-year old was a 12-to-1 favorite heading into the week. Thomas has been battling the injury on and off since early 2018. He has been visibly sporting tape and bracings over the past year in an effort to combat the continuing situation. Prior to last year’s FedEx Cup Thomas was open about tendonitis of the wrist continually flaring up.

The last time the PGA Tour teed it up at Farmingdale, New York’s infamous Black Course was the 2016 Barclays FedEx Cup Playoff event. That year Thomas finished tied for 10th place and just four shots behind the eventual winner Patrick Reed. Thus far this season the Crimson Tide alumni sits top-10 in a number of PGA Tour statistics including leading the tour in Birdie Average, Par-5 Scoring and Scoring Average.

After a tie for 12th place last month at The Masters Thomas will look to rest up with both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship on the horizon within the next two months. With the withdrawal, Texas native Kelly Kraft will make his third PGA Championship appearance.

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Wells Fargo Championship Predictions

Wells Fargo Championship Predictions
The Wells Fargo Championship gets started on Thursday at Quail Hollow. The tournament looms two weeks before the prestigious PGA Championship. 2018 Wells Fargo winner Jason Day is a strong favorite to repeat, but will he take home the trophy once again or someone from the field?

Can Jason Day Repeat?
Jason Day has played strong rounds of golf in 2019, and repeating at the Wells Fargo Championship would set up Day for a strong run at the upcoming PGA Championship. Quail Hollow has been one of the Australian’s best courses in the game of golf. The 2015 PGA Championship winner knows what it will take to win this tournament. However, the field in this tournament can bring forth a strong outing as well.
A few favorites to win the Wells Fargo are familiar faces within the PGA. Jason Day is the clear favorite given that he won it one year ago. Tony Finau has been playing great golf and should put forth a strong showing at Quail Hollow throughout the week. Rory McIlroy played solid a few weeks ago at The Masters and is looking for redemption after not getting a green jacket.

Tony Finau’s Chances
Finau has what it takes to outlast the field and win the Wells Fargo Championship. Given his performance at The Masters in early April, Finau has proved himself in tournaments this year. A win for Finau would be strong and could push him into the favorites for the PGA Championship. The Utah native has been a close favorite in a lot of tournaments this year. A great outing here would set up Finau with a great shot at the upcoming PGA Championship.

Rory McIlroy’s Chance for Redemption
After finishing strong at the 2019 Masters, Rory knows he can compete to win this week. His drives off the tee may need to be more solid this time around. If he can get the drives off the tee to make the fairway the majority of the time, that will set him up to make numerous birdies and some putts as well. McIlroy is one of the faces of the PGA, and a strong finish this week would be stellar for the game. Even if he doesn’t come out victorious, at least making the cut would go a long way with three of this year’s four majors all coming within nearly two months time.

2019 Wells Fargo Championship Winner Prediction
Simply stated, Jason Day will repeat as the Wells Fargo Championship winner. The key difference this week will be Day’s ability to hit fairways off the tee. Currently sitting 4th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting, he will have to continue his steady putting game throughout the Wells Fargo. Many around the game of golf believe that Day can repeat as the winner, but it is going to take a lot. This tournament is one of the Australian’s best every year. The field is outstanding, and he knows he has to be on his best game in order to retain at Quail Hollow.

Which Golfer Will Miss the Cut?
The player that will miss the cut this weekend will be Phil Mickelson. Mickelson is likely looking ahead to the PGA Championship, and that will affect his game. Like Tiger Woods, Mickelson’s focus is on his play a whole, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, if he centers his focus to the task at hand he could find himself right back in the running to compete for a trophy this week.
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Top Five Quotes from Today’s Top Five Most Inspirational Athletes

Sports all over the world continue to defy the accusation of frivolity and absurdity. What their critics fail to recognize is their ability to bring people together, and encourage young people to push their limits—be they physical, gender-based, racially-based, or simply psychological. Lottoland recently published a list of their top 10 most inspirational athletes in history, showcasing the struggles and boundaries encountered by the likes of Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Jackie Robinson, and more of the like. While these athletes all notoriously pushed barriers and left legacies of success, in an ever-evolving world, who are we to look to in a more inclusive, albeit not completely unprejudiced, sports landscape today?
Quotes from Today’s Most Inspiring Athletes
Serena Williams

I don’t like to lose — at anything… Yet I’ve grown most not from victories, but setbacks. If winning is God’s reward, then losing is how he teaches us.

Want to hear about overcoming adversity, look to Serena Williams. Through every climb, no matter the outcome, Williams has played tennis professionally for nearly 25 years, and she’s still out there winning titles. Many of her efforts have occurred both alongside and against her sister, Venus Williams, whom she infamously defeated in the 2017 Australian Open to take the trophy while eight weeks pregnant. Now, she’s a new mom, and back in the top ten. She’s also an activist, using her campaign with Nike to women to “dream crazier,” and supporting movements and organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Goodwill, and UNICEF.
J.J. Watt

Success isn’t owned – it’s leased. And rent is due every day. Every single day, someone’s coming for your job. Someone’s coming for your greatness. If you’re the greatest, someone wants to be the greatest, and so if you’re not constantly improving your game, somebody else is.

The Houston Texans defensive end is more than just the greatest player at his position, J.J. Watt is also a champion of philanthropy. Known for his efforts benefiting the victims of Hurricane Harvey which have raised over $37 million, he also is dedicated to using sports as a medium through which to educate and assist children and at-risk youth. In 2017, he was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
Tiger Woods

“You have to look at the past in order to learn from it and move on.”

And that’s just what Tiger Woods did this spring, when he won his 15th major – his first in over ten years – at the 2019 Masters Tournament. Woods may have a troubled past, after scandal broke up his marriage in 2010 and he was arrested for a DUI in 2017. Still, Woods has proven himself a success, leading one of the most impressive comeback stories ever. One of the greatest lessons that can be learned from Woods is that the past can be learned from in multiple ways, and Woods has not only learned from his personal transgressions, but from the young boy he once was, back when all he wanted was to be the best. Now, once again, he is.
LeBron James

“All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough. They will say you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. They will tell you no. A thousand times no. until all the no’s become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no. Quite firmly and very quickly. And you will tell them yes.”

While his success with the Los Angeles Lakers organization remains to be seen, LeBon James’ three championship wins prove that not only is he “enough,” but even more. His efforts on the court are only rivaled in importance by his work outside the stadium. Known for his support of non-profit organizations, James has acted on his passion for education, donating millions of dollars to museums and children’s funds, and opening a public elementary school through his foundation in Akron to help keep struggling students stay in the education system.
Simone Biles

You don’t have to be serious all the time to do a good job.

Simone Biles is the only woman ever to win three all-around world championships in a row in gymnastics. She followed those titles up with four gold medals, as well as one bronze, at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, marking one of the best showings of all time. Biles has also faced significant challenges in her career; most notably as a victim of sexual abuser Larry Nassar, the American women’s gymnastics physician. Overcoming her abuse has not been easy for Biles, but in 2018, she and her fellow survivors were awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and Biles still continues to compete as one of the leading gymnasts of the generation. And no matter how difficult a journey it has been, Biles doesn’t forget what brought her to sports in the first place—the fun.

Roger Federer

“I fear no one, but respect everyone.”

Lindsey Vonn

“It’s sexy and beautiful to be strong.”

Usian Bolt

“Dreams are free. Goals have a cost. While you can daydream for free, goals don’t come without a price. Time, Effort, Sacrifice, and Sweat. How will you pay for your goals?”

Peyton Manning

“The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.”

Tom Brady

“You wanna know which ring is my favorite? The next one.”

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2019 RBC Heritage Viewing Guide

Just days removed from one of the most inspired Masters Sunday finishes in recent memories the PGA Tour is back in business at the RBC Heritage. The always loved, yet still challenging, Harbour Town Golf Links welcomes some of golf’s hungriest competitors to the post-Augusta party. Boasting the smallest greens on tour, fairways and iron play will be at a premium this week in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Coming off one of the most difficult tournaments of the year didn’t stop eight of the top 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings from teeing it up this week. Included in this week’s field is the newly reclaimed World number one Dustin Johnson. The South Carolina native comes fresh off the heels of a tie for second at Augusta and looks to capitalize on his recent momentum.

With so much happening in Hilton Head this week Last Word on Golf has your guide to the course, featured opening round groups and how to watch and listen to all the action at the 2019 RBC Heritage.
The Course
While many are still buzzing about the coveted Masters green jacket, for the 132 competitors at Harbour Town Golf Links this week it’s all about the red tartan plaid sports coat befitting of the RBC Heritage winner. With the help of Jack Nicklaus, the course was designed in 1967 by the famous Pete Dye. This year-round public course has played host to various iterations of the Heritage Tournament since 1969.

In its 50th anniversary as a PGA Tour event, the RBC Heritage remains a scoreable tournament meant to test the nerves of even the most seasoned competitors. The 7,099 yard par-71 course plays shorter than the tour average of 7,200. Despite its length, Harbour Town makes up its’ difficulty in their greens but still holds a tournament course record of 20-under par set in 2009 by Brian Gay.

The grounds as a whole are comprised of multiple types of Bermuda grass from tee to green. With just 3,700 square feet of greens to work with Harbour Town truly hosts the smallest greens on the PGA Tour. Leading the field in strokes gained statistics, specifically proximity-to-hole and approach-the-green, will be a significant key to success this week.

Another important stat category to consider this week in Hilton Head will be greens in regulation. The difficult landing surfaces will make just getting on the greens a crucial commodity. 2014 winner Matt Kuchar currently leads not just the field but the entire PGA in greens in regulation percentage at 75.76%. Kuchar will go into the week with a valuable course history but as Satoshi Kodaira proved last year anyone can claim victory at Harbour Town.
Featured Groups
Three of the top-15 in FedEx Cup rankings will tee it up together over the first two days of play at the 2019 RBC Heritage. World number one Dustin Johnson will be joined by a fellow runner-up last week at the Masters in 25-year old rising superstar Xander Schauffele. This talented threesome will be rounded out by the 2019 WGC Match Play champion, and 2015 Heritage runner-up, Kevin Kisner. They will tee it up Thursday at 12:50 p.m. Eastern and Friday at 8:10 a.m. Eastern.

Before slipping late on Sunday, Francesco Molinari was just a few holes away from taking home his first green jacket. One man who knows something about winning at Augusta, despite his recent struggles, is 2015 Masters winner and three-time major champion Jordan Spieth. Both will be joined by fellow major winner, and 2013 Heritage runner-up, Webb Simpson. This trio of major champions get started opposite the previously mentioned featured group at 8:10 a.m. Thursday and 12:50 p.m. Friday.

In 2014 Bryson DeChambeau made his pro debut at Harbour Town and finished in a tie for fourth. Last year DeChambeau shot one his career low rounds before finishing in a tie for third place. This year he will be paired with former RBC Heritage winners Matt Kuchar (2014) and Satoshi Kodaira (2018) at 12:40 p.m. Thursday and 8:00 a.m. Friday.

With other talented threesomes including Tommy Fleetwood and former Heritage winners Graeme McDowell (2013) and Brandt Snedeker (2011) there’s a number of marquee match-ups to work through over the opening rounds. Don’t forget to check the official tee times to see when the top competitors tee it up Thursday and Friday.
Viewing and Listening Schedule
The 2019 RBC Heritage begins Thursday, April 18, and is scheduled to conclude Sunday, April 21. Coverage throughout the week can be found on PGA Tour Live as well as both radio and television broadcasts. Below are the dates, times and locations for your listening and viewing needs (all times Eastern Standard time and are subject to change).

Thursday April 18 – Round 1
PGA Tour Live 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PGA Tour Radio 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sirius 208/XM 92)
Golf Channel 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday April 19 – Round 2
PGA Tour Live 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PGA Tour Radio 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sirius 208/XM 92)
Golf Channel 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday April 20 – Round 3
PGA Tour Live 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PGA Tour Radio 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sirius 208/XM 92)
Golf Channel 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
CBS 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday April 21 – Final Round
PGA Tour Live 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PGA Tour Radio 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sirius 208/XM 92)
Golf Channel 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
CBS 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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Sophomores Finau and Schauffele shine at 2019 Masters

The elation of Tiger Woods winning his fifth green jacket at the 2019 Masters has begun to subside. Well maybe not, and maybe it never will, but the roars have at least died down considerably since this past Sunday. However, the 15-time major winning veteran wasn’t the only player to showcase his talents at Augusta National this year.

While Woods was busy racking up the final round highlights six players were trying to make the most of just their second year playing at one of the most iconic courses in all of golf. Each of the Masters sophomores surprisingly made the cut in a place where experience is greatly favored. The only to finish over par was 2018 RBC Heritage winner Satoshi Kodaira (+6).

Haotong Li (-1)  and the talk of the tour the last two weeks, Canada’s Corey Conners (E) each managed a respectable top-50 finish. One year removed from missing the cut at his first attempt at a green jacket Patton Kizzire (-6) cracked the top-20 in a tie for 18th. But above the others stood two second-year, rising contenders.
Finau finds a rhythm at Augusta
In his maiden Masters voyage in 2018, Tony Finau had a memorable rookie outing for more ways than one. Every golf fan, die-hard or casual, remembers the images of the then 28-year old making a hole in one at the Wednesday Par-3 Contest. Then celebrating, dislocating his ankle, and popping it back into place by himself.

Remarkably, Finau shot 6-under par on his final round alone for the third lowest score of the day and a share of 10th place. Throughout his 2018 campaign on the PGA Tour he climbed to sixth in FedEx Cup rankings, finished top-10 in three of the four majors (including solo fifth at the U.S. Open) and made the most of his first of what is sure to be many more Ryder Cup appearances.

It seemed a logical prediction that with a year of momentum behind him, and two good ankles, Finau would be a force to be reckoned with around Augusta in 2019. Over his opening two rounds the Salt Lake City native stayed stead with below par rounds of 71 (-1) and 70 (-2). It wasn’t until Saturday when then Tongan-Samoan sensation truly broke out with an 8-under third round of 64.

Following his near record-breaking Saturday, Finau found himself in the final pairing Sunday with none other than Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari. Scoring was difficult to come by early on in their closing 18 holes. Making only one birdie before dumping his tee shot into the water on the par-3 12th, the closing six holes were a completely different story.

The 14th ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings closed with three birdies including back to back at 15 and 16. Finau’s ability to finish and bounce back after difficult holes helped propel him into a four-way finish for fifth place. Two years, two top-10 finishes and continued improvement each put Finau into the early discussion for a future green jacket sooner rather than later.
Schauffele starts slow but surges Sunday
In 2017 a San Diego State University standout by the name of Xander Schauffele won twice in his first year on the PGA Tour. Perhaps still the biggest win of his career to date came in September 2017 when he bested Justin Thomas by one stroke in the finale of the FedEx Cup playoffs at the Tour Championship. While Thomas still captured the FedEx Cup Championship it came as no surprise when Schauffele was announced as the 2017 PGA Rookie of the Year.

The 2018 Masters wasn’t a breakout first trip to Augusta by any means but Xander was still able to make the cut and finish tied for 50th. Compared to his rookie season 2018 was slow by Schauffele standards. However, in the 2018-2019 wraparound season, the reigning ninth-ranked golfer in the World has already secured two victories. His first of which came at the HSBC Champions event in a playoff with none other than fellow Masters sophomore standout Tony Finau.

The 2019 trek to Augusta National started rocky for the already four-time Tour winner. Schauffele turned in a first round 1-over par 73 but bounced back quickly on Friday shooting the low round of the day with a 7-under 65. A steady 2-under 70 on Saturday put him right back in the mix just five shots off the lead heading into Sunday’s final round.

Despite being 1-over through seven holes, a birdie at the par-5 8th began a surge of five birdies before finishing 12-under par for the tournament where the 25-year old, in just his second Masters, took a share of the clubhouse lead. As everyone knows that lead was ultimately overtaken by Tiger Woods but would still leave Schauffele finished in a three-way tie for second with major champions Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka (not a bad way to improve after an 8-over finish at his first Masters).

With both men still improving and bettering their game each and every tournament, both Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele still have plenty of Masters, and majors, moments ahead of them. Finau will be taking a brief break this week while Schauffele will tee it right back up at the RBC Heritage from Harbour Town Golf Links.

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Tiger Woods: A Redemption Story

Tiger Woods’ Redemption
Tiger Woods did what many thought would never be done. Not only did he win again after years of injuries and making no progress on his fragile back, but he won at Augusta National Golf Club claiming his fifth green jacket, his 15th major championship, and his 81st PGA tournament. Simply incredible.

But the road to another green jacket didn’t come easily. Over the 11-year drought between the 2019 Masters and the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and the 14-year drought between Masters, Woods went from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel on multiple occasions. For over a decade, Woods’ life wasn’t littered with major championships and a further ascent in the world of golf. Instead, it was defined by injuries, scandals, and at times, total disconnect from the game he dominated for years.
The Road from the 2008 U.S. Open to the 2019 Masters
The Downfall
June 16, 2008: Tiger Woods battles Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff at Torrey Pines. It took 19 holes on a serious leg injury for Woods to claim his 14th major championship. It would be his last for 11 years.

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June 18, 2008: Shortly following his win at Torrey Pines, Woods announces he will miss the remainder of the PGA tour season due to ACL surgery on his left knee.

November 27, 2009: Woods crashes his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant close to his Florida mansion. He was injured in the crash and spent less than a day in a Florida hospital. The crash unleashes the scandal involving his wife and the number of extramarital relationships Woods had.

December 2009 – March 2010: Woods spends time away from golf to work on trying to save his marriage after multiple women stepped forward speaking about affairs they’d had with Woods. His wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, files for divorce amidst Woods’ sex scandal and there is some speculation Woods’ crash was a result of him being beaten up by his wife. Multiple endorsements part way with Woods’ including Gilette and Gatorade.

April 2010: Woods makes his return to golf at the 2010 Masters where he finishes in a tie for fourth.

2011: Woods’ 2011 is plagued by an injury suffered during the 2011 Masters. He missed the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship due to a Grade 1 MCL sprain and Achilles strain. He then withdrew from the Players Championship and didn’t play again until the 2011 WGC Bridgestone. During the injury, Woods parted ways with caddie Stevie Williams and fell out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in 15 years.
On the Rise
December 4, 2011: Woods wins the Chevron World Challenge to get his first professional win since November of 2009.

March-July 2012: Woods wins another PGA Tour event, this time the Arnold Palmer Invitational and goes on to win the Memorial Tournament and the AT&T National.

2013: Woods returns to the top of the game regaining the OWGR No. 1 spot in March. In 2013, Woods won five times on tour including the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP, and the WGC Bridgestone.

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Tiger Woods’ Injury-Plagued Years
March 2014: Woods announced he will undergo a microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve in his back. He would return later in the year but withdraw from the WGC Bridgestone and miss the cut at the 2014 PGA Championship.

August and December 2015: After missing the cut at the last three majors of the year, Woods’ undergoes yet another microdiscectomy in August with hopes of returning in the early part of 2016. Woods undergoes a third back surgery in December

2016: Woods misses the entire 2016 season recovering and dealing with his back.

Spring 2017: In April, Woods undergoes spinal fusion surgery in hopes of fixing his back after three previous surgeries were ultimately unsuccessful. In May, Woods is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Jupiter, Florida. Woods sited an unexpected reaction to prescription drugs as the cause of the incident.

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The Return to the PGA Tour
December 2017: After a long wait of over 300 days, Woods returns to the golf course at the Hero World Challenge where he finishes in a tie for ninth.

March 2018: Woods gets a taste of success on the PGA Tour again finishing in the top five in back-to-back weeks at the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Summer 2018: Woods returns to form in major championships. He led at one point on the back nine at the Open Championship, finishing sixth and finished in solo second at the PGA Championship.
A Winner Again
September 23, 2018: Woods wins his 80th PGA Tour event at the Tour Championship at East Lake. The win was his first since he claimed the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational. The win moved him to 13th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

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April 14, 2019: Tiger Woods, with a final round 70, wins the 2019 Masters. It is his fifth Masters, 15th major championship, and 81st PGA Tour victory

As you can see, the long 11-year journey from Torrey Pines to Augusta National was not easy and challenged Woods both on and off the course. Many thought the former world No. 1 would never win a tournament again, much less a major. But Woods has once again returned to the top of the golf world.

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