Podcast: Jan. 17, 1995, Day 1 of Golf Channel with the people who lived it

Golf Channel turns 25 years old this Friday. What was it like on Jan. 17, 1995, when Arnold Palmer flipped the ceremonial switch and Golf Channel first went on air?

Hear stories from the people who were there from the start, in this Golf Central Podcast: Day 1, the Making of Golf Channel. And click here as Brandel Chamblee and Jaime Diaz reveal Golf Channel’s 25 most impactful moments of the last 25 years.

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Ancer regrets Tiger comments being ‘twisted’ by media

It may be a new year, but Abraham Ancer is still facing questions about what he considered an innocent remark he made months ago.

It was at the Mayakoba Golf Classic that Ancer was asked by reporters who he might like to face in singles’ play when he made his Presidents Cup debut at Royal Melbourne.

“I would like to play against Tiger (Woods),” Ancer said. “But the truth is that our objective is to do everything we can to win. Winning a match in the singles would be very special, so we need to try to get the cup.”

Ancer got his wish last month in Australia, having gone 3-0-1 through the first four sessions as the International team built up a lead. But Woods was well aware of Ancer’s quip, placed himself against the Mexican in Sunday’s opening match and took the point, 3 and 2, to spark an American comeback victory.

“Abe wanted it, and he got it,” Woods said.

Abraham Ancer said at last month’s Mayakoba Golf Classic that he wished to play against Tiger Woods at the Presidents Cup. He got his wish, but it didn’t go the way he had hoped.

Teeing it up this week for the first time since the Presidents Cup, Ancer explained to reporters at the Sony Open that his initial comment that made the rounds was given in Spanish and that some of his intent was lost in translation when the comments were transcribed.

“I was like, well, out of the 12 guys who I would like to play on a big stage in a big event like that … obviously I would like to play my hero growing up, Tiger Woods. (It would) be an incredible experience,” Ancer said. “And so I didn’t only learn from the golf course and from golf. I learned a lot about media and how it can get twisted. Yeah, definitely got twisted and just the context of how I said things. And maybe Tiger didn’t know the way I said it.”

Ancer won the 2018 Australian Open but remains in search of his first career PGA Tour win, a drought he hopes to end this week in Honolulu coming off a season in which he made his first trip to the Tour Championship. Despite the loss to Woods and the American comeback, he took plenty of positive memories from his Presidents Cup debut Down Under.

“Playing on a big stage like that was a lot of fun,” Ancer said. “It was a week that I will never ever forget. The feeling of playing in front of the Aussie crowd and really the people from all over the world made the trip, it was really special.”

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Podcast: Brandel and Jaime reveal Golf Channel’s 25 most impactful moments

Golf Channel celebrates its 25th anniversary on Jan. 17. In honor of the occasion, Brandel Chamblee and Jaime Diaz dedicate their podcast to revealing Golf Channel’s 25 most impactful moments over the last 25 years.

Was it easy to come up with just 25 moments? No.

Did Brandel and Jaime agree on the final list? Absolutely not.

Check out the podcast below for both the top-25 countdown and the lively debate and click here to listen to the Golf Central Podcast that details Day 1 at Golf Channel, with the people who lived it.

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Smith wins first PGA Tour title in Sony Open playoff over Steele

HONOLULU – Cameron Smith of Australia won his first PGA Tour title on his own Sunday when he least expected it.

Two shots behind with two holes to play, Smith made an 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force a playoff against a faltering Brendan Steele, and won the rain-soaked Sony Open with a two-putt par from 10 feet on the first extra hole.

Steele had a three-shot lead when he holed a bunker shot for birdie on the 11th hole and he never trailed the entire day until it fell apart at the end. He missed a 6-foot par putt on the 17th, and then hit a wild hook from the fairway on the par-5 18th and never had a reasonable look at birdie.

On the 10th hole for the playoff, Steele was in ideal position in the fairway, 88 yards from the hole, when he hit wedge over the green. He chipped off the mud and wet grass to 15 feet and missed the par putt. Smith, who had driven into right rough, chased his shot to 10 feet.

It was only easy at the end for Smith, a two-time Australian PGA champion who shared the team title with Jonas Blixt in the Zurich Classic three years ago.

”Just had to hang in there. No one was playing good golf today, it seemed like,” Smith said after a 68. ”Just hung in there, and what do you know?”

The victory assures Smith a spot in the Masters. He also is assured a return to Hawaii next year for the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

”That’s been one I’ve wanted to tick off for a long time, to finally say I’ve won an event by myself,” Smith said. ”It’s quite good.”

Steele was trying to win for the first time in just over two years. This was hard to take.

”Everything that could go wrong went wrong today,” Steele said. He closed with a 71.

They finished at 11-under 269, the highest winning score at the Sony Open in 15 years. The wind finally died to normal strength instead of 30 mph gusts. But the rain was steady, and the course was soaked.


Smith battles back to topple Steele in Sony Open playoff

Smith battles back to topple Steele in Sony Open playoff

Sony Open in Hawaii: Full-field scores | Full coverage


A final round that was wet, gray and full came to life in the final hour, which is about how long it took to play the last two holes because the maintenance crew kept having to squeegee the 18th green.

Steele brought possibilities into play when he missed the green to the left on the par-3 17th, pitched to 6 feet and missed his par putt, reducing his lead to a single shot.

Ryan Palmer and Webb Simpson were in the group ahead, both one shot behind. From a fairway bunker, Palmer went with fairway metal and sent it soaring so far to the right that it bounced off the metal railing atop a monster video board, beyond the corporate tent and vanished, presumably in a backyard. He had to return to the bunker and made bogey.

Simpson’s wedge skipped off the soaked green and settled 15 feet behind the hole. He narrowly missed the birdie putt, shot 67 and finished alone in third.

Steele, who had to wait 15 minutes to tee off, had to wait another 15 minutes to hit his second shot from the fairway. He went just as far offline as Palmer, just the opposite direction. It bounced off the roof of the tents left of the green and stopped near the ropes lining the 10th fairway. Given free relief from the grandstands, he hit wedge from the muck to 30 feet and two-putt for par.

”The lie was good,” Steele said. ”It was just a 2-iron to win a golf tournament. It’s hard.”

Smith holed his 8-footer for birdie for the second playoff in two weeks.

With his bogey on the 18th, Palmer had to settle for a 68 and tied for fourth with Graeme McDowell, who had a 64 to match the low score Sunday, and Kevin Kisner, who played in the final group but made only one birdie on the back for a 69.

Lanto Griffin extended his steady play. The Houston Open champion, who opened with a 71 and was in danger of missing the cut, closed with a 64 to tie for seventh. In his 10 starts this season he has finished in the top 20 eight times.

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Davis, Steele share 36-hole lead at Sony Open

Halfway through the Sony Open, Brendan Steele and Cameron Davis have handled the winds best at Waialae Country Club and share the lead. Here’s what you need to know:

LEADERBOARD

T-1. Brendan Steele (-6)

T-1. Cameron Davis (-6)

T-3. Cameron Smith (-5)

T-3. Keegan Bradley (-5)

T-3. Russell Knox (-5)

T-3. Ryan Palmer (-5)

T-3. Sam Ryder (-5)

T-3. Collin Morikawa (-5)

T-3. Bo Hoag (-5)

T-3. Rob Oppenheim (-5)

T-3. Rory Sabbatini (-5)

Click here for full leaderboard.

WHAT IT MEANS

A day after 22-year-old phenom Collin Morikawa grabbed the solo lead, tied atop the leaderboard are two players ranked outside the top 300 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Davis (310) and Steele (403), who are at two different stages in their career.

Davis, a 24-year-old Australian, is coming off a rookie season on Tour in which he needed to retain his card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Steele, a three-time Tour winner and 12 years older than Davis, was inside the top 50 in the world just two years ago.

With marquee names such as Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed missing the cut, the weekend will feature less star power, leaving the stage for the veteran types like Steele, Bradley and Knox, and unproven types like Davis, Hoag and Oppenheim.

HOW IT HAPPENED

After brilliant ball-striking led to a bogey-free round Thursday, Morikawa carded three bogeys in his second round. Two late birdies, at Nos. 17 and 18, got him to even par on the day, but at 5 under, Morikawa is no longer in the lead.

Instead, Steele totaled six birdies and an eagle, closing his round with five birdies and a double bogey in his final six holes, to rise to the top of the leaderboard. Davis had a less up-and-down round, making five birdies, including two in his last two holes.

SHOT OF THE DAY

Sabbatini joined the 5-under group thanks to an incredible second shot into the 18th green. From 232 yards, Sabbatini hit it to 21 inches to set up the tap-in eagle.

BEST OF THE REST

There weren’t a ton of low scores again Friday, but four players tied for third – Smith, Knox, Oppenheim and Hoag – managed to shoot the round of the day, 5-under 65. That foursome combined to make just three bogeys while Oppenheim went bogey-free.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

A week ago, Thomas and Reed were battling in a playoff at Kapalua. On Friday, they were packing their bags as each finished at 3 over. Thomas’ second-round 71 included two double bogeys while Reed shot 5-over 40 on the front nine before shooting 74.

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South African teenager a shot off lead at home European Tour event

A teenage amateur is looking to crash the pros’ party this weekend at the European Tour’s South African Open.

Jayden Trey Schaper, an 18-year-old from Benoni, South Africa, is just one shot off the lead after 36 holes at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg.

Schaper caught fire on the back nine, making five birdies in a six-hole stretch beginning at No. 11, and finished with a second-round, 4-under 67 to move to 10 under on the leaderboard, where he is only behind leader Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland.

The last amateur winner of the South African Open was Denis Hutchinson in 1959.

“We’re all here to try and win, but my goal is just to go out and take things one shot at a time and see what happens,” Schaper told reporters on Thursday.


Full-field scores from the South African Open


Schaper is ranked 85th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and last month played in his second Junior Presidents Cup. He also won the AJGA Junior Players and South African Stroke Play Amateur last year.

“Jayden’s got this wonderful ball flight off the tee with a little cut,” said Louis Oosthuizen, Schaper’s golf idol who played with the teenager during the first two rounds. “A lot of the guys hit high draws for more distance, but what Jayden has is pure class. We’ll be seeing him right at the top in the future.”

Oosthuizen is two shots behind Schaper in a tie for 11th, part of a group that also includes fellow South Africans Branden Grace and George Coeztee.

Recent UNLV grad and GB&I Walker Cupper Harry Hall is in a four-way tie for seventh at 9 under while Schaper is joined by four other players at 10 under, including former Florida standout Sam Horsfield, who fired a bogey-free 68 on Friday.

Pulkkanen has made just one bogey through 36 holes.

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Morikawa’s 3-putt from 4 feet costs him more than $100K

Lost in the craziness of Sunday night’s wild finish at the Sony Open was a most disappointing end to an otherwise-solid week for Collin Morikawa.

Morikawa, who won his first PGA Tour title as a non-member last summer at the Barracuda Championship, was 1 over for the day but appeared headed for a final round of even-par 70 as he stared down a short putt for birdie at the par-5 18th.

Instead, he three-putted from 4 feet, racing the first putt by the hole and lipping out the comebacker for bogey and a round of 2-over 72.

Just how expensive were those short misses?


Sony Open in Hawaii: Full-field scores | Full coverage


A birdie, a 7-under finish and a four-way tie for ninth would have netted $173,250.

A par, a 6-under finish and a 10-way tie for 12th would have still paid out $112,530.

As for Morikawa, his bogey, 5-under finish and seven-way tie for 21st amounted to $64,350.

That all said, the 22-year-old has already earned more than $2.3 million in 15 starts as a professional and is arguably the most promising prospect on Tour. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

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Ricochet off television tower costs Palmer, who regrets nothing

While Brendan Steele was granted free relief from the grandstands of the 72nd hole at the Sony Open on Sunday, Ryan Palmer wasn’t so lucky in his encounter with a temporary immovable obstruction.

Playing in the second-to-last group and trailing by just one, Palmer pulled 3-wood from the fairway bunker at the par-5 18th. His ball then sailed to the right and ricocheted off the top of a very large, very tall television screen, never to be seen again.

After his three minutes of search time elapsed, Palmer took a long cart ride back to the fairway bunker, from where he advanced his fourth shot to short of the green. Although he nearly holed his pitch shot for par, he was left to settle for a bogey, a round of 68 and a tie for fourth at 9 under par.

Asked if he knew that he was just one back at the time or if he would have done anything differently, Palmer answered: “Yeah, no, I knew I was one back. It’s a shot I hit every time. There is no doubt about it.”

He even doubled down on Twitter after the round:

Apparently, the only thing Palmer does regret is his misjudging of the carom: “I told [rules official Slugger White] driving up, I was trying to hit the left side of the cylinders holding up the scoreboard, not the right side.”

Oddly enough, it was Palmer’s flare to the right that prompted Steele, watching in the group behind, to violently miss to the left after a 15-minute wait in the fairway.

“I was watching Ryan and trying to figure out what he was doing,” Steele explained after his playoff loss to Cameron Smith. “I was trying to figure out where he could have possibly hit it, and then I was thinking, ‘Oh, he’s hit it out of bounds right.’

“I was like, well, we don’t want to do that. So that wasn’t positive at all.”

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