Golf: Bones Mackay is trading in his caddie bib for a TV microphone starting next week. Before attention turns overseas, though, a presidential shadow is cast over the U.S. Women’s Open.
By Jeff Shain, PSN managing editor
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- Bones Mackay has his new gig, and it requires a microphone instead of a bag. Phil Mickelson’s longtime caddie is joining NBC and Golf Channel as an on-course reporter, starting with next week’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. The move comes after Mackay passed something of an on-air tryout last fall, working the RSM Classic at Sea Island. Mackay brings more than 500 tournaments of caddie insight, including 41 of Mickelson’s 42 PGA Tour victories.
- Expect a sideshow at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, with the U.S. Golf Association in the crosshairs for choosing not to relocate the championship away from Trump National in New Jersey. A USA Today report says then-candidate Donald Trump threatened last year to sue the USGA if it moved the event away from his club. President Trump is likely to make an appearance on the weekend, with an FAA notice filed that air flight may be restricted in areas near the course.
- Thai amateur Atthaya Thitikul – age 14 – entered the record book as the youngest to win on a major professional circuit when she captured the Ladies European Tour’s visit to her homeland. Thitikul is ranked just 182nd among female amateurs, but collected 13 birdies over four rounds to hold off Mexico’s Ana Menendez down the homestretch.
- The USGA issued a rare public statement backing Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron in the latest flap over their broomstick putters, asserting last week its officials have “seen no evidence of a player breaching the (anchoring) Rule.” The PGA Tour Champions quickly followed with its own statement of support. Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee has been at the forefront among anchoring accusers, along with instructor Hank Haney.
- Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has entered the prestigious Western Amateur, his second foray into golf competition since leaving the NFL for the broadcast booth. Romo, who carries a plus-0.3 handicap, also tried U.S. Open qualifying in May but did not advance to sectionals. The Western Amateur begins July 31 near Chicago.
PGA TOUR: John Deere Classic
Site: TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Ill.
- Defending champion: Ryan Moore separated himself on the final day for his fifth PGA Tour PGA Tour victory, playing bogey-free over his final 46 holes to finish off a two-stroke win over Ben Martin. The performance began a run of four top-10 finishes in six starts for Moore, three coming in the FedExCup playoffs.
- Last week: Xander Schauffele parlayed a birdie/par/birdie finish into his first PGA Tour win in capturing the Greenbrier Classic, capping it off with a pitching wedge to just over 3 feet at the par-3 18th hole. Schauffele carded a 3-under-par 67 on Sunday, overtaking Sebastian Munoz from three back.
- Tour talk: Zach Johnson, a Cedar Rapids native and JDC board member, owns six top-three finishes in his past eight visits. Last year’s second-day 71 ended a run of 29 consecutive rounds in the 60s. … The final Open Championship berth next week awaits the highest top-5 finisher not already qualified. A total of 18 entrants this week already have punched their tickets for Royal Birkdale.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. ET, Saturday-Sunday 1-2:30 p.m.) and CBS (Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).
- Etc.: First Look from PGATour.com; John Deere Classic primer from Pro Golf Weekly.
EUROPEAN TOUR: Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open
Site: Dundonald Links, Troon, Scotland
- Defending champion: Alex Noren birdied twice in his final seven holes to pull away at Castle Stuart, finishing one stroke clear of Tyrrell Hatton. Noren took a two-shot lead into the final day, only for Danny Lee to pull even by the turn. Birdies at Nos. 12 and 15 pushed Noren back to the front, with Hatton unable to catch him.
- Last week: Jon Rahm holed out from the fairway for one eagle, drained a long putt for another and blitzed the Irish Open field for a six-stroke romp and his second victory worldwide. Perhaps the only blemish in Rahm’s closing 65 came when he skirted a penalty for mis-replacing his ball on the sixth green.
- Tour talk: Rory McIlroy, still frustrated after his early Irish Open exit, and Open Championship titleholder Henrik Stenson head a field that includes Noren, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott. … Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed and Jason Dufner also are part of the U.S. contingent. … It’s the first week of a twin bill for Dundonald Links, which hosts the LPGA’s best next week for the Ladies’ Scottish Open.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 5:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.).
LPGA TOUR: U.S. Women’s Open
Site: Trump National GC, Bedminster, N.J.
- Defending champion: Brittany Lang won a controversial playoff finish at CordeValle, the beneficiary of a delayed penalty given to Anna Nordqvist after TV replays showed the Swede had brushed sand on her backswing in a fairway bunker. The players went to the last of the three-hole playoff thinking they were tied, until informed by USGA officials of the penalty midway through the hole. The timing came after Nordqvist had played three shots, though, while Lang had a chance to change her strategy.
- Last week: Australia’s Katherine Kirk won the inaugural Thornberry Creek Classic, outlasting Ashleigh Buhai down the stretch to end a seven-year LPGA victory drought. Kirk took a four-shot lead into the final day, but was tied with seven holes to play before rolling home three birdies down the stretch.
- Tour talk: World No.1 So Yeon Ryu, the 2011 Open champion, seeks a second major this year to go with her fortunate victory at the ANA Inspiration, where she won a playoff after Lexi Thompson was given a four-shot penalty. … No.2 Ariya Jutanugarn arrives nursing a shoulder injury that prompted her to withdraw at Thornberry Creek. … Each of the past 10 Opens have been captured either by Korean (6) or U.S. (4) pros. Annika Sorenstam was the last to win from outside those nations.
- TV: FOX Sports 1 (Thursday-Friday, 2-7 p.m.) and FOX (Saturday-Sunday, 2-7 p.m.).
- Etc.: U.S. Women’s Open primer from Pro Golf Weekly.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Senior Players Championship
Site: Caves Valley GC, Owings Mills, Md.
- Defending champion: Bernhard Langer not only became the first man to win three Senior Players crowns, his victory at blustery Philadelphia Cricket Club was his third straight. The Hall of Famer began the final day with a three-shot lead, but needed a 12-foot birdie at the end to avoid a playoff with Joe Durant and Miguel Angel Jimenez. Langer’s winning total of 1-over-par 281 was the highest in event history.
- Last week: No tournament.
- Tour talk: A four-peat by Langer would move within one of the all-time Champions record in the same event. Hale Irwin won five straight editions of the Turtle Bay Championship in Hawaii. … Vijay Singh, second to Langer at the Senior PGA Championship, is among five other Hall of Famers in the field. … Brandt Jobe has three top-10 finishes in his past four starts, including a win in Iowa. He also was third at the U.S. Senior Open and eighth at the Senior PGA.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 1:30-4 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).
- Etc.: Senior Players Championship primer from Pro Golf Weekly.
WEB.COM TOUR: Utah Championship
Site: Oakridge CC, Farmington, Utah
- 2016 champion: Nicholas Lindheim scored his first Web.com Tour victory, pulling away after the turn on the way to a two-shot win at Thanksgiving Point GC. After Ollie Schniederjans drew even through eight holes, Lindheim birdied three of his next four to establish the cushion he needed.
- Last week: Chesson Hadley booked a return engagement on the PGA Tour, holding off Beau Hossler’s charge to win the LECOM Health Challenge at a tournament-record 23-under-par 265. Victory was his first since Puerto Rico in 2014, but he slumped badly to finish 159th on last year’s point’s list.
- Tour talk: Hossler’s runner-up finish was his second in his past three starts, cracking the top 25 in earnings for a PGA Tour promotion next season. … After two years at Thanksgiving Point, the event now calls Oakridge CC its fourth home in 26 editions. Willow Creek CC in Sandy had the longest run at 16 years. … The Utah Championship’s 26 years is the fifth-longest tenure on Web.com Tour.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 7-9 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 6-9 p.m.).