Watching Golf this Week: Many Ways to Watch the U.S. Open

Why is this post a little late in delivery? Because I’ve been spending the morning watching the U.S. Open live, on a window that’s open just to the left of the one I’m typing on. I could go over to the couch and watch ESPN’s live coverage, which starts at 9 a.m. Pacific time today and Friday. But I like the online focus, which today is following the Tiger-Phil-Bubba group from start to finish.

Unlike the Masters online coverage — where you had choices of different groups or different holes — the US Open online video is one group at one time. But there are so many ways to get U.S. Open coverage, from the ESPN overload on Thursday and Friday — which is sandwiched around a couple hours of NBC coverage Thursday and Friday — that you won’t go lacking.

Since this is the first U.S. Open we’ve been able to cover live, it’s been an incredible learning experience to see a course like Olympic up close and personal. Check out our previous links for info that will help you with your viewing. We’re also big fans of the U.S. Open site itself, since it has a plethora of info (live scoring, archived video interviews, and a new feature called “Playtracker” which shows a live view of the groups on the course, with stats for each player in each group. (This would be cooler if it had a live view of where the players were on each hole, like a visual Shot Tracker. Maybe next year?)

So far, we haven’t seen many glitches with the live online video — like the Masters coverage there are intermittent stops and stalls but we’ve found that when that happens, it’s easy to just close the old window and re-open a new one. Since I had to stay home this morning for work and family reasons I wasn’t able to use my press pass to watch the golf up close and personal — but I bet I have a better seat than most press folks there, because the blanket coverage of the marquee group has been phenomenal, and I can sip coffee and sit in my comfy office chair while watching. Enjoy the great weekend of San Francisco golf!

Here’s where to follow the action:

2012 U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

(all times Eastern)

OFFICIAL U.S. OPEN COVERAGE SCHEDULE

TV COVERAGE
Thursday, June 14 — ESPN, 12 p.m. — 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. — 7 p.m. NBC, 3 p.m. — 5 p.m.
Friday, June 15 — ESPN, 12 p.m. — 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. — 7 p.m. NBC, 3 p.m. — 5 p.m.
Saturday, June 16 — NBC, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 17 — NBC, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m.

RADIO
Radio this week is via the U.S. Open app, or the U.S. Open website.
1 p.m. — 7 p.m., Thursday-Sunday

ONLINE
See above. Live online at USOpen.com, Thursday and Friday, following a “marquee group” in the morning and afternoon. Morning tee times around 7:30 a.m., afternoon tee times around 1

PGA SHOT TRACKER
No shot tracker this week — hard to believe, but true.

FACEBOOK PAGE
The USGA is doing a great job with its Facebook page. Like.

TOP TWITTER FEEDS TO FOLLOW
US Open — The official Twitter feed for the championship is active and great, with lots of links, live info. Add it to your feed now.
Geoff Shackelford — well known golf writer — go back in his timeline this week for some great videos showing the holes on the Olympic course. Maybe the top golf Twitterer out there, especially when it comes to analysis/insight.
Golf Channel — official Golf Channel feed
@PGATOUR — official PGA Twitter feed
@StephanieWei — great golf writer who is a Twitter fiend. Works hard and long every day, and also has great insider views, via Instagrams.

WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
If you haven’t had your fill of Olympic info, you’ve been on another planet. So far the overall view we like best was the Sunday special in the San Francisco Chronicle, where beat writer Ron Kroichick interviewed Ken Venturi for a hole-by-hole breakdown of the course. The official Open website also has an extensive hole by hole page with flyby views, etc. etc.

WHO WON THIS THING LAST YEAR?
Rory McIlroy, the boy wonder.

LOCAL FLAVOR
The columnists and writers at the San Franciso Chronicle do golf right.

FEDEX CUP LEADERS
1. Jason Dufner, 1,735 points
2. Hunter Mahan, 1,477 points
3. Tiger Woods, 1,404
4. Zach Johnson, 1,386
5. Bubba Watson, 1,372

See the full standings for the FedEx Cup points list.

WORLD GOLF RANKINGS
1. Luke Donald; 2. Rory McIlroy; 3. Lee Westwood; 4. Tiger Woods; 5. Bubba Watson.
See the official World Golf Ranking list.

Tiger Doesn’t Like Fans With Cell Phones, Either

Tiger Woods offered an unsolicited opinion on fans with cellular phones, telling ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi that if the Tiger-Phil-Bubba pairing was done in a regular tour event — where fans are allowed to have cell phones this year — “it would have been brutal.”

Rinaldi, who we think interviewed Tiger after his mass press conference Tuesday (we saw Rinaldi waiting for Tiger outside the press tent, and Tiger is in the blue sweater/blue shirt he wore to that press conferece), asks Tiger about the marquee pairing of himself, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, a trio certain to attract the balance of the gallery at the Olympic Club during Thursday and Friday rounds.

If you watch the video (which is under the USGA auspice, and not ESPN even though ESPN’s Rinaldi is doing the interview) Tiger says the pairing should be “fun, a lot of fun,” and then adds the caveat which is a non-subtle dig at the PGA’s cell-phone friendly policy.

“It’s something I don’t think we all would enjoy that much in a regular tour event, with the new camera policy,” Woods said. “It would have been brutal. But here they’re not allowed in, so this will be a fun pairing.”

After overzealous cell-phone fans bothered Mickelson at the recent Memorial tour stop, the issue has come to the forefront — with even the USGA saying they are looking at allowing cell phones on course during tournament days, though not this week. Perhaps the PGA and the USGA need to look overseas to the British Open, where there is a clear, smart and civil list of guidelines that should probably eliminate 99 percent of problems.

For us colonists, it might help to have really big signs near tee boxes and greens, saying “turn your damn phone off” or something to help people remember. And in the meantime, the pros who are playing a game for millions of dollars of other peoples’ money should remember that it is the fans, and the sponsors who want to reach golf fans, who line their pockets — so maybe the golfers, who text like madmen on the course when they are practicing, can cut normal folks some slack.

Get Ready for the PGA Cell Phone Backlash — After the Mickelson Memorial Incident

You don’t have to be a website called Mobile Sports Report to see this storm brewing: The reported bad cell-phone behavior that might have led to Phil Mickelson’s withdrawl from the Memorial Thursday is almost certain to cause a cell phone backlash from the PGA Tour.

Though phones didn’t used to be allowed at tour events — and special tourneys like the U.S. Open (run by the USGA) are pretty damn clear that you can’t even think of bringing a phone or a camera phone on the shuttle bus, much less at the course — many other tour stops are now allowing or even encouraging folks to bring their mobile devices. Check out what went on at the recent HP Byron Nelson tourney down in Texas, where some savvy social media folks turned the knobs up to 11, based on a lot of on-course fan-phone interaction.

Great for marketing. But is it good for the game? It’s clear the “talent” doesn’t think so. And they’re not going to stay quiet about it.

Phil himself is probably too nice and too media-savvy to come right out and say bad things about fans — patrons — whatever you call folks at a golf tournament — but new Masters champion Bubba Watson has no such restraining bolt, and told anyone who was listening that people taking pictures with cell phones was the main reason why Phil got Phed up (and shot his way to a 79).

I’m going to quote the entire report by AP’s Rusty Miller (which we found on the PGA’s site) because it highlights the big, bad point: Apparently a LOT of people were using their cell-phone cameras whenever they pleased, golfers backswings be damned:

DUBLIN, Ohio — Everyone has seen a golfer swivel and angrily stare at a news photographer who accidentally clicked a shutter during a swing.

Now imagine what it’s like when there are 10,000 or even 40,000 people on a golf course, all with cell phones that take pictures.

With a huge gallery following the marquee matchup of Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson in Thursday’s first round of the Memorial, the continual distraction of fans with cell phones may have played a role in Mickelson’s withdrawal from the tournament.

“It took Phil out of his game,” Watson said of the continual clicks and snaps of cell phone-camera shutters. “Phil’s a great player and a great champion and it just took him out of his game. It’s sad. It’s sad that cell phones can make or break a championship.”

Mickelson said the reason he was going home in the wake of a frustrating round of 7-over 79 was because he was tired after a recent trip to Italy and France to celebrate wife Amy’s 40th birthday.

“There were a few phones out there,” Fowler said with a laugh. “There were a few times when we had to back off and reset. You could see Phil was a little fatigued and was having trouble blocking it out a bit.”

Mickelson made the turn at 1 over before struggling. Fowler shot a 71 and Watson, who won the Masters last month, had a 75.

Watson blamed a PGA Tour rule which permits fans to have cell phones on the course — if they are on vibrate and are only used in specified areas.

“Yeah, it was bad. But it’s been pretty bad ever since they made that rule,” Watson said. “When they make these marquee pairings, more people are going to follow them and more people want to take pictures. So it makes it very difficult. Ever since they made that rule that cell phones are allowed, it’s just not fun playing.”

Whoa. On one level you might be tempted to say, get a grip, Bubba. You (and Phil) are playing a game for millions of dollars of someone else’s money… and a cell phone noise is making your life miserable? I mean — baseball players have to hit a ball that is coming at them at 100 mph, not one that is lying still on the grass. And they don’t mind the noise. So… why should golfers have or expect complete silence, when they are playing in a very public arena?

Originally this was my argument on this matter — I think if you try to ban phones again you may end up with nobody at golf tournaments other than the Masters… and maybe the U.S. Open. But I think you also have to recognize tradition and what golf is all about. There’s a certain tranquility that most every golfer expects and loves when they are playing themselves. You don’t have to be Bubba to be pissed off at someone talking on a cell phone on a golf course. So in that sense Bubba is more like the rest of us than some pampered star. So I am admittedly confused now over whether I think the players have grown Colin Montgomerie ears, or whether your average fan is a self-important jerk like the people I see texting while they are driving on the freeway. Maybe, some of both.

Our favorite golf blogger/Tweeter Stephanie Wei was following up on this with cascaded Tweets and a good recap post — basically saying that for some reason there were just a lot of jerks on the phones Thursday. She also believed (like several other golf writers) that Mickelson’s withdrawl was done to make a point — that cell phones shouldn’t be allowed near the field of play. Phil is getting some roasting for his move — basically golf purists here, saying that you don’t WD because you are mad and playing poorly — but Wei makes a great point by saying that even at fan fiesta tourneys like the Waste Management in Phoenix the fans are smarter in how they use their phones. Anyone from Ohio who wants to weigh in here, feel free.

What I expect is that by sometime on Friday we will hear from the PGA loud and clear about how anyone seen using a cell phone in other than “designated areas” is going to be ushered off the grounds. And I’m not sure how I feel about that, other than that this is pretty obviously a clash of the magnitude of the topic as to why we started this site: Technology, especially mobile technology, is crashing into sports in ways nobody really imagined. How does it get solved? That’s the story for tomorrow, the day after, and the day after. Stay tuned on this bat channel, because we’ll be covering it. Maybe via our phones or tablets.

(Some of Stephanie’s Tweets embedded below)

Watching Golf this Week: The Memorial, or ‘We’re All Back at Jack’s House’

Just when Zach Johnson threatened to kill off his own victory with a last-hole brain fart — and drag the golf season into perhaps fatal tedium with people talking nonstop about rules — golf fans are saved by the arrival of the Memorial this week, a sort of mini-major that will have all the big names back in play, including Tiger, Rory, and even Bubba the baby dad! Plus Dustin Johnson back from fighting off back injuries and drug rumors, and the rest… Rickie… Dufner… it’s the 6th major, the Memorial!

The course, of course, is Jack’s own spread, otherwise known as Muirfield Village in Dublin, O-HI-O. We’ve never been there but if the best golfer ever built a tournament-tailored spread from the dirt up you know it’s gonna be good. And it is. And so will be the golf, some of which you will be able to watch online, since the Tour’s Live@ online video is back this week. Plus there is bonus weekend early coverage on the Golf Channel, so if you’ve been longing to watch something other than Jason Dufner and his dip, this is the weekend to get back on the couch or in front of your mobile device of choice.

Here’s where to follow the action:

THE MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT PRESENTED BY NATIONWIDE INSURANCE

(all times Eastern)
TV COVERAGE
Thursday, May 31 — Golf Channel, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Friday, June 1 — Golf Channel, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Saturday, June 2 — Golf Channel, 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.; CBS, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Sunday, June 3 — Golf Channel, 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.; CBS, 2:30 p.m. — 6 p.m.

RADIO
SIRIUS XM (Satellite)
12 p.m. — 6 p.m., Thursday-Sunday

ONLINE
Live@ Returns! You can watch the Memorial live on your computer, or handheld device (download the PGA app) from 11 a.m. Eastern to 6 p.m. each day. If your Android app is fuzzy on video, won’t you comment below?

PGA SHOT TRACKER
If all you want is shots and distances (which can be addicting) get your fix via Shot Tracker for the Memorial.

FACEBOOK PAGE
The Memorial’s is right here.

TOP TWITTER FEEDS TO FOLLOW
Memorial Golf — the tourney’s own Twitter feed. So far these things have been… underwhelming. Let’s see if Memorial can tweet like a champ.
Geoff Shackelford — well known golf writer.
Golf Channel — official Golf Channel feed
@PGATOUR — official PGA Twitter feed
@StephanieWei — great golf writer who is a Twitter fiend (and she is back from a brief couple weeks off the tour. Already sharing Instagrams from Muirfield!)

WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
Muirfield Village Golf Club — designed by Jack for tournament play. Here’s the tourney site course page, which looks plain but has a lot of interactivity if you click around, video flybys and multiple hole vantage points. The Nicklaus design company page has some stunning photos as well.

WHO WON THIS THING LAST YEAR?
Steve Stricker. Remember him? And yes… Tiger has won this thing four times.

LOCAL FLAVOR
The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch has things pretty well nailed down with a big Memorial Xtra website. Interactive course map, video, features, it’s all here. Hurray for newspapers.

FEDEX CUP LEADERS
1. Jason Dufner, 1,735 points
2. Hunter Mahan, 1,427 points
3. Zach Johnson, 1,386
4. Bubba Watson, 1,372
5. Phil Mickelson, 1,307

See the full standings for the FedEx Cup points list.

WORLD GOLF RANKINGS
1. Luke Donald; 2. Rory McIlroy; 3. Lee Westwood; 4. Bubba Watson; 5. Matt Kuchar.
See the official World Golf Ranking list.

Watching Golf This Week: Bubba’s Back in NOLA

Has the feel-good aura of winning the green jacket already worn off? Or was Bubba Watson always something of a crank, and now we’re just noticing because everyone is paying attention? The simmering story this week on the PGA Tour is that Bubba Watson is back playing in a somewhat minor event, which is surprising because tour stops like the Zurich Classic of New Orleans are the types the big dogs usually skip. And now Bubba is a big dog, courtesy of his Masters win. But Bubba is a man who is loyal, and he won here last year so he considers it his obligation to show up.

The only problem is, he’s letting everyone know that. And if you read between the lines from his testy press conference earlier in the week you get the feeling that the feel-good everyman Bubba may not stay that way for long. Cue the prima donna music! Let’s see how cheery the new dad is if he starts hitting them into the swamp. And if Bubba fails us, maybe John Daly can provide some excitement. Anyway — no online golf AGAIN this week, so you are stuck with broadcast TV, radio or shot tracker. (At least there’s the bonus Golf Channel coverage on the weekend) But you probably won’t care until Saturday anyway since you will be watching the NFL Draft.

But if you want golf…
Here’s where to follow the action:

ZURICH CLASSIC OF NEW ORLEANS

(all times Eastern)
TV COVERAGE
Thursday, April 26 — Golf Channel, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Friday, April 27 — Golf Channel, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 28 — Golf Channel, 1 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Sunday, April 29 — Golf Channel, 1 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.

RADIO
SIRIUS XM (Satellite)
12 p.m. — 6 p.m., Thursday-Sunday

ONLINE
The PGA’s Live@ broadcasts don’t return until the Players in early May. So you will have to get by online with…

PGA SHOT TRACKER
Get your online fix via Shot Tracker for the ZCoNO.

TOP TWITTER FEEDS TO FOLLOW

Geoff Shackelford — well known golf writer.
Golf Channel — official Golf Channel feed
@PGATOUR — official PGA Twitter feed
@StephanieWei — great golf writer who is a Twitter fiend

LOCAL FLAVOR
Is there any place in the U.S. more flavorful than New Orleans? Wish we were there this weekend — not only is there golf, there’s the New Orleans Jazz Festival. For golf, Doug Tatum at the New Orleans Times-Picayune is the guy to follow

WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
Not much flavor or history to the TPC Louisiana. Looks swampy.

WHO WON THIS THING LAST YEAR?
Bubba. (Has he become a one-word player yet? Like Tiger or Phil?)

FEDEX CUP LEADERS
1. Hunter Mahan, 1,378 points
2. Bubba Watson, 1322
3. Phil Mickelson, 1,136
4. Carl Pettersson, 1,111
5. Johnson Wagner, 1,056

See the full standings for the FedEx Cup points list.

WORLD GOLF RANKINGS
1. Rory McIlroy; 2. Luke Donald; 3. Lee Westwood; 4. Bubba Watson; 5. Hunter Mahan.
See the official World Golf Ranking list.

Watching Golf This Week: Plaid Ain’t Bad at the RBC Heritage

Had your fill of all things Bubba? From pink drivers to soiled diapers to being on Letterman? Ready to watch golf again? Get ready to get bad in plaid because one week after the best jacket gets awarded the tour goes to the beaches and the Rodney Dangerfield memorial winner’s jacket — aka the big bad plaid that goes to the winner of the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

If you think lighthouse finish, you know this tour stop. For years it seemed like Davis Love III’s personal victory ATM (he’s won it five times) but now it’s known simply as the tournament after the Masters, and it usually has an above-average field. That’s largely because the players are treated like kings and what’s not to like about the Sea Pines Resort and its famed Harbour Town Golf Links course? Yeah. We’d go, too.

Here’s where to follow the action:

RBC HERITAGE

(all times Eastern)
TV COVERAGE
Thursday, April 12 — Golf Channel, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Friday, April 13 — Golf Channel, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 14 — Golf Channel, 1 p.m — 2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Sunday, April 15 — Golf Channel, 1 p.m — 2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.

RADIO
SIRIUS XM (Satellite)
12 p.m. — 6 p.m., Thursday-Sunday

ONLINE
What a letdown after gorging on Masters online coverage; there is NO live video online of the RBC. In fact the PGA’s Live@ broadcasts don’t return until the Players in early May. So you will have to get by online with…

PGA SHOT TRACKER
Get your online fix via Shot Tracker at the RBC Heritage.

TOP TWITTER FEEDS TO FOLLOW

Geoff Shackelford — well known golf writer.
Golf Channel — official Golf Channel feed
@PGATOUR — official PGA Twitter feed
@StephanieWei — great golf writer who is a Twitter fiend

LOCAL FLAVOR
Who are we to dim the plaid? Check out Willie’s World because while the tartan jacket may seem so old school it creaks, the tournament is all over Facebook and Twitter. The local paper, the Island Packet, has a special Heritage section but beware the popup ads.

WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
Gotta love the lighthouse finish.

WHO WON THIS THING LAST YEAR?
Brandt Snedeker, over Luke Donald in a playoff.

FEDEX CUP LEADERS
1. Hunter Mahan, 1,378 points
2. Bubba Watson, 1322
3. Phil Mickelson, 1,136
4. Johnson Wagner, 1,056
5. Rory McIlroy, 1,045

See the full standings for the FedEx Cup points list.

WORLD GOLF RANKINGS
1. Luke Donald; 2. Rory McIlroy; 3. Lee Westwood; 4. Bubba Watson; 5. Hunter Mahan.
See the official World Golf Ranking list.