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Almost without exception the old seaside rabbitty turf has disappeared and been replaced by grasses entirely unsuitable for golf. The turf near the clubhouse is usually worse than that farther away as on most seaside links there still remain a few rabbits on the outskirts of the course.  ALISTER MACKENZIE


    

Tuesday
Jul222014

First Olympic Rankings Are Out! Vijay's In, Phil's Out

I'm not sure if it'll ignite Olympic fever, but Nick Zaccari has the lowdown on the new rankings that will keep us up to date on the 2016 Olympic fields.

Will Gray analyzes and posts the men's list here.

And the women's list here.

Monday
Jul212014

Open Championship On ESPN Down 28%

Pete Dougherty reports a 2.6 overnight for the final round with Rory McIlroy holding off Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia.

The rating is a 28% drop from last year's Mickelson win at Muirfield and ESPN's lowest since airing the Open exclusively beginning in 2010.

Monday
Jul212014

Phil Not Counting On The Pick That He'll Inevitably Get

Doug Ferguson on Lefty's thoughts about his chances for being picked, if necessary, for the Ryder Cup.

From Phil:

"I don't know if I played well enough this year to deserve a spot," he said. "You want players that are hot, that are playing well. And I need to step and start doing that."

Unlike Tiger, where the level of play actually puts some doubt into whether he'll get picked, Mickelson's struggles are minor in comparison.

Monday
Jul212014

Open Wrap: Attendance Down, Prices Up, R&A Investing

As expected, attendance at Hoylake was down, but "the R&A said a heatwave could have contributed to the low attendance, although ticket prices of £75 were also blamed."

I'm going to take option two because if that was a heatwave...

Ewan Murray reports:

A total of 202,917 fans watched Rory McIlroy’s triumph during the week, down on record figures of 228,976 when Tiger Woods won eight years earlier.

Numbers were down on practice days and each day of competition, although perhaps surprisingly the biggest single drop occurred on Friday, with 43,183 spectators at Hoylake, down 7,343 from 2006.

While I wouldn't ever endorse that price to watch golf...in today's dollar about $4,502 I believe. But it's hard to imagine the crowds getting any larger without the viewing experience severely impacted. Royal Liverpool only has viewing dunes on a few holes, otherwise you're relying on grandstand seats that filled up quickly.

A word about the R&A set up and infrastructure: I saw many major improvements in the presentation of the grounds and fan experience. They are certainly investing some profits to give the fans their money's worth at that high price, from the stellar WiFi/app effort to (finally) a modern day merchandise tent with other touches like storage for purchases and UPS worldwide shipping, The Open certainly feels like a special event when you walk the grounds.

Hoylake works very well as a venue from an infrastructure and fan access point of view, especially with the ability to take the train to the course and be dropped off just ten minutes from the action. Liverpool is a modern, beautiful city with a vibrancy that is exuded in the kindness of the people there. What a joy to return to such a fun city after a day at The Open.

Royal Liverpool's architecture ultimately left many a little underwhelmed compared to other rota links. Maybe it's the in-course OB or perhaps the excessive narrowness to stifle modern distances, but as the scoring showed, the R&A must do everything outside of rolling back the ball to give them a test here. However, you can't argue with the course's ability to once again produce a worthy champion.

Monday
Jul212014

Brandel: Tiger Era Over, "Coup d'etat By Self Immolation"

Nice spot by Emily Kay seeing and transcribing some of Brandel Chamblee's latest strong comments about Tiger in conversation with Trip Isenhour.

"There was a beginning of his career, a middle of his career; this is the end of his career, no question about it," Chamblee said on Saturday after Woods carded a 1-over 73 in the third round of the Open Championship and a day after he eked out a 77 to make the weekend cut on the number. "And if you want to qualify ‘era’ as dominance, then the Tiger era is over, and we’ll never see it again."

Jay Yarrow transcribed the coup d'etat line and analyzed the remarks so some of us wouldn't have to.

"I’d say this was a coup d’etat by self-immolation," said Chamblee on TV. "We’re talking about a guy who has willfully dismantled a golf swing that made him the best player in the world. Saying ‘I want to get better’ is one thing. But most people say that because, well, they’re not good enough, and they’re not the best. Well, he was the best, and he willfully dismantled the golf swing that made him the best player in the world."

The clip:

Monday
Jul212014

And Now, About Rickie's Impressive Year...

Maybe he was tired, maybe he was humbled, maybe he just felt the need to talk softly, but listening to Rickie Fowler after his four rounds in the 60s at Hoylake, including a closing 67, he sounded like a man humbled by the Open Championship loss to Rory McIlroy.

But it's that humility which should bode well for his continued improvement that has him on the cusp of something grand. I summed up his week in this Loop item, including his leading the field in birdies.

Ian O'Connor had this to say about Fowler:

He shot 5-under 67 playing in the final pairing of the final round of the Open Championship, 4 strokes better than McIlroy's number, and was left to console himself with the knowledge that he'd virtually locked up a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Fowler also earned a piece of history he'd probably rather give back: Ernie Els (twice) and Jesper Parnevik are the only other players to score in the 60s in all four rounds of the Open Championship and fail to win.

Monday
Jul212014

More Rory Reads: Mom, Dad, Autograph Hounds, Nadia

Ewan Murray of the Guardian on Rory dedicating his win to his mother, in attendance for the first time at one of his major victories.

Murray writes:

Rory McIlroy dedicated his Open Championship victory to his mother, Rosie, after claiming the Claret Jug by two shots at Hoylake. The Northern Irishman, who has now won three major titles, was embraced by his mother after holing the winning putt. At 17 under par McIlroy saw off the challenge of Sergio García and Rickie Fowler, who tied second, with a final round of 71.

“This is the first major I have won when my mum has been here,” McIlroy said. “So mum; this one is for you. It was just great to see her on the back of the 18th there and how much it meant to her. I was trying not to cry at the time because she was bawling her eyes out.

“The Open is the one we all want and the one we strive for. To be holding the Claret Jug is an incredible feeling.”

Brian Keogh on mum's presence and the Masters as the next conquest.

Now the little boy who used to wake his mother up by banging her on the head with a plastic club wants to go on and complete the set by winning the Masters next April.

Gerry Mairs on dad Gerry collecting his share of the Rory-wins-Open-bet from years ago.

James Riach on Rory giving the crowds what they wanted at Hoylake.

The ebullient cacophony that met him was befitting of an imperious performance that began on Thursday and never dipped, even if McIlroy still had a bunker to negotiate. Once he had escaped the trap the finish was a formality, three putts for the title in an amphitheatre of a final green surrounded by raucous grandstands.

It is unusual that the R&A sets up the denouement in such a fashion, but the end result was a tremendous crescendo as McIlroy tapped in for an historic victory. His is a win that was welcomed by the masses, even if his two adversaries on the day, Sergio García and Rickie Fowler, would both have been popular and worthy victors.

James Corrigan on Rory already setting his sights on Augusta.

Yet while the Australian will be in his sights in the next month, McIlroy has history as the longer-term goal.

“To sit here at 25 years of age and be three-quarters of the way to a career grand slam is something I never dreamt of at this point of my career,” McIlroy said. “I definitely hope I can complete it. I’ve really got my passion again for golf – it’s what I think about when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night.

The Telegraph's Alasdair Reid on Rory achieving a high level of skill.

McIlroy’s irons have always been crisp, but he lost some of his touch last year when he went through an equipment change. It is back with a vengeance now, and he is also a far less streaky putter than he used to be. The two eagles he produced over the closing three holes on Saturday were perfect demonstrations of the range of his powers, as mighty drives were followed by superb second shots and firm and assured putts.

Mark Tallentire of the Guardian on Rory inducing a fear factor over the rest of the field when he's hitting on all cylinders.

The Northern Irishman will be perceived to be harder to beat, and the way he drives the ball, he has the talent to blow fields away. With time on his side, he should get to six majors, and could end up well into double digits. The growing pains have largely been overcome, the dark days of almost missing his tee time at the 2012 Ryder Cup and the misjudged remark after struggling around Royal St George’s in the 2011 Open, when he declared that his game was plenty good enough for most tournaments and that he would not be changing it for one week a year playing links golf, marked down as just unfortunate blips.

His talent has been evident since his early days and the tremendous mindset, think Nicklaus and Woods, has been a factor since he won the Irish Close Championship at the age of 15 and then became the first player to defend it since the legendary Irish amateur Joe Carr in 1965. He went on to win the Silver Medal as the low amateur on his Open debut at Carnoustie in 2007 and Rickie Fowler has pointed out that he was already Great Britain & Ireland’s “go-to guy” in the 2007 Walker Cup team.

The Daily Mail's Mike Dawes on Rory's weird day with the fans on Sunday, including a snubbed fan who wanted an autograph in a massive security breach:

But Poulter took to Twitter to explain the difficult situation that the Northern Irishman found himself in.

He tweeted 'Just to clear up the signature thing. We are asked not to sign autographs until we have officially handed in our scorecards. #RulesAreRules.'

It was not McIlroy's only incident with a fan all day, after earlier growing frustrated with a spectator whose noise interrupted his backswing at the 16th hole on Sunday.

The three-shot leader hit an almost perfect drive down the centre of the fairway - but took exception to one member of the crowd, pointing them out to be ejected with his club.

Speaking out about the incident later, McIlroy said he had been consistently heckled by the offender throughout the day.

The Daily Mail's Arthur Martin claims Rory gave up a day of Open practice to be with his friend, who was in a car accident and who McIlroy has been friends with since last year.

It all coincides with his blossoming friendship with Irish lingerie model Nadia Forde.

After being introduced by mutual friends last year, the pair have remained tight-lipped about  the nature of their relationship. Meanwhile McIlroy’s ex-fiancee, Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, 24, seems to be thriving on being a single woman after winning the Istanbul Cup on Sunday – her first title of the year.

McIlroy and Forde, 25, certainly seem to be getting closer. He missed a practice session before the Open when he learnt that she had been involved in a car crash last weekend.

Less breathless is Robert Lusetich, who works off of Tiger's extensive Rory comments Sunday at Hoylake and wonders what is next.

McIlroy's three majors have been as breathtaking as Boy Wonder's down times in between have been befuddling.

After he won the U.S. Open in 2011 in record fashion, he did not contend at all in the next five majors -- missing the cut at the 2012 U.S. Open -- but then out of the blue won the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, also by eight shot

Ryan Lavner on GMac's post round comments. Hmmm...

Monday
Jul212014

HOYLAKE, England--The 2014 Open Championship Ledes

The craft known as the lede, 2014 Open edition. They came in all shapes and sizes, but they were all about Rory.

Doug Ferguson, AP:

Rory McIlroy had to work a little harder, sweat a little more. No matter. Just like his other two majors, this British Open was never really in doubt.

Ewan Murray, The Guardian:

It was appropriate that Tiger Woods was long gone from the premises by the time Rory McIlroy stepped on to Royal Liverpool’s 1st tee.

A new age of golf, with McIlroy as the star, was endorsed by his claiming of the 143rd Open Championship. A sport that is so in need of heroes and poster boys to compensate for Woods’s fall from grace has one in the form of a barman’s son from Holywood.

James Corrigan, The Telegraph:

So, as predicted, the final round of the 143rd Open was a triumphant procession for Rory McIlroy – yet only for the very last yards of the 72nd hole.

But then, history should not come easily and the Northern Irishman was most definitely made to work for the honour of becoming the first European to win three of the four majors.

Kevin Garside, The Independent:

Rory McIlroy hailed his Open Championship victory as the high point of his career so far and said he wanted to be the next great player to dominate golf.

McIlroy fired a 71 for a 17-under-par total to claim his third major crown at Hoylake by two shots from Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.

Derek Lawrenson, The Daily Mail:

Sweet Caroline was the chant emanating from a few boozed-up spectators when Rory McIlroy reached the first tee on Sunday.

By the time he got to the 18th green, his face a picture of rapture, it was abundantly clear he had composed his own response, for good times never felt so good. So good.

Karl MacGinty, Irish Independent:

THE 'new' Rory McIlroy lifted the Claret Jug at Hoylake and became Ireland's fourth winner of the British Open, golf's oldest and greatest Major, in eight glorious years.

Steve DiMeglio, USA Today:

Rory McIlroy's Sunday procession to anticipated triumph in the oldest major championship in golf became a tad wobbly around the crumpled links at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. But the substantial lead he built with a stunning finish in the third round proved sufficient.

Armed with a six-shot lead courtesy of two eagles in his last three holes on Saturday, McIlroy had enough in reserve and enough nerve to remain steady and hold off Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler & Co. to win the 143rd British Open.

Christopher Clarey, the New York Times:

By the standards of final British Open chapters, this was no major thriller, but it was not the relaxed Sunday stroll around Royal Liverpool that it might have been for Rory McIlroy.

His lead, as imposing as seven strokes in the early stages of the fourth round, was down to two with five holes to play. It was still only two when he knocked his final approach shot of the tournament into an awkward spot in a greenside bunker at the 18th hole.

Barry Svrluga, Washington Post:

It is difficult to ask a 25-year-old in any profession, be he athlete or accountant, to accurately project a career path over the next two decades. There is so much to learn, so many decisions to make, so many directions to travel.

And yet that is what Rory McIlroy left us Sunday after his blitzkrieg here.

John Huggan, GolfDigest.com:

Three down, one to go. In the eight decades that have passed since the evolution of the Masters Tournament, only five men have so far annexed all of golf’s four most important events -- Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. But a sixth is on the horizon. With victory in the 143rd Open Championship at Hoylake, Rory McIlroy needs only a win at Augusta National to join one of the game’s most exclusive clubs.

Any others you spot, please pass along and I'll post. Nice work putting a historic win into perspective by the deadline set.

Sunday
Jul202014

Tom Watson Has More FedExCup Points Than Tiger Woods

Dave Shedloski watched Tiger Woods Sunday at Hoylake and while Woods completed his first full tournament since March, the 6-over 294 aggregate total left Woods needing to play well in his next to events just to make the FedExCup playoffs. The Ryder Cup?

Shedloski writes:

But Watson was clear that Woods is not an "automatic pick." He repeated the assertion that Woods would have to be healthy and playing well. Watson, who closed with a 68, was not aware that Woods was struggling a few groups behind him. "Well that isn't good," Watson said when told that Woods was, at the time, eight shots higher on the day than the 64-year-old Watson.
"He's not in the mix. He needed to get in the mix to get some points, to get some money and get in the FedExCup," Watson said. "That was what I was hoping he was doing this week."

Mark Tallentire has more in The Guardian on Tiger's Ryder Cup prospects, Watson's comments about Mickelson and Woods' assertion that his situation is similar to when Corey Pavin picked him for Celtic Manor.

Watson has to submit his three names in the first week of September and, with the 2013 Open champion Phil Mickelson also struggling in the rankings, the USA captain will face an anxious few weeks either side of the US PGA Championship.

“Everybody is thinking that I’m going to pick them automatically,” he added. “I can assure you that I’m not going to pick them automatically. I said about Tiger that I’ll pick him if he’s playing well and he’s in good health. And Phil is the same way. If he’s playing well, how can you not pick those two?”

After his final round 68, the 64-year-old Watson moved to 210th in FedExCup points while Woods sits at 214th.

Sunday
Jul202014

Rory McIlroy Shatters His Open Championship Glass Ceiling

Confession: I was sure we were not going to see this day.

And tell anyone who says Rory McIlroy won on a soft golf course that while the greens were holding Sunday, this was genuine links golf with enough wind, challenge and quirk to amount to a stunning breakthrough for the Northern Irishman.

While we wait for the Champion Golfer Of The Year's remarks in the media center, your thoughts on this breakthrough win for a player who just a year ago looked completely lost at Muirfield and who now is one Masters win away from the career Grand Slam.

Sunday
Jul202014

Final Day At Hoylake: Live Chat, The Open Comment Thread

Does Rory run away, does he fold, is it dull, holding pattern golf?

Why is he wearing pink-trimmed shoes? Questions and more questions.

The early scoring suggests no shortage of birdies are available to the rain-drenched Hoylake, so sit back and enjoy fast play and lots of red numbers.

The leaderboard is here.

At 9 am ET I'm chatting live at GolfDigest.com, but here's the chat below:

Live Blog British Open Live Final Round Chat
 

Course setup notes below. Note the extra work to get the greens sped up.

Weather (provided on site by the Met Office)

Saturday: Significant risk of thundery activity today, but with occasional lulls, these expected between 0600-1000, then 1400-2000, although risk won’t disappear completely. The situation will be closely monitored and thunderstorm level warnings issued appropriately. Outside of any thundery activity some bright or sunny spells will develop. During spells of thundery activity, there will be some heavy rain and gusty winds, otherwise winds will be light. Max temp 21C but still feeling rather humid.

Fairways and Rough

  • Fairways cut at 11mm
  • First cut (semi) rough (approximate width 2.5 metres) cut at 38mm (daily)
  • Second cut of rough (approximate width 4.5 metres) cut in early June and has been allowed to go to seed

Greens

The greens were double cut last night at 3.5mm and triple cut this morning at 3.5mm to reduce the impact of yesterday's heavy rain on today's pace. The greens were also rolled this morning. The greens are running at 11 feet but the moisture in the greens will result in the growth during the day, so there will be slight reduction in pace during the afternoon.

Approaches

Approaches double cut at 7mm and rolled, and have the same average firmness as the greens.

Additional information

Links Manager - Craig Gilholm. 40 greenstaff for the Championship. Royal Liverpool permanent staff of 11 supplemented by staff from local clubs, other Open venues and R&A greenkeeping scholars

Total Course Yardage for Round One (tee marker settings to flagstick)

7281 yards (as compared to the full yardage of 7312 yards)

Saturday
Jul192014

Rory Roundup: History And Big Money For Dad On The Line

I'm not sensing Rory McIlroy will do anything but dominate tomorrow. It's shocking to think this is the same golfer who was utterly lost playing links golf last year at Muirfield, but the lad has convinced himself to like wind, links and playing the Scottish Open to prepare. With nothing crazy in the forecast (writes Ryan Lavner), some wind peaking at leader tee off time might make things fun, but a runaway seems in the cards.

So television may have to settle for showing lots of dad Gerry or Tiger if he puts together some birdies. I'm going with Gerry. So is Gene Wojciechowski, who lists the things it'll take to derail Rory. All in good fun of course.

It seems the elder McIlroy placed a 400 pound 500-1 bet that can only be cashed if Rory wins tomorrow. For Americans, Rex Hoggard translates. That's $342,000.

Brian Keogh first reported this in 2006. Give him some hits. It's a beauty!

As for the implications of McIlroy's six-stroke lead and history, well, the UK papers and some others tackled that.

Oliver Brown of the Telegraph:

But McIlroy Snr might like to consider another thought: that his son could be about to become only the third 25-year-old golfer in history to hold three major titles. The other two were Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. The Holywood lad with the Hollywood game truly is touching that level of greatness. For an illustration, we needed look no further than his glorious, gasp-inducing coup de grâce on Sunday of two eagles in his closing three holes. Just to underscore McIlroy’s pre-eminence, not a single other player in the field managed an eagle at either the 16th or 18th all day.

Rory is not looking ahead to what might be: an Open win. Ewan Murray of The Guardian on what lesson from the BMW at Wentworth McIlroy will carry with him into Sunday's final round:

“I’ve won from seven back this year, so I know how leads can go very quickly,” McIlroy said. “I’m not taking anything for granted. If the guys in front of me had just finished a little better, finished the way I did, then my lead wouldn’t have been as much as it was.

“It seemed like Sergio and Rickie struggled down the closing stretch a little bit. But that could have been a completely different story. Instead of a six-shot lead it could have been a one- or two-shot lead. A lot can happen."

Alasdair Reid of the Telegraph reports on the devastating blow delivered by Rory late in the round for rivals Sergio and Rickie.

A mighty roar greeted Sergio García and Rickie Fowler as they strode purposefully down the 17th fairway. Or rather, a mighty roar was heard, for it really had nothing to do with them at all. Apart, that is, from telling them they had nothing to be purposeful about any more.

It came from the 16th green, where Rory McIlroy, having reached the putting surface with two imperious strikes, had just rolled his ball into the cup from 30 feet for an eagle. Goodness only knows if García and Fowler did the maths at that point, but it is hard to believe that the matching bogeys they subsequently recorded at the penultimate hole had no connection to what McIlroy had just done.

A sharp tap in the privates with a nine iron could scarcely have brought more tears to the eyes of Fowler as he headed for the 18th tee. Over the previous 40 minutes, he had gone from sharing the lead with McIlroy to trailing the Northern Irishman by five shots. Fowler had hit a couple of loose shots in that time, but otherwise he had not done a great deal wrong. Yet he had just been wiped out by golf’s equivalent of a runaway train, the Holywood Express himself.

Ian O'Connor reminds us of some fascinating history on the line, including this one:

At 16 under, carrying a lead of a half-dozen strokes entering the final round, McIlroy can break Tiger Woods' Open Championship scoring record of 19 under set at St. Andrews in 2000. You know Rory wants a piece of Tiger. You know Rory wants to become the first man to push his final score to 20 in any of the four majors.

And Derek Lawrenson with this in his Daily Mail account:

Only Tiger has ever won three majors by seven shots or more but, having won his first two by eight, that's certainly within McIlroy's compass.

Like all the great ones he saved the best for last, and a towering drive and five-iron to the par-five 18th that finished just 11 feet from the hole. That second shot from 237 yards was as pure a golf shot as you will ever see and when he duly rolled in the putt, it meant he had played the last five holes in the following: birdie-par-eagle-bogey-eagle. He is now 11 under for the par fives alone.

Saturday
Jul192014

The Historic Golf Course That John And Paul Traversed And Played Is Also In Crisis

A fun journey away from The Open this morning with Golf World editor Jaime Diaz took us to Allerton Golf Club, the inland 18-hole course that separated Paul McCartney and John Lennon's boyhood homes.

I wrote about this historic site, with comments from McCartney on the course and a fun story about one of the times he was strolling through Allerton Park, signing, strumming his guitar and thinking no one was around. And beyond the Beatles history, it's just the kind of quaint, lay-of-the-land golf course and green space every city can use for recreation or for the next musical genius to walk through playing his guitar.

So what a downer to see from Greg Walton in the Telegraph that Liverpool is facing massive cuts and the status of Allerton is very much up in the air.

But 17 miles from the gates of the Open is Allerton Golf Club. Royal Liverpool charges green fees of up to £175 a round. Allerton charges £11. But the public course has lurched from crisis to crisis of late as the council has tried to offload it. A deal with one golfing venture collapsed after it emerged the firm wanted to mothball the course for three months of the year for ‘commercial reasons’. The course remains in public hands while officials return to the drawing board. But Allerton’s future is perilous as Liverpool council struggles to make £156 million of cuts to its budget.

A trip down Penny Lane was required too. I can safely say it looks like thousands of streets over here. But it's still Penny Lane.

Note the "vandalism" in the upper right corner of the street sign:


Paul's boyhood home:

Saturday
Jul192014

Watching The Open With The Ancient Twitter

Sally Jenkins is visiting dad Dan in Fort Worth and watching The Open Championship with the Ancient Twitterer. It's the first he's missed since Lyndon Johnson was president.

Dan is still Tweeting, but Sally shares some fun anecdotes from inside the Jenkins viewing compound. Shockingly, Tiger's taken a few blows.

With that sort of deep family history, you can understand how we all keened with laughter when ESPN tried to make Woods out to be a figure from antiquity because he is trying to win his second British at Hoylake, eight years apart, Tom Rinaldi intoning solemnly, “Time is the longest distance between two places,” quoting Tennessee Williams. The Woods worship reached its peak Friday morning, when ESPN reported that he had crossed a footbridge to the first tee taking the steps “ two at a time.” A short while later, the actual leader, Rory McIlroy, made the same trip to the first tee.

Saturday
Jul192014

R&A Breaking New Ground With Fan App, Open WiFi

Hopefully you've downloaded The Open app by now, but if not here is the U.S. link at iTunes. I'm not entirely sure what's available in the States, but as I lay out in this Loop item, the R&A has broken new ground in the march toward a 21st Century fan experience with (working!) WiFi throughout the property.

Combine that with the ability to sit in the grandstand and listen to the BBC Radio feed or watch the BBC TV feed, and even get special information pushed to your phone if sitting on the third hole grandstand thanks to iBeacons.

The app it is one of the best-designed I've seen (especially the iPad version) and should serve as the new standard-bearer for golf's other tours and governing bodies to study.

Saturday
Jul192014

Instant Poll: Did R&A Make Right Call By Moving Times Up Even Though They Massively Helped The Leaders?

It seemed a pretty simple decision: for several days dangerous, perhaps unprecedented summer storms with possible lightning were forecast for Saturday at The Open. The R&A moved up tee times, anticipating possible stoppages in play to ensure a good portion or all of the round could be completed.

The weather mostly cooperated and not long after play ended, a deluge fell that would have stopped play because of standing water on the greens and some thunderstorm possibilities. Play could have resumed arond 5:30 pm BST, but in that time the leaders would have played a few holes in very poor weather. Players largely endorsed the decision.

Great debate has broken out over what a gift this was to Rory McIlroy, who holds a six stroke lead with many suggesting he missed having to play in the kind of Open Championship weather that other champions have had to survive. Others feel this was a common sense call to ensure fan safety and getting 72-holes completed by Sunday night.

So...

Instant Poll: Did R&A Make Right Call By Moving Times Up Even Though It Massively Helped The Leaders?
  
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Saturday
Jul192014

The Open Third Round Thread & Commercial Break Reading

The Rory reads are below, but a few more items worth noting from Friday's reporting as we play an early Saturday round at The Open Championship.

The Daily Mail's Derek Lawrenson reports on the Adam Scott and Justin Rose becoming close mates.

While Rose has moved into contention to win The Open, his wife Kate has been putting the finishing touches to their move from Orlando to the Bahamas, about a stone’s throw from where Scott and his new bride live.

And so the pair will share a private jet to tournaments as well as walk the fairways together. They will try to coax one another into making the next five years a period where they leave a mark as indelible as the one Sir Nick Faldo and Greg Norman left before them.

Alasdair Reid on Sergio's inspiration for the Open as Seve's new film.

García had warmed up for his Friday round by watching Seve, the recently-released film that celebrates the life of his mentor and idol, one of the few sportsmen whose status transcends the need for a surname.

García would later describe the film as inspiring, but his start suggested he had been inspired too much.

There was a distinctly Seve-like quality to his opening three holes. Bogey-eagle-bogey went the 5-2-5 sequence, an astonishing six-iron hole-out from 162 yards at the second bringing back the shots that he lost on the other holes. But after that, García played a superb round, with birdies at the fourth, 10th and 18th helping him up the leaderboard.

Gavin Mairs of the Telegraph on Tiger's triple on 17 and up and down on the 18th to make birdie and the cut at the Open Championship at Hoylake.

The 17th hole, however, left Woods facing a sudden-death scenario. Only a birdie at the par-five 18th would suffice and, having put his second shot to the right of a greenside bunker, his third set up a tantalising and dramatic final putt.

It was the distance that the old Tiger would have sunk in his sleep, but you can no longer take anything for granted with the 38-year-old, especially after spending 3½ months on the sidelines having undergone back surgery in March.

Coleman McDowell with a breakdown of the Tiger's round and the issues with the driver.

James Corrigan of the Telegraph on Tom Watson being the oldest man to ever make the cut at the Open Championship.

The incredible story of Tom Watson and the Open Championship runs on and on after the 64-year-old became the oldest player ever to make the cut in the British major.

While the likes of Bubba Watson failed to advance to the weekend, his namesake, on his 37th appearance, scraped in at two over following a second 73. It says so much about the man who came so close to winning The Open as a 59-year-old that nobody was that surprised. He has missed only five Open cuts since turning 50.

“There’s no age when I’m out there,” Watson said. “I’m doing the same thing as I did when I was 22, although I can’t hit the ball very hard any more.”

Dave Shedloski with more from Watson on his amazing run.

Alasdair Reid of the Telegraph says stories of the raucous crowds at Hoylake are a bit exaggerated and I would concur:

But is it really so bad? To be perfectly frank, the makers of Grand Theft Auto are never going to model an urban dystopia on the leafy lanes of Hoylake, where a golf club with royal appellation sits cheek by well-fed jowl with the offices of the local Conservative Association. Grim up north it is certainly not.

Meanwhile, reports of mayhem on the course itself might just be a little exaggerated. Of course, the occasional ringing, and the much more frequent clicking, of mobile phones has put a few competitors’ noses out of joint, but it would be pushing it to suggest that civil disobedience is rife. Or maybe not, as what little disobedience that has been seen has been very civil indeed.

My GolfDigest.com Loop take on Bubba Watson's post round claims that never a positive thing is said on golf telecasts and in particular, about him.

Mike O'Malley on nine numbers from day two.

As for course setup, these are the lone online notes supplied by the R&A.

These could be subject to change in the event of weather issues or unforeseen circumstances.

13th – 202 yards – Position of Hole on Green 31 5L

6th – 191 yards – Position of Hole on Green 11 5R

9th – 208 yards – Position of Hole on Green 32 4R

15th – 166 yards – Position of Hole on Green 22 6R

Saturday
Jul192014

Quick Roundup Rory Stories From Friday At The Open

It's not much of a secret at this point, for the first time ever split tees Saturday to give the R&A options should play need to be stopped by the "lively" rain that has arrived. From The Telegraph.

Now we joke about this Rory secondrounditis stuff and there are surely much bigger issues, but we know golfers are a superstitious lot and Friday's performance was mighty impressive from the lad in fluroescent.

Ewan Murray of the Guardian reports on Rory McIlroy's epic Friday round.

McIlroy’s second-round struggles had become so common that the player had run out of explanations and those describing them were well short on analogies.

Change was needed, and it duly arrived on the sun-kissed Royal Liverpool links, as McIlroy’s quest for a maiden Open success was emphatically enhanced. Back-to-back rounds of 66 have McIlroy four shots clear of Dustin Johnson and halfway towards a third major win. It is worth noting that his previous two have both come by eight-shot margins.

McIlroy has a firm grip on the Claret Jug for the first time in his career. If, and it is always an if, he continues to play in this manner then he won’t be beaten. He can’t be, to put it bluntly.

“I have an inner peace on the golf course,” McIlroy said. “I just feel very comfortable. I’m very comfortable in this position. I’m very comfortable doing what I’m doing right now.

The Daily Mail's Derek Lawrenson reports on Rory McIlroy's Friday round making his enemies feel misguided.

Caroline Wozniacki take note. Rory McIlroy is looking down on the rest of the field from a great height after consigning black Fridays to the ether in the most spectacular manner imaginable — at The Open Championship.

The Dane had wielded her stiletto by informing the world via social media that she could finally wear her heels for the first time in three years.

Trust her former fiance Rory to respond by showing a clean pair to everyone at Royal Liverpool and banishing all talk about what the heck happens to him on Fridays. Size doesn’t matter in golf, and certainly not when you play like the Northern Irishman.

Speaking of Caroline, she tweeted a jab at Rory's height. G.C. Digital with the details.

Oliver Brown of the Telegraph reports on Rory's encounter with a pheasant on Friday:

The ancient Chinese wisdom that the pheasant symbolised prosperity and good fortune was borne out by the tale of a hunter in Burma, who noticed a precious gem in the gizzard of his recent kill. Inspired by the discovery to seek out the stone’s origin, what should he stumble across but an emerald mine?

A similarly propitious fate, would you believe, was to bless Rory McIlroy on Friday as he lined up a 10-foot putt on the eighth green, when a male pheasant in full iridescent plumage tottered right across his path. The intervention proved a timely charm. For after the bird, came the birdie, and our leader’s course was set.

Friday
Jul182014

ESPN Starting Two Hours Early With Split-Tee Open Start

Thanks to this Tweet from Andy Hall at ESPN we know of the network's plans for what figures to be a long day at Royal Liverpool. Nice pivot by the Worldwide Leader to accommodate Saturday's unprecedented, forecast-driven two-tee threesomes planned start from 9 am to 11 am BST.

 

Friday
Jul182014

Hoylake Day Two: Roundup & The Open Comment Thread

As forecasted the winds are up Friday morning making the late-early end of the draw the misfortunate, as I noted in this Loop item. But the real story of day two: what will Rory shoot after again opening with a lead and now facing the hurdle of a second round.

The Daily Mail's Mike Dawes reports on Rory's low round of the day.

The Independent's Carl Markham focuses on the opening day from McIlroy and 69-shooter Tiger Woods.

James Corrigan of the Telegraph explains Tiger's dismay at the camera phone craze at Liverpool, though in his defense he did not bring the topic up in his post round presser.

Ian O'Connor on the marathon post-round practice session Tiger put in Friday.

Alasdair Reid
of the Telegraph reports on Rory's scorching first round and says "McIlroy collapses having lately become as predictable a part of Friday as the arrival of the fish van - but there were few of them in the travelling gallery that followed him round the course and applauded him off at the end."

Oliver Brown explains Tiger's love for Royal Liverpool when it is dry and sunny.

Gavin Mairs of the Telegraph reports on what is motivating Sergio Garcia to play better golf.

Some say his putting has caught up with his ball-striking, others that the former world No 2 has found off-course contentment now that he has a new girlfriend, Katharina Boehm, who played golf for Charleston University in the United States.

On the opening morning at Hoylake on Thursday, however, it was his sizzling duel with Rickie Fowler that appeared to bring the best out of the Spaniard’s game.

Ryan Herrington sheds some light on where most of the Open Championship scoreboards have one. The manual board on 18 remains.  Herrington also on the wonderful radios for on-site listening.

Eamon Lynch on Bubba Watson's awful Thursday attitude (good spot reader Shawn), which I also watched and found troubling considering his immense talent and game seemingly fit for links golf. Seemingly.

Mike O'Malley with 18 numbers you should know from day one. Nice compilation.

Dave Shedloski on the admirable effort of Ben Crane to get here, serve as first alternate and ultimately, not make the field.

According to BBC, a marshal got hit by balls twice in an hour. He got signed golf balls from Rickie Fowler and Charl Schwartze for his service.

John Singleton shot 78, but the local factory worker absolutely blasted a drive center cut off the first tee and had the galleries excited, writes Luke Kerr-Dineen.

The odds continue to fluctuate. It makes for fun reading!

As for day two, the R&A issued yardages for the par-3s of 190 (6), 186 (9), 191 (13) and 150 (15). And these notes:

Weather (provided on site by the Met Office)

Today: Risk of showers, possibly thundery with gusty ESE winds at first. Risk of showers and winds easing through the afternoon and becoming warm. Winds: ESE 15-20mph with gusts 35mph. Temp; 27C

Fairways and Rough

  • Fairways cut at 11mm
  • First cut (semi) rough (approximate width 2.5 metres) cut at 38mm (daily)
  • Second cut of rough (approximate width 4.5 metres) cut in early June and has been allowed to go to seed

Greens

The greens were double cut last night and this morning at 3.5mm. The greens are 10 feet 10 inches.

Approaches

Approaches double cut at 7mm and rolled, and have the same average firmness as the greens.

Additional information

Links Manager - Craig Gilholm. 40 greenstaff for the Championship. Royal Liverpool permanent staff of 11 supplemented by staff from local clubs, other Open venues and R&A greenkeeping scholars

Total Course Yardage for Round One (tee marker settings to flagstick)

7219 yards (as compared to the full yardage of 7312 yards)