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To a good man his wife should be a goddess, a being far above him to whom he can offer worship and reverence, a beacon-star guiding him over the tossing seas of life. She should be ever on a pedestal and in a shrine. And when she waggles for a minute and a half and then jerks her head and tops the ball, she ceases to be so. And Mrs. Fisher was not merely a head-lifter and a super-waggler; she was a scoffer at Golf’s most sacred things. She held up scratchmen. She omitted to replace divots. She spoke lightly of Green Committees.  P.G. WODEHOUSE

 

    

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)

Friday
Jul182014

"Fox Challenges ESPN With Pursuit of Time Warner"

Emily Steel and Richard Sandomir explore Rupert Murdoch and News Corp's desire to take over Time Warner and as with most things these days, the rationale leads to live sports as the only way to advertiser's hearts and away from cord cutters.

As reader Jay explained to me this week, it's all about those sub fees and trans fees and by golly, I'm starting to believe him after reading this NY Times piece.

TV ad spending generated by sports increased nearly 50 percent to $12 billion in the United States in 2013, according to the Interpublic Group’s MagnaGlobal ad buying firm. “It is DVR-proof,” said Kevin Collins, head of sports ad buying for MagnaGlobal. “Viewers are not skipping over the commercials.”

Mr. Murdoch has long realized the value of sports. Over the years, Fox has amassed a sizable American sports footprint, buying rights to football, baseball, Nascar and the 2018 and 2022 men’s World Cup. Internationally, his businesses have long profited from a roster of international sports-rich channels in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

To date, Fox Sports 1 has not given ESPN reason for great concern. Over the last 11 months, Fox Sports 1 has averaged 88,000 male viewers 18 to 49 years old in prime time, and 122,000 people of both sexes 18 to 49 years old in prime time, compared with ESPN’s 762,000 and 1,070,000, respectively, according to Brad Adgate, director of research for Horizon Media.

Earlier this week it was revealed that Murdoch's Sky Sports may be closing in on the UK rights to The Open Championship, also possibly setting the stage for a battle over the U.S. rights when they become available after 2017.

Thursday
Jul172014

Ernie Els Had Good Reason For His Awful Open Start

I'm not sure I've ever seen a player as deflated as Ernie Els was after his opening tee shot injured a spectator, jarring Els so badly that he inexcusably backhanded a short putt and after the round, couldn't stop talking about the horror of seeing an injured spectator.

Bob Harig sums up the situation here.

Alex Myers posts the GIF of the putt.

Thursday
Jul172014

The Reason ESPN Is Not Playing Beatles Songs This Week...

...is explained in this Loop item for GolfDigest.com.

Hint, even $50 billion Worldwide Leaders have to draw the line on big ticket purchases when they come to Liverpool.

Here's the item.

Thursday
Jul172014

Bubba Files: "I have no clue, the names of the Beatles"

This Vine posted on Kyle Porter's live first round Open Championship blog is going to haunt me for years to come after listening to it over and over again.

Bubba Watson doesn't know the names of the Beatles. And I believe him.

Apparently this first aired on ESPN's telecast opening. Scary.

Thursday
Jul172014

GIF: Henrik Stenson Knows How To Make A Clean Break

Luke Kerr-Dineen on Henrik Stenson's ultra-clean intentional club break, with GIF work by Adam Sarson.

Love the way the caddie pulls back his hand and Stenson's confidence he'd be breaking the culprit behind his misfortune.

Thursday
Jul172014

Hoylake Day One: The Open Comment Thread

Glorious weather, huge crowds and no wind characterized the morning and players are responding with excellent scoring.

The course setup notes include some fun stuff about the great work of the local team here.

From those notes:

Weather (provided on site by the Met Office)

Thurs: Fine and dry with a good deal of warm sunshine. Max temp 25C. Very light S-SE winds at first, NW sea breeze developing around midday 10-12mph, occasionally 15mph mid afternoon.

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

This morning the greens have been double cut at 3.5mm and single rolled. The greens are 10 feet 9 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)

7200 yards (as compared to the full yardage of 7312 yards)

Thursday
Jul172014

Music To The Donald’s Ears: "Unthinkable” To Drop Turnberry

Martin Dempster talked exclusively with R&A Chief Inspector Peter Dawson, who was pretty clear in the R&A press conference about the rota, but left no doubt that Turnberry is safe in this exclusive.

From Dempster's report:

Speaking on the eve of the tournament’s 143rd staging at Royal Liverpool, however, Dawson insisted Turnberry is still in the R&A’s plans, admitting there would be outcry from players if it was dropped from the rota.

“It is very popular with the players and has provided a huge amount of drama in the past,” the R&A chief executive told The Scotsman. “It is unthinkable that it wouldn’t be an Open venue.”

Wednesday
Jul162014

The Open Is Here! A Quick Final Preview & Liverpool Pics

With all due respect to the Masters (pure class), the U.S. Open (most democratic) and the PGA (it's warm and flyover state friendly!), The Open is my favorite championship of the year and 2014 has the makings of an epic.

Players from all corners of the world are coming in on top of their games, Tiger Woods is returning to the site of a masterful triumph and Royal Liverpool is venue with the gravitas to handle storylines that include a factory worker teeing off mid-morning.

Throw in a top-notch R&A infrastructure setup, big crowds, a dear host town in Hoylake and the vibrancy of Liverpool spilling over, and we should be in for a grand four days. My enthusiasm spilled into the local economy when I ran into my old friend Paddy Power (not the Irish televangelist) who offered to reimburse me seven places deep into the top 10, cajoling each/way bets out of me on Mickelson (25-1), McDowell (28-1) and the house special, Martin Kaymer at 28-1. Yes, that fellow who won the U.S. Open. While I was catching up with Paddy, minor wagers were also placed on Mikko Ilonen, Jimmy Walker, someone named K. Brosberg (2nd Scottish Open, 150-1) and at 250-1, a sympathy bet for Paddy's countryman, Darren Clarke.

Funny, thing but as I traversed Liverpool's refreshed mixture of restored old buildings and eccentric modern architecture, I ran into my old Lad, Brokes, who enticed each-way bets on Rickie (40-1), Angel (66-1) and Paul Casey, even though the architecture-loving Englishman fell to 50-1 from 66-1. Oh and my pals at Stanley Bet across from the Cavern Club even offered a fun proposition consisting of six completely random questions at 40-1.

As for the course, the dreary day meant an unfortunate rain that negated the dry conditions Tuesday, but Hoylake dries quickly so it should be vulnerable Thursday but not overly so. Derek Lawrenson posts a nice table setter here on what to expect this week.

Your first round groupings are here.

For my friends in the States, your ESPN times are as follows:

ESPN and WatchESPN will have 11 scheduled hours of live play from each of the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday, July 17-18, from 4 a.m. - 3 p.m. ET.

The third round on Saturday, July 19, will air live from 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The final round on Sunday, July 20, airs live from 6 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
 
ESPN3 will offer a live feed following Tiger Woods for his entire round each day he plays.

And in no particular order, some images from the first few days, including the magnificent HSBC pavillion where there is a Road hole bunker, Trackman sampler, long drive and hickory testing booth. And from this evening, scenes from Cavern Club, Hard Days Night Hotel and the river front on a British Summertime late evening:

Wednesday
Jul162014

Rupert! Sky Looking To Push BBC (59 Years!) Out Of The Open

The Daily Mail's Charles Sale believes the BBC, rights holders to The Open Championship for the last 59 years may not be prepared to bid as much as their private rival.

Rupert Murdoch's Sky seems prepared to pay for the rights, Sale says, all based on the USGA's partnership with Fox Sports.

And certainly R&A opinion has shifted a lot further towards a subscription TV partner with the astonishing deal done in America by Fox Sports who, with no previous golf experience, have paid more than $1billion over 12 years for US Open rights.

This is regarded as a game-changer on both sides of the Atlantic, with the USGA prepared to relinquish their long partnership with NBC in return for a mountain of dollars.

And the R&A will not want to fall behind the money invested in the other three majors.

Sky, who have shored up their golf contracts after arch-rivals BT Sport made a bid for the PGA tour, are certain to want to add to their portfolio a flagship event such as The Open.

The R&A's Peter Dawson was asked about the report in the R&A press conference and was non-committal.

PETER DAWSON: Well, we have had an extremely long relationship with the BBC and a very happy one. I think it's now 59 years since The Open Championship was first televised in 1955 on the BBC. Our current contract runs through the 2016 Open. And what will happen thereafter remains to be seen. Being a rights holder we obviously have to balance that long-term relationship and the high viewership of the BBC against commercial considerations. The value of golf rights has accelerated dramatically, particularly in the United States just in the last 12 months. And that's perhaps a bigger item in the equation than it might otherwise have been, that's for sure. But it's massively premature to speculate on what might occur.

ESPN holds American rights through the 2017 Open.

Murdoch was also in the news today for having attempted a $80 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable in the United States.

Wednesday
Jul162014

R&A Touts "Groundbreaking WiFi Network" As Sign Installation Severs Line, Knocking Out Media WiFi!

The WiFi here is literally groundbreaking!

In case you were wondering why The Open blackout of titillating Tweets, fascinating Facebook posts and sterling stories, not a bother!

Just a mere suspension of media play at 10:38 am with a resumption at 12:18 pm British Summer Time! All because some well-intentioned soul tried to install a new directional sign for wayward scribes to find the media center centre, only to spike it right on through some fiber (R.I.P) delivering internet and television to the lowly inkslingers.

Nothing to see here!

Carry on with your stories about the R&A press conference!

Wednesday
Jul162014

GMac: There Will Be Bit Of Tension Until Rory’s Legal Row Ends

Even though Rory McIlroy says there isn't much to possible issues between he and Graeme McDowell's relationship heading into the Ryder Cup (Martin Dempster's report here), the always refreshingly frank McDowell tells Karl MacGinty that as long as Rory is battling McDowell's friends and partners at Horizon in court, there will be tension.

From MacGinty's report:

"It's been a strain on our relationship, no doubt about it. We're not the same as we used to be," conceded McDowell.

And the Portrush man added: "Until the legal proceedings are over and done with, there's always going to be that little bit of tension in the air."

Wednesday
Jul162014

A Few Fun UK Newspaper Reads, Open Wednesday Edition

Even as the industry struggles the newspaper reading over here continues to be rewarding and lively.

No offense to our friends in the states who are here filing away, but here are a few fun reads as we near the start of the 2014 Open Championship. In almost no particular order:

James Corrigan issues a passionate defense of The Open, golf as the UK's greatest sport and the democratic nature of this outstanding championship.

There is nothing phoney about UK golf. Nothing.

Well, presenters other than Iain Carter maybe, but go on...

It is a sport of which the country can be richly proud. And there are not too many sports you can say that about at the moment.

But enough of being insular because the Open is so much more than a jingo-fest. So much more.

Where else can you see a factory worker such as John Singleton play in the same field as billionaires such as Tiger Woods?

Where else can you see a sportsman such as Erik Compton competing at the highest level despite being on his third heart?

Kevin Garside on 25-1 Tiger Woods.

There was at least one believer in the house when Tiger Woods was telling his audience he can win here this week. Well, one plus the cadre of Liverpool fire fighters with whom Woods is said to be training before making his way to the course. No better way to project the idea of muscular, can-do vigour than hanging out with local heroes for an hour every day.

Woods is not one to let reality bite into his own world view. The fact that six years have passed since he won a major, eight since he claimed the last of his three Open crowns here at Hoylake, is irrelevant. I’m Tiger Woods. I’m not like other people. I’m not like you.

Woods smashes this message home with every fibre of his being, with such conviction, in fact, that the cynics among us begin to doubt the rules of evidence. Fourteen majors gained over an unprecedented 11-year period are awfully persuasive. And as he argued, he has walked out of theatre before and won without playing a scoring round in preparation.

James Riach of The Guardian on how losing at Lytham changed Adam Scott.

He comes into this tournament flying under many people’s radar, as attention focuses on the return from injury of Tiger Woods, the mind-set of Rory McIlroy and the form of Justin Rose. However, Scott, who won at Colonial in May after a play-off tussle with Jason Dufner, has, in his own words, never been in better shape.

“I think I’m playing some of the best golf of my life at the moment,” he says. “I should really be taking advantage of it and stepping up this week and putting myself in with a good chance. [Lytham] proved to me that I can play at the required level in majors. I tried to keep doing all the right things and make amends for any errors that I made at Lytham. Next time I had a chance at Augusta I was able to get over the line. I’d like to just keep giving myself those chances.”

Ewan Murray on where caddies stand in the modern game.

The caddie subculture in top-level golf is a fascinating one. They are a close-knit group, stretching from former professional players to academics and everything else in between. The heartless decision of the European Tour to finish the Madeira Islands Open two months ago after the death of Iain McGregor on the course brought the issue of respect towards caddies back to the fore.

The role involves plenty of amateur psychology alongside providing players with every last detail of what lies in front of every single shot. If that play goes wrong, the player’s easy option is always to blame his caddie.

Ian Poulter will sport an Arsenal staff bag this week at the Open. The Telegraph relays the tweet and an interesting response if you care about such things. From the report:

Poulter's post reads: 'Check out my #Arsenal golf bag for this weeks #openchampionship'. To which one quick-witted reader replied: 'Don't put any drink in it as prob a bit leaky at the back!'

Greg Walton with Telegraph notes, starting with the possibility of celebrity sightings, which were kicked off by a George Clooney appearance in Hoylake "ordering crispy duck."

Wednesday
Jul162014

Golfweek: Senior Ryder Cup Targeted For 2015 Start

The Forecaddie reports that the PGA's of the respective continents are eyeing 10-man teams and a first playing in the United States beginning in 2015.

Here is the report in digital publication form.

Tuesday
Jul152014

Royal Liverpool: Flat, Tight, High Rough, OB And Pretty Neat

Pretty much every mark against a golf course is contained in that headline, and yet it's hard not to be charmed by this links. I've heard from trusted sources that Royal Liverpool exudes a singular beauty without all the tournament infrastructure, if nothing else for the sheer flatness of the terrain.

First, the quibbles: internal OB, as I write in this Loop item, is an undesirable hazard and seems even sillier when there is tightly mown turf on the property immediately beyond the boundary line. I suspect if the modern ball carry distance was in proportion to the architecture, marking this as internal OB would not be necessary.

The rough is a bit much in spots (Luke Kerr-Dineen demonstrates) and the course overall is surprisingly pretty soft, as several players noted today in press conferences. We'd heard in the run-up it could be nearly as firm and fast as last time, just greener. Howver, unless things bake out the next two days, the firmness won't happen but according to Tiger, the green speeds are getting there.

As for the positives, the routing ingeniously uses what few distinctive features exist to full effect, offering a lovely walk with constant changes in direction. This helps each hole stand out on ground where it's hard for individuality to shine. The par-5s are loaded with character and looked to me to be the strength of the course even though the internal OB is a big part of two of them.

And isn't it fun to see a major played on a course with four three-shotters instead of two converted to get the winning score higher?

I wondered how the shifting of the holes which turns the normal 17th and 18th into The Open's first and second would play. Would it be like shuffling the end of Abbey Road, scrambling the masterful sequencing of Golden Slumbers-Carry That Weight-The End? Actually, the routing shift is a stroke of brilliance. Well, unless The Open is lost on an internal OB shot when the ball could have been found and played.

Above the par-5 fifth, one of four charming three-shotters at Royal Liverpool (click to enlarge)

Tuesday
Jul152014

And Then Gary Woodland Told Tiger How He's Back To Carrying His Drives 320 Yards, Files...

From Tiger's press conference today at Royal Liverpool, where Ryan Herrington analyzes the Hoylake defending champ's remarks.

This was a fun story for the roll-back-the-ball files:

Q. Secondly, is it harder for you to win a Major now than it was eight years ago? If so, why, what makes it harder?

TIGER WOODS: I think it gets harder every year, just because the fields get deeper. More guys with a chance to win. What did we have, 16, 17 straight first-time winners and more Major championship winners throughout that stretch. It's just getting deeper. It's getting harder to win. The margin is so much smaller. It's only going to continue to be the case. Guys are going to get longer, they're going to get faster. Guys who are coming out here are bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic. When I first came out here in '97, I think, I averaged somewhere just under 300 yards, 296 or something like that. I walked around with Gary Woodland on Sunday and he said, "Yeah, I finally found a driver and a ball I can hit 320 again in the air." Yeah, in the air. So the game has changed a lot since then.

Here's about four minutes of Tiger talking to the scribes today.

Tuesday
Jul152014

Better Late Than Never Video: Jessica Korda's Ovulating Ball

Chalk this one up to the better late than never division, but I couldn't pass up posting the clip of Jessica Korda mentioning last Sunday that her ball was "ovulating" at Royal Birkdale during the Women's Open. (Thanks Ryan Ballengee for the clip.)

The clip:



Even better, Korda took her malaprop and ran with it.

 

 

Monday
Jul142014

Watson On Woods Ryder Cup Prospects, Gleneagles No Shows

As expected the scribes tried to flesh out Tom Watson's thoughts on Tiger Woods as a captain's pick and the Team USA leader says he'll be talking to Woods this week, something no doubt that both Stanfordian's are excited about because it's just been so, so long since they had a good sit down. Those Cardinal!

Ewan Murray's assessment of the Watson presser at Hoylake:

Watson intends to talk to Woods about the 14-time major winner’s Ryder Cup prospects in the coming days here. When asked what he is likely to glean from the meeting, Watson replied: “Well, not a whole lot, probably. It’s performance.

Meanwhile over at GolfDigest.com's The Loop, we've unveiled our special translator to understand what they said, and what they meant. The algorithm has been finely tuned for professional golfers, and here's my interpretation of Watson only getting two players for a team practice day at Gleneagles.

Monday
Jul142014

Rio Update: Still Behind, Some Hope, Backup Plan In Place

The Guardian's Ewan Murray sums up the mood of Monday's International Golf Federation press conference at Hoylake, where there was no sugar coating the golf venue preparation in Rio.

Suggesting golf's return to the Olympics could be "overshadowed--or ruined" by an unprepared golf course, those representing the IGF lumped the course in with other lagging Rio venues. And revealed a contingency plan is in place for a worst case scenario, but would not say what that was.

Murray writes:

When asked to provide a 100% guarantee that the course would be ready, Votaw said: “Predictions are very dangerous things.” In respect of a worst-case scenario, he added: “As far as a contingency plan, I think we’re in no different place than all the other sports in the Olympic Games for Rio 2016 and the readiness and preparedness of Rio.

“There are contingency plans. What they are, is not something we’re going to share right now, but there are contingency plans based on catastrophic, if you will, but if that happens we’re in the same boat with everybody else in that regard.”

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