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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

Golf is a game in which attitude of mind counts for incomparably more than mightiness of muscle.  ARNOLD HAULTAIN

 

    

Tuesday
Jul242007

"Don't be surprised if he shuts down his season after the PGA Championship next month"

SI's Michael Bamberger notes that Sergio Garcia's post Open Championship comments put Jean Van De Velde's collapse and post-'99 perspective into, well, perspective.

Garcia blamed his bogey finish at the 72nd hole on bad luck, slow play and a greater plan. ("It wasn't meant to be," he said.) Eight years ago Van de Velde, who is not playing now because of an undisclosed illness, told reporters, "Don't look so sad."

On Sunday night Garcia sarcastically told the throng, "I'm thrilled." His pain was perhaps understandable. He had been a king for three days.

And he offers this, which ought to be well received in Ponte Vedra.
Phil Mickelson used to have the damn-me-with-faint-praise title as the best golfer never to have won a major, and then he went on a Tigeresque tear, winning three majors in two years. (He missed the cut at Carnoustie, and don't be surprised if he shuts down his season after the PGA Championship next month, skipping the Presidents Cup and all the season — ending FedEx Cup events to fully rest his strained left wrist.)

Monday
Jul232007

Final Round Open Championship Clippings, Vol. 3

openlogo.jpgEven with the allure of links golf outside their windows, golf's finest scribblers produced some excellent reflections Monday. Though they still missed one major, huge, enormous, earth-shattering story (I'll get to that in a moment).

Doug Ferguson reflects on Padraig Harrington's win, his hard working nature and the state of European golf.

James Corrigan talks to Harrington after a night's sleep...

 "We went to bed about 4am and I woke up about six, just wide awake," explained her husband. "I woke up my wife and said, 'I actually did it - I am the Open champion'. The trophy was at the end of the bed and both of us were just looking at it in awe. Caroline was kind of, 'Yeah, I can't believe there's the trophy and everything, but can we go back to sleep now?'" She was not allowed to.

There was just so much to take in for Padraig and the rest of the Harringtons as the scale of his triumph became apparent. In Ireland, their first major champion in 60 years - indeed, only their second major champion ever - was already being crowned their biggest sports star. By extension, Harrington's thrilling play-off victory over Sergio Garcia was being voted on radio shows as the finest individual achievement in the history of Irish sport.

This is amazing...

"You know, I just can't wait to watch this tournament on TV as I had no concept of some of the things that went on," he said. "For a start I didn't realise until 11.30 last night that Andres Romero had a two-shot lead with two to play. No idea at all. That just shows how in the zone I was and what a good place I was in."

Padraig quickly used his newfound authority to call on the Open to return to Ireland. And David Hill of the R&A quickly shot that down.

"Portrush is a fantastic course and I looked at it in great detail about five or six years ago. It would be a fantastic venue, but only for about 15,000 people a day."

More than twice than figure watched Harrington beat Sergio Garcia in a play-off at Carnoustie on Sunday.

The K Club near Dublin was the first Irish venue to stage the Ryder Cup last September. However, Hill added: "It's also referred to as the Open Championship played in Great Britain. That's where it lies at the moment, but it's never a closed book."

Well, I think we can close the book on the K Club.

Uh, has anyone ever heard of it referred to as the Open Championship played in Great Britain? Should that be in all caps?

The Principal clips some of the best photos from Sunday and offers profound captions.

USA Today's Michael Hiestand loved ABC's British Open telecast, though he fails to acknowledge that it was actually ESPN on ABC. Shameful. And as Chris Lewis noticed that readers at golf.com weren't so enamored. Did Mike Tirico quietly confirm at the end of Sunday's telecast that ABC err ESPN on ABC's Faldo-Azinger would not be back next year by suggesting the next time we'll see them is the 2008 Ryder Cup?

Okay, and completely missed was the news that Sergio jumped from 22nd to 11th and Padraig from 79th to 19th in Fed Ex Cup points.

Now this is an important delineation because we know that in the simulations, the top 3 seeds will need a win, two “mid-pack” finishes and a week off to win the FedEx Cup, the 4-8 seeds will need a win and a top 5, while the 8-15's must win once, record a second and listen to Rush Limbaugh regularly. And for Padraig and the other 16-30's, he must win a playoff event, register a 2nd and a top 5 that really needs to be a top 3. And the seeds at 31 and over need two wins, a drug-free physical exam and 40 hours of time served at Tour Bible Study.

The excitement is contagious!

Finally, Lawrence Donegan reminds us that while the Open highlighted a great setup on a fantastic course, the old chaps running the show still have a ways to go.

The response of the players to the challenge laid before them was universally positive, as must have been the reaction of the wider public watching at home on television. In stark contrast to this year's Masters and US Open, both of which fell victim to the misplaced belief in some quarters that watching great players struggle to make par is somehow great golf, the 136th Open was a truly uplifting sporting spectacle, with great golfers able to show off their skills.

Fast forward...

Off the course, the tournament was played out against a steady diet of controversy and cock-up. Much was made of a succession of rules problems and, while some of the coverage was overblown, it was notable that the majority of the mistakes were made by "amateur" officials who had been drafted in for the week, rather than by professional referees from the various tours who have both the experience and knowledge to handle the pressure of officiating at major championships.

By far the most insightful contribution on the subject came from the Ryder Cup player Niclas Fasth who, when asked if the game's most high-profile players received favourable treatment from referees, replied: "It happens frequently." This rather gave the lie to that old chestnut about golf being the last sporting bastion of fair play for all.

And thanks to Lawrence for reminding us about the positive test results in France...

Gary Player's intervention on the subject of drug use in the game was also instructive, if only in the sense that it highlighted the continuing failure of the game's governing body to tackle the issue. For years, the R&A has insisted not only that there are no drug users in golf but that drugs would not improve a golfer's game. There is a queue of experienced physicians who would argue otherwise, just as the available evidence, notably in France, where drug testing in golf has been in place for some time and has thrown up several positive results, suggest the problem is real and ongoing.

And on our old chap Graham Brown, who is in day 4 of his race rehab work...

Brown, it was said, was not representing the views of the R&A when he made his ill-judged speech. No doubt this is true. But as the golfing caravan moved on and the gentlemen in blazers returned to their sanctuary in St Andrews, one was left to wonder where on earth he picked up his despicable views or, more to point, where he came to believe that uttering such bile in a public forum was somehow acceptable behaviour.

And I wonder why they can't do anything about the ball! 

Monday
Jul232007

Kimberly Kim Shoots 62

Uh, she's 15 and she did it at the U.S. Girls Junior, tying a USGA scoring record held by Christina Kim.

And of course Kimberly already has a U.S. Women's Amateur trophy on the shelf.

Monday
Jul232007

R.I.P Taylor Smith

morginnes1.jpgJohn Maginnes remembers his friend and the one-time PGA Tour player who passed away at the age of 40.

Monday
Jul232007

"He then reached the 71st tee with nine strokes left to win but proceeded to top a 4 iron into the burn and take 6."

196034.jpgIn the madness that was Andres Romero's run yesterday at Carnoustie, I'm shocked, SHOCKED, none of the announcers remembered this from Daniel Wexler's essential Book of Golfers:

Buenos Aires native José Jurado (1899-1971) was a golfing pioneer in the truest sense, for while early British professionals ventured out to parts unknown with the psychological might of the world’s biggest empire (both golfing and otherwise) behind them, Jurado traveled thousands of miles to challenge the British golf monolith on its own turf.  He was not, however, without ammunition for as his homeland’s first great player, Jurado won the Argentine Open seven times and was, in Longhurst’s summation, “a brilliant golfer.” 

Jurado contended several times at the Open Championship beginning in 1928 at Royal St George’s, where he trailed two-time winner Walter Hagen by one through 54 holes, then blew up with a closing 80 to finish joint sixth.  His golden opportunity, however, came three years later at Carnoustie where rounds of 76-71-73 in difficult conditions stood him three ahead of the pack through 54.  He then reached the 71st tee with nine strokes left to win but proceeded to top a 4 iron into the burn and take 6.  Then, even more sadly, he laid up at the par-5 72nd in the erroneous belief that par would still put him in a playoff when, in fact, a birdie was needed and there he was, alone in second, one behind the victorious Tommy Armour.

Wild!
 

Monday
Jul232007

Final Round Open Championship Clippings, Vol. 2

openlogo.jpgA few more items I didn't pick up last night worth your time.

Scott Michaux says "it's impossible to feel sorrier for Garcia than Garcia feels for himself."

Jim McCabe thinks Sergio's post round complaints about the slow bunker raking at 18 were "petulant."  Of course, it didn't help that the raker paused to wave to the crowd after completing the second bunker!

 Ewan Murray and Lawrence Donegan catch up with Bob Torrance, Padraig Harrington's longtime teacher.

John Huggan on Andres Romero's round:

The statistics are startling. Romero, a 26-year-old Argentinian in only his second full season on the European Tour, made 10 birdies, two bogeys, two double bogeys and only four pars in 18 holes of topsy-turvy golf that will live long in the memory. Remarkably, until he agonisingly made the second of those bogeys at the final hole, he had recorded neither a par nor a bogey on the back nine. His last par figure of the day came on the 7th.

Brian Hewitt sheds more light on Padraig's work habits.

This unbylined BBC report quotes Peter Dawson as saying that Carnoustie is firmly in the Open rota (and miraculously, Dawson's next sentence did not totally contradict his previous statement!)

And he also commented on the drug issue...

"Let me say first of all that it is very easy to say that people may be taking drugs and that no-one can refute a statement like that," said Dawson.

"But there is absolutely no evidence or anything for these remarks in the game and I think most of the top players in the game today have backed that view."

Amazing they have such wisdom without testing!

Owen Slot features Dick Pounds's quotes from his BBC appearance.

“The PGA has resisted any acknowledgement that there may be a problem,” Pound said. “We would be happy to sit down and help golf come together with a significant and robust programme. I have said [to the PGA], ‘Look, this is your opportunity to lead, not to be forced to follow, so get on with it. The time is now. “ ‘You should do this while you still have the initiative, rather than being forced into it as the result of a scandal. Then you are going to have the whole of golf regarded with suspicion. Do it now before there’s a big public problem.’ ” The tardiness of the PGA to respond to drugs-testing is in contrast to the European Tour, which is to start testing in the new year.

Pound said that his “suspicion” was that there are professional golfers who are using drugs. “Gary Player says he knows, so that’s fairly powerful medicine from somebody who has only the integrity of the game at heart,” he said.

“It comes from one of the icons of golf who has no particular axe to grind other than to try to maintain the integrity of the sport. It’s a wake-up call that has not come in such stark terms to date from the golf community.”

Asked what he had been told to arouse his suspicions, Pound said: “Some say they know, others say they strongly suspect, but it’s really not the point.”

And finally, Lynn Truss isn't afraid to explain that they are growing a wee bit bored with Americans from the flyover states winning.

Yesterday morning, we winced collectively at the possibility that the event might be won, yet again, by a neat, upright Midwesterner of whom many golf fans had basically never heard. Take nothing away from Stricker’s great third round, of course. Take nothing away from Ben Curtis, from Ohio (winner, 2003, Royal St George’s) or Todd Hamilton, from Illinois (winner, 2004, Royal Troon), either. Whoever wins on the day is self-evidently the best player of the championship and should be respected accordingly.

But it remains true that the event is somehow undermined by every additional obscure, generic-looking, “run that name past me again, squire” champion – all the more so (one regrets to say) if he hails from a flat middle bit of the United States.

 

Sunday
Jul222007

Final Round Open Championship Clippings, Vol. 1

23golf_slide11.jpgFirst, the game stories from an epic Open Championship.

Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian says Carnoustie "reaffirmed its status as golf's greatest and most demanding theatre."

James Corrigan in the Independent writes that this was "one of the most nerve-racking, most action-packed and, yes, most glorious final days in the history of golf."

Doug Ferguson insists that "the final hour was golf theater at its best."

Damon Hack in the New York Times works his lede around the bizarre meeting between Sergio and Harrington on the 18th hole bridge.

Now the photos.

Golf Channel offers up a nice mix of photos here.

GolfDigest.com features, well, uh, let's hope this is the best of what they are not running in Golf World.

And golf.com has several fine shots, though no one seems to have captured the surreal bridge scene when Sergio and Padraig passed each other during regulation. Yes, I wanted to have some photo caption fun! Think of the possibilities!

Now, the players.

Padraig Harrington's interview transcript is here.

Chris Lewis offers this perspective of Padraig.

Sergio Garcia's rough interview is here...go easy on him boys!

Hugh MacDonald says this one will haunt Sergio forever...

Garcia played smart. An iron from the tee left him a 3-iron to the green. He had to wait an unconscionably long time for the green to clear and for two bunkers to be raked. One could have smoothed the Sahara quicker.

The 3-iron found a bunker. Garcia found a way out. And then a way to lose. A missed putt such as that on the 18th is a blow that produces a haemorrhage of confidence. The Spaniard could not find a putt all day. He was unlikely to find one in the four extra holes.

And so he sat in front of the world's press at 8.20pm, cursing the fates that conspired to deprive him of his shot at glory. "The week is over," he said with a voice tinged with tiredness and seeped in disappointment. In seven hours, hope had turned to despair. Top-class sport inflicts its hurt with the skill of a diabolical torturer. This will hurt Garcia forever.

196171.jpgJim Litke was much less sympathetic:

Sergio Garcia didn't cry this time, at least not where anyone could see.

Maybe he expected the rest of us to do that for him.

Martin Johnson was in his usual rare form, though maybe a tad harsh on the young lad.

It was so wet yesterday that the groundstaff were using buckets to bail rainwater out of the bunkers, but, for the second consecutive time in a Carnoustie Open, the squeegees had an even more serious moisture disposal task to perform. Drying out the shoulder pads on Consuela Garcia's jacket.

Sergio fell sobbing into his mother's arms after a round of 89 here in 1999, and it would be a surprise if the Kleenex didn't come out again yesterday following the even more emotionally draining experience of blowing a three-shot lead and eventually losing in a play-off to Padraig Harrington.

Fast forward...

Somewhere among the hard-luck messages, Garcia might find one of congratulation from Colin Montgomerie after the Spaniard sconed a photographer on the 17th hole on Saturday. Monty has been wanting to do this for years, but it's been a bit like his 63 attempts to win a major. Close, but no cigar.

Garcia not only failed to become the first man to win a major using a belly putter, but also the player with the weakest bladder to win one. He was off to the Portaloo as early as the third hole yesterday, and by the time he burst into a sprint to find one at the 10th, the nerves were such that this one might have involved putting the seat down.

And okay, I admit I agreed with this sentiment...

Just as last year, the golfing gods were not going to allow someone to win the Open dressed like a canary, then this year they weren't going to allow the Claret Jug to be won by someone using a contraption as alien to the spirit of the game as a belly putter.

Allan Pattullo has the best summary of Tiger Woods's week and the first evidence that fatherhood has affected Tiger's game.

Walking with Tiger yesterday was surreal. Normally, following his fortunes amounts to a campaign. In St Andrews in 2000, he performed in a cloud of dust kicked up by the heels of thousands. Within the ropes clumps of press and television reporters grouped, watched carefully by a line of police officers. To be there felt like being at the centre of the sporting world.

Yet yesterday was different. A drama was unfolding, just not here. Cheers would suddenly erupt, and heads would turn to another green, another fairway. Woods, too, had his thoughts elsewhere, and made some surprising errors. At the eighth hole, a bogey saw his name drop completely from the leaderboard.

A missed birdie putt at the next prompted a very un-Tiger like "f***" curse. Normally, this emerges from his mouth as the less trenchant "frick". But the Anglo-Saxon version came clear as a bell yesterday.

It was at the 15th hole that he as good as handed back the Claret Jug. Woods planted a tee shot into the right-side bunker on the way to a bogey that was, in essence, his surrender.

He probably wished to call it a day, hop on the private jet there and then. But enough competitive spirit remained for him to play the last three holes in par for a 70, which saw him finish at two under par for the tournament.

Afterwards, he sounded like someone who couldn't wait to get home to Florida, and to a waiting bundle who cares not a whit for his troubles on a damp east coast stretch of Scotland. "It's been a week, and it's hard to believe you can miss something that's only been gone for a week," he smiled. "But I certainly do miss them [Sam and Erin, his wife]."

196034.jpgRobert Millward looks at Andres Romero's improbable run that earns him spots in the PGA, Masters and U.S. Open.

"I feel very pleased, but the pressure suddenly caught up with me, especially the pressure at the last two holes in such a big event," Romero said through an interpreter.

His troubles began when he drove into the rough at the 17th and wavered between which club to use. Finally deciding on a 2-iron, he hit a sharp hook that dove into the wall of the Barry Burn, which sent the ball ricocheting straight right toward the 18th fairway.

The ball stayed dry, but it sailed past the out-of-bounds line between the two closing holes. Romero had to take a drop and switched to a 3-wood to reach the green. He missed the putt and staggered off with a double bogey, his lead suddenly gone, a weak smile about all he could manage.

"I hit a very bad second shot at the 17th," Romero said, "but I also had a lot of very bad luck."

196277.jpgGraham Spiers thinks he has the answer to the question of why the galleries were so subdued. It was bloody cold and wet.

It is nobody’s fault, but something in the air has been missing from this Open Championship. You felt it again following Woods yesterday, beneath grey skies, in front of quite a few empty seats and with accompanying galleries that were faithful in their pursuit, but not heaving or jostling for space.

Nobody can control the weather, but what has been missing this week has been that classic Open ambience of a hot, dry summer, thundering hooves and crackling excitement. Woods has the global fame that Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali once possessed, but you would not have known it from this Sabbath calm on the Angus coast.

Matthew Rudy says the combination of events this week prove that Open Championship is the best major in golf.

And finally, Claire Middleton offers several notes, including this on merchandise activities...

Rhod McEwan, whose marvellous antiquities add a touch of class to what is basically a marketplace, saw his dream customer arrive yesterday. "I've got £2,000 so show me the most expensive items first," said a Canadian collector who selected a boxful of books.

There has also been a decrease in shoplifting, though the folk at Callaway refused to give a description of the person who legged it with one of their £300 square-headed drivers. Apparently, nobody less elevated than the marketing director can talk to the press.

Sunday
Jul222007

The Perfect Major?

Pondering today's events, I'm trying to think of something about Carnoustie and the 2007 Open Championship that was less than ideal (besides ESPN on ABC's relentless commercial breaks and that poorly timed Van De Velde flashback as Sergio was walking up to 18 green).

I suppose the out-of-bounds left of 18 green could be moved back and the hole would not be negatively impacted, and there appeared to be boundary issues around the 1st and 18th that seem borderline excessive. Otherwise, consider this:

  • We saw a course vulnerable to hot rounds and yet overall, forgive me Golf Gods, proved "resistant" to scoring with only 19 players finishing under par for the week and playoff combatants finishing at 7-under. A look at the scoring shows a nice separation of the field.

  • The leaderboard featured a variety of players from around the world playing the game with somewhat different styles. Reward for power, accuracy and short game seemed balanced, whereas Augusta and Oakmont seemed to put quite a bit of emphasis on putting, conservative play and chance.

  • Wider playing corridors and short grass around the greens did not unduly reward sloppy driving or excessively benefit players with great short games, but instead seemed to highlight Carnoustie's best architectural elements while tempting the field into the occasional risky shot, adding excitement and fun for those of us viewing at home.
  • Hole locations seemed surprisingly generous on the weekend and yet, scoring was not adversely impacted for those concerned about the Open being "too easy" (like any round in any major will ever be easy!). It seemed in many instances that the kind hole locations tempted players into bold shots that only caused them more trouble when they miscalculated.

  • Pace of play wasn't great, but four hours for the leaders on the weekend in cold and sometimes wet conditions on a course with several long waits wasn't bad either.
  • And because I'm an unabashed star%$#@&!, the best players in the world rose to the top and many had a chance to win going into Sunday.

Add it all up and it seemed to me that for the second year in a row, the Open Championship was about as close to perfect as a major can be, defined mostly by the concept of letting the architecture and players decide the event, instead of the committee.

Your thoughts?

Sunday
Jul222007

Sunday Live British Open Blog

openlogo.jpgAll times Pacific, where it's bloody early.

6:03 - Woke for the start but lost consciousness during the Van de Velde segment, then woke up during Peter Dawson's appearance. After all, it's just so fascinating to hear someone say so many things at once. The improved setup at Carnoustie is "party and mainly" due to Mother Nature. Partly because Mother Nature didn't fertilize the rough, or mainly?

And on the steroid/Gary Player accusation front, "Gary appeared to have information that no one else had" and "it's hard to imagine drugs that will actually help you in golf." Ah, but the R&A "supports drug testing."  

But my favorite remark was this about the women playing St. Andrews in two weeks: "But to see them play perhaps slightly longer irons into the greens and so on and have to bump and bounce it in off the humps and hollows I think will be really interesting." Oh, you mean how we'd like to see the men play it if they weren't hitting it so far?

6:05 - Faldo breaks down talking about the emotion of turning the Claret Jug in. "You're going to show this? What is it about this blimmen (?) trophy?" Great stuff.

6:09 - Ben Curtis and Tiger Woods making moves, both to -3, six back of Sergio.

6:12 - Tiger has 172 yards into 6. Azinger: "Why do you think at this point in the championship he would lay up off the tee. Shocking decision to me."

6:14 - Els moves to -4... 

6:18 - Sergio arrives at the first tee podium, tries to buy a pairing sheet from Ivor Robson who congratulates Sergio on wearing the ugliest shade of green he's ever seen. 

6:21 - Sergio calmly stripes it down the middle and looks incredibly calm.  Must be the calming presence of Walter Driver who is trailing close behind again today.

6:33 - Garcia -9, Stricker -6, Els -5, DiMarco -4, Choi -4 

6:36 - Tiger bogies 8 to drop to -2, here come the "what's wrong with Tiger" columns! 

6:39 - Our first Cialis ad appearance...what's with the dual bathtubs though? 

6:43 - Richard Green's eagle on 14 moves him to 7-under on the day, 5-under for the championship. One more and he can tie the all time low round in a major, two more and they'll have to lock John Philp in a room without sharp objects.

6:46 - McGinley holes out from a bunker, our UK eyes and ears having told us it happened about 6 minutes ago...while we were away. 

6:50 - Those newly added grass mounds look ridiculous on No. 3.

6:51 - Nice "God dammit" from Tiger on 9; "we hear and see his frustration" - Tirico...before we race to commercial break 5 of the hour. 

6:53 - How much money did they pay Jenkins and Feherty to do these Crowne Plaza ads? Brutal. 

6:57 - The assistant trainer for the Miami Dolphins has sat down for a chat with Tom Rinaldi. Wait, no, it's Ben Curtis, fresh off a 65.

6:59 - Sergio birdies No. 3, makes his second straight putt of decent length, moves to -10 and a four shot lead before Stricker misses a short birdie try. Oh, time to see what Tiger's doing at -2! Meanwhile Richard Green, playing thanks to Woody Austin, pars 16 from the gunch to remain in contention for a 63.

7:08 - Richard Green! Birdie on 17. Par on 18 will post a 63 and -6. Carnoustie's integrity...remains completely in tact. 

7:11 - Peter Alliss is in the booth, must be time for a commercial break! Els goes to -6 with a birdie on 6 and his 8 there yesterday looms even more.

7:13 - Sergio hits driver on 5, ball hangs on edge of bunker. Alliss: "Moments like this make you wish you'd taken up the game lefthanded." 

7:22 - Green's par putt on 18 slips by, will post 64.

7:23 - Sergio bogies No. 5. Andy North: "only his fourth birdie of the week, which is incredible on a golf course setup like this." Azinger comes to the rescue and clarifies it's a bogey.

7:32: ABC's GolfTrak on 6 yesterday: Segio's clubhead speed was 11 miles an hour faster than Stricker, and his ball speed was 15 mph faster, but their balls were only 6 yards apart.  Toda, Garcia's ball speed was 21 mph faster, carry was 280 vs. Stricker (3 wood) at 251 yards. Azinger: "it's almost become a science to optimize your distance and part of the reason guys are bombing it this day and age is because of technology, not steroids."

7:40 - Sergio salvages par on 6, Stricker misses birdie putt to get within two shots, remains at -6. Els three back at -6 through 8, Romero -6 through 10. 

7:42 - This just in from TNT: Bobby Clampett on Sergio Garcia:  “(Sergio Garcia) is an emotional player.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and with the crowd pulling for him like they are, this is big for Sergio.” 

7:43 - More deep, deep, deep insights from TNT's press department: Clampett on golfers’ approach:  “(Golfers) can only control what (they) do.  (They) can never control anything else and that is where all the focus needs to be.  (A golfer’s) mindset needs to be, ‘If I go out and shoot a 65 or 64 today and see what happens.’”
 
Clampett’s advice for golfing in the rain:  “You need to have a rain glove, not many people put a rain glove in their golf bag.  You’re going to get wet unless you have a caddy who can keep you dry all the time and (you have) seven dry towels in the bag.” 

7:55 - Sergio bogies 7 with a short iron into the green. "Things changing rapidly" - Alliss. I'll say. Romero holes bunker shot. to move within 1!!!!  

8:00 - Sergio -8, Romero -7, Els -6, Harrington -6, Stricker -6 

8:02 - Judy Rankin: "the conditions have really changed" as Romero loses 2-iron right on 12. Sergio bogies 8. Romero now tied for the lead, looking for his ball in the gorse.

8:05 - Time to say goodbye to Peter Alliss. He got in at least 10 sentences during his hour.  

8:10 - Tom Meeks called in for explanation of Romero options. Keeps referring to his ball and the "ho." 

8:12 -  Romero makes double on 12, Gannon and Faldo questioning why he didn't try to get a yardage for his recovery play. I'm not sure it would have made much difference since he hit a pretty impressive recovery shot.

8:21 - Sergio's clubhead speed 122 off 10 tee, Stricker at 108.  Leaderboard update: Sergio -7, Els -6, Harrington -6, Stricker -5, Romero -5.

8:39 - Romero birdies 13 and 14! Three way tie at the top: Garcia, Harrington, Romero with Els one back.

8:43 - Romero is playing in just his third major. Here's his play summary from Yahoo... 

8:45 - Tiger lips out on 18 for birdie. Tirico: Tiger this week...fairways hit 46th, GIR 31st, Putting 20th, 1 for 8 from sand.  Faldo: "he's seriously stuck with his golf swing right now."

8:50 -  Our UK eyes report Romero makes his third birdie in a row after his double. Meanwhile, we were at commercial and now doing a Tiger interview.

8:53 - Romero takes the lead...in America! His ninth birdie! 6-under on the round.

img_528_6050.jpg&obj=iip,1.0&wid=107&hei=154&rgn=0,0,0,0&cvt=jpeg8:56 - Romero sticks it 15 feet right of the hole on 16! Let's go to 14 to see Ernie's...eh, no, commercial break. 

8:58 - Romero birdies 16!  At least, according to our UK eyes! Oh here it comes at 8:59! No pars since the 7th hole! 10 birdies on the day! Here's his Euro Tour bio page.

9:02He's got a website, in English!!

9:07 - Coming back from commercial, Romero is in the hay, Azinger lets out a "Jeeeeese"

9:08 - Romero's 2 iron careens off the wall, goes left, past 18 tee, out of bounds! Wow. We need a crane or blimp shot, the BBC has nothing.

9:09 - Sergio drains birdie on 13! Romero hits epic recovery after the OB shot with a hybrid. Still smiling.

9:10 - Harrington tight for eagle on 14, makes it! Moves to -9!!! We need a commercial break!

9:13 - Judy Rankin on Romero's shot going OB on 17: some of the "worst luck I've ever seen." 

9:18 -  We're busy plugging the advertisers whose ads we just watched. Oh and time for Dell's driving solutions with Andy North. Oh joy!

9:20 - Sergio flies it to the back of 14 green, Tirico estimates 265 as an iron. 

9:23 - Romero on 18, okay, yanks it but we've got Garcia on 14 and Els on 16 and Harrington on 15 so let's go to...commercial! 

9:27 - Harrington lags on 15...well a few minutes ago. Garcia lags on 14 to about 8 feet, drains the birdie putt! 

9:29 - Romero chips up not very well on 18, but we have Harrington moving to 16 tee and Sergio on 15, so what better time than to watch...a commercial! 

9:30 - Our UK eyes report that Romero's in with bogey on 18, leader in the clubhouse at -6. Instead, we're seeing Lee Trevino tell Dan Jenkins and Alice Cooper that he never uses a yellow tee.

9:32 - Harrington sticks it on 16, oh and we see Romero finishing up at 9:33. Thanks.

9:35 - Harrington's birdie putt takes a long look at the bottom of the cup and passes. Sergio has 268 into 15, is just short of the front left bunker, Faldo says it's probably "a big break for him." I think that makes it an ideal time to hear yet more words from our sponsors!

9:42 - Sergio hits fine shot from tough stance on 15 where he's on cusp of the bunker. Harrington tees off on 17, hits the fairway. The excitement is building, and...NO WAY. Another commercial break!

9:45 - Garcia misses his par putt on 15, we're watching a promo for some lousy looking new show called Dirty Sexy Money. 

9:46 - "Awful, no chance" -Azinger on Sergio's missed par putt. 

9:47 - 212-yard 7-iron by Harrington on 17. No wind. 52 degrees. It's the grooves! 

9:51 - Harrington makes 4 on 17, BBC cameraman leaves us dizzy. Garcia using the putter from off green on 16, hits it 2-3 feet. Very impressive shot.

10:02 - This just in, more people are standing in the fairway observing and working than are standing behind the ropes! 

9:53 - Harrington in the burn off 18 tee, almost makes it across the bridge. Garcia makes stellar par on 16. He's only 100 yards away notes Terry Gannon, nice BBC crane shot pans out and gives us the scene. Faldo says "it's like the first night on a camping holiday with your girlfriend, the excitement's intense!" 

9:58 - Harrington is dropping right in front of Garcia on 17 tee. Surreal.  Wait, even more surreal, Sergio and Harrington cross each other on the bridge. Wild! The fans give it a "whooooa" and Tirico says it's one of the great shots you'll ever see.

10:02 - This just in, there are more people inside the ropes on 17 and 18 than outside the ropes!

10:04 - "Nice five iron" for Sergio on 17.

10:04 - "Double burn." -Tirico. Harrington hits it fat, bounces in burn on 18 green. Unbelievable tension! : "Van de Velde is going to look good." -Faldo  The tension is too thick, please give us a commercial break. Oh thank you ESPN on ABC!

10:07 - In lieu of Harrington's walk up 18, we got a Bridgestone tire ad followed by Titleist. Thanks. Oh, we're back, Sergio on 17 for birdie. Nice speed, tap in. Andy North, does Sergio know what is going on? North says Sergio had his head down, paying attention to the hole at hand.

10:09 - Harrington sticks his wedge, double looks promising. Sergio comes to 18 tee. They have to wait on McGinley and DiMarco. Andy North: "he's going to have 10 minutes to wait." Faldo whistles.

10:13 - Harrington makes it, cut to Sergio taking a deep breath on 18 tee. Cut to commercial. How much longer is ABC on ESPN ESPN on ABC's contract with the R&A? Faldo and Azinger and Tirico are great, but not great enough to make up for this disaster.

10:15 - Sergio hits iron off tee, 245 to hole according to our BBC eyes. We're watching a Cadillac ad here in the US! 

10:17 - Now we see it...live on tape! 

10:21 - If you took over 6:18 for the proverbial shot of the trophy engraver, you win!

10:21 - Sergio has to wait on the bunker raker according to Bill Kratzert. The guy is taking his sweet time Sergio has the club pulled, waiting. The guy is waving to the crowd. Faldo: "You're not ___ marble at the Sistine Chapel mate." What did Faldo say?

10:22 - Left bunker. Not bad. His mom is starting to breath again. Sister looks just like him! 

10:25 - Sergio is walking up 18...and we're getting a bloody Van De Velde flashback! Unreal. 

10:26 - We go from Sergio walking on 18 to his bunker shot, just enough time for Andy North to tell us the lie is good. He knocks it about 8 feet past the hole, pretty good shot in the circumstances. 

10:27 - Stricker tries to get out of Sergio's way quickly. We have the ESPN logo at the top of the screen in addition to the ABC. Sergio just misses. Playoff is 1-16-17-18.

10:40 - From our UK eyes and ears, Mark James: "I don't know who designed the course, but for the first 15 holes it's fine, but then it seems like the guy went through a messy divorce." 

10:42 - They were unable to find the flagstick for the first! Mark James again from our BBC viewer: "We could get that chap who gave a speech at the writers dinner to stand next to the hole"  

10:44 - Playoff, Padraig goes with 3 or 4 wood off tee. Sergio hits iron, backs off for laugher, stripes it, just trickles in first cut.

10:50 - Garcia, 172 out, hits in front bunker, Andy North says it's plugged. Harrington sticks approach. Garcia's bunker shot stops short. He's still away. Bogey five, Harrington drains his. Leads by 2.

11:00 - Garcia's ball hit the flagstick on 16. Harrington left of the green where Garcia was in regulation.  Harrington hits nice recovery putt, makes 3 footer for par, Garcia leaves birdie putt short.

11:07 - Azinger: "There's no strategy here," talking about the 17th. No advantage for driver or iron off tee in his view.  Both down the right side, Harrington hits first from 225, sticks it 6 feet? Big smile. Garcia has 218 yards, had 219 earlier according to Andy North. Garcia hits it 15 feet left of the hole, just misses.

11:18 - Harrington's putt snaps! Wow did that break hard. He goes to 18 two up.

11:20 - Padraig pulls hybrid, trying to pick a line, stripes it, no run, "that's way back" - Faldo.

11:22 - Sergio hits driver down the left, "perfect lie and perfect angle" - Azinger  "Perfect angle" -Tirico...it's right outside their booth...and in the rough. Perfect angle, from the rough. Ugh. Judy Rankin says that Padraig might not even be able to get home in two. Meanwhile the engraver has Harrington stenciled in!!  He's 268 to the hole, does he lay up? Has to... 

11:27 - Harrington lays up with 7 iron, has full wedge left. Sergio's lie is good. 233 yards, slight upslope, will affect shot according to Andy North. "If I hit five and it comes out hot I'm going to hit the clock." -Garcia  Hitting big 6, sticks it 18 feet left of hole! Great shot.

11:30 - Harrington hits it outside Sergio, appears he's going to give him the line. Harrington gulps as he walks up 18, Sergio's already there.

11:34 - Harrington's putt slides by an uncomfortable distance. So does Sergio's birdie putt. Sergio drains. Padraig, just over 3 feet to win the Open. ESPN logo on the screen please...he makes it! 11:37. BBC cameras don't know what to shoot..anything but the right thing!

11:40 - They're dancing in the streets of Dublin by now. Never again will we have to read about Europe's winless drought in the majors. Well, not for a while anyway.

11:46 - These ESPN microphones are really letting the ABC brand down! Padraig's first 20 seconds are silent in his interview with Tom Rinaldi.

11:48 - Martin Kippax is hosting the R&A ceremony. We've found the cure for insomnia. He's reading from his notes in slow motion, right?  Uh Martin, we have affiliates waiting for us to switch over the Indy race here. Might we pick up the pace lad?

11:51 - Low amateur Rory McIlroy is wearing Puma's fall line for the awards ceremony. Ah amateur golf. 

11:52 - Sergio picks up his silver plate. He'll be slipping that under his Maserati to collect leaking oil. 

11:56 - Ah, he's thanking his pit crew now. That's it, ESPN on ABC has heard enough. Time to say goodbye. Tirico: "this has been like riding a bike." See you guys at the Ryder Cup in 2008. Does that mean they won't be back at the 2008 Open? Oh well, over and out.

Saturday
Jul212007

Sunday's Open Championships Clippings

openlogo.jpgWhen ABC wrapped up Sergio's round, Paul Azinger noted that he believed it was a good thing Sergio missed his last birdie putt, reasoning that he would be just a bit less likely to take Sunday for granted. When I heard Azinger say it, I wasn't so sure, but now I'm thinking he has a point. We'll know soon enough.

22serb.jpgJohn Huggan files the game story for Scotland On Sunday while Doug Ferguson offers this in his AP piece:

Garcia showed no signs of flinching, especially on the final hole. He hit a 5-iron from 220 yards that was so pure he chased after it, screaming out instructions with an intensity that showed he already knew the outcome.

“Oh, be good,” he said. “BE GOOD!”

It hopped onto the green and stopped 12 feet left the flag, and the only disappointment was having to settle for par.

“I wanted to make the putt on 18 just for them, and to hear the roar, that would have been just out of this world,” said Garcia, who was at 9-under 204 and holding the 54-hole lead in a major for the first time.

WoodsSatAndyLyons_600x450.jpgHuggan also looks at Tiger's position.

The putting, too, needs some work, despite his apparent contentment with his stroke. An average of 29 this week is but average for a leading professional. Then again, maybe we should not be too surprised. This would not be the first major title Woods has failed to win because of shoddy work on and around the greens. While we have all marvelled at his ability to hole out where other, lesser, players would be succumbing to the pressure of the moment, his short game, statistically at least, does not live up to that stellar reputation. This year he lies 100th in scrambling on the PGA Tour.

But I don't know about this...

Woods is a better player tee-to-green than he was back in 2000, when he won three of the four major championships. But he did so almost without missing a putt of any consequence. The swing he used at that time wasn't effective enough for him to win without making more than his fair share with the shortest club in his bag. Now Woods can win even when his putting is no better than average.

Mark Reason says it's not over until they've played 18, so he looks at its design evolution and various horror stories.

A BBC report captures Tiger's suggestion that since Paul Lawrie came back from 10 the final day in 1999, anything is possible Sunday.

Frank Hannigan signed up for the LiveUKTV site that afforded BBC access and serves up several gems...typos corrected:

No commercials obviously is a blessing. The American carriers TNT and ABC-ESPN sell the British Open to death. The audience is "away" from golf about ll minutes an hour. The R&A should be ashamed of itself for allowing a contract permitting such excesses.

And...

Full disclosure insists I reveal that Mr. Alliss is a close friend. That doesn't mean he is not the greatest ever to do golf talking. Why? Another day.

The decision by the small bore minds who run ESPN to hire young Alliss, age 76, to do some of their weekend television was made only at the last minute and, undoubtedly, under pressure from the R&A and its secretary Peter Dawson.

Steve Elling looks at Steve Stricker's epic 64:

Longtime caddie Tom Mitchell leaned up against a metal rail, his head down, as he tried to organize his thoughts and describe the amazing metamorphosis of his boss.

 Then, something clicked and his eyes brightened.

“If you change the things you think about,” he said, all Yogi Berra-like, “the things you think about will change. Does that make sense?”

Does it ever. Nobody has walked that home-made talk more than Steve Stricker, who reinvented his work ethic, readjusted his goals and his flagging attitude, then resurrected his career.

A mere 1½ years after he flopped at PGA Tour Qualifying School in an attempt to resuscitate his game, Stricker shot a 7-under 64 to match a course record at fabled Carnoustie Golf Links, leaping into second place, three shots behind 54-hole leader Sergio Garcia.

DiMarcoSatHole2WarrenLittleGetty_450x600.jpgFerguson also files this focusing on Chris DiMarco and his resurgence, though I feel less sympathetic about his shoulder injury after reading this...

There was an injury last year when he slipped during a ski vacation, and a flask in his back pack jabbed him in the ribs. He has taken a cortisone shot for his left shoulder, which might need surgery at one point.

Damon Hack zeroes in on Jim Furyk, who had this to say about his links preparation:

“When I came over, I didn’t do a good job of adjusting, and a good player should,” he said. “You should be able to adjust both ways and be able to play. A good player will come over and adjust in any conditions and play well. I just didn’t do a good job of it.”

Jim Litke hopes this is the beginning of a Tiger-Sergio feud rivalry.

AP's Paul Newberry ponders Ernie Els's devastating triple on the 6th hole, an 8 that marred an otherwise excellent card.

Newberry also reports on John Senden's wacky 18th hole approach shot. Naturally it's not on YouTube.

Golf.com supplies the best of SI's Saturday photos, including the woman hit by an errant Tiger shot...

TigerHitFanAP_600x450.jpg David Davies in the Sunday Telegraph files a diary of observations, including a note about Peter Dawson outdriving Vijay three times in a pre-Open round.

Tim Glover files a similar diary.

Graham Otway says Paul McGinley believes he still has a shot.

Gary Van Sickle picks the five he believes still have a chance. McGinley isn't one of them and he says Tiger's going to need a 61 or 62.

Rex Hoggard thinks it's got the makings of a classic Sunday, I think and hope Sergio makes it a fun stroll because A) he's due, (B) golf needs him to take it to the next level and (C) we really need a major where the course is set up decently and where it separates the field organically. So far so good.

Tom English points out the absurdity of all the player insistence that golf could not possibly be impacted by performance-enhancing drugs...

PHIL Mickelson feels certain that golf has not been touched by the scourge of performance-enhancing drugs, so much so that when asked last week what the punishment might be if one of his fellow players was caught taking something he shouldn't be taking, the world No.2 dismissed it with a wave of his hand. "I don't know what the punishment should be," he said, "but I don't think there's even a remote chance that [doping] will happen."

Nick Faldo said the same thing yesterday. "Bottom line, nothing helps golf," he announced, emphatically.

Nothing, Nick? Not even a remote chance, Phil? One question here, chaps. How the hell would you know? Have you studied the possible benefits of steroids or Human Growth Hormone and concluded that there is absolutely no advantage to be gained by taking them? Have you done a quickie course in endocrinology while we weren't looking? How can you be so definite? What research have you done? Name the expert who says that golf has nothing to fear from performance-enhancing drugs and we'll say no more about it. Just one expert. Bet you can't.

And finally, semi-Open related, Dan Manoyan catches up with Bob Rosburg.

Rossie can be heard on Golf Channel's broadcast from Milwaukee and also during ABC ESPN on ABC's memorable and oddly emotional (at least for me) segment on Jean Van De Velde's collapse.

Q: What are some of your most memorable moments as a broadcaster?

A: Probably three things stand out. No. 1 was the first time I covered the British Open in '77, (Tom) Watson and (Jack) Nicklaus had the great duel that year. They were one shot apart but 10 ahead of everybody else. It was unbelievable golf. Another time was Watson pitching in at No. 17 on Pebble Beach (1982 U.S. Open) to beat Nicklaus. The other was the whole (Jean) Van de Velde thing (at the 1999 British Open). I was there and it took 45 minutes to play the hole. I was thinking to myself, this will be nice. I can go home, have a couple drinks, get some dinner and be on the plane the next day. Two hours later, I'm still out there and it's raining.

Q: What was your most embarrassing moment as a broadcaster?

A: Oh, I don't know. A lot of times I have said something like "he's got no chance" and then he'll knock it stiff. I have felt you have to say something before the shot, not second-guess after. I'm out there to give my opinion before the shot. Sure, I've made mistakes, but I've never had a player come up to me and get mad at what I said. You have to have an opinion or there is no sense being out there.

Saturday
Jul212007

"Rough misses the point of golf."

Geoff Ogilvy pens a Scotland On Sunday guest column about rough.

Rough is golf's most boring hazard and too much of it on any course can only lead to less interesting play. Rough misses the point of golf.
Fast forward...
It's commonsense really. Golf has to be more interesting if we can stand on tees and decide for ourselves what club to hit and where to hit it.

Take the fourth hole here at Carnoustie. In the first round last Thursday, the pin was tucked away behind the bunker on the left side of the green. So the ideal spot for the drive was actually ten yards or so into the rough on the right. Which was where I chose to hit. I was prepared to accept a less-good lie in order to create a better angle for myself. In the end, I pushed my drive a bit and ended up on the 15th fairway, which gave me an even better line in. But the fun part of the whole process was the standing on the tee and working it out.

Don't get me wrong though. I'm not anti-rough necessarily. Rough like we have here this week gives the talented player a chance to recover.

Which is great and as it should be. The recovery shot might be the most exciting thing to watch at this level. But it disappears completely when the set up is overly penal. When that is the case, there is no point in being good at recovery shots; you'll never get to try one.
And... 

Look also at the 69 Tiger Woods shot in the third round of the US Open at what was almost a rough-covered Oakmont last month. We had the best golfer in the world - one of the two best ever - playing close to his best and he could manage only one under par? All that proves is that there is something wrong with the course.

Happily, none of the above has been the case here at Carnoustie, even if I did miss the cut. Take a close look at the way this great links has been set up this week.

This is the way your own course should be presented for the club championship. The rough is an annoyance but not the end of the world.

You have to hit two good shots on any hole to make a birdie. The greens are running at a speed where you can put the pin in almost any spot on almost every green. It has been a fascinating test.

Saturday
Jul212007

Open Championship Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 3

Why, who is that bitter man tailing Sergio? Oh why, no...is that USGA President (thankfully not for much longer) Walter Driver? I'm bet Walter thinks the gallery is clapping for him. Captured by SI's Bob Martin and posted at golf.com:

GarciaSatBobMartin_600x450.jpg 

Saturday
Jul212007

Hjorth, Miyazato, Lee and Kim Set For HSBC Final Four

And if you know their first names, well, you really are watching way too much of Golf Central.

Saturday
Jul212007

Saturday Open Live Blog

openlogo.jpgAll times Pacific Daylight Time...

6:31 - Watched the first half hour in bed with Jeeves serving me tea and crumpets. Great to have Faldo-Azinger-Tirico back, what a difference in style. Azinger was wearing his granny glasses when their on camera opening started, creating the first opportunity for ribbing.

6:32 - Is Ivor Robson selling programs on the first tee? I'm not so sure about that podium and umbrella. 

6:41 - DiMarco birdies 17, heads to 18 -5 on the day and -3 for the tournament. Writers can feel their "all 4 majors will be over par stories" slipping away.

6:45 - Sergio birdies No. 1, goes to -7 with a three shot lead over Weir, Stricker, Jimenez, Choi. 

6:48 - Tiger fails to his his chip close on No. 12, Terry Gannon sounds dejected as they can feel his chances slipping away. Are ABC execs crying in his headset?

6:50 - A UK reader says they're talking grooves on the BBC, with Wayne Grady saying: "18 years ago they said there was no problem.  Now they say there is.  I could have told you that 18 years ago.  Square grooves make it easier to control the ball."  Uh Wayne, being able to drive the ball 300 yards with ease also makes it easy to control your second shots a lot better too! 

6:54 - DiMarco sticks it on 18, with a chance to get to tie the course record with his birdie putt. 

6:55 - ABC's GolfTrack graphic thingy is pretty cool, showing us that weird clump of grass added in the midst of the third fairway. It doesn't look too great. 

7:03 - Synergy baby! ABC features Tiger talking about the last four holes at Carnoustie...courtesty of his EA sports game, complete with EA logo and graphics of computer-generated Tiger playing the holes.  

7:11 - You know I thought that first hour featured an unusual amount of golf. And now I know why, here comes the commercial catch up. Plenty of time to read the paper.  Why now when Alliss is in the booth!?

7:22 - Tirico asks Alliss what he thinks of the setup: "a bit too easy" and he wishes more drivers would be hit, but he doesn't know how you do that without the players using a  "softer ball."

7:24 - And it's time for our third commercial break of the hour! Wow, really playing catch up!

7:33 - 1999 flashback and we get to hear Melnyk and Curtis Strange commentating. Oh how they aren't missed. 

7:37 - And now it's time for the affiliates to pay their bills. I think we can get two more breaks in before Tiger hits 18 tee! 

7:44 - Next commercial break, I think we could two more in before 8 am PDT! 

7:50 - Stricker drains a long par putt on 15 (well, he did it like 10 minutes ago). Remains 7 under on the round, course record in jeopardy, all balconies of that ugly hotel behind 18 are shut down as facility goes on a John Philp suicide watch. 

7:53 - And guess what, another commercial break! No. 6! 

7:54 - Our UK eyes report that Wayne Grady counted 53 people inside the ropes following Tiger as he played No. 18! 

7:57 - Azinger counts 34 people and four carts in the fairway behind Tiger!  

8:01 - Tiger scraps it around for a 69, Alliss says a lesser man would have been over 80. 

8:02 - Garcia and Choi have taken an hour and 30 minutes to play the first seven holes.  And we've seen an hour and a half of commercials. Yes, we're taking the first break of the 8 o'clock hour. Think we can match the six breaks last hour?

8:11 - Cool flashback of ABC's 1962 Open coverage at Carnoustie. Arnold Palmer tells Jim McKay that Troon was the toughest course he had ever played.

8:12 - Sergio moves to -8, takes a two shot lead over Stricker who has 18 to par for a new course record.

8:15 - Second commercial break of the hour. Long way to go to catch up with last hour! 

8:17 - Uh, I'm going to the mall soon to pick up one of those Sergio caps. Where should I go first? The adidas store or Hot Dog On-A-Stick? 

8:28 - And now yet another word from our sponsors. 

8:38 - Wow, Steve Stricker is getting choked up in his interview with Tom Rinaldi. Steve, hang in there bud, we need you strong for tomorrow so you can bring the trophy home. Oh wow, and he said "sorry" after Rinaldi passed it back to Tirico. Great to see such genuine emotion from one of our own! 

8:42 - Okay, the Jack playing 18 at St. Andrews RBS ad was cool the first time, but the third time and during our fourth commercial break, well, it loses its luster. 

8:53 - Back, wanted to really focus on commercial break 5, especially that Titleist NXT ad which has been airing all week. Goose bumps! 

8:55 - From our UK eyes and ears, Peter Alliss on BBC talking to Sam Torrance: "I heard your father was a tremendous success the other night at the golf writers' dinner. Brought the house down."  

9:08 - The golf course is fantastic [this time], no one could tell." -Stewart Cink on the difference between 1999 and 2007 

9:11 - Okay, I'm all for quirk on a links course, but watching John Senden's shot ricochet off the OB fence right, then hit the OB post left of 18 green and then bounce back onto the green, is just a bit much.

9:17 - Garcia -9, Stricker, -6, Weir -4, Choi -4, Jimenez -4

9:18 - Tom Meeks is here, mentioning the movable obstruction cables, was that Azinger snickering in the background? And watching the Tiger drop from early in the week, Meeks noted that the cables seemed movable but the man on the ground determined they weren't. Boy what a difference he got in terms of lie! From thick rough to matted down stuff. Ah, doesn't matter, he's not going to win...right?

9:44 - I'm back, Had a little browswer upgrade to run. I know you were worried that I'd nodded off. How could I with a course letting a great leaderboard play, and doing it all at a reasonable pace? I wish the US Open and Masters moved at this pace.

9:48 - What's with the lukewarm applause for Sergio's incredible shot on 16!?  Wow, what a shot. Are they all wearing mittens!?

9:53 - Uh, could those guys pile up a little more gear behind Sergio on 16? Are we setting up camp? 

9:55 - Garcia -9, Stricker -6, K.J. Choi -4, Els -3, Furyk -3 and remarkably, ABC doesn't find a way to put Tiger's name on that mini-leaderboard.

9:59 - Azinger: "if it weren't for Steve Stricker shooting 64, this would be a walk." 

10:05 - Sergio's second shot to 17 plunks a cameraman, naturally, all of the other photographers start taking a photo of their fallen comrade. Lovely. Sergio looks concerned when checking on the poor lad. Then pulls out a glove to sign. What do you write in a situation like that? "To The Poor Bastard I Nailed Plunked Hit With A Ball At Carnoustie On Open Saturday, Warmest Regards, Sergio."

10:09 - Whoa, Sergio hits a pretty little lob shot about 3 feet, gets up and down to stay -9. ABC stat: No bogies for Sergio in the last 23 holes, make that 24 now.

10:21 - Sergio calls for his second to "BE GOOD" on 18 and as Faldo notes, one of the rare 100% calls, as he sticks it 10 feet. What a shot. 220 yards, it's dark and rainy and cold with the burn to carry.

10:24 - Why is it that every year the unreserved seating in the grandstands is full, while the reserved seating is always about half empty?

10:26 - Sergio misses, but posts 68, leaving him at -9. Stricker is -6, oh wait, there's Walter Driver shaking hands with Sergio. So glad he was out there to observe the round! They truly will let anyone inside those ropes.

Friday
Jul202007

Saturday's Open Championship Clippings

openlogo.jpgA nice, diversified leaderboard--jeese, I sound like I'm writing about a mutual fund--has assembled at Carnoustie and Doug Ferguson's round two game story captures it better than I did. He also notes who will be missing:

Missing from the mix is Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut for the second straight time in a major.

Lefty figured he needed a par on the final hole to have any chance, then promptly hit a power fade into Barry Burn for double bogey and a 77. It was a setback for the three-time major champion, who lost in a playoff last week at the Scottish Open.

"I thought I was playing better than this," Mickelson said.

759-APTOPIX_BRITAIN_GOLF_BRITISH_OPEN.sff.embedded.prod_affiliate.81.jpgFor the UK perspective, here's James Corrigan's Independent game story.

Douglas Lowe focuses on Jim Furyk's play and his activities off the course.

Lorne Rubenstein is swooning over the magic of links golf, oh and Mike Weir whose struggles may be coming to an end.

Steve Elling focuses on Sergio's opening hole shank.

Brian Viner looks at Tiger's opening tee shot that ended up in the burn.

Golf.com shares 22 photos from round 2 including our final Monty shot of the week, taken by Fred Vuich...

MontyFriVuich2_600x450.jpgKevin Eason gets a few words from Monty on his failed bid to make the cut.

Michael Bamberger ponders the wonders of evening golf in Scotland.

Chris Lewis asks ten burning questions heading into the weekend.


Will Buckley likes the less commercial atmosphere at Carnoustie compared to the K Club.

Tim Glover considers the OB on 18 and the various victims of this extreme finishing hole.

In terms of difficulty, the 18th, with a scoring average in excess of 4.7, was playing the hardest, followed by the 15th, another hardcore par four, which was nearly averaging 4.5. The toughest holes were to be found on the inward nine.

The 18th, though, is the scariest of the lot and only 29 per cent of the field were hitting the green in regulation after the first two rounds. This figure compares to 88 per cent at the 11th.

Gary Van Sickle talks to Arron Oberholser, who not surprisingly has fallen in love with links golf, though he too has doubts about the 18th hole's OB.

"I don't know why they have that fence there, they don't need it," he said. "It would be a shame to have a guy come to the last hole with a one-shot lead, pull his second shot just a little bit and it goes out of bounds, and you've lost the British Open. This is 18 holes of great golf but that last one is questionable."

And notes from the Independent include several fun items, topped off by this, which you had to see on the telecast or later on The Golf Channel to full appreciate (and which I would post on YouTube if I had the capability): 

Alliss came up with another cracker when the television cameras lingered on a rear-view shot of a couple of certain age out on course. The woman was repeatedly tapping and tickling her chap's posterior. "Good job the cameras aren't the other side," Alliss said, alluding to the effects of the playfulness. "Or we might get a big surprise."
Friday
Jul202007

TNT's Coverage The First Two Days

Did anyone else watching the first two days of TNT's Open Championship coverage here in the States feel that the network had an excellent two days? They announcing mixes were kept fresh, preventing Bobby Clampett from ever being on the air long enough to start reaching into his bag of mysterious comments. Paul Azinger was a nice edition, though it would be nice to let Peter Alliss work alone for his hour. Jim Huber's pre-packaged pieces on Hogan and the Carnoustie 10th tee tea bar were excellent, and despite the BBC's typically wretched production values, the pictures were pretty interesting.

Of course, there were the announcing highlights that I know you all want to relive.

Peter Alliss on Tiger Woods’ second round struggles: “Well the old boy is out of sync. I don’t know if he’s missing mommy or daughter or son or whatever it is. It’s not like him to look bothered. He is looking like the American version of Colin Montgomerie.” 

Ouch.

Clampett on Jim Furyk’s second round : “(Jim Furyk) has been so close lately. I look for Jim to continue this run; he’s such a steady player right at the peak of his game. Carnoustie is a golf course that as it dries out more, we can see a little sunshine in the distance, the wind is supposed to pick up, that will favor a guy like Furyk.”

Uh huh.

Terry Gannon on European drought of winning a Major : “There are a million reasons that people come up with why the Europeans have not won a Major yet. They (do) win the Ryder Cup. I’m not sure there’s one that really holds water in the end. There’s a guy named Tiger Woods who wins a lot of (tournaments).”

Thankfully, some common sense!

Clampett on Garcia’s cautious play : “(Sergio Garcia) is just tentative and that’s really going to hold him back, because that’s indicative of what’s going on in his mind right now. He knows he has the lead and he’s a bit protective.”

Uh, Bobby it's Friday and the holes were tucked. Cut the kid some slack!

Clampett on Vijay Singh’s out-of-bounds shot on the 18th fairway : “That’s what I feel is unfair about 18. I would prefer them to grow rough over there (instead of bleachers). It just makes the penalty so unfair. I know other players share my sentiments as well.”

Hey, good point!

Johnson on Choi’s successful shot from the “Barry Burn” : “That shot had YouTube (website) written all over it.”

Ernie, uh how do I put this? Not enough people watch golf for items to get posted on YouTube. Sadly. Maybe that'll change one of these days.

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Nick Faldo on how he feels after his second round: “I’m feeling old.  There are three departments of this game.  There’s the swing and everyone’s different.  There’s the physical side and everything aches.  There’s the mental side and I’m shocked.  Apart from that, I’m feeling spot-on.”

Faldo on his son, Matthew, being his caddy : “That’s probably the number one reason why I’m out there doing this because I’m standing there thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’ He’s great; he was encouraging me all the way. Every time I hit a shot he’d say, ‘Forget it, come on. Stay loose, relax. You can birdie this one.’ And I’d say ‘Matthew, we’re in the ditch.” But he’s always positive.”

Ah, glad he's joining the booth this weekend! 
Johnson on Woods wearing gloves to warm his hands as the temperature drops at Carnoustie : “The gloves have come out. Tomorrow, the gloves come off in round three.”

Oy. 

Friday
Jul202007

Meeks Chimes In!

Meeks_1.jpgTNT asks Tom Meeks to chime in on Alan Holmes's dreadful and unorthodox relief ruling for Tiger Woods, and even the former USGA man had trouble endorsing what was done. Thankfully for Holmes, Peter Alliss was there to rescue the embattled rules, uh, expert. Sort of. 

Meeks reported that Holmes picked up the television cables, found "tension" and determined they could not be moved.

"In his opinion they were not readily movable."

Alliss then chimed in: "he tried to lift them. It's none of his business."

Precisely. Which of course was the most unusual aspect of it all. The official taking a proactive approach like that. Right?

So naturally, Alliss then said, "The fact remains that it really doesn't matter," and that Tiger "dropped it in a worse place than he was in before."

Huh?

Alliss then went on about how the papers have "blown it all out of proportion" as they tend to do with all of these things like Gary Player's remarks.

Come on Peter...either the rules of golf matter or they don't.

Friday
Jul202007

What's The Risk?

During Friday's TNT Open Championship telecast, Peter Dawson sat down with Paul Azinger and Ernie Johnson to tell us what an irresponsible man Gary Player was for not outting someone during his Wednesday press conference. (I'll post the exact remarks when TNT hopefully sends them out.)  Peter Alliss chimed in later with the same remark, that Player should have named names.

Dawson had to scold Player for making such a surprise statement and he made sure to let us know that he believes golf is clean. Oh but, by the way, the R&A is initiating a drug testing policy at the same time!

Now, if Player is so off base and out of line and golf is so clean, why would the R&A be establishing a policy?

More perplexing was Azinger, who suggested that a drug testing policy and program was a "risk."

Other than the cost, policy issues and annoyance factor, what is the risk?

That up and coming players might be discouraged from popping an Effexor or injecting themselves with something that won't help their long term health?

What's the risk of drug testing in golf?
 

Friday
Jul202007

More USGA Groove Spin

The USGA has posted two more reports on why U-grooves need to be banned. One report, the "Long Rough Height Report," is a reply to former USGA technical director Frank Thomas's suggestion that they should just grow more rough because after 4 inches of the thick stuff, grooves don't matter. They have now proven Frank wrong! Oh joy!

The second report titled Reductio ad Absurdium PGA Tour Skill Rankings features all sorts of fancy graphs and charts about how driving accuracy means nothing to finish in the top 10 on the PGA Tour money list. After a cursory reading, I could not find one reference or even an acknowledgement of the role narrowed fairway widths have possibly played in chipping away at driving accuracy statistics.

I suppose that would make a big mess of the premise.

What I find most fascinating with both reports is the USGA's astounding determination to protect the integrity of rough. They are willing to ask every golfer to change out their U-grooved clubs so that rough, a cancer upon the game which has only been introduced and harvested through the years to quell distance gains, is preserved.

Meanwhile, a ball rollback would bring distances back in line with the existing architecture of thousands of courses, allowing for the integrity of a course design to be restored via width and shot values. Rough would be a minor part of the game, used on courses looking to save money on maintenance.

Instead, the governing body of North American golf appears willing to do just about anything to preserve a non-architectural element that only adds time to rounds and misery for most golfers. For the good of the game?

Thursday
Jul192007

Friday's Open Championship Clippings

openlogo.jpgDoug Ferguson's round 1 game story on Sergio Garcia's impressive course record 65. And for the UK perspective, here's Lawrence Donegan's take for The Guardian.

Alan Shipnuck offers a decent reason not to root for Sergio.

0719_mcillroy.jpgPaul Kelso tells us more about 18-year-old Rory McIlroy, who beat Tiger Woods.

McIlroy's talent has been an open secret in Northern Ireland for some years and he has been nurtured by support from the Sports Council and the Irish Golf Union, who have funded his career worldwide since he left school aged 16 with "a few" GCSEs.

He resisted the lure of travelling to America to complete his golf education in the university system - "I didn't really fancy the school part," he conceded - preferring to stay within the amateur fold in Europe and take up the occasional invitation to professional events.
My kinda kid!

Tan, rested and ready, embattled Carnoustie greenkeeper John Philp finally spoke to a media member and of course, sounds like he really wishes the course was a whole lot tougher, like '99.  Graham Spiers was the lucky inkslinger:
“There’s no doubt the course is easier,” Philp said. “There is no longer the intimidation factor on the tee for the players because the fairways are wider and the rough isn’t as dense. This time, the players can definitely feel more comfy on the tee. The course is not as fearsome.”
And that's a good thing, right John? I guess not if your ego is all tied up in a high winning score.

 

Tony Jimenez reports that Retief Goosen didn't take kindly to Gary Player's performance enhancing drug accusations... 

"I don't know what Gary was trying to prove," the world number 11 told reporters after launching his British Open challenge with a one-under-par 70 on Thursday. "I am very shocked at his comments.

"I don't know why he said that. I don't know if he is trying to damage the sport. If he wants to come and make these comments, why doesn't he name them?"

And of course if Player named names, he's be roasted even more!

mont.jpgAllan Patullo on Monty's grumpy (I know, shocking) post round demeanor.

No wonder he slammed his putter into his bag at the 18th. There was little surprise, too, when he by-passed reporters afterwards and headed instead for the putting green. Seasoned Monty watchers had seen this movie before, one that might be titled The Changeling.

But it doesn't look like he'll be brandishing a winner's cheque on Sunday, and nor is it likely that Monty the showman will be appearing in front of reporters any time soon. He gave us 3,677 words on Wednesday - golf is the sort of sport where such things are recorded - but we should have known some of these should have been kept for a rainy day.

And Lynne Truss of all people offers Monty a putting tip.

Claire Middleton tracked Ian Poulter down for a fashion compliment and got a revealing reply:

Poulter is usually one of the brightest fellows to follow on the course, but last year's Liberace sequins have been replaced by a more mellow olive check - which sounds pretty revolting, but is actually very smart.

He cheered up a bit when the Diary (feeling a bit blown away by the tirade above) mentioned this. "The clothing is a business and if you think it's smart, that's lovely," he said.

And here I thought he dressed like that because he actually liked wearing pink pants. 

Finally, John Huggan talked to Paul Casey about Nick Faldo's remarks that players need to be less chummy. Huggan picked up this SI "They Said It" worthy quote:

"The friendship obviously works well in team matches," said Casey. "But I know a lot of the guys who are friendly when they want to be friendly but can still be extreme competitors. I mean, Geoff Ogilvy is a good pal of mine and I took a lot from his US Open win last year. It hasn't paid off yet, but I've watched and learned. I think I'm as good as him. I don't go around saying it, but I think it a lot."

Uh Paul, you just went around saying it.