Thence during its outward journey it skirts the sandhills on the landward side, and one or two of the holes are just a little inland in character and not particularly entertaining. The homeward journey is, on the whole, the more fascinating, and from the eleventh hole onwards there are a succession of hills and valleys of a truly heroic character. If, however, there are one or two dullish holes on the way out, the course begins splendidly with as good a two-shot hole as can well be; too good a hole almost to play so early before the match has had time to develop. BERNARD DARWIN on Portrush
Tom English on Adam Scott's collapse that he says ranks up there with the all time worst.
Maybe it's too soon, but I am having trouble with that assessment considering how much disaster loomed at Lytham and how close Scott was to winning. There was the bogey on 16 though.
His body language was still of a man in control, as his tee-shot on 16 illustrated. He ripped it down the middle and then played up on to the green. His birdie putt finished four feet away from the hole, then he missed the next one for par. Only then could you feel the tension in the air around him.
“The putt on 16,” said McDowell. “It was huge for him to miss that. I said to him when he hit his first putt, ‘good putt’. And he didn’t respond. He’d left himself a bit of a knee-knocker. That putt horseshoed on him and it was the start of a series of events that he’ll think a lot about tonight.”
“If I make the putt on 15 or 16,” said Scott, “it’s a very different position and a lot more comfortable. It’s a hard hole, 15, but a poor putt there. And then I let one slip at 16. We got to the 16th tee and we’d said (himself and Williams) that it’s six good swings from there to finish out a round. And that’s what I was trying to do.”
Again, a little strong in my view...James Lawton in the Independent:
It consumed Scott, it left him so hollowed out that on the final hole he simply kneeled and shook his head.
His denouement was one of the most shocking in the history of major tournament golf.
And pure class after, courtesy of ESPN:
ESPN’s live telecast of The Open Championship from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 21, earned the network’s highest metered market (overnight) rating since it started televising all four days of the championship in 2010.
The 3.0 rating was up 58 percent from the 1.9 rating ESPN earned for the same timeslot for last year’s Open Championship. ESPN’s early-morning (7-9 a.m.) coverage on Saturday earned a 1.2 overnight rating, up 9 percent from last year’s 1.1.
I walked with Tiger today and will be filing a story for Golf World, but obviously there was plenty to talk about: Ernie, Adam, Tiger, Lytham, flat-floored bunkers and the coverage.
The predicted breezes are here, whether they turn into the forecasts gusts of wind remains to be seen. Royal Lytham and St. Annes is drying out though some players finishing early have suggested the greens were slightly slower Sunday. Either way, the champion of the golfer of the year will be crowned and with such an attractive leaderboard we should have a splendid day.
The R&A's course notes:
Weather (provided on-site by the Met Office)
The southwesterly breeze has reached 13mph gusting 20mph so far this morning. It will continue to freshen this afternoon to 15 to 20mph with gusts 25 to 30mph. There remains a possibility of gusts of 35mph between 1500 and the close of play. Otherwise it will remain fine and dry today with further sunshine although cloud amounts will increase later.
Cutting Regime and Green Speeds
In view of the predicted wind speeds later today, the greens were single cut at 3.25mm. They were not rolled. The average pace this morning was 10.9 on the stimpmeter, compared to 11½ feet yesterday.
More of the bunkers with casual water have dried out. However, despite pumping last night and again this morning, there is still casual water in the bunker left of 15th green, the two left of 16th green and left of 17th fairway.
Total Course Yardage for Round Four (tee marker settings to flagstick)
7024 yards (as compared to the full yardage of 7086)
Hole 1 – Full yardage = 205y – Today = 214
Hole 2 – Full yardage = 481y – Today = 489
Hole 3 – Full yardage = 478y – Today = 479
Hole 4 – Full yardage = 392y – Today = 392
Hole 5 – Full yardage = 219y – Today = 223
Hole 6 – Full yardage = 492y – Today = 490
Hole 7 – Full yardage = 592y – Today = 599
Back right gathering hole location
Hole 8 – Full yardage = 416y – Today = 421
Back left hole location beyond the large left hand greenside bunker
Hole 9 – Full yardage = 165y – Today = 163
Hole 10 – Full yardage = 387y – Today = 387
Hole 11 – Full yardage = 598y – Today = 605
Hole 12 – Full yardage = 198y – Today = 198
Hole 13 – Full yardage = 355y – Today = 361
Hole 14 – Full yardage = 444y – Today = 448
Hole 15 – Full yardage = 462y – Today = 465
Hole 16 – Full yardage = 336y – Today = 324
Front left hole location which will increase the possibility of eagle for those going for the green with the tee shot
Hole 17 – Full yardage = 453y – Today = 449
Hole 18 – Full yardage = 413y – Today = 417
Hole in same location as when Seve Ballesteros won in 1988
John Huggan analyzes Tiger's conservative strategy of just five drivers through three rounds and comes away impressed but also points out why it might not work with Sunday's breeze.
And this week is similar. So far, the longest club in his bag has made only five appearances, as the 14-time major champion has plotted his way around a sadly soft and almost becalmed Royal Lytham.
James Lawton in the Independent was less impressed.
It was not the scoring, which saw Scott denied an eagle by the barest margin and the Tiger always giving himself too much to do to glean a birdie, but the profound difference in their strategies.
Really, it was a gulf. Scott slugged a drive with immense power and control. The Tiger once more elected to go with an iron. Scott powered his second shot beyond the pin. Woods was well short of the green. Even after the years of crisis, the convulsions in his life and the disruptions brought by injury, it did seem like another small defeat among many.
Oliver Brown's Telegraph story was headlined, "Tiger Woods' refusal to gamble leaves him struggling to reel in leader Adam Scott."
He sticks almost slavishly to his strategy of conservatism at all costs, refusing to swap his long irons for the driver as he resisted flirtation with Lytham’s 206 bunkers, but the approach succeeded only in increasing the deficit to Scott, the more enterprising Australian.
Why did he not take a few gambles? Why would he not try to intimidate Scott with his power-hitting? The questions were left hanging in the air on Saturday night, answerable only by Woods’s apparent assumption that Scott, still a flaky performer in the type of stiff winds forecast on Sunday, could yet falter. For a man five shots off the pace, though, that seems a bold supposition.
The sun was out, the wind is trying to blow and a key moving day at the 2012 Open Championship should provide for interesting viewing. Here's the current leaderboard.
The R&A's course setup notes and forecast:
Weather (provided on-site by the Met Office)
Fine and dry today with sunny spells and a gentle westerly breeze developing for this afternoon. West 5 to 10mph, becoming west to northwest later, Isolated gusts up to 15mph possible. High cloud amounts increasing this evening with a few spots of light rain possible overnight but no accumulations expected.
Cutting Regime and Green Speeds
The greens have increased in speed today. This morning, the greens were double cut at 3.25mm and they were rolled. The average pace this morning was 11 ½ feet on the stimpmeter, compared to 11.2 feet yesterday.
Many of the bunkers with casual water have dried out. However, despite pumping last night and again this morning, there is still casual water in approximately 8 bunkers, most notably right hand side of second green, left of 15th green and left of 16th green.
Total Course Yardage for Round Three (tee marker settings to flagstick)
7012 yards (as compared to the full yardage of 7086)
Hole 1 – Full yardage = 205y – Today = 198
Trickiest hole location so far for the first on left side behind front bunker
Hole 2 – Full yardage = 481y – Today = 482
Hole 3 – Full yardage = 478y – Today = 473
Mid right hole location should bring right hand greenside bunker into play
Hole 4 – Full yardage = 392y – Today = 384
Short left hole location that would have been used yesterday had it not been for the water in the bunkers left of the green
Hole 5 – Full yardage = 219y – Today = 208
Short right hole location may bring front right bunker into play
Hole 6 – Full yardage = 492y – Today = 496
Hole 7 – Full yardage = 592y – Today = 591
Hole 8 – Full yardage = 416y – Today = 405
Front right hole location may bring severe slope at front of green into play
Hole 9 – Full yardage = 165y – Today = 149
Hole 10 – Full yardage = 387y – Today = 377
Hole 11 – Full yardage = 598y – Today = 593
Hole 12 – Full yardage = 198y – Today = 200
Hole location on right hand tier for first time this Championship
Hole 13 – Full yardage = 355y – Today = 340
Interesting putting hole location at the front left of the green
Hole 14 – Full yardage = 444y – Today = 436
Hole 15 – Full yardage = 462y – Today = 465
Hole 16 – Full yardage = 336y – Today = 347
Hole 17 – Full yardage = 453y – Today = 450
Hole 18 – Full yardage = 413y – Today = 418
Back right hole location with a slope behind the hole will make for a difficult putt if the player is long
The dreaded, seemingly non-conforming long putter and the act of bracing it against the torso is 36-holes away from capturing the third leg of its dreamed of Grand Governing Body Headache...errr Slam.
Still, it is all but impossible to blame Scott for going down the long-putter alley, no matter how dark it might be. Before making the switch from short to long, the 31-year old Australian was approaching basket-case status on the greens. Now, he is a man transformed, someone who scoffs at even the slickest downhill left-to-right four-footer.
"My putting has improved out of sight," he admitted after his opening round of 64 here at Royal Lytham. "Two years ago I was 180th on the tour and now I'm pretty good. Better than average, I would say. So that's a big difference. A shot or two on average makes a big difference to my scorecard."
The ESPN highlights from round 2 and Scott's post round interview:
Doug Ferguson on the water bunkers at Lytham, where the saturated earth is sending ground water into many of the 205 pits, leading to some strange dilemmas.
No one said it was unfair. No one said the bunkers should have been declared out of play, as was the case for one bunker in the U.S Women's Open at Newport Country Club in 2006. After all, bunkers are supposed to be hazards.
These certainly were.
''A lot of bunkers out there are pretty much out of play,'' Branden Grace of South Africa said. ''That was the main goal for myself today, to stay out of them.''
**The Telegraph's Matt Scott, quoting Graeme McDowell about the bunkers following a second round 69 that left him T5:
"I saw one in particular left of the 16th green, if you hit it in there, there’s nowhere to drop and there’s a foot of water. That’s not golf.
“It’s not fair. A few of these bunkers that are question marks need to be taken out of play. Hopefully they can get them dried out overnight.
“The golf course has remained unbelievably dry considering how much rain we’ve had. The bunkers are a little dodgy in some places, unfortunately.”
How touching it was, then, to see Sergio Garcia consoling Robert Karlsson on the second fairway in practice, moments after an attack of the yips forced the Swede to withdraw. Garcia has conquered mental swing issues of his own in the past and spent 10 minutes with his arm round Karlsson's shoulder.