Can I have an afternoon tee time please

By Associated PressJuly 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
Follow the 137th Open Championship all week on GOLF CHANNEL. Click for our TV schedule!
 
Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England ' John Daly shot another 80, and it wasnt even worthy of a chuckle.
 
Heck, Ernie Els shot 80. So did Vijay Singh, whos never been videotaped hitting balls off a beer can or playing a round of golf sans shirt and shoes. And, if anyone comes across Sandy Lyle or Rich Beem, make sure they know how to get out of town.
 
Luck is a big part of golfs oldest championship, and that was never more evident than Thursdays opening round at the British Open. Tee times were just as important as the clubs in the bag ' maybe more so, given the dramatic turn of the weather that essentially turned one day into two.
 
If you were unfortunate enough to be sent off in the morning, well, the reward was a steady, sometimes driving rain and a howling breeze off the Irish Sea that occasionally gusted up to 35 mph.
 
Which was a big reason Els signed a scorecard that including a devilish stretch of holes ' 6-6-6 ' among its 80 strokes, the worst Open score ever for the Big Easy. Which is why Singh actually talked of playing pretty well after putting up the second-highest score of his Open career. Which is why Phil Mickelson thought anything in the 70s ' even a 79, which is what he shot ' would be a pretty respectable score.
 
It was miserable, miserable, miserable weather, moaned Singh, who just couldnt get off that theme. It was just a miserable day, he added.
 
Now, if you were one of those assigned a tee time with a p.m. attached to it, things were much different. While Royal Birkdale didnt suddenly transform into sunny, balmy Florida, the showers dried up and the wind tapered off ' which, for a golfer, is about all you can ask for at a links course along the Irish Sea.
 
We did get the better side of the draw, no doubt about it, said Greg Norman, who was one stroke off the lead after shooting 70. When you watch it in the morning, you feel sorry for the guys, but theres times when you say, Well, Ive been there before. Ive been on that side of the draw, too. Youve got to take it. It all balances out, and you have to take advantage of it.
 
The late starters sure took advantage of their meteorological advantage.
 
Rocco Mediate, Graeme McDowell and Robert Allenby were tied for the lead at 69. All played in the afternoon. Norman, Adam Scott and Bart Bryant found themselves deadlocked one shot back. Guess what time of day they played?
 
Anyone who didnt say afternoon might as well leave now. Besides, they probably still need some folks out at the sixth hole to look for Mickelsons ball, submerged somewhere in the prickly rough. Yep, Lefty played in the morning ' and paid the price, losing a ball along the way.
 
Among the top 14, only Retief Goosen and Mike Weir teed off in the morning. Both shot 71s that probably felt more like 61s. Going deeper, just four of the top 27 on opening day were morning starters.
 
Starting the day, I would have definitely taken a 1-over par given the weather we had when we started, Weir said. It was just tough to keep dry, and the wind was as strong as Ive ever seen.
 
Of the first 78 players who went out ' exactly half the 156-player field ' there were 19 scores in the 80s, three of them in Singhs group. Hunter Mahan and Reinier Saxton made it 80 across the board.
 
You got rain blowing sideways. It was cold. It was windy, said Singh, who played the first 11 holes at 10 over and insisted, I didnt play badly.
 
Lyle and Beem were on the way to exorbitant scores until they walked off the course without finishing, drawing the scorn of R&A honcho Peter Dawson, who accused them of not being professional. But it was certainly easy to sympathize with them based on their cards.
 
The 50-year-old Lyle, whos getting ready to play senior golf, was simply overmatched by the brutal conditions. He shot an 11-over 45 on the front side and called it a day after going out with some degree of dignity, a par at No. 10.
 
It was just constant rain all the time, he said. It was difficult keeping my hands dry and, of course, I wear glasses, so that didnt help. Its a brutal golf course.
 
Beem started this way: bogey, quadruple-bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey, double-bogey. He finally made his first par at No. 8, then bogeyed the next hole too. Already at 46 ' 12 strokes above par ' he saw no reason to go on.
 
If I had continued, I dont think I would have broken 90, Beem said.
 
Certainly, Kenny Perry must have been chuckling to himself after taking all that grief for deciding to skip the oldest of the majors because he didnt think it suited his game.
 
It got to the point where you just dont care, said Pat Perez, who went off in the second group of the day and shot 82. Now I know why Kenny stayed home.
 
Compare that with the afternoon. No one shot in the 80s. No one walked off. The average score was three strokes lower (74.4 compared to 77.4) than it was in the morning.
 
All because of a break in the weather.
 
I certainly would be the first to admit that, McDowell said. I sat at home this morning with my breakfast cereal and cup of coffee in my hand going, God, do I really have to go out there this afternoon? Obviously we got pretty lucky.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Open Championship
  • Full Coverage - Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

    Getty Images

    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

    Getty Images

    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

    Getty Images

    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.