No asterisk necessary at this British Open

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
Follow the 137th Open Championship all week on GOLF CHANNEL. Click for our TV schedule!
 
Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- The claret jug deserves an asterisk.
 
How else to describe a British Open in which the winner did not have to beat the best player around? Your name is engraved on the oldest trophy in golf, but did you really earn it? Was it a true test?
 
Were talking, of course, about the 76 British Open at St. Andrews.
 
That would be 1876.
 
Davie Strath was in the lead and on the 17th hole when he hit his third shot while the group ahead was still on the green. The ball hit one of the players and stopped near the hole, instead of possibly running over the back of the green and onto the road. He two-putted for 5, took a double bogey on the 18th and finished two rounds at 176 to tie with Bob Martin.
 
But there was a protest about Straths play on the 17th, and the Royal & Ancient committee decided it would rule on the complaint following a playoff Monday. Strath insisted the committee decide before the playoff, and he refused to play until it did.
 
Ultimately, all Martin had to do was walk the Old Course in the playoff to win the claret jug.
 
Now thats an asterisk.
 
Shooting the lowest score at Royal Birkdale without Tiger Woods in the field?
 
Thats a major champion.
 
I just hope theyve taught the engraver how to put an asterisk on the trophy, Geoff Ogilvy said, eyes rolling and sarcasm dripping. Then everyone will know what the tournament was all about.
 
Sergio Garcia has heard enough of the asterisk question to know what was coming Tuesday when someone asked whether 20 years from now, this would be remembered as the British Open that Woods didnt play.
 
He didnt even wait for the question to be finished.
 
It doesnt matter, he said. With all due respect, the Open is bigger than any of us, even Tiger Woods. Nobody is bigger than the tournament itself. If I manage to win this week, Im not going to go, Oh, I won the British Open, but Tiger wasnt there. I still have the claret jug, which is the most important thing.
 
Woods has as much of a chance to win as Kenny Perry because hes not here, done for the year after surgery on his left knee.
 
There is no denying something is missing from this British Open, the first without Woods since Turnberry in 1994. He was an attraction as an amateur, especially when he shot 66 in the second round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 1996, and certainly at every Open after that when he began piling up majors.
 
The gallery early in the week at Birkdale has been moderate at best. Woods brings a buzz to the British Open, even if hes usually done with his practice rounds before most fans can have a cup of tea and a bacon bap.
 
For this week, Im not overly disappointed that hes not here, Els said with a laugh. For the tournament itself, its a big blow. As a player, it feels different, to be honest. Its very different.
 
How is it different?
 
Well, you guys are writing up different stories now, he said to more laughter. Youve got to really work at it now.
 
Therein lies part of the problem, although the media cant be faulted.
 
Woods has received so much attention over the last dozen years that it seems at times as though no one else is playing the game. Then again, no one else has won 65 times on the PGA Tour and 14 majors before turning 33. The next best record from his generation belongs to Phil Mickelson, who has won 34 times and three majors.
 
In some respects, its fair enough because hes won a lot of golf tournaments and hes the best player of all time, Ogilvy said. Everyone knows what hes done. And the way it gets portrayed when youre actually watching a golf tournament, its as if he doesnt have any competition, which is not correct.
 
Someone suggested an asterisk for Ogilvys U.S. Open victory at Winged Foot, the only major where Woods missed the cut.
 
He started the tournament, Ogilvy said with a smile. I cant help it if he missed the cut.
 
And therein lies the answer.
 
Woods played all 72 holes last year at Carnoustie. He was an afterthought by the time Els faltered, Andres Romero made too many double bogeys, Garcia couldnt make a par and Padraig Harrington won in a playoff.
 
The worlds best player never seriously contended twice at Royal Troon, twice at Carnoustie, once at Royal Lytham. And he wasnt the only guy who caught the bad end of the draw at Muirfield in 2002, when he shot an 81 in the third round.
 
Paul Goydos summed it up best by bringing Jack Nicklaus into the conversation.
 
The aspects of professional golf are a number of different things, and one of them is that youre healthy, he said. So when you start hearing somebody write about maybe these next two majors need an asterisk, well, then we need to put an asterisk next to all 18 of Jacks. Because Tiger didnt play in any of those.
 
Woods wont be playing in this major.
 
This may be hard to believe, but the 137th British Open still starts on Thursday. Someone will shoot the lowest score, over 72 holes or in a playoff. Someone will hoist the silver claret jug.
 
And some might ask what would have happened if Woods had been around.
 
Thats OK.
 
Because questions arent etched in silver.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Open Tee Times
  • Full Coverage - Open Championship
  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

    Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

    Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

    Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

    Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


    Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

    Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


    The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


    Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


    And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

    Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


    Photo Galleries: Best of ...

    Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

    Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.