Notes Harried OHair Opens in 73

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Playing golf has always been the easiest part for Sean O'Hair. His first round in the British Open was no exception. After the travails he went through to get to St. Andrews, O'Hair seemed at home on the Old Course with a 1-over 73 that started out looking even better.
 
The 23-year-old rookie qualified for the Open four days ago when he won the John Deere Classic. The only problem was he didn't have a passport.
 
Sponsors of the John Deere went out of their way to fly O'Hair back home to Philadelphia, then pulled some connections with the White House to expedite a passport process that usually takes weeks.
 
O'Hair got in one practice round Wednesday, then was 2 under on the front before making three bogeys over his final seven holes.
 
'I had three three-putts on the back nine and that really killed me,' O'Hair said. 'So I am pleased with 1 over, but I think I could always do better than that. My goal tomorrow is to get it back in the red, and I think I know the golf course well enough by now to do that.'
 
THANKS FOR COMING:
Caddie Chuck Mohr walked briskly up nearly empty streets Thursday morning toward the Old Course. It was 5:45 a.m., and he and his boss, Bob Estes, were in for a long day.
 
Estes was the first alternate at the British Open. He had to be at there for the first tee time at 6:30 a.m., and couldn't leave until the last group went off nearly 10 hours later. Cleaning out his locker soon after, Estes had an empty feeling, especially after flying in from Texas on Monday with no guarantee of playing.
 
'The only thing that would have bothered me is if they called my name and I wasn't there,' Estes said.
 
He didn't get a tee time, but Estes got plenty of respect for going the extra mile -- about 6,000 in this case -- for a fleeting chance to play in golf's oldest major.
 
'I pretty much didn't think I'd get in, but I had to be ready,' said Estes, known for meticulous work habits. 'We got up really early. We were on the practice ground at 6 a.m. and doing a warm-up just in case, barring anyone getting sick or hurt. The next possibility would be somebody oversleeping and missing the morning tee time.
 
'The rest of the time,' he added, 'I've just been here in the clubhouse or eating a meal.'

Estes flew over and went through 36-hole qualifying in 1990, the year he missed the cut. He finished three shots out of the playoff won by John Daly in 1995. He tied for 20th in 2000.
 
'It was expensive coming here, but it was worth it,' Estes said. 'I've played three Opens at St. Andrews. A lot of people would kill for just one. This is the world championship of golf. I know there are four majors, but this is the top of the list.'
 
At least Estes got in one round at the Old Course on Wednesday. And he wasn't about to come all the way to Scotland without playing some more. Estes said he would watch the rest of the first round from his hotel room, have dinner at his favorite Italian spot, then look for a game Friday.
 
'I'm thinking of going over to Kingsbarn,' he said. 'That's supposed to be nice.'
 
LIFE OF RILEY:
Once happy-go-lucky, Chris Riley never looked so subdued after such a good round. He made a rare birdie on the Road Hole for a 68 that left him two shots out of the lead.
 
Then again, Riley has not been himself all year. Some suspect a fallout from the Ryder Cup, when he was lampooned for telling U.S. captain Hal Sutton he was too tired to play another match after teaming with longtime friend Tiger Woods in a rare American victory.
 
But Riley attributes his lackluster play to adjusting to life at home. His wife gave birth to their first child just before the Ryder Cup.
 
'I haven't been having the best of years, but I've been spending a lot of time at home with the baby,' Riley said. 'My game has suffered a bit, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's a great time in my life, but the adjustment has been tough. I just worry too much on the road about the kid.'
 
Riley acknowledges he's lost his hunger, but expects it to return next year, when he's no longer is guaranteed a playing card. He is exempt on the PGA Tour for one more season because he was on the last Ryder Cup team.
 
'Fatherhood has definitely changed me,' Riley said. 'I'm trying to find the hungriness I once had, but I'm enjoying life.'
 
TALE OF TWO HALVES:
Englishman Steve Webster was the only player besides Tiger Woods to reach 6 under on Thursday.
 
Unfortunately, that was after nine holes.
 
After finding six bunkers on the back nine, he wound up at 1-under 71.
 
'It's one of those courses,' Webster said. 'If you hit the fairway, you've got a chance to make birdie. If you don't, you're just coming out of the bunker sideways.'
 
Webster made eagle on Nos. 5 and 9, and added two birdies on the front nine to reach the turn in 30.
 
'The crowd was beginning to gather and the TV cameras were coming,' Webster joked. 'I obviously saw my name up there on the leaderboard and I was playing well. I should have got a quick picture of it.'
 
ROAD HOLE:
The Road Hole provided plenty of entertainment, as usual. Duffy Waldorf was 1 under for his round when he made triple bogey on the 17th. Zach Johnson was even par until taking a 9 and shooting 77.
 
But not all the shots were bad.
 
The most spectacular moment came when Nick O'Hern and Steven Webster each hit into the bunker in front of the green. O'Hern went first and blasted out to about 2 inches. Not to be outdone, Webster hit his bunker shot to 4 inches.
 
Even so, the par-4 17th played as the toughest hole with an average score of about 4.6.
 
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  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.