Top contenders at Royal Birkdale

By Associated PressJuly 14, 2008, 4:00 pm
Open ChampionshipA look at some of the top players who could contend in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale:

  • Age: 31
  • Country: Australia.
  • World ranking: 4.
  • Majors: U.S. Open (2006).
  • Best result at a British Open: T5 at St. Andrews in 2005.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-T39, US Open-T9.
  • Worldwide victories: 6.
  • British Open highlight: Going 67-69 on the weekend at St. Andrews in 2005 to tie for fifth.
  • British Open lowlight: Making his debut in 1999 at Carnoustie with an 81.
  • Noteworthy: In the last 50 majors, he's the only winner from Australia.

  • Age: 28.
  • Country: Spain
  • World ranking: 7.
  • Majors: None.
  • Best result at a British Open: Playoff loss at Carnoustie in 2007.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-MC, US Open-T18 Worldwide victories: 17.
  • British Open highlight: Getting into a playoff with Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie.
  • British Open lowlight: Losing the playoff and whining about never getting any breaks.
  • Noteworthy: He has finished in the top 5 at the last three British Opens

  • Age: 38.
  • Country: South Africa
  • World ranking: 6.
  • Majors: US Open (1994, 1997), British Open (2002).
  • Best result at a British Open: Won.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-MC, US Open-T14.
  • Worldwide victories: 60.
  • British Open highlight: Winning at Muirfield in the only sudden-death finish ever at a British Open playoff.
  • British Open lowlight: Going head-to-head with Todd Hamilton over the final 40 holes at Royal Troon before losing in a playoff.
  • Noteworthy: Has finished runner-up to Tiger Woods seven times, more than any other player.

  • Age: 27.
  • Country: England
  • World ranking: 9.
  • Majors: None.
  • Best result at a British Open: T4 in 1998.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-T36, US Open-MC.
  • Worldwide victories: 6.
  • British Open highlight: Pitching in for birdie on the 18th hole at Royal Birkdale to tie for fourth as a 17-year-old amateur.
  • British Open lowlight: Turning pro the day after Birkdale and missing the cut in his next 21 tournaments.
  • Noteworthy: He has not had a top-10 finish at the British Open since turning pro.

  • Age: 38.
  • Country: United States.
  • World ranking: 2.
  • Majors: Masters (2004, 2006), PGA Championship (2005).
  • Best result at a British Open: 3rd at Royal Troon.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-T5, US Open-T18.
  • Worldwide victories: 35.
  • British Open highlight: Finishing one shot out of a playoff at Royal Troon in 2004, his only top 10 in the British Open.
  • British Open lowlight: An 85 in the third round at Royal Birkdale in 1998, his highest score as a professional.
  • Noteworthy: In 15 appearances at the British Open, he has finished only three tournaments under par.

  • Age: 28.
  • Country: Australia.
  • World ranking: 3.
  • Majors: None.
  • Best result at a British Open: T8 at Royal Liverpool in 2006.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-T25, US Open-T26.
  • Worldwide victories: 15.
  • British Open highlight: Making his major championship debut at St. Andrews in 2000.
  • British Open lowlight: Failing to break par on the Old Course to miss the cut.
  • Noteworthy: Has not finished in the top 10 of a major since 2006, the only player in the worlds top 10 with such a streak.

  • Age: 36.
  • Country: Ireland.
  • World ranking: 13.
  • Majors: British Open (2007).
  • Best result at a British Open: Won.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-T5, US Open-T36.
  • Worldwide victories: 19.
  • British Open highlight: Holing a 3-foot bogey putt to win a playoff at Carnoustie.
  • British Open lowlight: Twice hitting into Barry Burn on the 18th hole and making double bogey at Carnoustie to lose a one-shot lead.
  • Noteworthy: He has not won since the British Open.

  • Age: 35.
  • Country: England.
  • World ranking: 18.
  • Majors: None.
  • Best result at a British Open: 4th at Royal Troon in 2004.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-T11, US Open-3.
  • Worldwide victories: 28.
  • British Open highlight: British bookmakers installed him as a co-favorite with Tiger Woods at Royal Birkdale in 1998.
  • British Open lowlight: Shot 78-78 on the weekend at Royal Birkdale to tie for 64th.
  • Noteworthy: His only top 10s at the British Open have come at Royal Troon.

  • Age: 45.
  • Country: Scotland.
  • World ranking: 80.
  • Majors: None.
  • Best result at a British Open: 2nd at St. Andrews in 2005.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-DNP, US Open-MC.
  • Worldwide victories: 37.
  • British Open highlight: Within one shot of Tiger Woods with nine holes to play in 2005 at St. Andrews and finished alone in second.
  • British Open lowlight: Tripped on his way to breakfast and injured his hand in 2003, then withdrew seven holes into the first round.
  • Noteworthy: Has missed the cut in his last two British Opens.

  • Age: 34.
  • Country: United States.
  • World ranking: 28.
  • Majors: None.
  • Best result at a British Open: T35 at Carnoustie in 2007.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-T20, US Open-T26.
  • Worldwide victories: 2.
  • British Open highlight: Going into the weekend four shots out of the lead at his first British Open.
  • British Open lowlight: Asking former British Open champion Paul Lawrie if he had to qualify to play at Carnoustie last year.
  • Noteworthy: The British Open is his favorite major because you aint got to hit just one club.

  • Age: 23.
  • Country: United States.
  • World ranking: 14.
  • Majors: None.
  • Best result at a British Open: First appearance.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-DNP, US Open-T26.
  • Worldwide victories: 2.
  • British Open highlight: Moving into the top 50 after first victory to qualify for the first time.
  • British Open lowlight: Watching on TV last year.
  • Noteworthy: Two victories this year have come at Quail Hollow and Congressional.

  • Age: 35.
  • Country: United States.
  • Majors: None.
  • World ranking: 5.
  • Best result at a British Open: T6 at Carnoustie in 2007.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-T3, US Open-T14.
  • Worldwide victories: 7.
  • British Open highlight: Playing with Padraig Harrington in the final round of Carnoustie in the third-to-last group in 2007.
  • British Open lowlight: Failing to break 80 in two rounds at Carnoustie in 1999.
  • Noteworthy: Won for the first time in four years at the Travelers Championship.

  • Age: 27.
  • Country: Argentina.
  • World ranking: 25.
  • Majors: None.
  • Best result at a British Open: 3rd at Carnoustie in 2007.
  • 2008 Majors: Masters-T8, US Open-T36.
  • Worldwide victories: 5.
  • British Open highlight: Made 10 birdies in 16 holes during the final round at Carnoustie.
  • British Open lowlight: Made two double bogeys on the back nine in the final round at Carnoustie.
  • Noteworthy: Has finished in the top 10 in both British Open appearances.

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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

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    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

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    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

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