Parsing The Open Championship

By Brian HewittJuly 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
The British is coming.
 
Or should that be, The British are coming.

Actually, it's both. And a whole lot more.

The British Open IS coming. So IS the British. So IS The Open Championship. All three are the same thing that just happen to be called different names by different people. We here at The Golf Channel take our majors pretty seriously and lean heavily toward calling this event, which begins Thursday at The Old Course in Scotland, 'The Open Championship.'

That doesn't mean anybody should be sent to their room for calling it The British Open or even The British. What you will be sent to the corner for, however, is calling this thing, 'The Open.' There are no strict rules here. But when I hear 'The Open,' I think more of the U.S. Open, our national championship on this side of the pond.

Anyway, the British ARE coming as well. England has produced its best young crop of golfers in years. This group is led by Luke Donald, David Howell, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey (all four of whom played on the European Ryder Cup squad at Oakland Hills last year) and Nick Daugherty and Justin Rose.

Donald will be the most scrutinized of this bunch for two reasons: He ranks highest among them, in the world rankings at No. 15. And he has played in five previous Open Championships without breaking an egg (missed cut in all five).

I still remember following the grouping of Donald, Paul Lawrie and Peter Lonard, the first two days at the Carnoustie British Open in 1999. Donald was the hot American collegian from Northwestern at the time. And you could see his potential even if it didn't show up on his scorecard that year.

You could also see what a naturally low ball flight Lonard had which makes him one of my dark horse picks along with Argentinean Angel Cabrera (dark duck?) at St. Andrews.

I called Lonard, Lawrie and Donald the three apostles--Peter. Paul and Luke. All Lawrie did, by the way, was win the golf tournament.

There are so many story lines this year. It will almost certainly be the last major championship for Jack Nicklaus. (If he was entertaining the notion of one last victory lap at Augusta National next year, that notion was dampened by the recent announcement of significant added length for next year's Masters.)

If the favored Tiger Woods wins at St. Andrews, it will mark his second victory there. It will also make him the only other player besides Nicklaus to have won all four professional majors at least twice. And it will crank up Woods' victory count in majors to 10. Only Walter Hagen with 11 and Nicklaus with 18 have more.

Vijay Singh, the No. 2 ranked player in the world behind Woods, has never won an Open Championship, but has three top 12s in three British Opens at St. Andrews. Want a dark horse? Try South African Tim Clark, who has won two national opens already this year--his own and the Scottish last week.

Don't take your eye off of Garcia or Mickelson or Goosen. Don't get your hopes up over Colin Montgomerie. Don't figure on a U.S. Tour rookie winning The Open Championship for the third straight year.

Pray, instead, for severe weather. That's what brings out the spices in the stew that is The Open Championship. Woods' winning total here five years ago was 19-under. It was a Tour de Force by him. But I'd rather see gale force winds and a winning score of even par.

The British is coming. It is the year's third major. And something unexpected almost always happens at it.
 
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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.