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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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.