Mark Calcavecchia seeks win on 20-year anniversary

By Doug FergusonJuly 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' Past champions gather at St. Andrews every time the British Open returns to the home of golf. Just his luck, the first time Mark Calcavecchia was invited to the party, he was holding the Claret Jug.
 
And it wasnt quite empty.
 
He had been celebrating one last time his 1989 playoff victory at Royal Troon when it was time for the dinner, and Calcavecchia was still not up to speed on British colloquialisms.
 
We were drinking champagne out of the jug, he said Friday. There was something on the invite that said 7:30 for 8:00, and I had no idea what that meant. Time kind of went by and I dont think I rinsed the jug real well. I think there was still some champagne swishing around in there when I brought it back.
 
Mark Calcavecchia
Mark Calcavecchia won the Open Championship 20 years ago. (Getty Images)
Calcavecchia looks forward to the dinner next year at St. Andrews.
 
And based on the way he has played the opening two rounds at Turnberry, he might just have the Claret Jug with him again.
 
Around the toughest stretch, with shots into a chilly wind and over cliffs along the Firth of Clyde, Calcavecchia came up with just enough birdies to carry him to a 1-under 69 that left him one shot out of the lead.
 
At 49 and with a body that is breaking down, he isnt sure he can win anywhere until he gets to the Champions Tour next year. Links golf is different, though, and Calcavecchia didnt need to see 59-year-old Tom Watson atop the leaderboard to know that.
 
Im swinging well enough, and Im driving it great, Calcavecchia said. I seem to be hitting a lot of fairways. So if I can keep doing that, obviously if you can keep it out of the tall stuff, youre going to have a better chance.
 
There is one element that Calcavecchia has had on his side.
 
Im getting some good bounces, getting lucky on occasion, he said, which always helps.
 
Turnberry turns nasty starting at the par-3 fourth, a stretch of holes that run into a wind rarely felt in these parts, coming off the land and slightly from the north. Thats where everyone was dropping shots.
 
Calcavecchia played them in 1 under.
 
The key was somehow reaching the 10th green and holing a 40-foot birdie putt, a good sign that he could post a good score. With the wind in his favor, he poured it on. Calcavecchia hit a 7-iron to 2 feet on the 12th, then a 6-iron on the 14th that hopped onto the green and caught part of the lip before settling a few feet away.
 
I just wanted to stay away from big numbers, which a lot of guys were making out there ' doubles and triples and quads and whatever, he said. A few bogeys here and there werent going to kill you.
 
The surprise is the timing of Calcavecchia seeing his name on the leaderboard. After good weeks at Pebble Beach and Riviera, he has gone into a funk. He hasnt finished in the top 20 since February, and in five tournaments he has either missed the cut or withdrew as his back gets cranky.
 
He had to play 36 holes last Sunday to compete the rain-delayed John Deere Classic, and it about killed him.
 
This is about the second time this year I didnt struggle to make the cut, so Im just happy with that, he said. Im usually choking so bad coming down the last few holes on Friday because I want to play the weekend. I felt great today. Even when I was 2 over through five, I knew I was going to make some birdies somewhere.
 
Perhaps its a coincidence that Calcavecchia won his British Open at Royal Troon, about 15 miles up the Ayrshire coast, when he shot 68 in the final round and got into a three-way playoff with Wayne Grady and Greg Norman, who shot 64 that day. Calcavecchia birdied the last two holes to win.
 
He is among the few U.S. players who were at Turnberry when it last hosted the Open in 1994, and they were grilling him on the charter flight from Illinois. Asked if he was a mentor to younger players, such as co-leader Steve Marino, Calcavecchia chuckled.
 
I would never think Im the type of guy anybody could learn anything from, to tell you the truth, he said. And I think experience is way overrated. All that means is Ive hit more bad shots than all the guys that are 20 years old, and theyre lingering in my brain.
 
There havent been too many bad shots over 36 holes at Turnberry. The question is whether he can hold up for two more rounds.
 
And if that happens, what will be in the bottom of the Claret Jug.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - The 138th Open Championship
  • Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

    Getty Images

    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Getty Images

    Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

    The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.