Youth the focus at golfs oldest championship

By Doug FergusonJuly 15, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' British bookmakers have listed Rory McIlroy as the third favorite at Turnberry, unusual for someone playing in his first British Open as a pro.
 
Stranger still is that he doesnt seem fazed, perhaps because his age (20) matches the odds (20-1).
 
McIlroy already has shown in small doses that he is capable.
 
He comes from Holywood ' a coastal town in Northern Ireland, not to be confused with the glitz of Los Angeles ' and already is easily recognized by his freckles and curly brown hair that tumbles out of his cap and over his ears. He made his British Open debut as a teenager two years ago at Carnoustie and opened with a 68 on the toughest links in golf.
 
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy is looking to win the Open Championship in just his second try. (Getty Images)
And without knowing it, he can put on quite the exhibition.
 
On a surprisingly sun-splashed day along the Ayrshire Coast, McIlroy found a flat part of the putting green Wednesday, and his caddie marked off 8 feet with a chalk line. The kid rapped three balls at a time, stopping to chat, constantly smiling, not really paying attention.
 
He made 105 putts in a row, seemed to lose interest, then moved on to another hole 30 feet away.
 
One reason he is getting so much attention, beyond the talent that allowed him to win the Dubai Desert Classic this year and rise to No. 22 in the world ranking, is constant search for someone to challenge Tiger Woods.
 
Even at golfs oldest championship, the focus turns to youth.
 
McIlroy will be playing the first two rounds with 24-year-old Anthony Kim, who is No. 15 in the world and an explosive talent. Martin Kaymer, the 24-year-old German, is coming off consecutive victories on the European Tour and can became the first player since Seve Ballesteros in 1986 to make it three in a row.
 
Among the older set are 29-year-old Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott, who turns 29 on Thursday when the British Open begins.
 
So far, it has been a hopeless pursuit.
 
Woods set an obscure PGA Tour record two weeks ago when he won his AT&T National at Congressional for his 53rd victory this decade, topping the previous record of Ben Hogan, who won 52 times in the 1940s.
 
His 12 majors this decade is another record.
 
Woods is 0-for-2 in the majors this year since returning from knee surgery, both times giving himself a chance on Sunday, both times finishing in a tie for sixth, four shots behind Masters champion Angel Cabrera and U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover.
 
Hes not just another player, McIlroy said. I remember when I first came out and I talked to Tiger, and I was even nervous talking to him. He just has some sort of aura about him, you know? Hes just an incredible competitor. He hits shots that I wouldnt be able to hit sometimes. Hes not won 14 majors for nothing. And Im sure hell win a few more before his career is over.
 
Woods returns to the United Kingdom for the first time in two years, having missed the British Open last year at Royal Birkdale while recovering from knee surgery.
 
He showed up at Turnberry on Wednesday only to hit balls on the range and rap a few putts, sticking to a routine that has worked fairly well for him in the majors.
 
One thing McIlroy has in his favor is having never faced Woods.
 
Its been more inspirational for me, rather than disheartening, that this guy is coming to win every major he plays, McIlroy said.
 
Kim played with him for the first time at Congressional in the final group, tied for the lead, hit one bad stretch of bogeys and pars and wound up chasing him the rest of the day.
 
Garcia might have won a few majors by now except for Woods.
 
It was 10 years ago when he first challenged Woods in the PGA Championship at Medinah, finishing one shot behind. They played in the final group at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and the 2006 British Open at Hoylake, both won easily by Woods.
 
Garcia is still without a major, still answering questions about winning his first, and not enjoying the topic.
 
The most important thing for me is obviously winning it, said Garcia, listed at 15-to-1 odds. But at least having the chance. The guy that is finishing 15th or 40th, he doesnt have even one shot. I know they say that second is the first lower. Id rather be the first loser than the 39th loser. When youre out there, you have your chance. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesnt.
 
Thats particularly true in links golf at the British Open.
 
No one thought Padraig Harrington had much of a chance last year when he showed up with a wrist injury and played in the worst of weather during the first round, rain that fell sideways. He wound up with a 32 on the final nine and a claret jug for the second straight year.
 
It all unfolds Thursday at Turnberry, with Woods teeing off with 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, another young player with hopes of someday challenging the worlds No. 1 players.
 
The biggest generation gap is five-time champion Tom Watson (59) playing with British Amateur champion Matteo Manassero (16).
 
Watson won the most famous Open at Turnberry in 1977, the Duel in the Sun against Jack Nicklaus. His biggest thrill was going head-to-head against the best and beating him.
 
Thats what the kids from this generation face.
 
There is that element of who is challenging Tiger, Watson said. Well, youre going to have some people challenge him and beat him. But hes beaten everybody a lot more than anybodys ever beaten anybody in this game of golf. He just as a run thats been unparalleled.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.