Pardon Me But I Was Wondering Where You Got Your Information

By George WhiteJuly 23, 2001, 4:00 pm
Just a few thoughts on things overheard while watching the telecast of the British Open:
David Duval finally quieted all those critics who called him the best player never to win a major.
Critics? What critics? Didnt they call him the BEST player never to win a major?
How many professionals are there playing golf today ' perhaps 400 who are candidates for the title? And how many major winners are there ' perhaps 40? Excuse me, but what is so bad about being the best out of those other 360?

What they probably should write to keep fragile ears from mistaking them is, Players who are most likely to break through to a major. But as it is, some pompous sort is always making it out to be some kind of negative label. Isnt it much better than, Worst player never to have won a major?
Boy, this Colin Montgomery sure can play links golf. But he should be a master at it ' after all, he was raised on links at Royal Troon in Scotland.
Colin Montgomerie was raised in Scotland exactly three years of his life. That was from the time of his birth to three years of age, when the family moved to Leeds, England, a considerable distance from the coast where links courses are found. He attended a boarding school in Yorkshire. His father was an executive for a biscuit company.
When father James retired, he became the secretary of Royal Troon. But Colin had left the family by then for college in the United States. Just because you were born in Scotland and raised in northern England doesnt mean you are proficient in links golf.
What a brave shot that was! He had to go between two bunkers and avoid the heather to get it on the green!
The man speaking forgot the meaning of the word brave. I know what he means ' that it was adroitly played and the golfer had to avoid a hazard to get the ball where he wanted it. But please dont use the word brave. That meaning is entirely different ' something akin to taking the shot while afraid of being bludgeoned if it didnt pan out.
The guys over here, after all, have a distinct advantage when it comes to links golf. After all, it is what most of them have become accustomed to playing all their lives.
How many Americans have won the British Open that past 30 years? Twelve. The Yanks have won it a total of 16 times in those 30. How many British have won? Three.
Nick Faldo, born and raised in a decidedly non-links area near London, won three times. Sandy Lyle, who played a little links golf while growing up near Shrewsbury ' not near the coast, incidentally ' won once. Paul Lawrie, who was raised and still lives near Aberdeen, Scotland, is the only man who played links golf with regularity.
The British Open the past 30 years has been won by Australians, Spanish, Zimbabweans, and Americans, but just one person who truly knew what links golf was all about. And Lawrie won at Carnoustie, where the waist-high rough beside the extremely narrow fairways was most un-linkslike.
The European Tour doesnt play links courses on its schedule ' big money has lured the tournaments to parkland courses like the K Club in Ireland, Slaley Hall, Wentworth and Woburn in England, Celtic Manor in Wales and Loch Lomond in Scotland. Search the roster and you will find nary a links ' not St. Andrews nor Lytham or Sandwich or Troon.
Playing a links course has become a once-a-year thing for EVERYONE ' and thats at the British Open. The European Tour does have an advantage in that those players are already accustomed to the sleeping schedule, and the grasses on the greens. But the advantage in playing the links courses? Forget it.
These fans are the most knowledgeable of those at any major.
This one might be foremost among my pet peeves. British Open fans are among the most reserved, perhaps. Perhaps they look more the part more than any other fans ' any person named Nigel who smokes a curved pipe and wears a funny hat just looks like he must be a golf fan.
But how do you get only golf fans when its possible to go up to the gates, buy a ticket and walk right in? Augusta has a waiting list for tickets which has been holding since the 70s. The U.S. Open and the PGA both sell week-long badges which are sold out many weeks prior to the tournament. At the British Open, you can hike on over to the course on a whim and saunter in.
How does one ascertain which are the most knowledgeable golf fans? Ive seen some very knowledgeable people at the British Open, but I also have seen many who just wanted to check out all the ruckus. This stuff about which tournament has the most knowledgeable fans is utter nonsense.
Just a few thoughts.
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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.