Open slated for Monday finish after wind delay

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2015, 12:30 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The Open Championship will have its first Monday finish in 27 years. 

The R&A announced Saturday a change in schedule: The second round, delayed by at least 10 hours because of high winds, will resume Saturday afternoon. Players will complete the third round Sunday and the final round on Monday. 

The Open hasn’t had a Monday finish since 1988, when Seve Ballesteros won at Royal Lytham. 

Tournament rules director David Rickman said that the R&A considered playing 36 holes on Sunday, but “the best conclusion was to accept that a Monday finish was the best answer.”

It is the first men’s major to finish on a Monday since Lucas Glover won the 2009 U.S. Open at soggy Bethpage Black.   

Play was suspended at 7:32 a.m. local time Saturday – only 32 minutes after the second round resumed – after 40-mph gusts made the course unplayable. Thirty-nine players have yet to complete two rounds, and the final group still has 10 holes to play.

Play is expected to resume at 6 p.m. local time, assuming there are acceptable wind conditions. 

Significant flooding suspended play Friday at St. Andrews, when the second round was delayed by more than three hours as the maintenance staff squeegeed the greens and pumped standing water out of the fairways.

This was even more treacherous, with howling winds that made putting even more difficult than full shots.

“You’re standing over a putt wondering if the ball is going to roll into your putter,” Brendon Todd said. “That’s an unnerving thought.” 

Leader Dustin Johnson had a few unnerving moments of his own. When play resumed, he had a dicey shot from short of the 14th green. His pitch shot barely carried the ridge, but the wind blew it back down the slope and onto the front of the green. He three-putted from there and recorded his second bogey in a four-hole span.

Johnson and Jordan Spieth, who is 5 under, have three holes remaining in their second round.

“Shouldn’t have even started,” Spieth grumbled as he walked off the course. 

Louis Oosthuizen, only two shots off the lead, got one of the worst breaks in the weather. He was facing a 3-foot par putt when a gust of wind moved his ball about a foot from the hole, then about 6 feet past the cup.

In a statement, the R&A said that officials were on the course at 6 a.m. to assess whether the course was playable. “Balls were not moving on the greens and while the conditions were extremely difficult, we considered the golf course to be playable,” the organization said.

Wind gusts then increased by 10 to 15 percent, according to the R&A, “and this could not be foreseen at the time that play was restarted and made a material difference to the playability of the golf course.” 

That didn’t stop the criticism of the R&A.

Many wondered why the setup staff rolled the greens at 10 on the Stimpmeter when the forecast called for high winds; greens running at 9 likely would not have caused the ball to oscillate.

Another point of contention: Officials stopped play on the 11th green – one of the most exposed parts of the course – while allowing the rest of the field to continue their rounds. 

“It needs to be a fair contest and wasn’t this morning,” David Hearn tweeted. 

Prior to the 2010 Open here at St. Andrews, the last wind delay during the year’s third major was at Royal Birkdale in 1998, when gusts reached 40 mph.

“Every R&A official in player dining is getting yelled at,” said Ted Scott, Bubba Watson’s caddie. "Lots of players pissed in here.”

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x