Newsmaker of the Year No. 7: British Open

By Jason SobelDecember 17, 2012, 1:30 pm

Most major championships are remembered for the golfer who prevailed over the field, the one name etched into the history books for all of eternity.

Others are burned into our memories for the poor unfortunate soul whose opportunity met its untimely demise at the hands of the golf gods, forever lingering in our thoughts for what could have been.

And then there are those uncommon few tournaments which serve both categories, the rare occasions which both celebrate the champion and empathize with the hard-luck loser.

The 2012 edition of the Open Championship fit this profile exactly – and that’s why it lands at No. 7 on’s list of Top Newsmakers of the Year.

Newsmaker No. 10: Stacy Lewis | No. 9: PGA Tour | No. 8: Jim Furyk

When the final round came to a dramatic conclusion, Ernie Els and Adam Scott were a mere 50 yards from each other, but couldn’t have felt further apart. Already a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Els won his fourth major title while anxiously chipping golf balls onto the square practice green next to the clubhouse at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He never saw that he won, instead hearing the groan over the hedges separating him from the 18th green before one observer screamed, ‘Yes, Ernie!” and bedlam ensued, with all manner of officials and cameramen and onlookers rushing toward the newest champion.

On the other side of those hedges was an inherently dissimilar scene. Scott easily led in his race for a first major with four holes to play. He then bogeyed the 15th, bogeyed the 16th and bogeyed the 17th. A par on the last would only force a playoff with Els, but he bogeyed that one, too. It left him defeated, like a boxer who was just knocked out, but never knew what hit him.

And so while a parade of bystanders rushed toward Els, everyone near the 18th green tried to avert their gaze from Scott, who drew instant comparison with Jean Van de Velde thanks to his late-Sunday struggles at the world’s oldest tournament.

That was so much the case that even in victory, the Big Easy – for whom winning had become increasingly difficult in recent years and whose last major triumph came a decade earlier – could only muster a subdued celebration.

“I'm still numb; it still hasn't set in,” he said just minutes after getting his hands on the claret jug for a second time. “It will probably take quite a few days because I haven't been in this position for 10 years, obviously, so it's just crazy, crazy, crazy getting here.”

Many believed Els wouldn’t get there again – and Els had to count himself among that group at times, too. But just as quickly as he spoke of what the victory meant for himself, his thoughts turned to what the loss was doing to Scott at that very moment.

“I really feel for my buddy, Scottie, I really do,” Els said. “I've been there before. I've blown majors before and golf tournaments before, and I just hope he doesn't take it as hard as I did.”

For his part, Scott was crestfallen yet classy in the aftermath, answering every agonizing question about the collapse, describing his decisions in vivid detail and reliving exactly where so many of them went horribly wrong.

“That's what was to be expected coming in here,” he explained. “It's a championship golf course, it's very difficult. And you've got to play some good shots to win those golf tournaments, and I wasn't able to do that the last few holes. Sure, I am very disappointed. But I felt like I played well this week, and it was probably a great chance.”

After the conclusion had been reached, after Els heard through the hedges that he was the latest Open champion, after Scott wrote himself into the annals of history’s biggest major messes, the two friends found each other and summoned the words they knew the other deserved to hear.

“He said he felt for me and not to beat myself up,” Scott said. “He said he beat himself up a little bit when he'd lost or had a chance – not lost them, but had a chance to win. And he felt I'm a great player and I can go on to win majors, which is nice.”

This major, though, will forever be remembered for the both the fortuitous winner and calamitous loser, inextricably linked by their divergent paths to the end result. It made for a fascinating culmination – and made this tournament one of the top newsmakers of the 2012 season.

Newsmaker of the Year schedule
No. 10: Stacy Lewis
No. 9: PGA Tour
No. 8: Jim Furyk
No. 7: British Open
No. 6: Dec. 19
No. 5: Dec. 21
No. 4: Dec. 23
No. 3: Dec. 26
No. 2: Dec. 28
No. 1: Dec. 31

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Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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Webb granted U.S. Women's Open special exemption

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 6:22 pm

Karrie Webb's streak of consecutive appearances at the U.S. Women's Open will continue this summer.

The USGA announced Monday that the 43-year-old Aussie has been granted a special exemption into this year's event, held May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek in Alabama. Webb, a winner in both 2000 and 2001, has qualified for the event on merit every year since 2011 when her 10-year exemption for her second victory ended.

"As a past champion, I'm very grateful and excited to accept the USGA's special exemption into this year's U.S. Women's Open," Webb said in a release. "I have always loved competing in the U.S. Women's Open and being tested on some of the best courses in the country."

Webb has played in the tournament every year since 1996, the longest such active streak, meaning that this summer will mark her 23rd consecutive appearance. She has made the U.S. Women's Open cut each of the last 10 years, never finishing outside the top 50 in that span.

Webb's exemption is the first handed out by the USGA since 2016, when Se Ri Pak received an invite to play at CordeValle. Prior to that the two most recent special exemptions went to Juli Inkster (2013) and Laura Davies (2009). The highest finish by a woman playing on a special exemption came in 1994, when Amy Alcott finished sixth.

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Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.

But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.

Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.

That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.

A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.

“Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.

“Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.

“And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.

“So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

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McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 5:47 pm

After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.

McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1, leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.

Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:

8/1: Tiger Woods

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose

16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm

18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson

25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman

50/1: Alex Noren

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters

80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay

100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner