Expect another memorable major at Hoylake

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2014, 4:05 pm

HOYLAKE, England – The inherent dangers of expectations aside, history is made at Hoylake.

If all Grand Slam gatherings were created equal we wouldn’t talk about the 1986 Masters or 2008 U.S. Open in hushed tones, but on the eve of the 143rd Open Championship it’s hard to imagine all that rain and wind forecast for the week not sending all the cosmic tumblers into proper order.

Royal Liverpool, a leafy contrast to its gritty namesake city just across the River Mersey, has a history of delivering the Grand Slam goods.

In 1930 Bobby Jones won the second leg of the single-season Grand Slam (which included the U.S. and British Amateurs at the time) at Hoylake and in 1967 Argentine Roberto de Vicenzo hoisted the claret jug on the Wirral peninsula to dull the heartbreak that was looming at the ’68 Masters.

And of course Tiger Woods put on a major clinic the last time the championship was played at Royal Liverpool, dissecting the links with long irons and flawless ball-striking to win the last of his three claret jugs.

It is the kind of track record that defies the cynicism of lowered expectations and lures even the most jaded observer into thinking something special is afoot.

Open Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Outrageous possibilities, like Martin Kaymer following in Jones’ footsteps to do what no player since Woods has done since 2002 and claim the first two laps of the modern Slam.

Or perhaps it would be a redemption Open, with Adam Scott putting the pain of his meltdown in 2012 at Lytham to rest for good.

“It was obviously not the finish I wanted there,” said Scott, who bogeyed his last four holes to finish a stroke behind Ernie Els in ’12. “But that gave me a lot of confidence not just about playing well in majors, but also that I had the game to win an Open Championship.”

For some, the ultimate reclamation project would be Woods, less than four months removed from back surgery and starting the week with just 36 competitive holes since coming off the DL.

That scenario seems about right since the last time Woods was in this corner of England in 2006 he picked apart this links like a surgeon, hitting 48 of 56 fairways for the week (first in the field), 58 of 72 greens in regulation (T-2) and just a single driver for 72 holes.

“Playing at (the Quicken Loans National) was a big boost to me,” Woods said on Tuesday. “The fact that I was able to go at it that hard and hit it like that with no pain. I've gotten stronger since then, I've gotten more explosive, I've gotten faster since then.”

Of course, a lot has changed since Woods dismantled a dusty Hoylake eight years ago. He’s dropped from No. 1 in the world to outside the top 50 and back again. He’s played five Opens without adding to his claret jug total and endured two major surgeries.

Scott has gone from a major championship afterthought to a perennial Grand Slam contender; Henrik Stenson has endured two slumps and emerged as a world-beater, again. Ditto for Rory McIlory and Kaymer.

And rain has fallen at Hoylake.

Unlike 2006, a traditional English summer greeted the field for this week’s championship via a forecast that calls for plenty of rain, wind and even the chance for a thunderstorm, which is anything but traditional in the United Kingdom.

“I think (golfers) change a lot. Everyone changes over eight years,” Scott said. “We’ve got a completely different golf course that we’re looking at this week. It’s a completely different animal.”

What doesn’t seem likely to change is Hoylake’s unique ability to deliver memorable finishes. In the 11 Opens played at Royal Liverpool, the list of winners range from Woods (2006) to Walter Hagen (1922) with few, if any, duds along the way.

Which makes the potential atop this week’s tee sheet that much more compelling. Few times over the last half dozen years have so many players arrived for the game’s oldest major playing so well.

Justin Rose – one of four players who can overtake Scott atop the ranking this week – may be the game’s hottest player having won his last two starts (the Quicken Loans National and last week’s Scottish Open); Scott hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since overtaking Woods atop the Official World Golf Ranking; Kaymer has won two of the year’s three biggest tournaments (the U.S. Open and Players); and Stenson has finished in the top 5 in his last three events, including a tie for fourth at Pinehurst, and will be paired with Woods for Rounds 1 and 2.

“I think it would have been a lot of sleepless nights for him as of late. When did the draw come out? He looked tired, didn't he?” Stenson smiled on Wednesday when asked about the pairing and whether or not Tiger feared him.

While the Swede’s take was tongue and cheek, his relaxed approach to a pairing that many players would have happily sidestepped just eight years ago is indicative to the increased parity in golf, if not Royal Liverpool’s penchant to produce memorable champions.

As a rule, Hoylake delivers history and it’s hard to imagine this year being any different.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

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And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

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Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

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Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

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Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

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Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

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Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.