A Pittsburghers Guide to the Open

By Adam BarrMay 19, 2007, 4:00 pm
That whole thing about moving THE PLAYERS to May was a slam-dunk, to my way of thinking. Sure, it led to a lot of pointless debate in the weekly golf magazines, as so many things do ' that and whether or not its a major. Its a very big tournament no one misses if they can help it and everyone wants to win. Nuff said.
Oakmont CC
The 14 hole at Oakmont CC. (WIREIMAGE)
But what I really liked about the new date was THE PLAYERS new position between the Masters and the U.S. Open. With five monthly whopper tournaments on the schedule now, theres no time to let down. No time for swing changes or hibernation. Get your brain right: Its big tournament season. THE PLAYERS has succeeded in enhancing the events on either side of it. I enjoyed the Masters even more, knowing there was another must-see tournament just down the calendar. And I feel the same way about our national championship.
Im also looking forward to the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club for three other reasons: location, location and location. I grew up in Pittsburgh, of which the little village of Oakmont is a suburb. Everyone in Pittsburgh, golfer or not, good player or hack, stands in awe of this huge swath of sporting real estate. Its right up there with the late, great Forbes Field, Pitt Stadium, the not-as-pretty but just as historic Three Rivers Stadium, and the current venues, PNC Park (Pirates), Heinz Field (Steelers) and Mellon Arena (Penguins). In a city that eats it sports by the big, hot bowlful, Oakmont is a major course in the feast.
Id like to offer a little friendly guidance for enjoying one of the friendliest cities in America. Yes, I hear you: Im biased. Well, of course I am. Thats the point.
Play Ball. Yes, the Pirates are in town, starting Tuesday of Open week. Go. There are two three-game interleague series, one against Texas, the other versus the White Sox. (Theyre all 7:05 p.m. starts, except Sunday, which is 1:35 p.m. But you should be at Oakmont then anyway.) PNC Park follows the pleasing trend of integrating ballyards with the city, la Camden Yards in Baltimore. The city skyline rises beyond the outfield, just across the Allegheny River. Very cozy, very pleasant. Sorry about the team, but its a building year. (By this time, we should have been able to build a skyscraper.) Oh, and dont miss rubbing the toe of each of the big statues of Pittsburgh baseball heroes outside the stadium: Honus Wagner (home plate entrance) and Willie Stargell (left field rotunda gate) and Roberto Clemente (center field gate).
Youre So Thin; Eat Something. Pittsburgh is one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country, thanks to immigration from all over the world to fuel the industrial revolution starting in the mid-19th century. That means if you want to find a halupki, a kreplach or a bowl of borscht, you can. If you just want to find out what these things are, you need only stop someone on the street. If the Italians dont know, theyll have a Polish friend down the street.
That said, all kinds of interesting foods, ethnic and non, are available in Pittsburgh. If youre up late (or early), dont miss Primanti Brothers, the sandwich dive originally meant for truckers and produce workers in the citys wholesale Strip District (Penn Ave., Liberty Ave. and Smallman Street in the 12 blocks or so north of 10th Street). Here, your pastrami, roast beef, whatever, is piled onto thick slices of Italian bread with whatever fixins you like. Fries with that? Sure ' right on the sandwich. (Were a very efficient city.) Dont knock it til youve noshed it. And the people watching at 2 a.m. is the best anywhere ' black tie next to black light t-shirts, do-rags side by side with doo-wop. Dig it. Open midnight to 3 p.m. Oh, and if the guy who ordered the same as you did gets charged 50 cents less, go with the flow. You probably got more meat.
Traffic of Steel. Hey, the city is what, 300 years old? Give us a break. Straight didnt work well in colonial times. Fact is, its not a city of direct routes. That applies especially to the Oakmont area. One two-lane bridge takes traffic from State Route 28 across the Allegheny and up Hulton Road to the golf course. Leave earlier. Be patient. Strike up a conversation with the guy in car going the other way. Chances are hell have time to show you pictures of his grandkids before the light changes.
If Youre So Inclined. For one of the best city views in the world, ride the Monongahela or Duquesne Inclines. These special railcars run on the tilted tracks that hang on the side of Mount Washington, the huge ridge just south of downtown. Theyre our version of cable cars. At one time (my grandmothers), more than a dozen inclines took people, goods and even horses and carriages up and down the regions steepest hills in an age before a lot of folks could afford cars. Now, the inclines offer unobstructed views of a shimmering downtown, which begins at the point of a triangle of land where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River. (The Ohio flows into the Mississippi eventually, so we figure Mark Twain owes us.)
Pronunciation. Dont let the river names throw you. Just do mouth stretches and repeat after me: Allegheny (al-uh-GAIN-ee), Monongahela (muh-non-guh-HAY-luh) and Ohio (Paterno has more coaching knowledge in his little fingoh, sorry; got carried away).
The People. I saved the best for last. You will never find more pleasant, friendly, helpful and charitable folks than the ones I grew up with. It may be the best place in America to have a flat tire, because someone will stop. Heck, a whole crew of guys might stop. One will detail your car while the others change the tire.
Seriously, though ' I think youll like it there. These people will put the open in U.S. Open.
See you there.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
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Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

“I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

“I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

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Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

“It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

“I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

Let it go.

Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

“I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

“It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

“I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

The only thing left to do?

Let it go.