Donald wins weather-shortened Scottish Open

By Associated PressJuly 10, 2011, 5:41 pm

INVERNESS, Scotland – Luke Donald enjoyed the perfect warmup for next week’s British Open by shooting a flawless 9-under 63 to win a rain-affected Scottish Open by four strokes, his first victory since becoming the world’s top-ranked player in May.

The 33-year-old Englishman started the third and final round a shot behind a trio of joint leaders but rolled in nine birdies in a majestic bogey-free display at Castle Stuart.

With only a light wind leaving the links course defenseless, Donald romped home with a winning total of 19 under, ahead of Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed (62).

His eighth professional title – and third this year – didn’t just cement his top ranking, which he secured for the first time nearly two months ago by beating compatriot Lee Westwood in a playoff for the PGA Championship on his last appearance in Europe.

It also provided the ideal tonic ahead of the British Open at Royal St. George’s starting Thursday, where he’ll attempt to land his first major.

“I felt good out there, very comfortable, very in control. That’s a good sign for next week,” said Donald, who is half Scottish and wore Tartan trousers for the final day.

“There’s always a little added pressure when you’re No. 1 but hopefully I’ve proved I can handle that. It was a pretty strong field this week and the best way to prepare.”

Andersson Hed, ranked No. 128, began the third round tied for 44th on 5 under, but came from nowhere to overhaul a host of forlorn chasers behind Donald. His 10-under 62 was the lowest score of a wet week in Inverness, when Saturday’s play was completely washed out – reducing the tournament to 54 holes.

“I had gone 48 hours since I played on the golf course. I’d like to stay here a bit longer,” Andersson Hed said.

British Open hopefuls Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Mark Tullo of Chile finished in a seven-way tie for third.

However, it was the No. 203-ranked Jamieson – who sank a birdie at the last with the final shot of the tournament – who grabbed the available qualifying spot for the year’s third major, by virtue of having a higher ranking than Tullo by 29 places.

“It was the first putt I had all day that I was really confident on my read, and it just reached the hole,” said Jamieson, who will play at his first major. “It’s not registered yet, to be honest.”

Colin Montgomerie had also been looking to qualify for his home major for the 22nd straight year but could only card a 70 to close on 10 under, and a tie for 31st.

The former Europe Ryder Cup captain briefly shared the lead in the final round after a birdie at the sixth, but dropped four shots at the start of the back nine to shatter his hopes.

No player has ever won the Scottish Open and gone on to win the British Open the following week but Donald – a model of consistency this year – looks in good position to become the first.

“I only see this as a positive,” he said. “I’ll be high on confidence. I’m hitting the ball nicely and to do it on a links course is even better. I’m looking forward to bringing this game to next week.”

Donald completed his second round in overcast conditions early on Sunday with a second straight 5-under 67, giving him a good platform to make a charge for the title in his first Scottish Open since 2007.

He had to hit the ground running in the final round, with Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Scots Peter Whiteford and Jamieson a shot clear.

Donald did just that with a birdie on No. 3, before draining a 40-footer across the slope on the short fourth to share the lead.

Two more birdies made it four in a row and although he was briefly joined in front by Tullo, the joint leader from the first round, the relentless Donald sank a 15-footer to pick up another on No. 9 and then benefited from a free drop out of a waterlogged bunker on the 10th fairway to make a sensational up and down.

That took him two strokes ahead and he closed with three birdies in the last four holes, recording three straight rounds in the 60s.

“It’s nice to get another victory – I can get used to this,” Donald said.

Second-ranked Lee Westwood shot a closing 68 to be tied for 14th on 12 under, a stroke behind eighth-ranked Matt Kuchar from the United States (67). Fellow American Phil Mickelson, ranked No. 6, had a 69 for 7 under.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”