A Familiar and Friendly Look to Carnoustie

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2007, 4:00 pm
Tiger Woods hit putts with one hand and held his yardage book with the other, studying Carnoustie on Sunday as if he were seeing this links course for the first time in his life.
 
Considering what happened last time the British Open came here, it all looked so new.
 
Gone was the rough, so thick at its foundation that it was difficult to see the golf ball, much less hit it. The fairways were far more generous, nothing like Kapalua or a resort course, but certainly wider than the country lane that players faced in 1999.
 
Woods said it brought back memories of his first trip to Carnoustie -- not 1999 in the British Open, but 1995 and 1996, when he played the Scottish Open at Carnoustie for his first taste of links golf.
 
'It looks really nice, really fair,' Woods said.
 
Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson, who regretted how players lambasted the setup in '99, was among those to greet Woods when he finished his practice round. The conversation was private, but Dawson appeared to be pleased by what he heard.
 
It can't be considered a major without complaints, and certainly there was griping on a sunny, lazy afternoon along the North Sea.
 
'A bit too easy,' David Frost said.
 
Frost played in the second-to-last group in the final round eight years ago, despite opening with an 80. He wound up in a tie for seventh, finishing at 10-over 294. He was among the few who found no problem with the tight fairways and rough on steroids.
 
He took far greater issue with a course where he could see his ball off the fairway even as he stood on the tee.
 
'I think the fairways are very wide and there's no rough,' Frost said. 'So, it's a little bit of a total opposite to what it was in '99.'
 
Most players would celebrate this change.
 
'No, it's too lenient,' Frost said. 'I just think it should have been tighter.'
 
It's probably a good thing Jean Van de Velde isn't around this week to see Carnoustie or he might really be haunted by throwing away the British Open. With a mixture of bad decisions and bad luck, he took triple bogey on the final hole to fall into a three-man playoff that was won by Paul Lawrie.
 
It is difficult now to reconstruct the sad sequence that cost Van de Velde the claret jug.
 
His second shot caromed off the bleachers, back across Barry Burn and into rough so deep that the best he could do was chop it into the 6-foot wide burn. He took a drop in grass so mangled that he only managed to get it over the stream and into a bunker.
 
That would not have happened this week, because there's so such thing as mangled rough right of the 18th fairway, or hardly anywhere else at Carnoustie. In fact, the area in front of the burn is mown closely, not like the front of ponds at Augusta National, but close.
 
But it is noticeable only by those who were here in 1999.
 
Steve Stricker had the one of the 102 rounds in the 80s eight years ago, missing the cut. He played Sunday with Jerry Kelly, his pal from junior golf in Wisconsin, and was asked if Carnoustie looked familiar.
 
'Yeah, it does,' he said. 'Except for the rough and the width of the fairways.'
 
He remembers narrow fairways that were 20 yards wide, and only a dozen paces between rough lines on some holes.
 
'The rough was very thick. You were having a hard time getting it to the green,' Stricker said. 'Now, the rough is not bad at all. You can actually aim at the rough on some of the holes.'
 
But he wasn't calling it a pushover. Far from it.
 
Engaged in a friendly duel with Kelly, Stricker was down one playing the 18th, at 499 yards and into a slight breeze. He hit a good drive with a tiny draw that landed in the first cut, giving him a clean lie. From there, he had 237 yards to the hole and hit 3-wood that landed on the edge of out-of-bounds to the left of the green.
 
Even without tiny fairways and deep rough, the defense of Carnoustie and most links courses are bunkers and wind.
 
K.J. Choi, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR this year, played Saturday and hit driver and wedge to the 18th. He played Sunday afternoon and hit a driver and a 5-wood to the green.
 
Choi's memories from 1999 include playing in the last round with Lawrie, whose brilliant 67 to make up a record 10-shot deficit was overlooked by Van de Velde's follies. And Choi remembers Carnoustie as being the toughest major he has ever played.
 
Not right now.
 
'You can hit the ball anywhere and find it,' Choi said. 'You can still see the ball.'
 
Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen tied for 10th in 1999 at 11 over par, failing to break par any of the four rounds.
 
'Eleven over won't finish 10th this year,' he said with a smile.
 
Goosen thrives on the toughest tests, but he fears the course setup at majors have gone too far, and have taken some of the fun out of the game for players and spectators alike. Carnoustie was entertaining for all the wrong reasons in 1999.
 
'You have nothing silly like last time,' he said. 'The R&A did a great job.'
 
And it apparently did nothing to lessen the test of Carnoustie, long considered the toughest links course in the world. Younger players like Charles Howell III and Sean O'Hair were still teenagers in 1999, watching the fiasco on television.
 
Both were pleasantly surprised to see that the rough was not nearly as bad. But what got their attention was the 7,421 yards of course, the flapping flags in what the Scots might consider only a wee breeze, and bunkers everywhere they looked.
 
'I wasn't here in '99,' Howell said. 'I thought it was tough.'
 
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    M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

    The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

    Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

    Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

    Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

    Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

    Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

    She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

    Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

    Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

    But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

    So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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    After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

    PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

    In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

    Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


    On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

    As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

    That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

    So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


    On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

    According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

    While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

    If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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    Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

    ''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

    Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

    ''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

    Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

    ''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

    The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

    ''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

    Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

    ''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

    Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

    Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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    Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

    By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

    The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

    Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

    A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

    "I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

    Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

    "Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."