Fond memories for Euros at Oakland Hills

By Associated PressAugust 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' To walk up the stairs to the locker room at Oakland Hills is a swift journey through history, the kind that most Americans would like to forget.
 
Go up the first flight and there on the wall is a wood-framed photograph of Colin Montgomerie, posing after another flawless swing. More large photos are at every turn, from Sergio Garcia staring down another flag to Luke Donald thrusting both arms in the air to Bernhard Langer posing with a gold cup. The final photo shows a champagne-soaked celebration at Oakland Hills.
 
The last major competition here was the 2004 Ryder Cup, and it wasnt much competition at all.
 
Europe 18 1/2 , United States 9 1/2.
 
I got here this morning to play and there wasnt a soul out here, David Toms said Monday. It was a lot different from the last time I walked off this golf course.
 
For eight Europeans from that winning team, there are nothing but happy memories. And that might be one reason odds are better than ever of a European winning the PGA Championship for the first time in 80 years, its longest drought in any major.
 
It was one of the most memorable weeks Ive ever had, certainly on that golf course, said Ian Poulter, who won his singles match against Chris Riley in 2004. And it will be nice to go back to a golf course that I know, that Ive played well on, and refresh and rekindle your mind with those good thoughts. That certainly is a golf course Ive got a lot of good memories around.
 
Poulter also can take good memories from the last major, where he challenged Padraig Harrington at Royal Birkdale with a birdie on the 16th and a 15-foot par on the final hole that turned out to be good enough for the silver medal.
 
And hes not alone.
 
Europe has 16 players who are among the top 50 in the world ranking, although Donald is not at Oakland Hills because of a wrist injury that has kept him out of the final two majors and could keep him off the Ryder Cup team.
 
Three other players from Europes record-setting victory in 2004 did not qualify for the PGA Championship ' Paul McGinley, Thomas Levet and David Howell, whose 6-iron to 8 feet on the 17th hole was among the signature shots that week.
 
Even so, their collective spirits have never been this high.
 
Harrington has led the way, ending Europes eight-year drought in the majors by winning at Carnoustie, then becoming the first European in 92 years to win the British Open in consecutive years.
 
Lee Westwood came within a 15-footer of forcing a playoff at the U.S. Open and last week at a World Golf Championship event. Garcia, who some consider to be the best player without a major, won the next best thing to a major when he captured The Players Championship in May.
 
Robert Karlsson of Sweden is the only player who has finished in the top 10 at all three majors this year.
 
Maybe it would be best for Americans to use alternate stairs to reach the locker room, for Oakland Hills has far more history than an exhibition between continents. This is where Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open in 1951 and gave the course its nickname, finishing at 7-over 287 and saying he was glad he brought this monster to its knees.
 
The last of eight majors held at Oakland Hills was the 1996 U.S. Open, where Steve Jones won by one shot over Davis Love III and Tom Lehman, and Tiger Woods played his final U.S. Open as an amateur.
 
Woods is missing his second straight major after season-ending surgery to rebuild his left knee, although PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said the worlds No. 1 player is starting his rehab.
 
Despite that 1-2-3 finish by Americans in the 96 U.S. Open, the most recent memories of Oakland Hills arent all that great.
 
Phil Mickelson played two matches with Woods, hitting a 3-wood into an unplayable lie on the final of a foursomes match, getting benched by U.S. captain Hal Sutton and hitting into the water on the 16th to lose his singles match to Sergio Garcia.
 
Chris DiMarco was the only American with a winning record that week, but that seems so long ago. DiMarco tied for 12th last week at Firestone, his best finish in a year, moving him up to No. 184 in the world.
 
But there is one big difference, namely the golf course.
 
Rees Jones, the latest architect to get his hands on this Donald Ross original, stretched it an extra 318 yards, meaning the Monster now measures 7,395 yards, the longest ever for a par 70.
 
I havent seen it since I played it in 04, said Paul Casey, who was 1-1 at that Ryder Cup. Its just an incredibly tough golf course. From what I remember, it requires all the shots. Youve got to move the ball left to right, right to left. You need to hit it long, you need to hit it straight, you need to putt well. These are just some of the most difficult greens Ive ever seen. So it takes absolutely everything.
 
Toms was among the few who played all 18 holes on Monday, as most players were arriving. He recognized the additional length, not by the card but by the number of times he was taking the cover off his hybrids and fairway metals.
 
He was asked his most vivid memory of 2004, which is worth noting for the PGA Championship.
 
We just lost our first match, and the first question Mark Rolfing (of NBC Sports) asked me was, How can you explain not making any birdies? Toms said. And I told him it was a tough course.
 
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    McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

    By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

    They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

    McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

    Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

    On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

    Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

    12/1: Tony Finau

    14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

    20/1: Francesco Molinari

    25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

    30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

    40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

    50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

    60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

    80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

    100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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    Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

    By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

    Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

    It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

    Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

    “I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

    “I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

    Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

    At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

    Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

    “I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

    “Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

    “Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

    After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

    “I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

    Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

    “It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

    “Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

    On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

    Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

    “She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

    Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

    At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

    At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

    Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

    “I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

    Her overall assessment of her day?

    “It was a great experience,” she said.

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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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    Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

    Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

    The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

    “Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

    Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

    But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


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    “I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

    Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

    “It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

    There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

    It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

    “It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”