Good Open at The Open for Tiger

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- A little rain took the fire and fear out of Royal Liverpool. Still intact was the strange nature of the British Open, such as the peculiar path Tiger Woods took toward the top of the leaderboard Thursday.
 
He started by missing a par putt from 30 inches and finished by making an eagle putt from 25 feet, giving him a 5-under 67 to leave him one shot behind Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.
 
Graeme McDowell
Tiger Woods may grab the headlines, but Graeme McDowell has the lead after Day 1.
Along the way, Woods took two shots to escape a pot bunker, had to bend a shot around a signpost after marshals tried in vain to twist it loose, and hit the fairway the one time he decided to hit driver. That was the 16th hole, and the ball landed in the 17th fairway.
 
'You can make birdies out there,' Woods said, showing that in a myriad of ways. 'And, obviously, guys are doing it.'
 
McDowell made six of them without losing a shot, and his 66 broke by one shot the course record set by Roberto De Vicenzo in 1967. Then again, that was the last time the British Open came to these forgotten links south of the Mersey River.
 
And as tidy as his round was, even McDowell had to endure a bizarre moment at the British Open.
 
He was in a pub Wednesday night when a local lad recognized him, asked for his autograph, then gave him a swing tip.
 
'He said, 'You get it pretty laid off at the top, don't you?' And I said, 'Yeah, I guess I do.' He said, 'Get a bit of work done on that, will you?' ' McDowell said. 'I was kind of joking with the guys, if I shoot 66, I guess I'll be wanting to see that guy on the range Friday morning.'
 
The biggest surprise of all was the change to a crusty course that had caused consternation early in the week. It had been so brown and brittle that the Royal & Ancient asked that two fire engines be allowed inside the gates in case the links caught fire.
 
Instead, rain showed up overnight and caused a 30-minute delay in the morning because of lingering thunder. It hardly flooded the century-old course, although it didn't take long to notice the difference.
 
'Nobody expected the course to be like this,' Jim Furyk said after his 68. 'It's just a day where you need to post a good number and keep up with everyone else. The biggest change I started seeing was when I fixed a ball mark. I knew the scores would be good then.'
 
And they were.
 
For those concerned that Royal Liverpool could not hold its own against the best players and their titanium toys, the best anyone could muster in relatively benign conditions was McDowell's 66, the same score that has led after one round at the last two Opens.
 
It was the 67 rounds under par -- 32 of them in the 60s -- that got everyone's attention.
 
Since the PGA TOUR began keeping records in relation to par in 1956, the highest number of sub-par scores in the first round of the British Open was 59 at St. Andrews in 1995. No other major has had so many low scores in the first round.
 
'If it hadn't rained, it would have been unbelievable for four days,' Fred Couples said after a 70.
 
Greg Owen of England, the hard-luck runner-up at Bay Hill, was among four other players who joined Woods at 67. The baker's dozen at 68 included Ernie Els, Mike Weir, Adam Scott and Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman.
 
Phil Mickelson, trying to put his U.S. Open collapse behind him, soared to the top of the leaderboard before cooling over the final eight holes, missing two greens in spots he knew were forbidden to take bogeys. He finished at 69.
 
'I've just got to execute better,' he said.
 
Els figured scores might have been lower if players were not so cautious about the first round.
 
'You don't want to shoot yourself out of it the first day, so you're not taking as many chances,' Els said. 'It's not the hardest course we've ever played because of the weather. But there's enough trouble out there where it makes you really think on every hole.'
 
Not all the names atop the leaderboard were familiar, another tradition at the British Open.
 
One of them belonged to Anthony Wall, the son of a London cab driver whose only European tour victory came in South Africa. He made two eagles on his way to a 67, and didn't see anything surprising about being in contention at only his second major.
 
'No reason why not,' he said. 'I have two legs and two arms. I played some good golf. You need the luck, that's the main thing. And here I am.'
 
Perhaps the craziest round belonged to Mark Hensby, one of 23 Aussies in the field. He hit a 2-iron out-of-bounds on the third hole and took triple bogey. He rebounded with nine birdies the rest of the way and joined the crowd at 68.
 
McDowell shot into the lead with three straight birdies, none more unlikely than holing a bunker shot on the par-3 ninth. He had to settle for a birdie on the par-5 16th after hitting 4-iron to 15 feet, then lost a chance for birdie on the par-5 18th when his tee shot found the rough. Still, seeing his name atop the gold-and-black leaderboard behind the 18th green was sweet.
 
'I just want to be up there on Sunday and enjoy myself coming down the last hole,' McDowell said.
 
Woods was pleased to see his name so high on the board, too, considering his forgettable episode the last time he played in a major. With consecutive rounds of 76 at Winged Foot, the world's No. 1 player missed the cut for the first time as a pro in a major championship.
 
The defending champion at the British Open now looks like a good bet to become the first repeat winner since Tom Watson in 1983. It was the sixth time Woods has shot 5 under or better in the first round of a major, and he won four of the others.
 
Asked about his confidence, Woods replied, 'Shooting 67 makes me feel good, yes.'
 
Then he headed for the practice range, still needing to sort out some mechanics in a swing under constant scrutiny. One piece of criticism came 18 months ago from six-time major winner Nick Faldo, while working for ABC Sports.
 
Woods and Faldo played together, and while the photographers crowded into position for the big showdown, all they got was a handshake. Faldo then turned to the gallery and tapped his cheek, signaling they had kissed and made up.
 
Faldo, however, missed one putt after another and was 10 shots behind Woods, shooting a 77 his worst opening round at the British Open since he opened with a 78 at Carnoustie in 1999.
 
The day was a mad scramble for the lead, a Daytona 500 with cars four-wide in the turn. Woods was a late arrival with his birdie-par-eagle finish. What saved him was a couple of pars, however, particularly on the 14th. From right of the green in tall grass, with only 8 feet of green to land the ball, he chopped at a flop shot and it stopped 5 feet from the hole.
 
'I had three potential birdie holes. I didn't want to drop a shot there and go back to 1 under,' he said. 'It was nice to hit that save and keep the momentum going, and I finished off the round very well.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
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    Club apologizes for calling cops on black women members

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 11:07 pm

    YORK, Pa. - A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.

    “I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

    Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

    At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

    On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

    Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.

    It’s part of golf etiquette that slow-moving players let groups behind them play through if they are holding things up, and often golf courses have personnel who monitor the pace of play, letting golfers know when they are taking too long.

    The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

    After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

    Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

    The women argued they took an appropriate break, and that the men behind them were still on their beer break and not ready to tee off, as seen in a video Thompson gave the newspaper. The women were told that the police had been called, and so they waited.

    Northern York County Regional Police arrived, conducted interviews and left without charging anyone.

    “We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”

    A phone listing for Steve Chronister rang busy on Monday. He told the York Daily Record he didn’t have time to comment on Sunday.

    Jordan Chronister’s wife and co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, said Sunday she called the women personally to apologize.

    “We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the newspaper. “We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience.”

    She said she hopes to meet with them to discuss how the club can use what happened as a learning experience and do better in the future.

    Thompson said she’s not sure a meeting is what needs to happen.

    “There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner,” she said.

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    Randall's Rant: Augusta has the power to strengthen LPGA

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 9:57 pm

    Augusta National Golf Club is turning women’s golf upside down.

    If you care about the LPGA, that should be your hope, anyway.

    Your hope should be that the investment made in the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship announced at the Masters three weeks ago will eventually filter up the women’s ranks.

    While the new amateur event comes with significant challenges for the women’s tour - with its first major (the ANA Inspiration) in a tough spot the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur - there is LPGA seed money being planted in Georgia

    There’s an investment that may grow the women’s game beyond fueling new interest among girls.

    “I just hope corporations start recognizing the value of investing in the women’s game, the way Augusta National does,” two-time major champion Cristie Kerr said. “There are so many corporate sponsors in the men’s game who don’t invest a single dollar in the women’s game. Obviously, that’s their prerogative, but we have a lot of value as a tour.”

    And there’s your hope.

    Augusta National is a collection of power brokers, CEOs and leaders now invested in growing the women’s game.

    They’re taking a special interest in watching these young female amateurs emerge, and it’s only natural to expect they’ll become emotionally invested in where these young players go.

    And a lot of these young players will go on to the LPGA.

    The LPGA is thriving under commissioner Mike Whan’s leadership, with Whan seeing opportunities where others didn’t. He saw Asian interest in the tour as an asset, not the liability so many thought a decade ago.

    The LPGA had withered to 23 events in 2011 with $40 million in total prize money. This year, it's up to 34 events with a tour-record $68 million in prize money. Whan did that with a lot of Asian backing.

    Of the 10 tour events the LPGA has staged so far this year, including this week’s tournament in San Francisco, nine have Asian-based title sponsors. Even the LPGA’s domestic events are thriving on Asian money. 



    All six of the U.S. events staged so far this year have Asian-based title sponsors. You have to move into May and next week’s Volunteers of America Texas Classic before finding an American corporate title sponsor of an American LPGA event.

    That starts changing with summer approaching, but overall there will be 17 Asian-based companies or organizations as title sponsors of LPGA events this year, with 14 American-based entities sponsoring or owning events.

    Whan says that’s a good thing.

    “The diversity of sponsorship on the LPGA makes us a stronger business,” Whan said. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve worked through recessions in different parts of the world. None of those recessions were crippling to our overall schedule, because we have so many sponsors on board, from so many different places.”

    Whan says American corporate interest is growing considerably, with more American marketing partners joining the LPGA this year. The next steps players would like to see are increased purses and endorsement opportunities for women.

    The winning two-man team at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic this week will take home a combined $2,073,000. This week’s LPGA Mediheal Championship features a $1.5 million purse for the entire field.

    “The income gap in golf is as much a concern to me as the corporate income gap is to working women,” 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis wrote in an essay earlier this year for the World Economic Forum.

    U.S. Solheim Cup captain and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this year with no endorsement deals on her bag or shirt. She has become more outspoken about the lack of corporate support for all female golf pros.

    “I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said at the last Solheim Cup. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”

    With Augusta National investing in young amateur women, it may only be a matter of time until corporate America significantly steps up support. The game’s greatest power brokers appear ready to grow with the young women they will begin investing in next year. That should be the hope for anyone who cares about the LPGA.

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    Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

    By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

    With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

    According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

    While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

    According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

    In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

    The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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    Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

    Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

    It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

    With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

    “To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

    It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

    Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

    Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

    Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

    In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

    Just wait until her putter heats up.

    Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

    On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

    Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.