Jackpot McNeill Wins First in Las Vegas

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
  LAS VEGAS -- Not until the 18th tee did George McNeill finally show just how special a day he'd had, smiling and waving to the camera.
 
Minus fanfare or frills, the 32-year-old rookie won his first career PGA TOUR title in commanding fashion Sunday, shooting a 5-under 67 for a 23-under 264 total and a four-stroke victory over D.J. Trahan in the Frys.com Open.
 
Now McNeill has something in common with Tiger Woods. In 1996, Woods also earned his first PGA Tour victory at this tournament.
 
'Any time you can be mentioned in the same sentence as him it's a good thing,' McNeill said.
 
McNeill did it with his only bogey coming when he three-putted on the 18th green at TPC Summerlin with the crowd cheering and four scantily clad Las Vegas showgirls ready to offer their personal congratulations.
 
His trophy arrived from 5,000 feet above, carried by one of two hangliders who took part in the awards ceremony.
 
Only in Las Vegas.
 
'That whole saying about what (happens in Vegas) stays in Vegas, I hope my game travels,' McNeill said, smiling. 'I felt like I didn't do anything that special. It's nice to kind of buzz around and win by four and not feel like you're doing anything all that great.'
 
McNeill did it with small galleries following him, save for a big group of his Florida buddies who showed up to play on their own starting Monday. He did it by maintaining that same calm demeanor from the start, an even keel personality more resembling a veteran than a first-time winner.
 
McNeill earned the winning share of $720,000 on a beautiful, clear day in the desert after strong wind played a big factor in Saturday in a tournament that featured not one top-20 player in the field.
 
McNeill, who last December won Q-school by five strokes, was coming off rounds of 66, 64 and 67. He began his final round at 18 under and five strokes ahead, matching the largest lead on the tour this year heading into a final round.
 
He secured his TOUR card for the next two years. All that after a discouraging stretch earlier this year when he missed six cuts and withdrew from one event in an eight-tournament span.
 
'I was trying not to think about all that stuff when I was out there playing,' McNeill said. 'I don't get too emotional. I'm having fun with this. It hasn't sunk in. ... In a sense, I know I have a job for the next two years and it takes the pressure off.'
 
After Trahan -- who shot a 66 -- birdied the first four holes and then No. 9 to pull within three strokes, McNeill made a 15-footer for birdie on No. 11 and also birdied 13 and 14. He sunk a 27 1/2 -foot putt on the 156-yard 14th.
 
Robert Garrigus shot a 70 to tie for third with Cameron Beckman (68) at 15 under after Garrigus started the day in the top group and tied with Trahan for second.
 
Las Vegan Bob May, who led after the first day, tied for fifth with a 69 to finish at 14 under -- a nice showing for May considering he has dealt with back injuries for years now and is still on the comeback trail.
 
The 39-year-old May returned to the PGA TOUR last year for the first time since 2003. He played 2006 on a major medical extension after not swinging a club for two-plus years because of his back.
 
After McNeill pulled his tee shot on No. 6 left and about a foot into a rocky and sandy desert area, he consulted a rules official about his options regarding the moveable obstruction.
 
He picked up a small rock just behind his ball, moved away a couple of others as well as a pine cone, then chipped onto the green for a chance at birdie -- and had to be happy just to save par.
 
Trahan, meanwhile, bogeyed after missing his par putt from 5 1/2 feet.
 
McNeill, who spent last year working in a golf shop before rediscovering his desire to compete, made only two birdies on the front nine but played his best golf over the final nine holes. He birdied four of his final eight holes.
 
Tournament chairman Gary Davis announced that Shriners Hospitals for Children is the new title sponsor, signing a five-year commitment to keep the tournament in Las Vegas through 2013. Its name: the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The format will change starting next year from a Pro-Am to an all-pro event for the four days of competition, with a celebrity Pro-Am to take place Wednesday. All rounds will be played on the Summerlin course after groups split between it and nearby TPC The Canyons for the first two days.
 
The Shriners -- who also hope this will bring their hospitals more recognition -- are pledging $6 million to run the event each year, while also seeking other sponsors to help.
 
'The PGA TOUR is her in Las Vegas to stay,' said Davis, determined to find a way to bring in more big names. 'Everybody agreed it needs to stay in Las Vegas. That's the first step toward major sports in Southern Nevada.'
 
The tournament will remain in October for now, but organizers hope to eventually move to the spring. Davis said the purse would stay at $4 million.
 
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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 am

    Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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    McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

    McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

    But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

    Said Harmon:

    “Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

    “This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

    McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

    “Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

    McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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    How The Open cut line is determined

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

    Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

    The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    • After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

    • There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

    • There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

    The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.