Longshot Winners in the Majors

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2003, 4:00 pm
SANDWICH, England (AP) -- The sand was rumpled in the pot bunker just right of the 16th hole at Royal St. George's, no doubt the result of amateurs wanting to see just how badly Thomas Bjorn blew his chance to win the British Open.
Up ahead, workers trying to keep their balance in 35 mph gusts were tearing down the massive grandstands surrounding the 18th green.
Thousands of fans had been in those seats as they watched Ben Curtis pass by, not knowing who he was or even daring to imagine that the 396th-ranked player in the world would be introduced within the hour as the champion golfer of the year.
On the day after a bizarre week produced a most unlikely winner, Royal & Ancient secretary Peter Dawson summed it up with a bemused smile on his face.
'It can be done,' he said.
By now, everyone should believe it.
Depending on what happens at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in two weeks at the Women's British Open, and at Oak Hill next month in the PGA Championship, this could be remembered as the year of the longshot.
First came Hilary Lunke, the only major champion in recent memory to carry a master's degree and an 11-wood.
Lunke had never finished higher than 15th in her two short years on the LPGA Tour. No one gave her a fighting chance at the U.S. Women's Open because she had so little experience and could barely hit the ball out of her shadow.
She won a playoff at Pumpkin Ridge two weeks ago, the first champion to have gone through two stage of qualifying -- and that includes opening the second stage with an 80.
Next up was Curtis, a PGA Tour rookie who never came close to cracking the top 10 until he tied for 13th at the Western Open. That was good enough to get him into the British Open for his first taste of a major championship.
On Sunday, Curtis took his place among Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods. All of those names are above his on the silver claret jug.
In the history books, Curtis will be linked with the likes of Alf Perry and Jack Fleck.
Perry, a British club professional, begged for a few days off so he could play in the 1935 British Open at Muirfield. He won by four shots, and was last seen caressing the claret jug while sitting on a bench at the train station to go home.
Ben Hogan was already in the clubhouse at Olympic Club in the 1955 when someone said Jack Fleck -- Jack who? -- was making a run. Fleck caught Hogan with a birdie on the 72nd hole, then beat him in an 18-hole playoff the next day, his only victory of the decade.
'There's so many professional golfers out there that set the dream just to win a major,' Curtis said. 'And I did it my first try.'
The longshots had some help.
Lunke might have had a tough time taking on Annika Sorenstam in the playoff at Pumpkin Ridge, only Sorenstam failed to deliver in the clutch. With a 4-wood into the par-5 18th, needing only a par to get into the playoff, the best player in women's golf made bogey.
Curtis got some help from Bjorn, who plays out of the desert in Dubai but couldn't handle the soft sand in the pot bunkers at Royal St. George's.
Bjorn took three swipes out of the sand before escaping the pot bunker at No. 17 in the final round, despite having plenty of green behind the flag and a two-shot lead.
His collapse wasn't nearly as shocking as Jean Van de Velde hitting into the rough, off the grandstand, into a burn, into a bunker and making triple bogey on the final hole at Carnoustie to blow his three-shot lead.
Sometimes, mistakes are more memorable than anything the winner did.
Don't forget that Paul Lawrie shot 67 in the final round at Carnoustie, then two of the purest iron shots in the playoff, to win the 1999 British Open.
And be sure to remember Curtis as more than an unknown.
While Bjorn botched the bunker shots, while Woods, Vijay Singh and Davis Love III failed to make clutch putts down the stretch, Curtis never shot worse than 72 over four days at Royal St. George's. Equally impressive, he never made worse than bogey.
Lunke did not stumble into the biggest prize in women's golf. She made nine putts of 5 feet for longer in the 18-hole playoff, including a 15-foot birdie on the final hole.
Yes, the odds were ridiculously high. That doesn't mean the victory was a fluke.
Singh saw it coming at the Western Open. He played with Curtis and the 26-year-old from Ohio closed with rounds of 69-68 to earn a spot in the British Open.
On the eve of the final round at Royal St. George's, Singh said he told his wife, 'This guy can play. He's no pushover.'
What remains to be seen is whether young players with no credentials and hardly any name recognition are inspired by what Curtis and Lunke did this month.
Perhaps there will be another longshot winner at the PGA Championship.
Someone like Tiger Woods.
Remember him?
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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.

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

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:30 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.

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Thirty players have drivers tested by R&A

By Tim RosaforteJuly 17, 2018, 1:00 am

Thirty players, including seven major champions, arrived at the 147th Open and received a letter from the R&A notifying them to bring their respective drivers to the equipment standards office located on Carnoustie’s practice ground by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Brooks Koepka all confirmed that their drivers all passed the COR test (coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect) administered by the R&A.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

This was the first time the R&A took measures that were not part of the distance insight project being done in conjunction with the USGA.

The PGA Tour has been testing club for approximately five years but has not done random testing to this point.  The Tour’s rules department works in conjunction with manufacturers and tests clubs from manufacturer fans at tournaments on a voluntary basis. The USGA assists the PGA Tour in this process.