Mixed bag of major victors, winner wannabes at Canadian Open

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2011, 2:23 am

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Michael Thompson followed up his even-par opening round with a 4-under 66 on Friday to move into a tie with Chad Campbell after the second round of the Canadian Open.

Campbell shot 67 in cloudy morning conditions, and Thompson bettered it on a sunny afternoon, finishing with a birdie on the tough 472-yard, par-4 18th.

Paul Goydos (69) and Lee Janzen (68) had a share of the lead before bogeys on their final hole dropped them to 137 after another tough day in the thick rough along the tight, tree-lined Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club.

For Thompson, a 26-year-old from Alabama who was the rookie of the year on the Hooters Tour last year, the only comparison was the 2007 U.S. Amateur, where he made the finals before losing to Colt Knost, who was at even par Friday.

“What I’ve learned on a golf course like this is you pick your line and you get really focused in on your target,” said Thompson, who has now made five straight cuts in his first PGA Tour season, and 10 of 17 overall.

Playing under mostly sunny skies in the afternoon, Thompson followed an early bogey with five birdies, including his effort on the 18th.

“On top of that, just accepting where it goes,” he said. “If it goes in the rough, you deal with it. There’s no reason to freak out or panic.”

Current Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (67) and former U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy (68) were among seven players at 2 under, two strokes off the lead.

“Good players are playing well in this tournament,” said Ogilvy, who wasn’t a fan of the rough. “It’s a quality looking leader board and at the end of the day that’s all you can ask for. It doesn’t really matter what people shoot.”

Joining Ogilvy and Schwartzel at 2 under were Rickie Fowler (69), Jerry Kelly (67), first-round leader Kris Blanks (71), and Canadians David Hearn (68) and Adam Hadwin, a local playing on a sponsor’s exemption who bogeyed 18 for a 66.

For the 23-year-old Hadwin, in his second year on the tier-3 Canadian Tour, the round was extra special because younger brother Kyle, who has had five major surgeries while battling Crohn’s disease was able to leave a nearby hospital and walk the course. It was the first time since last year’s Canadian Open, when Hadwin was the top Canadian, that Kyle was able to see his brother play in person.

Kyle wasn’t able to travel when Adam qualified for this year’s U.S. Open.

“He’s a tough kid, he’s been battling hard for a while,” Hadwin said. “It’s great that he’s able to get out here and enjoy this with me.”

Scott McCarron shot the lowest round of the tournament, a 65 that moved the veteran into a group of seven players at 1 under, and Tommy Gainey, who opened with a 77, matched it to move to 2 over and get below the 4-over cutline.

Despite no overnight rain to soften the course like early Thursday, scores were down by almost half a shot, but considering that first round was third-toughest on the PGA Tour this season at more than 3 over par, it was all relative.

Anthony Kim, coming off a tie for fifth at the British Open last week, was disqualified after signing for less than his 11-over 81.

“A.K. just got it going sideways a little bit and out here there’s no faking it,” said Fowler, who played with Kim and Lucas Glover, who is 1 under. “You’ve got to hit the ball in the fairway and stay out of trouble here.”

The number of players under par was down – from 21 after Round 1 to 18 going into the weekend – and Campbell, Goydos, Fowler and Janzen were the only ones to stay under on both days as the thick rough claimed more than just scorecards.

Canadian favorite Weir, whose 2003 Masters win is a distant memory as he plummets to No. 475 in the world, withdrew after hitting out of the long rough and aggravating an elbow injury that cut short his 2010 season. Weir was 8 over after six holes when he pulled out.

“Very disappointing,” he said. “This is our national championship. I want to play and have great fan support. But I’m just not going to re-injure it again. With this deep rough, I just can’t hit it.”

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He will return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finished worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.