Notes British Still Mystery for Mickelson

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2004, 4:00 pm
TROON, Scotland -- Despite all the preparation at Royal Troon and playing the majors better than ever, the British Open remains somewhat of a mystery to Masters champion Phil Mickelson.
He started with nine consecutive pars on the easier front nine, didn't make a birdie until the par-5 16th and wound up with a 2-over 73.
'I didn't hit the ball the way I wanted to, and I didn't putt that well,' Mickelson said. 'But I was able to keep the ball in the right spot and salvage 2 over, which I wouldn't consider a good round today.'
Mickelson was in the 12th group Thursday morning, when conditions were the tamest of the first round. He finished in a tie for 73rd and tees off at 1:42 p.m. when the wind is supposed to be its strongest, so making the cut might be his first priority. Then again, he's still only seven shots behind.
Even though Mickelson has never finished in the top 10 at a British Open, he had some history on his side. The last player to win the Masters and finish second in the U.S. Open the same year was Arnold Palmer, and the King went on to win the British that year -- at Royal Troon.
Chris DiMarco made 30-foot birdie putts on Nos. 15 and 18 to salvage a 71, not a bad start to the British Open considering how long it took him to arrive at Royal Troon.
DiMarco was supposed to leave Monday night from Philadelphia until a blanket that was stuffed into the toilet on the airplane caused the entire system to malfunction and eventually led to the flight being canceled. The next night, electrical problems delayed that flight, so he didn't arrive until 6:15 p.m. Wednesday.
And by then, the course was closed for play.
'They let me walk around the course,' DiMarco said. 'I actually played here about four years ago in a pro-am with Gary Player and Arnold Palmer, so I knew it a little bit. But not in conditions for a British Open.'
The lack of knowledge -- and a bad bounce -- cost him on the 11th.
DiMarco hit a drive slightly to the right, while Rod Pampling hit his drive well to the right.
'There's one ball in the fairway, and I figured it was mine,' DiMarco said. 'His must have kicked to the left. We looked 5 minutes for mine and never found it.'
He wound up with a triple bogey, but rallied down the closing holes for a hard-earned 71.
DiMarco was wearing rain pants on a sunny day and a white shirt with a Royal Troon logo, an indication that even getting to Scotland didn't mean his problems were over. His suitcase never arrived from Philadelphia.
But at least his golf clubs did.
Ian Poulter caused quite a stir at the British Open -- not for his golf, but his pants.
Poulter, who often spikes and dyes his hair various colors, wore Union Jack trousers that were the rage of Royal Troon, and even outraged some.
The switchboard at the staid club was lit up with phone calls protesting his attire, but the 28-year-old Englishman thought it was smashing.
'I've had comments all around the golf course, wolf whistles and 'Love the pants.' It's just good fun,' Poulter said. 'I'm always trying to be different. I don't like the way most people dress on the golf course -- pretty bland, pretty boring. My persona is not like that.'
Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson told the Press Association that there is nothing in the rule book that bans players from wearing Union Jack trousers.
'All you can do is hope players adhere to the dress code on the European tour,' Dawson said. 'I wonder what he has in store for tomorrow?'
Tom Weiskopf did not make a triumphant return to Royal Troon, taking four shots to get out of a pot bunker for a quadruple-bogey 8 on the first hole.
A wire-to-wire winner at Royal Troon in 1973, Weiskopf now spends much of his time on course design. And he had no problems with the pot bunker that brought him down Thursday.
'Just big enough for an angry man with a club,' he said.
The 61-year-old Weiskopf has not played in the British Open since 1995, and this will his last appearance. He opened with an 80.
Weiskopf played with former British Open and Masters champion Sandy Lyle, who had his own take on seeing the tall American buried in a bunker.
'He may be 6-foot-5, but he was digging so big a hole in the sand that he was disappearing at one stage,' Lyle said.
David Griffiths was the fifth alternate from local qualifying, and he thought about going to Italy to play a Challenge Tour event. Instead, he hung around Troon with hopes someone might withdraw.
Within 30 minutes of the first tee shot, former British Open champion David Duval withdrew and Griffiths found himself on the first tee, playing his first Open.
It wasn't the best way to prepare for his first major. On the other hand, he didn't have much time to let nerves get the best of him.
'I didn't have time to think until (No.) 6 when I made an 8,' he said.
Griffiths wound up with a 75.
Ernie Els was not the first player to make a hole-in-one on the Postage Stamp eighth hole, nor was he the most famous. That distinction belongs to Gene Sarazen, one of five players to have won the career Grand Slam.
Sarazen failed to qualify for the first British Open held at Royal Troon in 1923. Fifty years later, the 71-year-old known as 'The Squire' made an ace in the first round and a birdie in the second round, although he missed the cut.
'Me and Gene Sarazen,' Els said with a smile. 'I don't know what he played, probably hit his 5-iron.'
Els hit wedge from 123 yards.
The last player to ace the Postage Stamp was Denis Edlund in the second round of the 1997 Open. He went on to a 77 and missed the cut at 16-over 158.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 133rd Open Championship
  • TV Airtimes

  • British Open Photo Gallery

  • Full Coverage - 133rd Open Championship
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
    Getty Images

    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

    Getty Images

    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

    Updated Official World Golf Ranking

    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

    Getty Images

    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”