Notes Euros More Fun Million Dollar Baby

By Associated PressSeptember 6, 2005, 4:00 pm
CARMEL, Ind. -- Europe has dominated the alternate-shot format in the Solheim Cup the last three matches with a 14-6-4 record, including a 5-0-3 mark two years ago in Sweden. Laura Davies had a simple explanation Tuesday.
 
European girls have more fun.
 
``They've done really well, but we are very good,'' Davies said. ``We get on so well. I'm sure the American team is good fun, but you won't find the same atmosphere we have. I think it shows in the first two days of competition.''

Davies, the only woman to play in every Solheim Cup, was asked why the United States doesn't mix as well.
 
``They don't seem to have the fun we have,'' she said. ``Maybe they do. On paper, they're a better team, and we still dust them the first two days. It has to be something we do right leading up into the foursomes.''
 
Karen Stupples of England, a rookie in these matches, suggested the record had more to do with experience. She noted that juniors from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales play a series of matches each year.
 
All of this came as news to some of the Americans.
 
Several players have said this is the closest group they've had in years, a camaraderie that started when captain Nancy Lopez chartered a motor home to drive from Ohio to Crooked Stick two weeks ago for a practice round.
 
``We don't know what they're doing,'' Natalie Gulbis said. ``But we're having a great time.''
 
MISSISSIPPI OPTIONS
Dean Wilson and Steve Stricker were among those talking about their schedule for the rest of the year as they try to finish in the top 125 on the money list to secure their PGA Tour cards. Both said they would play in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic in Mississippi.
 
But there are concerns about the Oct. 6-9 event at Annandale Golf Club because of Hurricane Katrina.
 
``They have over 1,000 trees down on the golf course,'' Henry Hughes, director of operations for the PGA Tour, said Tuesday. ``They had disease in some of the greens, and they were going to re-sod four greens, which is obviously delayed now.''
 
Hughes said he spoke Monday night with tournament director Robert Morgan, and another problem is where to stay. With everyone in the Gulf area evacuating to the north, hotels are full.
 
``They are reviewing what the options are for the Southern Farm Bureau tournament, which is scheduled in five weeks. And we're going to be reviewing options as to what we can do,'' Hughes said.
 
Hughes said they could decide to move the tournament, play it on a different date or attempt to keep it on schedule. The Southern Farm Bureau Classic is held opposite the American Express Championship in San Francisco. It used to be held opposite the Tour Championship at the end of the season.
 
``We haven't talked about specific dates,'' Hughes said.
 
MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Jason Bohn can expect a nice paycheck Oct. 1 even if he doesn't play Greensboro.
 
Bohn, whose victory in the B.C. Open and runner-up finish in the Deutsche Bank Championship took him over $1 million, might not be where he is today without a hole-in-one 13 years ago that continues to pay off.
 
He was a redshirt freshman at Alabama when he took part in a fund-raiser that offered $1 million for an ace. Bohn hit a 9-iron from 135 yards into the hole. He gave up his amateur status to accept the prize, which is paying him $50,000 every Oct. 1 for 20 years.
 
That meant giving up his college career, although he stayed at Alabama and earned his degree.
 
``I knew I wasn't Tiger Woods,'' he said. ``Without that money, I would have never been able to chase my dream.''
 
The next check is on its way.
 
``I look forward to every Oct. 1,'' he said. ``It's a fun day.''
 
EQUIPMENT CHECK
It was strange to see an extra fairway metal in Tiger Woods' bag during a practice round at Firestone last month -- a 7-wood, no less. Whether it gets into a tournament remains to be seen.
 
Woods said the difference between how far he hits his 2-iron and his 3-wood can be as much as 30 yards, the largest gap in his bag. He probably could have used another fairway metal at the PGA Championship, especially on Saturday when he tried to take something off a 3-wood for his second shot into the 650-yard 17th.
 
``I've asked Rick Nichols at Nike to see what I can do to bridge the gap, to maybe put a 5-wood or 7-wood in the bag,'' Woods said. ``But I have a problem with having to be able to flight the golf ball with those clubs.''
 
He laughed as soon as he made contact with the 7-wood at Firestone because the ball had just a high trajectory.
 
``I love hitting my 2-iron off tees and hitting it down there low and controlling it,'' he said. ``Then again, sometimes I'm having a hard time into the par 5 of throwing the ball in the air.''
 
He noted that Vijay Singh carried a 7-wood that was bent to work like a 5-wood. Still, it sounded as though Woods would keep the same 14 clubs for a while.
 
``I have a hard time with that club now,'' he said.
 
BELLY UP
Fred Couples has been using the belly putter the past few years, and there's no going back now. He tried using a conventional putter at the Masters, and it hurt his back so much he almost couldn't play.
 
Couples played a practice round with David Duval, who had an extra putter with him. But he found himself stooped over enough to cause discomfort, and when the tournament started, Couples said his back went out.
 
``The thing at Augusta was a joke,'' he said. ``When I bend over, that's when I get a little bump. I would rather go back to the conventional (putter), but the two days I really worked hard at doing it, I could feel a little stress. I just don't think I can go back to that putter.''
 
DIVOTS
Laura Diaz, playing the Solheim Cup as she enters her sixth month of pregnancy, says she has heard from Juli Inkster, Tammie Green and Pat Hurst, who also played with child. The best news she has heard? ``The five-month mark is really, really good on your golf game, you have a lot of energy and they've all putted really well,'' she said. ... Stuart Appleby has four of the 20 longest drives on the PGA Tour this year. ... Only seven players have played the par 4s under par on the PGA Tour this year, including the top six players on the money list. The seventh is Richard Johnson of Sweden, who checks in at No. 94.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jason Bohn earned more money from his runner-up finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship ($594,000) than for his victory two months ago in the B.C. Open ($540,000).
 
FINAL WORD
``He thought I was insane. It took me three bottles of wine one night to talk him into it. He drank most of it.'' -- Olin Browne, on telling his father he wanted to be a professional golfer.
 
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

Kisner (66) leads Open by 1; Woods 5 back

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 7:44 pm

The course was playing firm and the winds never truly gusted, but it was still quite a mixed bag for some of the world's best during the first round of The Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things stand as Kevin Kisner moved into the lead in search of his first career major:

Leaderboard: Kevin Kisner (-5), Erik van Rooyen (-4), Tony FInau (-4), Zander Lombard (-4), Brandon Stone (-3), Brendan Steele (-3), Ryan Moore (-3)

What it means: Van Rooyen took the early lead in one of the first groups of the morning, and he remained near the top despite a bogey on the final hole. But that left a small opening for Kisner to eke past him, as the American put together a round with as many bogeys as eagles (one apiece). Already with two wins on the PGA Tour and having challenged at the PGA Championship in August, Kisner tops a crowded leaderboard despite never finishing better than T-54 in three prior Open appearances.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Round of the day: Kisner started slowly, as a bogey on No. 5 dropped him to 1 over on the round. But that proved to be his lone dropped shot of the day, and he quickly rebounded with an eagle on the par-5 sixth. Kisner added four birdies over his final 11 holes, including three in a row from Nos. 13-15, and successfully navigated the difficult closing stretch to post the only 66 of the day on the par-71 layout.

Best of the rest: Van Rooyen held a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the Irish Open two weeks ago, but he fell apart at Ballyliffin as Russell Knox rallied for victory. He's off to another surprisingly strong start after a 4-under 67 that included only one bogey on No. 18. Van Rooyen has never won on the European Tour, let alone contended in a major, but he's now in the thick of it after five birdies over his first 15 holes.

Biggest disappointment: Two major champs were among the short list of pre-tournament contenders, but both Patrick Reed (4 over) and Dustin Johnson (5 over) appear to already be out of the mix. Reed has finished T-4 or better each of the last three majors but made only one birdie in his opener, while Johnson was the consensus betting favorite but played his last three holes in 4 over including a triple bogey on No. 18.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Kisner is no stranger to the top of the standings, but keep an eye on the chase pack a few shots back. The group at 2 under includes Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm. Tiger Woods is just five shots off the pace after an even-par 71 that featured three birdies and three bogeys as Woods made his return to The Open for the first time since missing the cut at St. Andrews in 2015.

Shot of the day: Stone put his head on his hands after pulling his approach from the rough on No. 18, but his prayers were answered when his ball rattled off a fence, bounced back in bounds and rolled to the front of the green. One week after winning the Scottish Open with a final-round 60, Stone turned a likely double into a par to close out his 68.



Quote of the day: "I've been taped up and bandaged up, just that you were able to see this one. It's no big deal." - Woods, who had KT tape visible on both sides of his neck after a bad night of sleep.

Getty Images

Rory 'convinced' driver is the play at burnt Carnoustie

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 6:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – There are two distinct schools of thought at this week’s Open Championship - that Carnoustie is either best played with a velvet touch and a measured hand off the tee, or that it makes sense to choose the hammer and hit driver whenever and wherever possible.

Count Rory McIlroy in the latter camp.

Although the Northern Irishman’s opening 2-under 69 may not be a definitive endorsement of the bomb-and-gouge approach, he was pleased with his Day 1 results and even more committed to the concept.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I’m convinced that that's the way that I should play it,” said McIlroy, who hit just 4 of 15 fairways but sits tied for eighth. “It's not going to be for everyone, but it worked out pretty well for me and I would have taken 69 to start the day.”

From the moment McIlroy’s caddie, Harry Diamond, made a scouting trip to Carnoustie a few weeks ago, the 2014 Open champion committed himself to an aggressive gameplan, and there was nothing on Thursday that persuaded him to change.

The true test came early on Thursday, with McIlroy sending his tee shot over the green at the 350-yard, par-4 third and scrambling for birdie.

“That hole was a validation for me. It proved to me it’s the right way for me to play here. It was a little personal victory,” said McIlroy, who played his opening loop even but birdied Nos. 12 and 14 to move under par.

Getty Images

Report: USGA, R&A to 'severely restrict' green books

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 6:42 pm

The detailed yardage books that many players rely on to help read greens at various tournaments could soon become a thing of the past.

According to a Golfweek report, the USGA and R&A are poised to "severely restrict" the information offered to players in green-reading books, which currently include detailed visuals and specifics about the location and severity of slopes and contours on each putting surface. The change is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Green-reading books have come under scrutiny in recent years as their use has increased, seen as both an enemy of pace of play and a tool that can take the skill out of reading the break on putts.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


"We believe that the ability to read greens is an integral part of the skill of putting and remain concerned about the rapid development of increasingly detailed materials that players are using to help with reading greens during a round," the R&A said in a statement. The USGA also reportedly issued a statement that they plan to update their review process on the books "in the coming weeks."

Speaking to reporters after an opening-round 72 at The Open, Jordan Spieth seemingly implied that the rule change was all but official.

"I don't think we're allowed to use them starting next year, is that right?" Spieth said. "Which I think will be much better for me. I think that's a skill that I have in green reading that's advantageous versus the field, and so it will be nice. But when it's there, certain putts, I certainly was using it and listening to it."

According to the report, new language in the Rules of Golf is expected to address the presentation of the books and "end the current level of detail."

Getty Images

'Super 7' living – and loving – frat life in Carnoustie

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 6:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It’s not exactly “Animal House Scotland,” but it’s as close as the gentleman’s game allows itself to drift toward that raucous line.

For the third consecutive year, some of golf’s biggest and brightest chose to set up shop on the same corner of the Angus coast, a testosterone-fueled riff session where feelings are never spared and thick skin is mandatory.

Among the eclectic “Super 7” who are sharing two houses in Carnoustie this week are defending champion Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker and Kevin Kisner – a group that ranges in age from 24 (Spieth) to 42 years old (Johnson).

The tradition, or maybe “guy’s week” is a better description, began in 2016 at Royal Troon when Spieth, Fowler, Thomas, Walker, Johnson and Dufner all roomed together. Kisner was added to the mix this year and instead of baseball – the distraction of choice in ’16 – the group has gone native with nightly soccer matches. Actually, the proceedings more resemble penalty kicks, but they seem to be no less entertaining.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

For the record, his flat mates will attest to Dufner’s abilities as a goalie, although asked about his chances to make the U.S. national team Thomas was reluctant to go that far.

“As a U.S. citizen, I hope he does not make our team, but he's a pretty good backyard goalie,” Thomas said.



The arrangement comes with a litany of benefits, from the camaraderie to the improved logistics of having so many VIPs under the same roof.

“Honestly, it just makes everything really, really easy because there's a lot of cars going to and from the golf course. They know our address. We have food essentially at our beck and call. And we have friends. I mean, we have some women [wives] in there to keep the frat house somewhat in order,” Johnson said. “But I mean, every individual there is great. It's fun.”

But this goes well beyond some random male bonding for what at the moment represents nearly one-third of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. This is a snapshot into a curious side of golf that’s as rare as it is misunderstood.

Unlike team sports, golf is a lonely pursuit. A player can collect as many swing coaches, sports psychologists and handlers around them as they wish, but there’s a connection between athletes at this level that creates a unique flow of ideas that’s normally only present during the annual team events, be it a Ryder or Presidents cup.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this level, players talk a language only they understand that’s littered with the kind of insider give-and-take one would expect from PGA Tour winners and major champions. Between the two houses, which are adjacent to each other, there are eight major victories.

“I have zero, so I don't know how many they have,” Kisner joked when asked about his accomplished roommates.

Kisner is southern like sweat and sweet tea and can trade good-natured jabs with the best of them, but given the pedigrees assembled between the two houses he seems to understand the importance of listening.

“Everybody is just really chill, and it's a lot of fun to be around those guys. There's a lot of great players. It's really cool just to hear what they have to say,” Kisner said. “Everybody's sitting around at night scratching their head on what club to hit off of every tee.”

It’s worth pointing out that The Open winner has come from this group twice in the last three years, including 2017 champion Spieth, who took no small measure of inspiration from Johnson’s victory at St. Andrews in ’15.

Nor is it probably a coincidence that four of those players now find themselves firmly in the mix and all within the top 20 at Carnoustie, including Kisner who will have bragging rights on Thursday night following a first-round 66 that vaulted him into the lead.

“I probably get to eat first,” he smiled.



In their primes, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player would occasionally share a house, they even vacationed together from time to time – you know, SB1K68 – but the practice fell out of favor for a few generations. It’s hard to imagine Greg Norman enjoying a friendly kick-about with any of his contemporaries and even harder to think that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson could share a cab ride, let alone a house for a week.

Some say this type of fellowship is the product of a new generation who grew up playing junior golf against each other and logically took their bond to the big leagues, but that ignores the 40-somethings (Johnson and Dufner) in the frat.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of America’s Ryder Cup rebuilding efforts or an affinity for non-stop one-liners and bad soccer. Or maybe it’s a genuine appreciation for what each of the “7” have to offer.

“[Kisner] is good friends with all those guys, he likes to cut up and have a good time and talk trash. It’s a good little group,” said Kisner’s swing coach John Tillery. “This last year or two and the Presidents Cup and being on the teams with those guys has just escalated that.”

Some seem to think these friendships run a little too deep. That sharing a bachelor pad and dinner for the week somehow erodes a player’s competitiveness. But if the “Super 7” have proven anything, other than American golfers probably aren’t the best soccer players, it’s that familiarity can be fun.