Notes The King Saw Tigers Magic Chip Coming
``There's a good chance he doesn't get this inside DiMarco's ball,'' CBS Sports analyst Lanny Wadkins said.
The King must have been smiling.
He had seen it all -- and heard it all -- four decades earlier.
``I was sitting in my living room describing it to my wife,'' Palmer said. ``I told her I had been in the same position.''
The year was 1962, and there were a few differences.
Instead of leading, Palmer was three shots behind Dow Finsterwald and two behind Gary Player when he went over the green on the 16th.
``Mine was a little higher,'' Palmer said. ``If you're looking from front to back, I was considerably right of where Tiger was. (Jimmy) Demaret was up on the tower and I could hear him talking. He was being dramatic. I heard him say, 'If Palmer gets this up and down, it will be a miracle. It's really difficult, the green is really fast' -- all those adjectives. I wanted to look up and tell him, 'Hold it for a minute.'
``I pitched it and it rolled down, much the same as Tiger's did,'' Palmer said. ``It didn't have the same break, but the pin was almost in an identical position. And I won the tournament.''
Verne Lundquist made the call for CBS when Woods chipped in.
``Oh, wow!'' he said. ``In your life, you have ever seen anything like that?''
Well, anyone watching in 1962 probably did.
Then again, Palmer's ball did not hang on the edge of the cup for two full seconds, adding to the drama of the shot. And while Woods and Palmer won the Masters in a playoff, the ending was quite a contrast.
Equipped with a two-shot lead, Woods bogeyed the last two holes and beat DiMarco in sudden death with a 15-foot birdie on the first extra hole.
Palmer, still two shots behind after his chip-in, hit an 8-iron to 15 feet for birdie at No. 17 and got into a three-way playoff when Finsterwald dropped a shot on the 17th. Palmer shot 68 in the 18-hole playoff Monday to beat Player (71) and Finsterwald (77).
CHANGES TO THE OLD COURSE
The Road Hole bunker on the 17th at St. Andrews will be slightly wider for the British Open. That should make it easier for balls to catch the side and tumble in, although some believe the extra width will make it easier to get out of the bunker, ruining the most notorious bunker in golf.
``I completely disagree,'' Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said. ``The Road Hole bunker has never been the same from one Open to the next. To say it has been ruined from what it was is completely false. I think that bunker has improved from what it was.''
The bunker fronts the green on the 455-yard hole and has vertical sides. David Duval took four shots to get out in the final round of 2000 British Open, tumbling to 11th place.
Along with the Road Hole bunker, the R&A has lengthened the Old Course by 164 yards to a distance of 7,279 yards by extending tee boxes on five holes. The par-5 14th now measures 618 yards, the longest for a British Open.
``We are restoring rather than changing the course,'' Dawson said. ``Modern equipment and the greater athleticism of the game's leading players has led to many of the Old Course hazards being taken out of play. We are not trying to change the character of the course, just trying to reinstate the challenges, decisions and hazards players had to contend with in the past.''
Tiger Woods won in 2000 at St. Andrews and did not hit into a bunker all week.
PRICE IS RIGHT
Nick Price won't have to worry about qualifying for the U.S. Open. The USGA said Tuesday the three-time major champion has accepted a special exemption.
The U.S. Open will be played June 16-19 at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. Without the exemption, Price would have had to finish in the top 50 after the Memorial to avoid qualifying. He currently is No. 72.
Price, 48, earlier this year was presented the Bob Jones Award by the USGA in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
THE ROAD MORE TRAVELED
Ernie Els is spending his second week in China this week at the BMW Asian Open, and the South African is starting to sense criticism for his global travels.
He changed his schedule this spring, adding the Qatar Masters the week after the Dubai Desert Classic (he won them both) before returning to the PGA Tour to play the Bay Hill Invitational and The Players Championship going into the Masters. Els said a bout with the flu might have contributed to his swing getting out sync at Augusta National.
He finished 47 at the Masters at 10-over 298.
``I guess there is a good argument on that, and it's easy to blame it on the schedule,'' he said. ``It seems like especially in America, the journalists have been playing a lot on that. But I've done what I am doing for 12 years now, and my record is not too bad. We can sit and argue about this for hours, and I will listen to what you have to say and I will tell you what I am saying. So that is that.''
Els' schedule leading to the U.S. Open is busy, but manageable in a private jet. He plans to take next week off, then play the Byron Nelson Championship, a week off, the BMW Championship in England, a week off, then the Memorial, Booz Allen Classic and the U.S. Open.
David Duval's wife, Susie, gave birth to the couple's first child on April 21. Brayden Brent Duval was 21 inches long and weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces. Mother and son were both healthy and already home in Denver. ... A victory this week by Vijay Singh will make him the first player since Johnny Miller in 1975 to defend PGA Tour titles in consecutive weeks. ... Tiger Woods is the only player in the top 10 in driving distance who has won on tour this year.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Annika Sorenstam has taken five weeks off from the LPGA Tour only one other time in the last 10 years. That was last fall, and she won the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic in Tulsa, Okla., by five shots.
``I think we will see a lot of him this year, without question. He's strong, he's playing good. He's right where he wants to be.'' -- Arnold Palmer, on Tiger Woods.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Schauffele just fine being the underdog
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.
Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.
Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.
“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”
Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.
“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”
Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1
Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.
So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.
Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.
Jordan Spieth: 7/4
Xander Schauffele: 5/1
Kevin Kisner: 11/2
Tiger Woods: 14/1
Francesco Molinari: 14/1
Rory McIlroy: 14/1
Kevin Chappell: 20/1
Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1
Alex Noren: 25/1
Zach Johnson: 30/1
Justin Rose: 30/1
Matt Kuchar: 40/1
Webb Simpson: 50/1
Adam Scott: 80/1
Tony Finau: 80/1
Charley Hoffman: 100/1
Austin Cook: 100/1
Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.
For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.
By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.
But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.
As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.
“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”
Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.
As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.
But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.
After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.
“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”
But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.
Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.
“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.
There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.
Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par.
And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.
As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.
“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”
Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.
Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.
The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.
Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.
It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.
Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.
One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.
McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.
“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”
McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.
“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”