Notes Lonard gets big laughs OHair-raising

By Associated PressAugust 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' Peter Lonard wandered out of the heat after shooting a 66 Friday and walked right into the interview hall of fame.
His session might have been one of the funniest in PGA TOUR history. It certainly wins the prize this week at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Heres a sampling of some of the Aussies best lines:
On how he hurt his back recently: I just woke up at Wachovia, went to the range ' actually past the range and went straight to the first tee (because I) wanted to hit off in front of Nathan Green because hes a really slow player.
Asked how he qualified for the Bridgestone (he won the Australian PGA ' which he called the fifth major ' for the third time): I dont know. Someone just phoned up and said, Youre in!
On how much shorter the rough at Firestone Country Club is this year rather than last: If it was like (it was last year) yesterday, I would have shot 100. (He shot a 69.)
On what he would do if he didnt play golf: I did try working once before and I didnt enjoy it very much.
How he decided where to go on vacation recently: Im just sitting in a bar with my mate and he said, You should go somewhere. I went, Ive been everywhere. Theres nowhere I havent been. He said, Theres got to be somewhere. I said, Well, Ive never been to Egypt! So I went to Egypt.
On his tour guide in Egypt: Im thinking Im going to sit back and look at a few pyramids and take a few photos and all of a sudden shes asking me, This is the fourth dynasty of who? It was like hanging out with your headmaster for a day at the age of 40. It was brutal.
On trying to impress her with his fame as a professional golfer: I said I played golf for a living. She just snickered and that was it, like, Idiot. '
On Tiger Woods not being in the Bridgestone field: To me, him not being here is probably the difference between 38th and 39th. So I dont miss him. But Im sure the boys up in the big-money end, they definitely notice a difference.
OHAIR-RAISING: After shooting a 67 Friday to tie for third two shots back of leader Vijay Singh at the Bridgestone, Sean OHair for the first time publicly revealed the details of his harrowing accident early last month near his home in West Chester, Pa.
I shifted maybe a little too quick, OHair said.
Making matters worse: a rainy road, inexperience with a stick shift, and (gulp) a new 5.4-liter, high-performance Ford Mustang Shelby GT.
I hit a pole probably going about 35 mph. It just jumped right out in front of me, OHair cracked.
He had chest pain after hitting the wooden power pole head on. X-rays showed he didnt have any fractures, although he did have some fluid buildup in his chest. He had to take three weeks off, then played poorly in the next three tournaments before tying for third last week at the Canadian Open.
The car wasnt totaled, but his wife Jackie said he had to get rid of it ' after hed had it just three days.
Now hes got a Cadillac Escalade. With an automatic transmission.
BUCKEYE CHALLENGE: Noted Wisconsin fan Steve Stricker, on who will win when Ohio State plays against the Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on Oct. 4: Badgers. By 3.
PAULS PACK: Three middle-aged guys followed Irelands Paul McGinley around throughout his first 36 holes at the Bridgestone Invitational. Each wore an oversized, white T-shirt. Niall Hopkins said Mc in letters 2 feet high, with Rich Sylvia sporting GIN and Oliver Kelly LEY.
The backs of their shirts, when they stood in a row, spelled out IRL representing Ireland ' their native land and that of their favorite player.
All three live in Cape Cod and met McGinley at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Whenever McGinley plays in the United States, they try to make the trip. They traipsed along with him at the PGA Championship last August in Tulsa, only then they had five guys who wore shirts spelling out GO McGINLEY. Now theyve had to get by with less.
The fewer guys the bigger the letters, Kelly said with a laugh.
Sylvia added, With more guys, though, its harder to keep them in line.
SOMETHING CLICKED: Stuart Appleby was slogging through his first nine holes at Firestone Country Club, fighting his swing and fighting his self-doubts.
It was a bit degrading, he said after having five bogeys and four pars. It was pretty ugly. I dreamt of getting to par.
Then suddenly, things turned around.
Over his last 27 holes, hes had 11 birdies and has completed rounds of 70 and 66 to climb into a tie for seventh at the Bridgestone at 4-under 136.
I didnt have the ball position right and I wasnt making a very good downswing, he said of what was wrong through his first nine holes. I decided to knuckle down. Its been a real good run.
Now Appleby believes hes ready to roll.
I feel confident, he said. This weekend is going to be more like this last 27 holes.
DIVOTS: Six players in the Bridgestone field must win to get into next weeks PGA Championship: McGinley, Brett Rumford, Richard Finch, Lucas Glover, Hidemasa Hoshino and Craig Parry. Jim Furyk foundered until holing out from 160 yards for eagle at the par-4 17th. Of the 80 players in the field, five have played in all 10 Bridgestones, and three are in the top 10 through 36 holes: Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Appleby. Chris DiMarco, who shot a 70, said he feels better than at any time since hurting his shoulder 2 1/2 years ago. Mickelsons only bogey in 36 holes came when he missed a 7-foot putt for par on his next-to-last hole. He then made a 19-footer to save par on his final hole.
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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, 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.