Notes Love of country Big Easys hindsight

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ben Curtis had so much fun playing for his country that he wants to do it again.
 
Curtis, who went 1-1-1 in his Ryder Cup debut last month, has selected Brandt Snedeker to be his partner for the World Cup, which will be played in China during the week of Thanksgiving.
 
Six other Americans turned down the long trip, and Curtis wasnt sure he would be able to go without the right partner. He wound up with Snedeker, who is becoming a world traveler this time of year.
 
I am very excited to be playing with Ben and representing our country in this event, Snedeker said. In our sport, you dont get the opportunity too many times to compete for your country, and this is going to be a thrill for me. I think it will also be a good experience as a I work hard to reach my goal of making the next Ryder Cup, and perhaps next years Presidents Cup teams.
 
The Americans have won 23 times since the World Cup began in 1953, but their last victory came in Argentina in 2000 behind Tiger Woods and David Duval. A year ago in China, Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum lost in a playoff to Scotland.
 
Colin Montgomerie returns for the defending champions, this time with Alastair Forsyth. Other teams include Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher for England; Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson for Sweden; and Rory Sabbatini and Richard Sterne for South Africa. Sabbatini led South Africa to the World Cup with Trevor Immelman in 2003.
 
As for Snedeker? The World Cup will be the end of a month on the other side of the world.
 
He is getting married this weekend, then plays the Kiwi Challenge in New Zealand on Oct. 28-29. Then its off to Fiji for his honeymoon, followed by a trip to Japan for the Dunlop Phoenix before meeting up with Curtis in China.
 
CALCS KNEE
Mark Calcavecchia made it five years before another knee surgery.
 
He was to have athroscopic surgery Tuesday in Phoenix to repair the torn medial meniscus in his left knee, his first surgery since 2003 but the fifth since 1985. He expects it will take four to six weeks to recover, but that wont stop him from defending his title in the Merrill Lynch Shootout with partner Woody Austin.
 
Im not sure how much cartilage will be left after this, Calcavecchia said. Ill play the Merrill Lynch in a wheelchair if I have to, but Ive got plenty of time to get ready for it.
 
The Merrill Lynch Shootout has been pushed back this year to Dec. 11-14.
 
Calcavecchia played with pain most of the year, withdrawing from the U.S. Open and Turning Stone Championship two weeks ago when he couldnt take it anymore. He is 48, but has one omen on his side for next year.
 
My recent even years havent been too good, but the odd years have been, he said. So Im looking forward to 09.
 
SHOOTOUT
The Merrill Lynch Shootout has something for everyone this year.
 
Greg Normans popular silly-season event has six Ryder Cup players, five Champions Tour players and one guy who has been on injured reserve most of the year ' Brad Faxon. Still to be named are two more players in the 24-man field for the Dec. 12-14 event in Naples, Fla.
 
Mark Calcavecchia and Woody Austin are the defending champions.
 
The Ryder Cup players are Stewart Cink, J.B. Holmes, Kenny Perry, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker and Boo Weekley. Also playing is Paul Azinger, the winning captain from the Ryder Cup.
 
BIG EASY REFLECTION
Tiger Woods generated plenty of conversation when he said reconstructive surgery on his left knee typically recovers at 85 percent after six months, but takes two years before it is back at full strength.
 
Ernie Els, who tore up ligaments in his left knee in the summer of 2005, spoke from experience when he said Woods was doing the right thing to take his recovery slowly. Woods is not expected to even hit balls until January. Els returned in December of 2005, but says he wasnt fully recovered until six months later.
 
I was very stubborn. I wanted to come back as soon as possible, Els said. I set a date for me of Sun City, and that was definitely too early. The doctors down there saw my knee and though I was crazy to play, it was so swollen. My doctor told me that I couldnt do any more damage to my knee. The tendon was a good surgery. That was what I wanted to do.
 
Obviously, he said, Tiger is a little different.
 
SWEET HOME, ALABAMA
Two courses on the Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama were ranked 1-2 among public courses in a new survey from Golf World in which the magazines readers were asked to rank the best private, resort and public golf courses.
 
The Grand National course in Opelika, Ala., was No. 1, followed by the Capitol Hill course in Prattville, Ala.
 
Golf World said it received more than 21,000 individual golf course ratings from online polling, and readers were asked for evaluations on various criteria.
 
The top two resorts in the survey were Kiawah Island and Turning Stone, while the top two private course were Augusta National and Pine Valley.
 
DIVOTS
Rory Sabbatini has failed to break par the last four times he has held a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour, including a victory at Riviera. Titleist is returning to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., for the first time in seven years. Titleist executive vice president Jerry Bellis said the return is due to the PGA shifting the shows emphasis to a more educational platform. Boo Weekley was inducted into the Milton (Fla.) High School Hall of Fame during halftime of its football game last Thursday. Jim Furyk played in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf for the fourth time. Only Tiger Woods (8) and Greg Norman (5) have made more appearance. I guess I got a lot out of winning one major, said Furyk, who has been an alternate the last three times.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Zach Johnson became the fourth player named Johnson to win on the PGA Tour this year. The others were Richard Johnson, Dustin Johnson and Johnson Wagner.
 
FINAL WORD
I really couldnt believe how well some of the guys played. Under so much pressure, the shots they were hitting were incredible. As a player myself, I never realized how good it is to watch.' Darren Clarke on the Ryder Cup.
 
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    "The Men In Blazers" Hosting Nightly Show From The Open, July 18-22 on NBCSN

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 1:55 pm

    Show to Include Off-beat Interviews, Unique Features and Men In Blazers Distinctive Takes on The Open

    VIDEO: Men In Blazers: Carnoustie Through the Years Hosting The Open

    Culminating in France’s thrilling win on Sunday, NBC Sports’ critically-acclaimed The Men In Blazers – Roger Bennett and Michael Davies – have spent the past month breaking down all of the action surrounding the FIFA World Cup. However, there will be no rest for the duo as they leave behind their Panic Room studio in the “crap part of SoHo” in Manhattan to host a nightly show in conjunction with The 147TH Open. The show will feature the pair’s signature, unconventional style in providing unique takes on golf’s original championship while “sporting an arsenal of the finest golf sweaters that could be found on eBay.” Originating from Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland, Men In Blazers will air nightly on NBCSN Wednesday, July 18 through Sunday, July 22.

    In addition to delivering a series of features for NBC Sports’ coverage surrounding The Open, the nightly Men In Blazers show on NBCSN will offer expanded highlights following each round; off-beat interviews, special guests and cameos; along with non-traditional stories highlighting cultural elements relevant to Carnoustie and The Open.

    “Both Davo and I grew up with The Open being the heartbeat of our sporting year,” said Bennett. “To cover it from that beautiful monster that is Carnoustie is the honor of a lifetime. We look forward to savoring every attempt to tame Hogan’s Alley, the futile battle between man and nature, and all those ‘subtle’ Ian Poulter wardrobe changes, in equal measure.”

    Dedicated features being showcased over the duration of the week include: a retrospect on past Opens having been staged at Carnoustie; an in-depth recollection of the unforgettable 1999 Open; an introduction to the second-oldest golf shop in the world; a history lesson on Carnoustie and its influence on golf around the world; and an examination of Carnoustie’s local delicacy known as “bridies”.

    MEN IN BLAZERS AIRTMES FOR THE 147TH OPEN WEEK (All Times EST)

    Wednesday, July 18               11-11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

    Thursday, July 19                   11-11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

    Friday, July 20                        1-1:30 a.m. (NBCSN, Saturday overnight)

    Saturday, July 21                    11:30 p.m.-Midnight (NBCSN)

    Sunday, July 22                      10-10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

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    Woods delofts 2-iron to use off Carnoustie tees

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 1:23 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods has been effective this season hitting a 2-iron off many tees, reverting to a version of the stinger shot he made so popular.

    This week at baked out and brown Carnoustie he went to the next level, adding a new 2-iron to his bag that he bent to 17 degrees, down from his normal 20-degree version.

    “I took a few degrees off of it, just trying to be able to have the ability to chase one down there,” he explained on Tuesday.

    Woods said he still carries the club about the same distance, from 245 to 250 yards, but “it gets to its final destination much differently [on the ground].”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Obviously, it rolls out whereas mine back home, I've generally liked having it 20 degrees because I can hit the ball into the par 5s as an option,” he said. “This one's not really designed for hitting the ball in the air to par 5s as an option. It's more of a driving club.”

    After playing two practice rounds, Woods said he wasn’t sure how much he would use the new 2-iron given the dry conditions which have led to ridiculously long tee shots, and he said he might adjust the club more if the course doesn’t slow down.

    “If it softens up, it could be a good club,” he said. “If it doesn't soften up, then I might just add a degree to it and keep it a little softer and not have it so hot.”

    The Open is the second consecutive event where Woods has added to his bag. At The National earlier this month, he went with a new mallet-headed putter that he plans to continue to use this week.

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    Europeans out to end the recent American dominance

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 12:59 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In golf’s biggest events, the Americans have left the rest of the world feeling red, white and mostly blue.

    If you’re wondering whether the U.S. currently holds a meaningful title, the answer is probably yes.

    Golf’s four majors? Yep.

    The Ryder Cup? Indeed.

    The No. 1 player in the world? Absolutely.

    The Presidents, Solheim, Walker, Palmer and Curtis Cups? Uh-huh.

    It’s been a popular talking point at the men’s majors, as Europe’s finest players have been peppered about why they’ve all seemingly fallen under Uncle Sam’s spell.

    After all, the Americans haven’t ripped off five major wins in a row like this since 1981-82 – when Justin Rose was still in diapers.

    “I don’t know what I’d put it to down to,” the Englishman said Tuesday, “other than the American boys in the world rankings and on the golf course are performing really, really well. The top end of American golf right now is incredibly strong.”

    Since 2000, the Americans have taken titles at eight of the nine courses on the modern Open rota. The only one they’ve yet to conquer is Carnoustie, and that’s probably because they’ve only had one crack at it, in 2007, when an Irishman, Padraig Harrington, prevailed in a playoff.

    Not since Tom Watson in 1975 has a U.S. player survived Carnoustie, arguably the most difficult links on the planet. But Americans ranging from Dustin Johnson to Tiger Woods comprise six of the oddsmakers' top 10 favorites, all listed at 25/1 or better.

    “America, there’s no doubt about it, and there’s no other way to put it, other than they have an exceptional bunch of players at the moment,” Tommy Fleetwood said. “It just so happens that it has been a run of American golfers that have won majors, but at the same time, they’ve generally been the best players in the world at the time that they’ve won them.

    “You don’t really look at them as a nationality. You just look at them as players and people, and you can understand why they’re the ones winning the majors.”

    Indeed, there’s not a fluke among them.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Since this American run began last summer at Erin Hills, Brooks Koepka (twice), Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed have hoisted trophies. All were inside the top 25 in the world when they won. All were multiple-time winners on the world stage before that major. And all, most ominously for Europe, were 29 or younger.

    “There’s a bit of camaraderie amongst all of them,” Rose said. “I know Brooks and Dustin are incredibly close, and you’ve got Rickie (Fowler) and Justin Thomas and Jordan as a group are all really close. It’s working really well for them. They’re spurring each other on.”

    That’s why there’s even more anticipation than usual for the Ryder Cup. The Americans haven’t won on foreign soil in a quarter century, but this band of brothers is better and closer than those who have tried and failed before them. Couple that with a few aging stars on the European side, and there’s a growing sense that the Americans could be on the verge of a dominant stretch.

    That should sound familiar.

    During an eight-major span in 2010-11, the most common refrain was: What’s Wrong with American Golf? International players captured seven consecutive majors, including six in a row at one point. They took over the top spot in the world rankings. They turned the Ryder Cup into a foregone conclusion. In the fall of 2010, Colin Montgomerie pounded his chest and declared that there’d been a “changing of the guard over to Europe,” and it was hard to find fault in his reasoning.

    “European golf was very healthy a few years ago for a long time,” McIlroy said. “It seemed like every major someone from the island of Ireland turned up to, we were winning it. It doesn’t seem that long ago.”

    Because it wasn’t.

    So even though it’s been more than a year since an International player held any title of consequence, these types of runs are cyclical, and Europe in particular has no shortage of contenders.

    Major drought or not, McIlroy is a threat every time he tees it up. Rose turns 38 in two weeks, but he’s playing arguably the best golf of his career, recording a top-10 finish in a ridiculous 17 of his past 21 starts. Fleetwood is fresh off a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open, where he closed with 63. Jon Rahm is a top-5 machine. Alex Noren just won on the Ryder Cup course in France.

    “I think Tommy, clearly, showed how close the Europeans are to challenging that dominance as well,” Rose said. “So it’s not like we’re a mile behind. It’s just that they’re on a great run right now, and there’s no reason why a European player shouldn’t come through this week.”

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    Links to the past: Tiger's return revives Open memories

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 12:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods rekindles his love affair with links golf this week at Carnoustie, which seems about right considering his introduction to the ancient ways of the game began here on the Angus coast.

    It was here on the most brutal of the Open Championship rota courses that a 19-year-old Tiger first played links golf at the 1995 Scottish Open, an eye-opening and enlightening experience.

    “I remember my dad on the range with me, saying, ‘Are you ever going to hit the ball past the 100 yard sign?’” Woods recalled on Tuesday at Carnoustie, his first start at The Open since 2015. “I said, ‘No, I'm just enjoying this. Are you kidding me? This is the best.’”

    During this most recent comeback, Tiger has been all smiles. A new, relaxed version of his former self made calm and approachable by age and the somber influence of injury. But this week has been different.

    During a practice round with Justin Thomas on Monday he laughed his way all the way around the brown and bouncy seaside layout. Much of that had to do with his return to the unique ways of links golf, the creative left side of his brain taking the wheel from the normally measured right side for one glorious week.

    He talked of game plans and strategic advantages on a parched pitch that has seen drives rolling out over 400 yards. At his core, Tiger is a golf nerd for all the right reasons and this kind of cerebral test brings out the best of that off-the-charts golf IQ.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Although there are no shortages of defining moments in Tiger’s career and one can make all sorts of arguments for what would be his seminal moment – from the 1997 Masters to the 2008 U.S. Open –the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool stands out, based on near-perfect execution.

    In ’06 at Liverpool, which played to a similar shade of dusty yellow as Carnoustie will this week, Tiger hit just a single driver, opting instead for a steady diet of long irons off tees. For the week he hit 48 of 56 fairways, 58 of 72 greens and rolled the field for a two-stroke victory and his third, and most recent, claret jug.

    This Open has all the makings of a similar tactical tour de force. For this championship he’s put a new 2-iron into play that’s more like a strong 1-iron (17 degrees) and imagines, given the conditions, a similar low, running menu.

    “It could be that way,” Woods said when asked the similarities between this week’s conditions and the ’06 championship. “I'm not going to hit that many long clubs off the tees, just because I hit a 3-iron on Monday, down 18, I went 333 [yards]. It can get quick out here.”

    If Tiger ever needed a major championship confidence boost the Carnoustie Open would be it, an inspiring walk down memory lane to a time when he was the undisputed king of golf.

    “[The ’06 Open] is the closest you can compare to this,” David Duval said. “But I struggle to remember that golf course being as fast as this one. It was close, but this one is something else.”

    Ernie Els had a slightly different take, albeit one that was no less ominous to the rest of the field this week.

    “Liverpool is on a sand hill, this has a bit more run to it,” Els said. “But it’s got the same feel. It’s almost like St. Andrews was in 2000. Very, very fast.”

    It’s worth noting that Tiger also won that ’00 Open at the Home of Golf with an even more dominant performance. It is the unique challenges of the links test that make many, even Tiger, consider the Open Championship his best chance to continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.

    More than any other Grand Slam gathering, The Open is blind to age and the notion of players competing past their prime. In 2008 at Royal Birkdale, then-53-year-old Greg Norman flirted with the lead until the very end, finishing tied for third; a year later at Turnberry, Tom Watson came within one hole of history at 59 years young.

    “It certainly can be done,” Woods said. “You get to places like Augusta National, where it's just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately. That's just the way it goes. But links-style golf courses, you can roll the ball. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

    Whether this is the week Tiger gets back into the Grand Slam game depends on his ability to replicate those performances from years past on a similarly springy course. As he exited the media center bound for the practice putting green on Tuesday he seemed renewed by the cool sea breeze and the unique challenges of playing the game’s oldest championship.

    Coming back to Carnoustie is more than a reintroduction to links golf; for Tiger it’s starting to feel like a bona fide restart to his major career.