Notes Love takes exception to American whining

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- Kenny Perry was the butt of jokes for playing in Milwaukee instead of a major championship, even though he had already wrapped up a spot on the Ryder Cup team.
Its not like he was the first American to skip the British Open.
Curtis Strange played only 13 times in his career, missing five starts in the 1980s when he was at the peak of his game. Scott Hoch only played the British Open five times, and never bothered to learn the names of the courses.
They are exceptions.
Brad Faxon once tried to qualify, then flew home and defended his title when he didnt make it. Bob Estes flew from Texas to St. Andrews as an alternate and never got in.
Davis Love III, who considers this one of his favorite tournaments, doesnt hold grudges against those who are eligible and dont come.
Kenny is a great guy. Theres nothing bad in his heart, Love said. He wasnt complaining. He just doesnt want to play.
What bothers Love more are the players that do fly across the Atlantic and start complaining. He didnt mention names, but Pat Perez would have been a candidate for saying the rain and wind in the first round didnt feel like golf.
Just dont come, Love said. If youre going to have a bad attitude on Thursday before you tee off because its raining, then dont come, because youre just wasting your time. Its going to be bad, eventually, one way or another.
Love believes the Americans get a bad reputation when one or two players dont come to the British Open -- remember Woody Austin last year, who had played eight of nine weeks? -- but he got a different perspective while qualifying in Detroit earlier this month.
There were a lot of Tour players there, and there were a lot of guys grinding it out, trying to make it, he said. There are guys who are desperate to play.
His advice is to expect the worse, which is what Health Slocum did when he came over as first alternate and didnt have a spot in the field until Thursday morning. Slocum said wind, cold and rain were part of his British Open memories when he watched on TV as a kid.
Youre not going to have an easy round of golf every day, Love said. If its warm, its just as hard in another way. Its firm and fast and you get bad bounces, and theres a lot of luck involved. Then it gets like this, and its incredibly tough to control your ball and you just have to have the patience, no matter which way it goes. Its very rarely nice and comfortable.
But worth it? It is for more Americans than people realize.
Even after he withdrew after nine holes, Rich Beem said he would continue to attempt qualifying if he wasnt exempt.
Its the greatest golf known to man, he said.
Tiger Woods missing his first major as a pro didnt keep the fans away from Royal Birkdale. More than 200,000 attended the British Open, which Royal & Ancient officials said was among the top six in history.
Three of the largest crowds were at St. Andrews, and two others that were larger than last week were at Royal Liverpool in 2006 and Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
The Birkdale attendance was particularly impressive because there was a steady rain and 30 mph wind for most of the first round, which officials said probably kept as many as 5,000 people at home that day.
When you think of the weather, people talking about a possible economic recession, Tiger Woods not here I think it was a wonderful crowd, R&A chief Peter Dawson said.
Perhaps a better measure than attendance was the sale of 280,000 cups of coffee and 30,000 servings of fish and chips.
Robert Karlsson is fourth in the European standings for the Ryder Cup, and its not difficult to see why. The Swede is the only player to finish in the top 10 at all three majors this year.
Karlsson tied for eighth in the Masters, closed with an even-par 71 and tied for fourth at the U.S. Open, then had a 69 -- one of only six rounds under par on the last day at Royal Birkdale -- to tie for seventh at the British Open.
Thats nearly one-third of his points from three tournaments.
The LPGA Tour had a fan poll on its Web site during the second round of the State Farm Classic, asking for predictions on who would win the tournament.
Michelle Wie, who is not an LPGA member, was among the names atop the leaderboard, but she was not part of the poll. The choices were LPGA champion Yani Tseng, Angela Park, Angela Stanford, Sherri Steinhauer, Jee Young Lee and Other.
Tseng received 12 percent of the votes.
Other was the leader at 63 percent.
Fans were startled Friday morning at Royal Birkdale when a large corporate jet flew over the golf course early in the second round, banked sharply and continued south down the coast.
It was a Gulfstream V bringing a special guest to the British Open -- three-time champion Jack Nicklaus.
And the Golden Bear wasnt quite sure where he was.
Looking out from his window, Nicklaus told his assistants, Wow, what a beautiful piece of property. Thats when they informed him that links land was Royal Birkdale.
Nicklaus best finish on this links was a tie for second -- six shots behind Johnny Miller -- in 1976.
Padraig Harrington opened with a 74, the highest start by a British Open champion since Greg Norman had the same score at Turnberry in 1986. He is the seventh player to win consecutive British Opens since World War II. All but two of them recorded one of those victories at Royal Birkdale. The exceptions were Tiger Woods (St. Andrews, Royal Liverpool) and Bobby Locke (Royal St. Georges, Royal Troon). Only two players from Dublin have won the British Open -- Harrington and Ben Hogan, who was born in Dublin, Texas.
Woody Austin received more Ryder Cup points from his tie for 39th at the British Open than Kenny Perry received from his tie for sixth in the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. Arron Oberholser was to have surgery Tuesday on his left hand to remove a bone spur and was expected to miss two months.
Americans have finished among the top three in 32 of the 35 majors this decade. The exceptions are the British Open in 2002, 2007 and 2008.
It wasnt the disaster it was built up to be. -- R&A chief executive Peter Dawson on criticism of the 17th green at Royal Birkdale, where Padraig Harrington hit 5-wood to 4 feet for eagle that clinched victory in the British Open.
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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 each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

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    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 of 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.”

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    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.