Notes New Spanish Armada US No Shows

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal were the most prolific partnership in Ryder Cup history, known as the 'Spanish Armada' for going 11-2-2 in team matches.
So when Olazabal and Sergio Garcia won the only match that didn't go 18 holes on Friday, the question was obvious.
Is this the next great Spanish duo in the Ryder Cup?
'I'm running out of years,' said the 40-year-old Olazabal, playing his first Ryder Cup since 1999. 'We'll see. It was really nice to play with Sergio, and it was beautiful to be part of the team again.'
Olazabal and Garcia never have been particularly close, so the pairing was peculiar. But they looked like long-lost brothers at The K Club, walking off greens with arms draped around shoulders, chattering away in Spanish as they helped each other read putts.
The golf was nothing short of splendid.
'He made things very simple for me,' Garcia said.
Garcia opened the match with a long birdie putt, and Olazabal added birdie on the next hole. They never trailed in their fourball match against David Toms and Brett Wetterich, and the 26-year-old Garcia essentially closed them out with a 10-foot birdie on the 15th.
Olazabal said it was different playing with Ballesteros, one of the most creative players in history who won five majors and could get up-and-down from almost anywhere (including a parking lot at one British Open).
'Seve and I, we're pretty similar,' said Olazabal, a two-time Masters champion. 'When we're off the tee, we had to counteract with a lot of guts and heart. Playing alongside Sergio, it's like watching golf at its best. He played extremely well. He drove the ball very straight. He rarely missed a shot. I have to say, it's more relaxing. Not so much excitement, maybe.'
The only shots hit by Scott Verplank and Vaughn Taylor came on the practice range.
Taylor has not been playing well during practice, hitting one 3-wood that barely got off the ground. But Verplank's absence was a surprise, particularly because he was a captain's pick.
Why pick him if you're not going to use him?
'That's a question for Tom,' Verplank said while taking a break hitting chips.
Verplank went 2-1-0 in his only other Ryder Cup, and he is best suited for alternate shot as the straightest hitter on the team. With preferred lies in effect because of the soggy course, it would have been a safe bet that his partner would be using a clean ball.
Lehman did not answer directly about sitting out Verplank, only saying he liked the teams he had.
Verplank, too, was diplomatic.
'As an individual, I'm disappointed I'm not playing, especially alternate shot,' he said. 'As a team player, he's the captain, the coach, the man in charge. I'll go with whatever he wants to do.'
Verplank suffered a minor back injury three weeks ago, but he looked solid during practice. Asked if his back was hurting, Verplank replied, 'No. It feels great.'
It was the first time since 1999 that an American sat out the first day. Steve Pate, another captain's pick, and Mark O'Meara did not play until Saturday at The Country Club.
The players weren't the only players who showed some nerves on the first tee.
Ivor Robson, the baritone Brit who for years has served as the official starter of the British Open, was on the first tee at The K Club when he cleared his throat and announced the first session of matches as foursomes.
Oops. The first round was fourballs.
'It even got to Ivor,' Colin Montgomerie said of the pressure. 'That shows you what it felt like.'
The pressure also got to Tiger Woods. He took a divot with his fairway metal and hooked his opening shot into a pond.
He is considered one of the greatest to ever play his sport, and certainly one of the most clutch performers. And he was standing around the tee box at The K Club, never too far from Jim Furyk.
Michael Jordan is becoming a regular visitor at the Ryder Cup.
The former Chicago Bulls star spent most of his day following Woods, a close friend and kindred spirit. Jordan referred to the Ryder Cup as 'like the Olympics' for Woods, although golf's No. 1 player hardly has been part of a Dream Team.
'He tries real hard. He wants to be a great leader. He wants to play well,' Jordan said. 'People want to make excuses for him not playing well, but he never makes excuses. He values this competition.'
Jordan, allowed inside the ropes with a TV pass, picked up Woods as his morning fourball match made the turn. Woods had struggled, but then made consecutive birdies to stake he and Furyk to a lead they never gave up.
'It doesn't take much to get him going,' Jordan said. 'He was off to a slow start, but that doesn't stop him. It's hard to break his spirit. He's been there many times.'
Stewart Cink and David Howell were each a cruel inch or two from turning a nice day into a great one.
Paired against each other in the afternoon foursome matches, they had almost identical looks at birdie putts that would have won their match on the 18th hole.
Howell's peaked at the hole and barely slid by, causing the Brit to flip his putter in the air in despair. A second later, Cink barely missed and looked heavenward and smiled.
They wound up halving the best-played match of an afternoon in which every match came down to the 18th hole. It was a match that included eight birdies and only a single bogey, one in which neither team took more than a one-hole lead.
'It was a great game,' Howell said. 'A bit of a roller coaster, but a great game.'
For Cink, the day ended with two matches, two ties, one point for the Americans.
'I played almost exactly the same, both morning and afternoon,' he said. 'Felt pretty good all the way, and you know, I haven't won yet, but I haven't lost, either.'
Bookmakers have shortened the odds on Europe winning the Ryder Cup to 4-9 after Ian Woosnam's team finished the opening day with a 5-3 lead over the United States. That compares with 5-6 before a ball was hit.
American odds went up from 11-10 to 21-10.
Punters also believe Sergio Garcia will be the star of this Ryder Cup, installing him at 6-1 to finish with a perfect record.
Playing with Jim Furyk meant Tiger Woods had a familiar Ryder Cup face in his group -- Mike 'Fluff' Cowan, who was Woods' caddie when he made his debut at Valderrama in 1997, works for Furyk now. ... Furyk won a fourball match for the first time in the Ryder Cup. ... Mickelson is 1-6-1 in his last eight matches at the Ryder Cup. ... Among those in the gallery were former President Bush, a regular at Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup matches. ... PGA of America officers still feel obliged to wear uniforms and walk down the fairways, but at least this year they decided not to wear the same shirts as the players.
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    Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

    Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

    Everything before that, however, was far from routine.

    Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

    He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

    "I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.