Notes Skateboards and Special Invites

By Associated PressMay 5, 2005, 4:00 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Richard S. Johnson gave up skateboarding for golf when he was a teenager - all for the affections of a girl.
Now, when he tries to get back on his board, he pays the price.
'The problem is when you fall now, you fall like a log,' the 28-year-old Swede said Thursday after an opening-round 4-under-par 68 left him tied for second at the Wachovia Championship. 'Before, it was more like a cat. It really hurts when you fall now, and it's the same with everything. When you fall, you fall hard.'
After finishing 148th on the PGA Tour money list last season, Johnson has only a partial exemption in 2005, and this is his fourth start. He tied for ninth last week in New Orleans - his first tournament since February - and continued the solid play at Quail Hollow.
He had the lead to himself at 6 under heading to the 17th tee, but hit his 5-iron long into the rough on difficult par-3. An indifferent chip left Johnson about 25 feet from the hole, and he missed the putt to make a bogey. Another one at the 18th left him in a group of four players one shot behind Sergio Garcia.
'I had a really nice day going,' he said. 'Of course, I'm really happy with 4 under coming in, as well. You know, it's too bad with the finish. The last three holes are really tough holes.'
As for the reason he took up golf in the first place, Johnson took a bet when he was 15 from his girlfriend's family, who jokingly told him he couldn't get the 'Green Card' required to play golf in Sweden. So he practiced for 10 straight days, 10 hours a day, and passed the test.
Before long, Johnson couldn't get enough of the game.
'I got hooked like everybody else,' he said.
He won several national junior tournaments in Sweden, then came to the United States to enjoy better playing conditions - he described his native land as a 'small country with very bad weather.' Now, he simply has to find his thrills on the golf course, something he would not have believed possible before he began playing.
'I did every other sport, and I really thought golf was kind of weird,' Johnson said. 'But if you pull off a really good shot or if you hole something, whatever, just the adrenaline flow is really probably what keeps me going. That's what I'm trying to get back to a little bit more, to get the adrenaline flowing.'
Pinehurst No. 2 is only a couple of hours down the road from the Wachovia Championship, and Nick Price won't have to worry about getting to the U.S. Open.
The USGA gave him a special exemption last week.
'That was sweet,' Price said Thursday after opening with a 73. 'It's the first invitation I ever got to a major championship. It was a big thing for me when (USGA vice president) Walter Drive phoned me. I said, 'Walter, that's one of the nicest phone calls I ever got.' I really needed it this year, too.'
Price thinks he's capable of becoming the first player since Hale Irwin in 1990 to win the U.S. Open after getting a special exemption.
'My game is not quite right, but it's close,' he said. 'If I can get rid of the junk in my game, just clean it out, I can have a chance, especially on an Open championship course. If it plays hard and fast, it will be awesome.'
Price tied for 23rd at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999.
Jim Furyk came to the 18th hole at the top of the leaderboard and in total control of his game. A few wayward shots changed all that.
After playing without a bogey through the first 17 holes, the 2003 U.S Open champ chopped up his final hole and made a double-bogey 6, leaving him with a 3-under 69.
'Had I doubled 1 and played the rest of the way in, I'd probably be smiling and happy,' Furyk said. 'But finishing that way is never great.'
His trouble started when his drive unexpectedly bounced in the rough, and a weak approach shot found a bunker. An awful explosion left him with a 40-footer for par, and he misread the green from there.
'I hit a bad second shot, the bunker shot was terrible, and I got fooled on the putt,' Furyk said. 'I end up making a couple of mistakes on one hole after playing mistake-free.'
Ben Curtis couldn't see his eagle on the 12th hole, and he was lucky to hear about it with only a dozen or so people around the green. He hit an easy 5-iron from 172 yards, the ball landing on the ridge and breaking some 15 feet before dropping into the center of the cup.
'I hit it to 3 feet on the last hole and no one clapped,' Curtis said. 'Tough crowd.'
It's been a tough start for the 2003 British Open champion, although he is seeing some progress. Curtis shot 71, the first time he has started with a round under par since his first start of the year at the Buick Invitational. He shot 75 the next day and missed the cut.
Curtis, who has made only one cut this year, began seeing Hank Haney three weeks ago. He is working on starting his swing more outside, and he already is seeing some results.
'I've always been about keeping the swing on plane,' Curtis said. 'I'm getting some of my power back now.'
Tim Petrovic, who got his first career victory in a playoff last week in New Orleans, had a 77 in the first round, matching the score of James Driscoll, the man he beat. ... An odd scene caused a brief backup on the 16th hole early in the first round. Glen Day pulled his drive behind a couple of portable restrooms and needed a ruling, so his playing partners - Neal Lancaster and Michael Allen - finished out the hole by themselves. Meanwhile, all three members of the next group hit their tee shots, unaware of Day's troubles. He eventually completed the hole solo, making a bogey 5. ... Jay Haas had the best day among his family, finishing with a 73 to beat son Bill by one shot. Jerry Haas, Jay's brother and the golf coach at Wake Forest, shot an 80.
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - Wachovia Championship

  • Full Coverage - Wachovia Championship

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

    Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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    McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

    McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

    But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

    Said Harmon:

    “Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

    “This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

    McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

    “Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

    McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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    How The Open cut line is determined

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

    Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

    The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    • After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

    • There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

    • There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

    The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 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.