Notes Van de Velde Out Ochoas Event

By Associated PressJuly 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
Jean Van de Velde won't have to relive any nightmares at Carnoustie. The Frenchman who threw away the 1999 British Open on the last hole had to withdraw from the 36-hole qualifier at Sunningdale because of a mysterious stomach ailment.
His manager inquired about trying local qualifying, but the Royal & Ancient turned him down. The last hope for Van de Velde is to be leading player among the top 10 at the Scottish Open who is not already eligible, although he is not sure he can play. Jamie Cunningham, his manager, said Van de Velde might be out two or three months.
Van de Velde said he planned to have a scope in his stomach to find out the problem. He told reporters last week at the French Open that he could not practice. 'Anybody seeing me would have thought I was drunk,' he said.
Van de Velde was poised to become the first Frenchman since 1907 to win the British Open in 1999 at Carnoustie. He had a three-shot lead with one hole to play when he took triple bogey, and Paul Lawrie won a three-hole playoff.
Lorena Ochoa still doesn't have a major title, but it might not be long before she has her own LPGA Tour event.
Alejandro Ochoa, her brother and agent, said the tour is getting closer to signing off on an official tournament that would be held in November 2008 at Guadalajara Country Club, the home course of the 25-year-old Mexican star.
Doug Brecht, the vice president of rules and officials on the LPGA Tour, did a scouting report on the golf course earlier this year when the LPGA Tour was in Mexico and liked what he saw.
Ochoa's brother said the $1 million tournament would be limited to the top 30 players from the money list, and he was hopeful of a date the week before the season-ending ADT Championship, a spot on the calendar now occupied by the Tournament of Champions. He said he had a title sponsor lined up, but declined to identify it until contracts are signed.
LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens, however, said nothing has been determined.
'I don't know how I'd handicap that,' Bivens said when asked the chances of the No. 1 player having her own tournament. 'Next year's schedule is still being refined. She'd love to have a tournament down there next year, but it depends on finding a title sponsor and the right mix of sponsors.'
She described Brecht's trip to Guadalajara as typical when the LPGA is considering a new venue, adding that the tour is trying to upgrade its courses and 'we're not going to add any that aren't very, very good.' She said Guadalajara met the standard.
Ochoa would be the second active player with her own tournament. Annika Sorenstam is the host of the Ginn Tribute, which made its debut this year in South Carolina.
Bivens said the 2008 schedule would not have dramatic changes, rather a different flow. The LPGA spends three weeks in Asia in October before returning for its conclusion.
'One thing we're not happy with is being out of the country for three weeks before the ADT,' she said.
Judy Rankin, who was at Oakmont for ESPN during the U.S. Open, was driving back to her rental house when she saw a sign for Churchill Valley Country Club.
Without much ado, Rankin said quietly, 'I think this is where I played my first U.S. Open.'
In a U.S. Women's Open dominated by teenagers and 12-year-old Alexis Thompson, no one could relate quite like Rankin. The Hall of Famer was a 14-year-old amateur when she made her debut in 1959. That was before the Women's Open had qualifying, and when it was desperate for players. There were only 63 entries that year.
'I remember going in to check in and the woman behind the desk said, 'Are you here to register up for your mother?''
Rankin doesn't remember her score, only that she had never felt her knees shake so badly as when she hit her opening tee shot. Mickey Wright won that year for the second of her four U.S. Women's Open titles.
Someone such as Rod Pampling or Frank Lickliter might not be a bad pick to win the U.S. Open next year, not because of their games or the course, but the year on their birth certificate.
Indeed, 1969 is proving to be a pretty good year for U.S. Open champions.
Angel Cabrera became the third U.S. Open champion in the last four years who was born in 1969, the others being Michael Campbell and Retief Goosen. Throw in Shaun Micheel ('03 PGA Championship) and Ernie Els ('02 British Open), and 1969 has produced six of the last 26 major champions.
Only 1975 has produced more majors (10) this decade. That was the year Tiger Woods was born.
Ping has three more clubs for its 'Gold Putter' vault. That company has a solid gold model built any time someone wins a major. Suzann Pettersen used a Doc15 at the LPGA Championship, Angel Cabrera used the Redwood Answer in winning at Oakmont and Cristie Kerr used a G59 Craz-E putter, which she bought at a golf store in South Korea. ... The Nationwide Tour had eight regular members qualify for the U.S. Open at Oakmont, although none made the cut. The Futures Tour had an even stronger presence at Pine Needles, with 25 current members making it to the U.S. Women's Open. Five made the cut, with Kris Tamulis finishing the highest at 9-over 293 to tie for 35th. ... Jay Williamson has earned $699,100 the last two weeks, more than his best year on the PGA TOUR (he won $660,038 in 2004).
Of the top 15 players at the U.S. Women's Open, the oldest was Mi-Hyun Kim, who turned 30 in January.
'That 130-mile-an-hour swing and hitting it 350 (yards) in the air passed me by a long time ago. I just have to hit it straight, hit it solid and make putts, and I can hang in there with most people.' -- Scott Verplank.
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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.

    @kharms27 on Instagram

    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.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”