Notes Young Tom Morris vs Wie Curveball for Tiger
That still doesn't change anything for Michelle Wie, the 16-year-old from Hawaii who must win the Women's British Open this week at Royal Lytham & St. Annes if she wants to become golf's youngest major champion. The record belongs to Morris, who was 17 when he captured the first of his four British Open titles in 1868.
For years, it was thought Young Tom had been born in St. Andrews on May 10, 1851.
'Up until somebody went looking for it, everybody had only found his baptismal certificate, not his actual birth certificate,' said Peter Lewis, who manages the British Golf Museum at St. Andrews.
Lewis said a friend who is writing a book on the Morris family located Young Tom's birth certificate at the New Register House in Edinburgh, Scotland. The actual date of birth is April 20, 1851.
That means Young Tom was 17 years, five months and three days when he made the first ace in Open history on his way to a two-shot victory over Robert Andrew at Prestwick on Sept. 23, 1868.
All it means is that records now can be updated.
'It's a good discovery, and a helpful one,' Lewis said Monday. 'But in the great scheme of things, it doesn't change anything dramatically. It tidies stuff up. It's a nice bit of historical completeness.'
Young Tom died on Christmas Day in 1875 at age 24.
Wie has been a serious threat to win a major the last two years, finishing no worse than a tie for fifth in the last four majors. She will be among the favorites this week at Lytham, her final major championship this year.
She turns 17 on Oct. 11, and the next major isn't until the Kraft Nabisco Championship next year, which ends April 1. By then, Wie will be 17 years, five months and 21 days old.
Tiger Woods probably thought he had heard every question until the second round of the British Open.
As the interview ended, a reporter introduced himself as being a tennis writer from Italy. He said Nick Faldo had compared Woods with Bjorn Borg because of the way Woods controlled his emotions.
'What do you know about Bjorn Borg? What do you know about tennis?' the reporter asked. 'And what do you know about Italy?'
Once the laughter subsided, Woods knocked out the answers one at a time.
He's an avid tennis fan and watches all the time. He was flattered by the comparisons with Borg.
As for Italy?
'I've never been to Italy,' Woods replied diplomatically. 'I've always wanted to do.'
IMG agent Mark Steinberg walked over to Woods to escort him to his next interview and quipped, 'Negotiations are now under way for the Italian Open.'
Hal Sutton turned 48 this year, which did not escape the folks at the Champions Tour.
'They sent me a birthday card,' Sutton said, bursting into rich laughter. 'It said, 'We recognize that you will be eligible for this in a few years, and we'd love to see you.' That struck me as funny.'
Sutton has played only one tournament this year, missing the cut at Riviera, so it's hard to imagine him getting off his horse, so to speak, to play against the 50-and-older group.
But considering his 3-year-old son, Holt, has never seen him play, he might change his mind.
'In a few years, he'd be old enough to know what I was doing,' Sutton said. 'From that perspective, I might play a little bit.'
Too bad every hole is not the last one for Brandt Snedeker.
In his last five Nationwide Tour events, Snedeker has gone eagle-birdie-eagle-eagle-eagle in the final hole of regulation. The first eagle got him into a playoff, which he lost. In the third tournament during this amazing stretch, Snedeker made eagle to get into a playoff at the Scholarship America Showdown in Minnesota.
Snedeker, the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, has moved from No. 93 to No. 7 on the money list and is in good shape to finish in the top 20 and earn his PGA Tour card for next year.
END OF A TRADITION
As traditions go at the British Open, this doesn't date as far as the claret jug.
Four years ago, press officer Stewart McDougal began asking all Open champions to sign the table used each year in the interview room. It had the names of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Curtis and Peter Thomson.
The most comical moment occurred when Colin Montgomerie came by for his pre-tournament interview a few years back, saw the names on the table and grabbed a pen. McDougal had no choice but to stop him and say, 'Sorry, that's only for champions.'
Alas, the table is no more.
The company that supplied it went into bankruptcy, and while selling off its assets, put the table for sale on eBay. McDougal said a Glasgow man bought it for about $1,800.
The man then called McDougal and offered to provide the table at Royal Liverpool, with a caveat. It was his understanding that McDougal would arrange for more Open champions to autograph the table.
And that's where McDougal drew the line.
'It wasn't meant for that,' he said.
He thought about starting over on the table supplied by the new company, but figured it wasn't worth the trouble.
Jack Nicklaus has signed a deal to build his first golf course in Chile. ... Greg Norman is branching out his business by introducing a luxury brand of Australian beef to the U.S. market. According to a news release, Norman is no stranger to the beef industry as 'he has been ranching most of his life.' And you thought he spent most of that time on the driving range. ... If Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Geoff Ogilvy win the PGA Championship, Jim Furyk would be first alternate for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii. ... The world ranking will slightly tweak its system, gradually reducing the value of points each week instead of taking off 25 percent every 13 weeks over two years. ... Starting next year, the Curtis Cup will be spread over three days instead of two.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tom Lehman's two assistant captains won tournaments last week, Corey Pavin at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, Loren Roberts at the Senior British Open.
'Golf isn't like a sitcom, where problems are presented in the first five minutes, then solved in the last five minutes.' -- Olin Browne, whose victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship last year ended a six-year drought on the PGA TOUR.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open
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.
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.
Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com 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.
Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty
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.
McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses
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.”
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.