Perry back to defend Champions major at Shoal Creek

By Associated PressMay 13, 2015, 9:37 pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Shoal Creek is Kenny Perry's kind of golf course, and it showed last year.

Perry returns to the scenic suburban Birmingham course for the Regions Tradition starting Thursday, seeking to defend his championship in the first of the Champions Tour's five majors. For him, the lush trees all along the 7,145-yard, par-72 layout add more than a pleasant view.

''I like a golf course that's tree-lined,'' Perry said. ''It kind of tells you what to do. It's just beautiful. It's just an old course and it sits out there in front of you and says, 'Come get me.'

''There's a lot of risk-reward holes, like No. 11 is a par-5 over water. Eight's a great par-3. I get nervous every time on 8 when I get up there. It kind of reminds me of the 17th at TPC'' in San Antonio.

Perry's 20-foot birdie putt on No. 16 gave him the lead for good in a one-stroke victory over Mark Calcavecchia last year for his third straight win of a Champions Tour major. His 7-under performance on a course that had been soaked by rain was the highest score by a winner at the Regions Tradition, including even-par starting and closing rounds. It was also just one stroke better than his previous year, when he finished 15th.

The relatively high scores also suit Perry, though rain hasn't been an issue leading up to the tournament this time, leaving firmer, faster greens.

''My short game's never been my strength,'' Perry said. ''It's always been my ball striking that's allowed me to survive on the PGA Tour for 30 years and now out here.

''When I come to a place where 8- to 12-under wins a golf tournament, I like it. I don't like 20-something under winning. I don't like those putting/birdie barrages. That's why I enjoy coming here.''

He battled back pain for the final 12 holes at Houston two weeks ago, hitting the ground after a sharp pain when he bent over to pick up his putter on No. 6.

Perry said he could barely walk the next day, forcing some sessions with his chiropractor. But he said he played 18 holes after arriving at Shoal Creek on Tuesday without any problems.

Ian Woosnam also arrived feeling good about his game. The Welshman delivered a 30-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole with Perry and Tom Lehman to deliver his first Champions Tour win in Houston, leaving his status set on the 50-and-over circuit for at least a calendar year. The Welshman played that tournament on a sponsor's exemption.

Woosnam, the 1991 Masters winner, became the oldest first-time winner on the Champions Tour at 57 years, 2 months and 1 day.

Like Perry, he thinks Shoal Creek ''really suits my game'' with drives and irons play being so important.

Woosnam hadn't played the course since the 1990 PGA Championship before last year's Tradition.

The breakthrough win left a player who by his own admission has had a streaky career in a confident mood believing the ball will go where he wants it to.

''Now, I've got more confidence in knowing where it's going to go and what shape it's going,'' Woosnam said. ''I've always been sort of a player where when I've got the confidence, I do really well. When the confidence is not very good, I don't do too well.

''My game has always gone in sort of sections where I play really well for six months and then I don't play very well and then I play well again. I just have to put up with it, really.''

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Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.

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Van Rooyen continues links run with impressive 67

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:27 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For Erik van Rooyen familiarity has not bred contempt.

The South African, like many European Tour players, has been on a links golf odyssey the last three weeks, playing the Irish Open, Scottish Open and this week’s Open Championship in consecutive weeks, and the crash course paid off on Day 1 at Carnoustie when he opened with a 4-under 67 to assure himself a spot among the early leaders.

Although van Rooyen missed the cut last week just down the coast at Gullane Golf Club, he entered the final round in Ireland with a four-stroke lead.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I didn't pull it off the final day,” said van Rooyen, who closed with a 74 to tie for fourth place. “I still think I played pretty well. I was nervous. That's completely normal, and I'll learn how to deal with that. I'll take that experience into tournaments like this.”

Van Rooyen, who was alone in second place when he completed his round, began his round with back-to-back birdies and was bogey-free until the last hole. It was just what one would expect from a player who has immersed himself in links golf for the better part of a month.

“We've been playing nice golf now the last three weeks, so definitely used to the way this course is playing, definitely used to handling the wind,” he said. “So I'll be ready.”

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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.