Rookie Grabs Early Lead in New Orleans

By Associated PressApril 19, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Zurich ClassicAVONDALE, La. -- Never heard of Kyle Reifers?
Neither had numerous people in the gallery in the opening round of the Zurich Classic, whom Reifers could hear mispronouncing his name.
Teeing off for only his eighth time on the PGA TOUR, Reifers (pronounced RYE-furs, for future reference) shot a course-record 8-under 64 on the 7,341-yard TPC Louisiana on Thursday, giving him a two-shot lead.
His closest challenger was seasoned pro and 1989 British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia, who shot a 66. Calcavecchia acknowledged that even he did not know much about the man he was chasing.
'I know what he looks like,' Calcavecchia said. 'I've introduced myself to him.'
Tim Petrovic, who won the only other PGA TOUR event held on this course in 2005, finished his round in a four-way tie for fourth at 67, along with Lucas Glover, Jason Schultz and Tom Johnson.
The PGA TOUR stop in New Orleans has a way of bringing out the best in guys who've never won on the TOUR. And if Reifers keeps this up, he'd become the fifth TOUR pro to take his first victory in New Orleans in the last six years.
The freckle-faced rookie, thick red hair curling out from under the sides and back of his baseball cap, emerged from the scoring tent having no idea he had just broken the course record of 65, set in 2005 by Chris DiMarco and Arjun Atwal.
'That's the least of my worries,' Reifers said. 'It doesn't really mean much to me right now. ... At the end of the week, hopefully it will mean a lot.'
Reifers barely emerged from last year's PGA TOUR qualifying tournament with his tour card for 2007, making an 18-foot putt in the final stage to tie for 29th. No one who finished worse qualified for this year's TOUR.
At the same time, it's not as if he came out of nowhere. The Wake Forest graduate finished second in the 2006 NCAA championship, then turned pro immediately, winning a Tar Heel Tour event in Charlotte, N.C., the next week. One week after that, he won his first Nationwide Tour event at Chattanooga, Tenn., where he also set a course record with a 61 on the final round and sank a 15-foot put to win in a playoff hole.
This year, he has entered six prior events, making the cut in three of them and cracking the top 25 only once, when he tied for 12th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando a month ago.
Thursday night marked the first time he would try to fall asleep knowing he was in the lead of a PGA TOUR event.
'I'm more happy than nervous,' Reifers said. 'That's a good problem. It means your playing well.'
Chris Couch, who won last year, was eight shots behind. Couch won at English Turn, which was supposed to have seen its last event in 2004, but had to host it once again after Hurricane Katrina blew down about 2,000 trees and swamped several fairways at the TPC Louisiana, which closed for 10 months after the storm.
After about $2 million in repairs to about 30 acres of turf and the planting of about 300 trees, the TPC Louisiana reopened last July and now is hosting its second event.
It is a distinctive, Pete Dye-designed course carved out of a cypress swamp a few miles southwest of New Orleans. It's loaded with fairway obstacles that included steep 'pot' bunkers, isolated trees hanging over the edges of fairways and water hazards. Reifers saw it for the first time in the one practice round he played before Thursday's first round.
But earlier in the week, he had spoken by phone with his former Walker Cup captain, Bob Lewis Jr., who discussed how he might lower his score with a more conservative strategy on longer holes.
Reifers birdied three of the course's four par 5s.
'I played them a little more conservatively but played my angles a lot better and gave myself a lot of good looks,' Reifers said. 'I can kind of feel my game coming around.'
Reifers birdied eight holes and had no bogeys. On the ninth hole -- a 210-yard par 3 with a distinctive bulkhead of cypress planks rising from a water hazard on the left side of the green -- he hit a 6-iron about 3 feet to set up a birdie.
On the par-4 15th, he made a 25-foot birdie putt.
The gallery, small as it was, seemed impressed. Yet, his relative obscurity was clear when he walked from the 18th hole past the clubhouse, course record in the books, and not a single fan waited by the ropes to ask for his autograph.
As he spoke with reporters, the Columbus, Ohio-native wasn't too interested in promoting himself. He had other ideas about garnering more fanfare.
'Hopefully, I'll let my clubs do the talking,' he said.
Boo Weekley, a first-time winner Monday in Hilton Head, S.C., said he was tired after a spike in media appearances this week -- and it showed. His double-bogey on the 18th hole concluded a round of 5-over-par that had the affable, tobacco-chewing Southerner saying, 'I need a hug,' to a course marshal he recognized on the 17th tee. ... Several players wore maroon Virginia Tech caps in a show of solidarity with the university reeling from the murder of 32 people earlier this week. Johnson Wagner, who shot a 73, was among them. Having graduated from Tech, he also wore a bright orange Virginia Tech shirt, a school pin and had the university's trademark 'VT' sewn onto his golf bag. Charley Hoffman, who was in the top 10 at 68, had no connection to Virginia Tech but wore the hat nonetheless. 'Obviously I don't know anybody there being from the West Coast, but just to show support to them all of the country I think is needed.' ... David Toms, a past winner in New Orleans and Louisiana native who is popular with the local crowd, was among more than a dozen players tied for 14th at 3-under. 'I just had a good, solid day, nothing fantastic, and I'm right in the tournament,' Toms said. ... Nu-Lite Electrical, a local company that has seen booming business during the rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, donated $76,000 to a new charity called Birdies for Books, which is helping to replace books at school libraries damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The company also paid $14,000 for a skybox over the 17th green that was reserved for emergency workers who had worked in the area in the wake of the 2005 storm.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Zurich Classic
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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 (

    Getty Images

    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.