Royal Liverpool Fast Firm Brown and Crusty

By Associated PressJuly 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- With a blast of hot wind at his back, Stuart Appleby sent a 6-iron towering into the blue sky over Royal Liverpool and toward the 14th green, squinting in search of a puff of smoke on the ground that would indicate his shot came back to earth.
'Follow the bouncing ball,' Appleby said under his breath.
Then, turning to his Australian coach and his New Jersey caddie more out of amazement than frustration, he said, 'That ball could wind up 6 feet right of the flag and you'd never know it until you got there.'
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Fans watch as a scoreboard warns about the threat of brush fires.
'You can only be sure it's not next to the pitch mark,' coach Steve Bann said.
'That's because there is no pitch mark,' replied Joe Damiano, the caddie.
No one was quite sure what to expect when they arrived at the 135th British Open, which starts Thursday, because it has not been at Royal Liverpool in 39 years. More puzzling than the links, however, are the fastest, firmest and crustiest conditions anyone can remember in years.
This is the brown British Open.
A heat wave in Britain -- the temperature reached 91 degrees on Wednesday -- has caused the rough to die, leaving wispy strands of native grasses and fairways that are a mixture of yellow and brown. Yellow is the color of the grass, brown is where the grass has died.
Phil Mickelson usually takes off the day before a major to escape the commotion and play a casual round at a nearby course. He didn't see the point of that this time because 'I can't find a course as firm as this.'
Someone suggested going to nearby John Lennon Airport, which didn't sound like a bad idea except for one thing:
'I'm pretty sure they won't cut any holes in the runway,' Mickelson said.
The conditions are so crusty that the Royal & Ancient has asked players to be careful with their cigarettes (John Daly) and cigars (Darren Clarke). The Hoylake fire station is only two minutes away, but just to be safe, two fire engines are now stationed on the course.
The only smiles belong to R&A members in their white shirts and striped ties.
'You've heard quite often from the R&A that we like hard, fast links conditions,' chief executive Peter Dawson said.
'Well, I think this year we've got it in spades. The course is pretty fiery out there, just as we would want it.'
A cold front expected overnight is supposed to slightly cool the conditions, perhaps giving the lonely man in the coffee stand some business. There might be some rain, although Dawson says it won't be enough to fundamentally change the nature of the course.
Hot, fast and brown.
Defending champion Tiger Woods has put a 2-iron back in his bag for the first time in eight months, using it on nearly every par 4 to get the ball running along the fairways, away from the pot bunkers.
He took the day off, showing up in the late afternoon to putt. Woods arrived over the weekend, so he already has played four practice rounds to get acquainted with Royal Liverpool.
It isn't St. Andrews, where he has twice won the claret jug. It's not like other links courses on the rotation, with all the holes relatively plain in shape, and greens that are small and flat. The course doesn't appear to have massive trouble that will lead to big numbers, and some believe if there isn't much wind, Woods' record 19 under at St. Andrews in 2000 could be in jeopardy.
All they have to do is figure out how far to hit the ball, and how far it will run.
David Duval gave an impromptu clinic from the first fairway. He was 119 yards from the front of the green. He estimated the ball would bounce about 10 yards, and he had a slight breeze at his back. He took sand wedge, played the shot as if it were 100 yards, and wound up 18 feet past the hole.
That was his tee shot. The first one went toward the right rough, and as he started to wander a few yards into the small wheat field, he saw a marshal standing over his ball. It had run through the rough, across the next fairway and was on a dirt path, almost off the property.
'It ran that far?' Duval said.
The course is plenty long at 7,258 yards, but it feels more like a pitch-and-putt. Chad Campbell typically hits his 3-iron 230 yards. During his final practice round, he hit a 3-iron that went 330 yards.
The key is to stay away from the bunkers, because they are so tiny that shots inevitably will land close to the sodden walls and leave no option but to hit a sand wedge out, effectively a one-shot penalty.
It's great to be able to hit the ball for miles because it rolls so far. The trick is figuring out how far it will go to set up chances at birdie.
'It takes experience. It takes guesswork. And it takes a bit of luck,' Appleby said. 'You know where to land it. But do you know whether that's the right spot to land it? You're having to make five or six calculations before you hit the shot.'
Perhaps the trickiest part of all is figuring out how fast the fairways run, and how slow the greens are.
'My guess is the fairways and the fringe around the greens are running about 20 on the Stimpmeter,' Appleby said. 'And the greens are somewhere between 8 and 10.'
Ernie Els won a junior tournament here when he was a gangly 18-year-old. A few players competed in British Amateurs that have been held at Hoylake, including David Howell, one of a half-dozen British players who hope bring home a major for the first time in seven years.
Howell has done corporate outings at Hoylake, so he probably knows this links course as well as anyone.
But he doesn't recall seeing it like this.
With a freshening wind in his face on the par-5 18th, he hit driver and a 3-wood to the green. When he played a week ago Sunday, he hit 3-wood off the tee and had a 9-iron to the green.
'You can hit 3-irons 290 yards, which is just hard to get your head around,' Howell said. 'I guess as the week goes on, you learn each day. It becomes easier to remember that's what is going to happen.
'It's going to be a tricky test,' he said. 'We're going to have an interesting week.'
Related Links:
  • Tee Times - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”