Sergio Welcomes Return to Medinah

By Associated PressAugust 13, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipThe jog turned into a sprint as Sergio Garcia took off down the 16th fairway at Medinah to follow the flight of a six-iron gouged from the base of a tree. It was the signature shot of a PGA Championship that held great promise for the future of golf.
Garcia was 19, a freckled-face kid from Spain in hot pursuit of Tiger Woods.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia is happy to be back at Medinah, site of his breakout performance seven years ago.
That was seven years ago.
Now turn back the calendar one month to find Garcia dressed head-to-toe in cream yellow at the British Open, still chasing Woods, still trying to win his first major championship.
The PGA Championship returns to Medinah for the final major of the year, a reminder for the 26-year-old Garcia of how close he came to taking down Woods, and how far he still has to go.
'I'm looking forward to seeing my tree,' Garcia said with a smile earlier this year. 'It's probably halfway down with a big hole in it.'
Indeed, the landscape in golf didn't turn out as most people imagined.
Woods still rules the game, picking up his 11th major at Royal Liverpool, then his 50th career PGA Tour victory at the Buick Open. But his stiffest challenge comes from guys his age, if not older.
The youth movement in golf has been idle.
Only seven players in their 20s are ranked among the top 50 in the world. Even more glaring is that none is a U.S. citizen; the highest-ranked young American is 26-year-old Lucas Glover, who checks in at No. 51. His only PGA Tour victory came last year when he holed out from a bunker on the final hole at Disney.
The lone major from the kiddie corps among that top 50 was delivered by 29-year-old Geoff Ogilvy of Australia, a U.S. Open title handed to him at Winged Foot when Colin Montgomerie and Phil Mickelson made double bogey on the last hole.
Other than Garcia, no one else currently in their 20s has come remotely close to winning a major.
A few months before Woods won at Medinah, Luke Donald of England captured the NCAA title at Northwestern. Seven years later, he has played on one Ryder Cup team and has two PGA Tour victories, one of those a rain-shortened event held opposite the Tour Championship.
Three months after Medinah, an 18-year-old amateur named Aaron Baddeley won the Australian Open by holding off Montgomerie and Greg Norman at Royal Sydney. He won his first PGA Tour event earlier this year at Hilton Head.
The rising star in college in 1999 was Charles Howell III, who won the NCAA title that next summer and broke Woods' scoring record. Howell's goal is to be No. 1, but he still is searching for his second PGA Tour victory.
Adam Scott is the highest-ranked player in his 20s at No. 6, and he won The Players Championship two years at age 23. But his tie for eighth last month at Hoylake was his best finish in a major.
About the only thing that hasn't changed is Garcia leading the charge, such as it is.
Garcia is 0-for-29 in the majors as a pro, although he has 11 finishes in the top 10 and gave himself three good chances at winning. Woods beat him all three times, at Medinah, Bethpage Black ('02 U.S. Open) and last month at Royal Liverpool.
'Sergio hasn't done it yet, and I'm sure he will soon,' Woods said.
Those words ring hollow to Garcia, who already has retooled his swing and now is struggling with his putter. It is hard to believe seven years have gone by since he sprinted up the 16th fairway at Medinah, doing a scissors kick to leap and glimpse at the elevated green, patting his chest in mock relief.
Has he lived up to his potential? Or has the excellence of Woods created big expectations of those behind him?
'I would have loved to do more than I've done,' Garcia said. 'But it depends who you compare me with. If you compare me with Tiger, that is something out of the ordinary; of course, my career doesn't seem that great. But if you compare me with the other 25-year-old, 26-year-old players, I'm sure pretty much all of them would love to have a career like the one I have.'
Howell, Scott and other young players have used the same gauge. Measure them on their own, and they are doing fine. Stack them up against Woods, and it's not a fair fight.
Woods remains the only player to qualify for the Tour Championship using only sponsor exemptions. He was the youngest Masters champion (21) and the youngest to complete the career Grand Slam (24). When he won his 50th title at the Buick Open, he was the youngest (30) to reach that milestone by three years.
Even so, there is a noticeable lack of young major champions.
Nine players in the 1960s won majors when they were in their 20s, a list that included Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino. There were nine major champions in their 20s during the 1970s, 10 during the 1980s and six during the 1990s.
There have been only four major champions in their 20s more than halfway through this decade - Woods, Ogilvy, Ben Curtis and David Duval. Curtis was 26 when he won the 2003 British Open, making him the first player younger than Woods to win a major since Woods turned pro in 1996.
'There's a lot of pressure out here, and Tiger was able to handle it so great,' Chris DiMarco said. 'There's been a few guys since then, but for the most part, it just takes a while to get your juices going. They used to say your early 30s were the years; now they're saying your early 40s are when the guys are having their best years.'
Woods has been a pied piper at times.
He played practice rounds with Garcia and Baddeley. He took Howell under his wing at the Presidents Cup in South Africa (they were 2-2 in team matches), and he has been spending more practice time with 24-year-old Sean O'Hair, the rookie of the year in 2005 who has struggled this season.
'We have young players out here,' Woods said. 'Right now, we have a Spaniard in Sergio, an Aussie in Adam, a South African in Trevor (Immelman). It's a global sport more so than any other time.'
More than anything, it's tough to win at any age.
DiMarco's observation rings true to a point. While guys in their 20s are not challenging in the majors, neither are the older players. Vijay Singh is the only one in his 40s to have won a major this decade.
'Sometimes people might think it's a lot easier than what it looks,' Garcia said. 'Everybody can play out there. It doesn't matter how old you are, how good you might be, what you've done in the past. Everybody is trying as hard as they can, and it shows.'
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    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 (

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    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.

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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    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.

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    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.