Sutton Comes to a Crossroad

By Associated PressDecember 21, 2004, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)Hal Sutton played only one PGA Tour event the final three months of the season, allowing him a taste of what life was like before he devoted two years to being Ryder Cup captain.
 
The biggest change might have been his appetite.
 
Sutton missed the cut at the Chrysler Championship in late October, no surprise given the rust. He talked that day about wanting to put the Ryder Cup behind him and get back 'to what I should be doing ' playing golf.'
 
Hal SuttonBut with only 10 days left before 2005, he still isn't sure what he wants to do.
 
'It's tough to get back,' Sutton said. 'I'll be honest with you, I lost a little desire.'
 
Sutton still has plenty on his plate.
 
Two weeks ago, he realized a two-year dream when Christus Schumpert Health System announced plans for a children's hospital in Shreveport, La., a five-story wing with 80 beds. Sutton came up with the idea after his agent's 7-year-old daughter died of spiral meningitis, and he has been hosting charity events with David Toms to raise money.
 
A week later, county officials in Fredricksburg, Texas, approved another construction phase in the golf course Sutton is building called Boot Ranch. It is scheduled to open in September, and Sutton sounds more enthusiastic about the course than his Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pairing at Oakland Hills.
 
'Those are the two biggest things I have going on right now,' Sutton said. 'I'll play some golf, but I don't know how much. I've always made my schedule as the first priority. Now I'm making my schedule with those other two things as the first priority.'
 
Life rarely returns to normal for a Ryder Cup captain.
 
Of the five U.S. captains who preceded Sutton, only Tom Watson finished in the top 150 on the PGA Tour money list the year after his captaincy ' 43rd in 1994.
 
Lanny Wadkins had never finished lower than 88th on the money list in his 22 years on tour before being named Ryder Cup captain. With the Ryder Cup behind him, he played 21 times in 1996 and finished 189th.
 
And then there's Tom Kite.
 
A model of consistency his entire career, Kite nearly qualified for the '97 team. Some thought he should have made himself a captain's pick. But the year after his U.S. team lost at Valderrama, Kite played 22 times and finished 159th on the money list, his lowest position ever at the time.
 
Some of that is by design. The PGA of America usually selects captains whose best golf is behind them.
 
'You're appointed Ryder Cup captain because you're on the downside of your career,' Curtis Strange said. 'When I was doing TV, I still had a job, so things got back to normal for me.'
 
Sutton thought he might have a TV job waiting for him, working alongside Strange last year at ABC Sports. But then Strange resigned, and the network went with Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger as their top analysts.
 
There have been other things holding Sutton back.
 
The palm area of his left hand was nagging him all year, and he took a steady dose of cortisone to get by. He had surgery earlier this month and is waiting for the stitches to come out. And the natural letdown from his two years of being in the spotlight has allowed him to reassess how much he wants to go through the grind of a PGA Tour schedule.
 
Next year will be his 24th on tour.
 
'One thing I learned by not playing as much this year as I normally do is that I can live with that,' Sutton said. 'It's not something where I'm just hanging on every limb to get to the next tournament. I've done a lot of playing golf in my life, and I'm sure I'll do more. But right now, I'm content with the things I'm working on. I'm watching my kids grow up, and I've enjoyed spending time with them.'
 
Sutton, 46, is one of the few players who earned his fame before the kids came along. Samantha turned 8 last month. His twins, Sara and Sadie, will be 6 in January. He and his wife last year adopted a son, Holt, who turns 2 in April.
 
'Life is good right now,' Sutton said.
 
He has one more year of exempt status on the PGA Tour, courtesy of his victory five years ago in The Players Championship. Sutton probably has made enough money ' $15.2 million, which puts him 19th on the career money list ' to play in 2006 with an exemption for being top 25 in career money.
 
Sutton already has resurrected his career once.
 
He was regarded as the next Jack Nicklaus when he won the PGA Championship, beating Nicklaus in a dramatic final round at Riviera in 1983 at age 25. But his game fell apart in his prime, and Sutton went eight years without winning. He had to use a one-time exemption from top 50 in career money just to keep his card.
 
Then came an amazing renaissance. He won six times in his 40s, beating Vijay Singh in a playoff at East Lake in the '98 Tour Championship, and staring down Woods in 2000 at The Players Championship. In between, he led the Americans to a rare victory in the Ryder Cup.
 
Whether he can compete again depends largely on his health and how much age has diminished his skills.
 
But it all starts with desire.
 
And the year after a Ryder Cup can take a lot of that away.
 
  • Sutton Bio
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    More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

    There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

    The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

    It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

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    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 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 GolfChannel.com.  

    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; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:30 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.