Temperature and Tiger Hot Topics at PGA

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- High noon at Southern Hills looked more like a ghost town.
 
Wednesday before a major championship usually is bustling with activity, especially at the PGA Championship, the last chance for players to win a major until the azaleas bloom in April at Augusta National.
 
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh tries to stay cool near a large fan on the practice putting green Wednesday. (Getty Images)
But it's particularly quiet at Southern Hills, so quiet you could almost hear drops of sweat sizzling on the sidewalk.
 
'My guess is a lot of guys are playing practice rounds at 4 a.m.,' Paul Goydos said.
 
British Open champion Padraig Harrington was among the brave. He teed off shortly before noon to play 18 holes as the temperature climbed toward 100 degrees, and it looked even hotter with a flame shooting from the top of a refinery on the horizon. An elderly gentleman approached to say he was from Ireland, and Harrington looked toward the blazing sun.
 
'You're a long way from home,' he said.
 
They are a long way from the gray skies and cold rain of Carnoustie, where Harrington won three weeks ago.
 
Heat figures to be as intimidating as anything defending champion Tiger Woods might do at Southern Hills, which has a history of hosting some of the hottest majors. Retief Goosen, who won the U.S. Open here in 2001, played nine holes and went through five bottles of water.
 
Not too many players went more than nine holes, if that much.
 
'I can't imagine anyone practicing a lot,' Chad Campbell said. 'You don't want to wear yourself out.'
 
Woods stopped playing a practice round on Wednesday at the majors a few years ago, and he must have been especially glad to have changed his routine at Southern Hills. He arrived about 8 a.m. and hit balls for an hour before heading for the putting green.
 
The world's No. 1 player has one last chance to add a major to his collection this year, and there are mixed feelings about his chances. Woods has not played Southern Hills particularly well in two recent trips, although he points out that he was an emotional wreck in 1996 with his father in the hospital, and didn't know where the ball was going at the 2001 U.S. Open.
 
And while Southern Hills has a history of wire-to-wire winners, there is nothing about the Perry Maxwell design that tends to favor a particular style, whether it's long or short, great irons or great short games.
 
'If Tiger wins this week -- if he can dominate on a golf course like this -- then we're all done,' Goydos said.
 
The Bermuda rough is only about 3 inches, deep enough that balls sink to the ground and can be hard to find, but not so much that players have no choice but to hack out onto the fairway. The greens are pure, but not linoleum slick like Oakmont.
 
The PGA Championship has earned a reputation in recent years as being the most fair major.
 
And given its spot on the calendar, the hottest major. That explained why it was so quiet on the eve of the final major.
 
Twenty minutes after Harrington teed off, the first fairway remained wide open. In recent years, the biggest problem with practice rounds at the majors is that they take up to six hours with so many players hitting putts and chips from every conceivable angle.
 
'There was no one ahead of us and no one behind us,' Kevin Sutherland said after playing nine holes with Goydos. 'We stood on the ninth green for five minutes telling stories and we never saw anyone in the fairway.'
 
Even a quick practice round was no picnic. Sutherland was in the clubhouse when someone passed by and slapped him on the shoulder, only to look down at a hand dripping wet.
 
'Just got out of the pool,' Sutherland told him.
 
For Stephen Ames, it brought back fond memories.
 
'I'm going to play nine holes and then find a nice mango tree,' said Ames, who grew up in Trinidad & Tobago. 'That's what we used to do on days like this. Find a nice mango tree and hit balls in the shade. We'd cut down the grass and hit balls. Very nice.'
 
Not so nice was Darren Clarke's wardrobe on Wednesday, in which he surely borrowed a chapter from Colin Montgomerie on how not to dress when the temperature hits triple digits. Monty famously wore navy blue slacks and a shirt in the 1994 playoff at Oakmont. Clarke wore black pants and a black shirt.
 
'Weight-loss program,' he said.
 
The heat is getting plenty of attention, and while it's true that players are going through bottles of water as frequently as John Daly goes through a pack of cigarettes, it is not terribly surprising.
 
The PGA Championship is in August. It's supposed to be hot.
 
The most recent exception was Whistling Straits in northern Wisconsin a few years ago, when it was so chilly in the third round that some fans brought Green Bay Packers jackets to the tournament. But it was stifling in Atlanta in 2001 and in New Jersey two years ago.
 
'Baltusrol was the worst,' Sutherland said. 'The cuffs of my pants were soaked because that's where the sweat was running.'
 
Goydos pondered the heat during a breakfast of cantaloupe, bacon and a Danish -- no need to check him for steroids -- and wondered what everyone was expecting.
 
'If you come to Tulsa for the PGA and are shocked to find it too hot,' he said, 'you might need to find a new profession.'
 
One only has to see the motorized fans, 50 inches in diameter, around most of the greens at Southern Hills. The tournament arranged for Precision Air Systems out of Pompano Beach, Fla., to deliver 21 of these massive fans for the PGA Championship.
 
They deliver air that is about 10 degrees cooler and will help keep the greens alive. The fans have been running 24 hours a day since Tuesday. Workers will remove them Thursday morning before the first round, replace them after the round and repeat the process until the PGA Championship has a winner.
 
'I wish they'd leave them on during the tournament,' Rory Sabbatini. 'And add some misting for us.'
 
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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”