For Tiger Big Wins and Losses Add Perspective
Darren Clarke lit up a cigar when the Ryder Cup was securely in Europe's possession, then chugged a pint of Guinness from the balcony of The K Club and raised the empty glass as a trophy for all Ireland to see.
One week later, in a scene far more scripted for no other reason than it has become routine, camera flashes and Tiger Woods' smile illuminated the gloomy skies north of London as he posed with the trophy from the American Express Championship. It was his eighth victory of the year, carving out more room for his name in PGA Tour record books.
Already close friends, they were linked these last two weeks as much for what they had gained as what they had lost.
Clarke was a wild card in more ways than one at the Ryder Cup.
He left the spotlight in July to cherish the final days with his dying wife and two young sons, and no one was sure what to expect from him until he became the first European captain's pick to go undefeated. Clarke polished off a 3-0 record six weeks to the day that Heather lost a long and spirited battle with cancer.
Hard as it is to fathom now, there were questions swirling around Woods' future three months ago.
He had spent more than a year watching his father slowly succumb to cancer. Earl Woods died May 3, and his son disappeared from golf for nine weeks. Woods returned at the U.S. Open and missed the cut for the first time ever in a major. Since then, he has won six of his last eight events, including six in a row on the PGA Tour.
Asked to define a year in which he won two majors and became the first player in PGA Tour history to win at least eight times in three seasons, Woods replied, 'A loss.'
As joyous as they felt in victory, neither Woods nor Clarke will remember 2006 as anything but a loss.
Clarke will fall short of the required 15 starts to keep his PGA TOUR membership, but that won't matter. For the second straight year, the tour has waived that requirement because of the circumstances involving his wife. The 38-year-old from Northern Ireland is 120th on the money list, but will have no trouble getting any exemption he wants.
'The PGA TOUR has been kind to me, and unbelievably fair,' Clarke said Sunday after he tied for 26th at The Grove. 'Next year, I'm going to try to play as much as I can. But the whole schedule revolves around my kids.'
Clarke has drawn closer than ever to 8-year-old Tyrone and 6-year-old Conor. Three days after a massive Ryder Cup celebration came an even greater one -- Conor's birthday party.
'To see the look on Conor's face when he turned 6 was worth a million Ryder Cups,' Clarke said.
Clarke has not gone into a shell. He is among the most popular European players, but he has a fiery side, especially when he's not playing his best. That much was clear when one of his managers watched him walked briskly toward the scoring trailer, looking for the board to see how he finished and to gauge his mood.
But his perspective clearly has changed. He is a father first.
'When they're not in school, I won't be playing golf,' Clarke said. 'Hopefully, I won't be playing because there might be a major championship that week. But golf is not my priority anymore. My boys are.'
Woods was surprised he needed more than two months to cope with the death of his father, role model and inspiration. Then again, he had never experienced the loss of someone so close. He spent the Christmas holidays taking his father to the hospital, watching him become more frail each week, fighting to hang on.
Any comparisons now to his benchmark year in 2000 are strictly by the book.
'If you take into account what happened off the golf course, it's my worst year,' Woods said. 'In the grand scheme of things, golf doesn't even compare to losing a parent.'
Tour officials swear that a computer spits out the pairings each week, but it was hard to believe it was only a coincidence Clarke and Woods spent the first two days together at The Grove.
And perhaps it was just a coincidence that Judy Rankin was back at work last week for ABC Sports, a cancer survivor walking the fairways with a microphone and a yardage book for the first time since late February. She was assigned to the group of Clarke, Woods and Rod Pampling the first round of the American Express.
Rankin was diagnosed with breast cancer in May as ABC was starting its summer schedule of golf. She has had three operations, with one more remaining 'before I'll feel like everything is back to normal again.'
The LPGA Hall of Famer was walking by herself up the sixth fairway when a voice called out, 'Judy!' She turned to see Clarke making a detour on his way to the tee, arms outstretched.
'Good to see you again,' Clarke said as he hugged her, giving her a kiss on each cheek.
No sooner had Rankin turned around than she heard her name again. This time it was Woods making a beeline for her, giving her a long hug and telling her, 'Thanks for being here.'
Rankin was concerned whether her stamina would hold up over 18 holes a day, but she made it through the week just fine. It helped to be carried along by the concern of two friends who can appreciate better than most what she has been through.
When the first round ended, Woods emerged from the scoring tent and walked over to Rankin, embracing her for nearly a full minute as he whispered into her ear. Then he left and walked over to a metal railing to sign autographs.
Rankin walked away with tears streaming down her face.
How The Open cut line is determined
Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.
The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:
• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.
• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.
• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.
The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.
The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major
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.
How to watch The Open on TV and online
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)
First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open
Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Other notable groupings:
- Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
- World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
- World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
- Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
- U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
- Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):
1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva
1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate
1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List
2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris
2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell
2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook
2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry
2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult
3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello
3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry
3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)
3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara
3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang
4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley
4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee
4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na
4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen
4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein
4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat
5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood
5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed
5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas
5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park
5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard
6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage
6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner
6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis
6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III
6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis
7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An
7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood
7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker
7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)
7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen
8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman
8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele
8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace
8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li
8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo
9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim
9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp
9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest
9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak
9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace
9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka
10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma
10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox
10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley
10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura
10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith
11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior
11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon