Tiger St Andrews Ready for History To Be Made

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- The birthplace of golf is becoming a popular place to say goodbye.
Arnold Palmer struck a famous pose atop the small stone Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews when he played his final British Open in 1995. It was a heartfelt tribute to the King, who resurrected American interest in golf's oldest championship and returned the Open to its place of prominence.
Next to cross that bridge for the last time will be Jack Nicklaus, who conquered the Old Course in 1970 and 1978 and has decided to make this British Open his final appearance in a major championship career that defined the modern standard of greatness.
And, in the middle of these amazing 10 years at St. Andrews, was Tiger Woods in 2000.
``Tiger said goodbye to us all in another way that year, didn't he?'' Ernie Els said with a laugh.
Indeed, Woods turned his back on the field and left everyone in his wake when the British Open last was held at St. Andrews, turning in a performance never before seen on these hallowed grounds.
He did not hit into a single trap over 72 holes, using sheer power to fly the ball beyond the punishing pot bunkers that serve as the best defense on the Old Course. When it was over, Woods became the youngest player (24) to complete the career Grand Slam, and his 19-under 269 remains the record score in relation to par at any major.
St. Andrews is loaded with history, and the home of golf is ripe with opportunity to make more when the 134th British Open returns to the Old Course for the 27th time starting Thursday.
``What makes this one so special?'' Adam Scott said. ``Jack's last major, what Tiger did there the last time and the fact that it's St. Andrews. There's something about that place that means more than any other.''
Woods has a history of winning majors when Nicklaus is on his way out.
He won by a record 15 shots at Pebble Beach when Nicklaus played in his final U.S. Open in 2000, and won the PGA Championship at Valhalla later that year while playing the first two rounds with the Golden Bear. Nicklaus said after missing the cut at the Masters this year he no longer would compete at Augusta National, and Woods went on to win in a playoff.
``I won on what was supposed to be his last farewell at St. Andrews (in 2000),'' Woods said. ``So hopefully, I can do it again. I've been pretty good on his farewells.''
Coming off a 2 1/2-year drought in the majors and his third swing change as a pro, Woods is doing just fine this season. Along with winning his fourth Masters and two PGA Tour events that featured some of the strongest fields of the year, he finished two shots behind Michael Campbell in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
``I've played well of late,'' Woods said while tuning up his game for links golf in Ireland. ``It's nice to have the pieces fall together at the right time for three majors in three months.''
Woods remains locked in a battle for No. 1 with Vijay Singh, who has played St. Andrews better than the other courses on the British Open rotation. For all the talk of a ``Big Five,'' they are starting to separate themselves.
Ernie Els was the runner-up at St. Andrews in 2000 and simply adores the Old Course. He was on the winning team twice at St. Andrews during his nine years playing the Dunhill Cup. Phil Mickelson finally found some success in the British Open last year, finishing one shot out of a playoff at Royal Troon. He already has spent two full days at St. Andrews, playing one round without any pins in the green.
All that's missing is a head-to-head showdown among the stars at a major. The only time any of them met in the final round this year was at Doral, where Woods rallied from a two-shot deficit to beat Mickelson.
``I am surprised we haven't had more head-to-head duels,'' Mickelson said. ``But I think we're going to have that at the British Open. I just have a feeling, the way the golf course is set up.''
The Old Course is not the same layout that Woods overwhelmed in 2000.
The Royal & Ancient has moved back five tees, adding 164 yards to the Old Course. No change is more daunting than on the par-5 14th, which has been extended from 581 yards in 2000 to 618 yards for this Open. That brings a series of bunkers called the ``Beardies'' into play off the tee, and the notorious Hell Bunker on the approach, especially if the wind is whipping off St. Andrews Bay.
``I don't know where in the world you're going to drive the ball. I have no idea,'' Nicklaus said. ``You've got the wall on the right and the Beardies on the left, and there's no place to hit it but there. And you can't hit it short of them, because there's no land.''
The R&A cited advances in technology for making the changes, but don't get the idea that better clubs, balls and players have ruined the Old Course. This is the 100-year anniversary of when bunkers were added and St. Andrews was lengthened to protect against the new rubber-core Haskell ball. Some things never change.
Woods has not seen the alterations to St. Andrews, but already he doesn't like them.
``I don't understand why they would do it,'' he said. ``They are so dependent on the weather. If the wind blows and you get bad weather, the guys are going to shoot high scores. But if you don't get any wind, like in 2000, everybody went low. That's the way St. Andrews is. It's not a very difficult course when the wind doesn't blow at all. When it does, you hope to shoot even par, because that would be a good score.''
Then again, Woods has reason to prefer that the Old Course stay how it was in 2000, when he led by six shots going into the final round and won by eight, the largest margin of victory at the British Open since 1913.
Mickelson noticed the difference during his two practice rounds, and it all made sense to him.
``A lot of the bunkers that were not in play in 2000 are in play this year,'' Mickelson said. ``That being the case, I would say that the changes have done exactly what they have hoped to accomplish, which is bring on No. 14 the Beardies bunkers and Hell Bunker in play. And they are very much in play.''
Despite all the changes to the course, and the battle at the top, the focus on this British Open is on Nicklaus.
About the only thing Nicklaus has failed to conquer in golf is learning how to retire graciously. He wishes now he had left tournament golf after winning the 1986 Masters at age 46 for his sixth green jacket. It was his last victory on the PGA Tour, and Nicklaus has gone from hoping to dreaming that he can compete.
``Sometime in my early '50s I felt like the game was passing me by,'' he said. ``It didn't pass me by, I fell back.''
At age 65, this is his final year of eligibility for the British Open, and he might not have played except that the R&A, knowing his love affair with St. Andrews, moved up the Old Course one year in the rotation to accommodate him.
He already has said he won't return to the Masters after an unceremonious departure this year - missing the cut, finishing on the ninth hole because of rain delays, not letting anyone know until after he signed his card.
Just like Palmer in 1995, Nicklaus will pause atop the Swilcan Bridge in what is sure to be an emotional moment.
And, by the end of the tournament, the winner will cross that bridge, hoist the silver claret jug and become part of the rich history that St. Andrews always seems to deliver.
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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.”