Villegas in the lead Ryder Cup duo in the hunt

By Associated PressSeptember 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
BMW ChampionshipST. LOUIS ' Camilo Villegas and Steve Stricker were excited to be playing golf Friday for different reasons, and it showed during a soggy start to the BMW Championship.
 
Villegas, coming off a tie for third last week that allowed him to advance in the PGA TOUR Playoffs, continued his good form with eight birdies on long, soft Bellerive Country Club for a 5-under 65 that gave him a one-shot lead.
 
The 26-year-old Colombian believes winning is a process, and it appears to be accelerating with each round.
 
Sometimes you really want to be on the golf course and its going great, and sometimes its a grind, Villegas said. Youve got to be ready for both. Im excited right now. I feel really good about by golf.
 
Stricker made a 35-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 4-under 66, tied with Kenny Perry, Tim Herron, Stuart Appleby and Andres Romero.
 
The smile on his face had more to do with the putt.
 
His stomach has been churning the last month during what felt like an audition for the Ryder Cup. Stricker, who was bumped out of automatic qualifying at the PGA Championship, began sweating over every poor shot, every missed putt, and he only exhaled Monday night when U.S. captain Paul Azinger told him he was being selected.
 
The burden lifted, he played some of his most relaxed golf of the year.
 
It was a lot different than the last two weeks, Stricker said. I did feel a little more at easy. I didnt feel as much pressure on every shot. I felt a lot more relaxed.
 
PGA TOUR officials breathed easy, too.
 
The first round Thursday was postponed because of 3 inches of rain that about turned Bellerive into a water park. The forecast called for the storm to pass in the afternoon, but it stubbornly stayed through Friday morning, with a light rain as players warmed up on the range.
 
Even so, Bellerive was in decent shape. Some tees were moved forward, and hole locations were on high ground. Players were able to lift, clean and place their golf balls through the fairway. And while the course played every bit of its 7,324 yards, firing at the flags was merely target practice.
 
Thirty-six players in the 69-man field man field broke par, a group that did not include Vijay Singh, winner of the first two events in the finale for the FedExCup.
 
Singh remains virtually a lock unless someone close in the standings wins the last two events. But he hardly looked like the guy who won a playoff at Barclays and closed with a 63 to win the Deutsche Bank Championship.
 
He missed putts that had been going in from everywhere. Trying to putt with the blade of his sand wedge through the first cut of rough on the par-3 sixth, he stubbed the shot and took bogey. With a wedge in his hand, he came up 20 yards short of his mark and flipped his club to the ground.
 
Singh still wound up with a 70.
 
Its not an easy golf course, he said. The greens were slower than what we practiced on.
 
Sergio Garcia, No. 2 behind Singh by more than 12,000 points, was trying to move to the top of the leaderboard until he hooked his tee shot on the 610-yard eighth, where it hit a spectator and kept from going well off the fairway. He hooked his second shot into the rough and wound up with bogey, sending him to a 68.
 
Garcia and Mike Weir, who is No. 3 and shot 69, played in the same group as Singh. Garcia also played with him in the final round at the TPC Boston, only it wasnt the same Singh.
 
He hit more bad shots then he has the last two weeks, Garcia said. But Ive got to focus on one thing. Even if he doesnt do great, I still have to do very well.
 
The public parking lot was wiped out by the rain, the tournament started a day late under gray conditions, and the gallery still turned out in strong numbers, a tribute to a golf-mad city that hasnt seen this caliber of play since the 1992 PGA Championship, won by Nick Price.
 
Villegas delivered most of the moments, including a string of four birdies that began with a 40-footer at No. 5 and ended with a pair of tap-ins inside a foot.
 
Asked what he learned about last week that carried forward to St. Louis, Villegas said, That I can play out here, I guess. Still to be determined is whether he can hoist a trophy.
 
Villegas advanced to the third round of the playoffs by making the cut at TPC Boston, and his tie for third enabled him to move up 33 spots to No. 25. One more solid week will get him into the TOUR Championship.
 
Herron, however, was on his way home until closing with a 65 to tie for fifth and advance to St. Louis. He kept right on going, playing with confidence from his first top 10 of the year, finishing his round with a birdie. His only concern was the 36 holes that awaited Saturday to make up for the washout Thursday.
 
Tomorrow will be a test, because Im not in great shape, said the Minnesotan known as Lumpy for a reason.
 
How would be prepare?
 
Im going to hit a few bunker shots and then go to bed, he said.
 
Perry was among those that had his mind on the cup ' not the FedExCup, but the Ryder Cup in two weeks. Ditto for British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington, who had a respectable 69.
 
Harrington said his plan was to peak for the Ryder Cup.
 
I just didnt envision so much drama in the summer, he said of his two majors.
 
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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 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 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.