Family Ties

By Brian HewittAugust 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
How much does the PGA Championship mean to the players?

A lot.

Maybe even more to their families.

Arjun Atwal was on a plane to New Jersey Monday to Baltusrol. Accompanying him were his parents, who had arrived from Calcutta, India, just days earlier.

Atwal will play in the PGA Championship that begins Thursday. 'I taught him to play,' Atwal's father said proudly. 'And now I think he needs a coach.'

In fact, the elder Atwal consulted with Vijay Singh about the matter. Singh said not to worry. He told the father the son was doing just fine.

'I hear the golf course is long,' Arjun Atwal said.

'Par 70, 7400 yards,' I told him. 'Two par 4s longer than 500 yards. The 17th a 650-yard uphill par 5.'

'Perfect,' Arjun Atwal said. ' least for one guy......or two guys, I should say.'

Tiger Woods. And the aforementioned Singh.

The prevailing wisdom among the cognoscenti in golf right now is that Woods and Singh have separated themselves from the rest.

Mickelson has cooled. Els is on the shelf until December, at least, with a damaged left knee. Retied Goosen, a winner Sunday in Colorado, has struggled at the PGA Championships he has entered and will be looking for his first top 10 in this event in eight tries.

For his part, Atwal happened to be practicing at Isleworth, near Orlando, Sunday. Not far away was Woods.

'I can't believe how far he's hitting his driver right now,' Atwal said.

Woods' 'bunt cuts' were stopping more than 300 yards from where they were struck. When Woods started hitting tight draws, Atwal said, they were carrying 330 yards.

Woods is gunning for his third victory in a major this year. And it means a lot to him and his family. His father, Earl, has been ill. The number of majors the elder Woods will be able to witness, even on television, is dwindling more rapidly than the son wishes.

So Tiger hurries to make more history at a historic venue designed by the great A. W. Tillinghast. If Woods conquers Baltusrol, it will be his 11th win in a professional major. All of this, and he doesn't turn 30 until December.

Should we be more amazed at what Tiger Woods achieved in his 20s; more curious about what he may do in his 30s; or more flabbergasted at how fast his 10 years as a professional have passed?

Baltusrol will provide answers to some of this. Woods' tee time Thursday is 8:25 a.m. off No. 10. His playing competitors will be U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and Aussie golf icon Greg Norman.

Arjun Atwal, who learned how to play golf at Royal Calcutta, will be first off Thursday off No. 1 tee at 7:15. His playing competitors will be Jonathan Kaye and Craig Thomas.

'Royal Calcutta is the second oldest golf course in the world,' said Arjun Atwal's father, who has served on the golf committee there. 'Only the Old Course at St. Andrews is older. Our course is 175 years old.'

The game of golf, all over the world, continues to get passed from generation to generation. And the beat goes on.
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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.