More Crazy Eights

By Brian HewittDecember 28, 2003, 5:00 pm
Recently I wrote a column positing the notion that carrying an eight handicap was the toughest in golf. Briefly, the premise was that eights are always struggling to break 80 and it becomes a psychological barrier.
The column struck a nerve. Big time. The E-mails arrived in a blizzard.
John Eiland argued that being a +3 was much more trying on the soul. I was playing a 20 in a handicap tournament, he said. And I had to give two shots to a guy on a par 3. He made two. I had to make a minus one on the hole just to tie. Now thats tough to do.
Hadnt thought of it that way.
I wish, wrote another reader who didnt leave his handicap or name, I was an eight.
Funny article, said Scott Curtis, a 10 from Canada. But I dont think being a 10 is perfect. Theres something special about getting below double digits.
Don Wall clarified the problem. The handicap, he said, isnt actually designed to get you to par. It is designed to get you to the course rating for the tees you are playing that day..Play a 70 rating (par 72) and that 79 feels goodbut soon you will be a nine.
Tiff Tonn from Vancouver is an eight who played 170 rounds last year. I must have shot 80 30 or more times, he said. What are you gonna do, though? It still beats mowing the lawn.
I have been six to eight for a number of years, observed Robin Cunningham. Its more fun to say you are a six than to have to play to a six.
Ty from Winona, Mn. is a 7.9 index. And when he gets into the 70s, he says, drinks are on the houseor as we say here at Westfield Golf Club, spin em.
Ken Gaines, a four from Daytona Beach, summarily dismissed my hypothesis. An eight handicap for the average golfer that is retired and plays several times a week is almost a no-brainer, he said. Hit the fairway from the tee and two putting in most cases will keep you at an eight handicap.
If thats the case, I cant wait for retirement.
Eight is an ego killer, wrote David McKee from Texas. If you are a nine, nobody expects you to shoot in the 70s. But if you are an eight, they call you a sandbagger.
Or worse.
Im an eight and its a bitch, wrote someone who identified himself only as JB.
Then there was this left-handed compliment from a reader who goes by the handle of phredi phredi. I cant say I ever agree with you, phredi phredi said. But, damn, I have to give credit where it is due.
Thanks. I think.
Mark Wilson (not the Mark Wilson on the PGA Tour) is an eight who offered specifics from a recent round: I stood on the 18th tee having played well during the day and needing par to shoot 78. Hit a bullet for a tee shot. 20 yards left of the fairway and out of bounds. Made a seven and shot 81Id rather have shot 90.
Other respondents were just plain jealous. Making bogey on 18 to card a 90 is just as painful (I say more) than scoring a bogey on 18 to card an 80, said Greg Greenwald, an 18 from Missouri.
Not so, said Dan Perry. Its hell, he said, being an 8.2.
The air smells much better up here in nine-land, wrote Henry Schumann from Florida.
Another plight of the eight was pointed out by Dave Raudenbush. In some tournaments you are in A-flight but sometimes you are in B-flight, he said. If youve gotten your handicap down to single digits, you want to play with the big boys, not the middle handicappers. Nobody cares who wins the B-flight. But if you are the A player in a group, the pressure is tremendous. Everyone expects you to shoot in the 70s, by definition you are more likely to shoot 80, a score which rarely helps the team.
Paul Woods played with his boss last Saturday in Phoenix. The greens fee was comped. So was the after dinner cigar. But Woods is an eight. He shot 82. I would rather have been at work, he said.
Carlos from Orlando is an 18 and proud of it. Hes also a fan of The Golf Channels The Big Break. Ill get my own group of hackers and start The Big Duff: Ugly golf with dignity, he said.
My favorite E-mail came from Bruce Muir, a social worker from British Columbia, where the climate is a tad more temperate than most of Canada. Being a nine in this part of Canada and still playing golf every weekend when my buddies are frozen to their steering wheels has its advantages, he said. I would rather be a nine here than a six in Winnipeg any day.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.