Still Looking

By Brian HewittJuly 16, 2003, 4:00 pm
Its an endless parade. And it is almost longer than the tournament itself. The press officials at the Open Championship march player after player after player into the interview room prior to the tournament.
And you sift through their pronouncements like a miner panning for a nugget of gold.
Tiger Woods is asked about a Toronto newspaper story reporting that a made-for-TV match pairing him with Annika Sorenstam against Canadians Mike Weir and Lorie Kane August 25. And he says thats the first hes heard of it. Oops.
But later Woods shows a contrarian side. Asked about the decision to change the difficult fourth hole from a long par 4 into a short par 5, Woods disagrees with almost everybody else, saying it was a good decision.
Its supposed to reward wedge shots in there, Woods says. So that was a good change. And he is spot on with his observation. One day Woods will make a terrific course designer if he so chooses.
You have to be patient with these players at these pressers. Not all of them have that much to say on the eve of a major championship. And not all the questions are worthy of thoughtful answers.
Like this one to Nick Faldo whose wife is due to deliver a child soon after the tournament:
Q: Is there a bigger chance for a fourth baby than a fourth title this week?
FALDO: Oh, you never know. I feel good at the moment. Ive played well this morning and dusted off the youngsters.
Not a very rich vein of verbal ore there.
Moving right along, PGA champion Rich Beem gives everybody hope. Anybody can do it, he says when asked about winning a first major. And Im proof of that. So I think I probably in some ways inspired some guys a little bit.
Did he, you wonder, inspire young Englishman Justin Rose?
More compelling was Beem on British suds: The beer is a little warm, but its not bad. After a couple'the first one, it goes down a little stiff, but after that'because its darker beer than Coors Light, which is 90 percent water.
Beems game is better than his syntax.
And you wince because you recall the trouble Beem got into with the local constables for swilling too freely the only other year he played in an Open Championship. Bottoms up, Beemer.
Padraig Harrington said this: I would suggest some familiarity with links golf is needed.
Ernie Els said this: I think the guys who have played here before definitely have a bit of an advantage.
Greg Norman, who won this tournament at this venue 10 years ago, said this: Past experience, yes, knowing the wind conditions.
You get the idea.
It is interesting to note that only six of the top 20 players in the world have played in an Open Championship at Royal St. Georges.
So you are tempted to say this golf tournament is wide open. But you dont because you saw Woods form with your own eyes at the Western Open, his last start.
Truth be told, almost every player in the field will be saying more compelling things once the tournament begins. The notable exception to this is Colin Montgomerie, the so-called best Wednesday interview in golf.
Monty can be positively erudite when he chooses to be so. And he can be positive churlish when he has just finished a round of golf that doesnt measure up to his enormous standards.
The bottom line is most of these guys are better players than they are speechifiers. The problem at the Open Championship is the practice rounds arent THAT compelling.
But the build-up is compelling. The tabloids need grist for their scurrilous mills. Legitimate broadcasters need sound bites and legitimate writers need quotes.
Im just not sure why they brought Phil Mickelson into the pressroom Monday. And Im not sure why Mickelson agreed to be interrogated, knowing most of the questions would either be about Woods or Mickelsons failure to have won a major at this relatively advanced stage of a brilliant career.
Phil Mickelson said this Monday when asked about Royal St. Georges: Its a wonderful, wonderful place.
No nuggets in this one, fill another pan...
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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

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    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

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