Changing of the Guard

By December 27, 2006, 5:00 pm
2007 Big Questions Editor's Note: TheGolfChannel.com is counting down its top 5 stories from the world of golf in 2006 and looking ahead to the five 'Big Questions' on the PGA TOUR in 2007. This is our No. 4 question for the upcoming season.
 
The term changing of the guard refers to a formal ceremony in which sentries providing ceremonial guard duties at important institutions are relieved by a new batch of sentries.
 
In sports, it is usually used to describe a gradual or sudden shift in power from a once dominate team, conference or single individual athlete to another.
 
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk has steadily risen to the No. 2 spot in the world rankings.
And in golf, while there looks to be no changing of the guard for the foreseeable future ' at least not at the top where Tiger Woods resides - we might, however, be starting to see a shift, or changing of the guard, in the small group a players who will challenge Woods with his stiffest competition for the next several of years.
 
A quick look at the current world golf rankings shows the slide of what once was known as the Big 5 ' Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen (Tiger, of course, excluded).
 
Lefty (No. 3) and Ernie (No. 5) still reside in the top-5, but Vijay and Retief have been replaced by now world No. 2 Jim Furyk and young Aussie Adam Scott (No. 4). It marks the first time in three years that the so-called original Big 5 will not inhabit all of the top five slots in the rankings at the end of a season.
 
Is there anything to make of this? Will the floor right below Tigers penthouse permanently become occupied by a new host of challengers? If so, who?
 
Well, the potential list of renters includes the aforementioned Furyk and Scott, as well has Padraig Harrington, Englands up-an-comer Paul Casey, current U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, and, of course, Sergio Garcia and the seemingly never-ending talk of his potential.
 
Of the new crowd, its hard to argue that Furyk wont be a fixture for several years to come.
 
Jim Furyk could be the most overlooked player today ' and hes ranked second in the world. He doesnt have the power of an Els or a Singh, but with his swing and his lack of power he has (still) gotten to No. 2 in the world, said Golf Channel and CBS Sports analyst Peter Oosterhuis. I think that is an amazing accomplishment.
 
Furyk, who finished a career-best second on the PGA TOURs money list this past season with $7,482,275, appears to be becoming more comfortable in his role as one of the top players in the world.
 
Already with one major to his credit, Furyk had a monster season in 06 with wins coming at the Wachovia Championship and the Canadian Open. In addition, he had four runner-up finishes as well as three third-place showings. As a result, the 36-year-old Furyk rose from seventh in the world rankings at the beginning of the year to second at seasons end.
 
Furyk works really hard and is probably known as the grittiest player in the world, said Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo.
 
But other than Furyk, who else can join the fray?
 
Nobilo points out that it might be tough for a group of players to try and take away Tigers mantle.
 
Paul Casey
Paul Casey is one of a handful of players hoping to give Tiger a run for his money.
Hes too prolific of a winner to be chased by a pack, said Nobilo, who then added his thoughts on the others. Ernie and Vijay have the mental makeup, and of course Phil and his brilliance. With Adam Scott Id certainly like to see more intensity.
 
But a player he says to keep a close eye on is Casey.
 
Casey began the year all the way down at 51st in the rankings. Three wins during the 2006 European Tour season vaulted him to the top of the Order of Merit race, although he eventually was edged out from winning that title by Harrington ' on the final day of the season, no less.
 
Casey is a star in the making, added Nobilo. All the roads point to him becoming one of the elite players in the world.
 
Case in point: his romp through the loaded HSBC World Match Play Championship in September. En route to the finals, Casey took out Goosen, Mike Weir and Colin Montgomerie, before his 10-and-8 drubbing of Shaun Micheel in the finals. He followed that with an impressive unbeaten record at the Ryder Cup, which included a defeat of Furyk in the Sunday singles as well as a hole-in-one on Saturday.
 
Yet as impressive as Casey has been, he is still ranked below another pair of 20somethings in Garcia and Donald.
 
The 29-year-old Donald finally notched his second PGA TOUR title with his win at the Honda Classic earlier in the year and finished third alongside Sergio at the PGA Championship. But as good an iron player as he is, Donald is often thought to be too short off the tee to go head-to-head with the likes of Tiger over the long haul.
 
Which leads us to Garcia himself.
 
Plenty of length, plenty of self-confidence, plenty of talent.
 
And plenty of missed putts.
 
After finishing the 2005 season almost dead last in putting average on the PGA TOUR, Garcia hardly made an improvement this year, when he ranked a dismal 158th. Yet despite his trouble with the flatstick, Sergio continues to be a major player when it comes to the major championships. In his still young career he has racked up 12 top-10s in the majors, including a fifth and a third-place showing, respectively, in the final two majors of the year at Hoylake and Medinah.
 
Garcia was once the surefire answer to who would eventually challenge and perhaps even surpass Tiger. But Tiger has now won 12 majors and Sergio is still stuck on zero. If he could breakout and get that first one, would it signal a start of a major run? With his talent its possible, but for the moment his potential is still on hold.
 
A new season will be upon us soon and the questions of who will challenge Tiger ' whether it is a group or maybe just one individual - will begin to play themselves out.
 
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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.