Aussie golfer Woods talked about family
“I remember him talking about how good Skype was for his kids and his wife,” Cameron Percy said in a telephone interview during the Australian PGA Championship last week. “It’s unreal that no one close to him knew about it. No one knew, I suppose. Up until then, he was the perfect role model for anyone.”
Percy considered the final round of the Australian Masters on Nov. 15 as the biggest day of his career, and now it carries an added distinction. He was the last golfer to play with Woods before his “indefinite leave” from golf to try to save his marriage.
“It was the best day of my life, and I suppose it’s tainted a bit,” Percy said. “But I’ll keep the memories.”
Percy, who grew up in Melbourne, was two shots off the lead and in the second-to-last group with Woods. His entire family was part of the record crowd at Kingston Heath that saw Woods close with a 68 and win for the 82nd time in his career. Percy, rattled by fairways that looked narrow with fans lining both sides of them, shot 72 and tied for sixth.
“A local boy from Melbourne, playing with Tiger Woods in front of the biggest crowds,” Percy said. “Everyone in that field wanted to be me that day.”
Two weeks later, Percy was on a family holiday when a friend called and told him to turn on his TV. He saw a picture of Woods and a photo of the damaged SUV that Woods drove into a tree. Then came allegations of rampant affairs, and part of Percy wondered if that was the same guy dressed in a red shirt and playing flawless golf Down Under.
“It was bizarre,” Percy said. “My initial thinking was, ‘This can’t be right.”’
Percy recalls Woods greeting him on the first tee and putting the unheralded Australian at ease with small talk.
“I remember there was a kid crying in the crowd on the third hole, and we were having a chat about how we used to wonder why people brought their kids to the course, but now that we have kids of our own, it doesn’t bother us,” Percy said.
Woods announced his indefinite leave from golf last week, and even when he returns, no one can be sure if he will continue to play overseas as much. Woods promised the crowd at Melbourne that he won’t wait another 11 years before returning.
How will the fans embrace him should he return?
“I can’t see this being an issue,” Percy said. “Our biggest idol is Greg Norman – not much difference there. The golfing public just loves to watch his golf. We have athletes in trouble for one thing or another. Once they’re on the sporting field, it’s all right.”
CAMERON COMES BACK TO EARTH: It didn’t take long for Cameron Percy to go from the ultimate high – a final round pairing with Tiger Woods in his hometown of Melbourne – back to reality.
Two weeks after the Australian Masters, his draw for the first two rounds of the Australian Open put him with Jian Chen of China and Shintaro Iizuka of Japan. Both missed the cut at a combined 49 over par. Chen shot 82-90, while Iizuka shot 83-82.
“Bit of a contrast,” Percy said with a laugh. “The tour really looked after me on tee times.”
The scores were one thing. Percy said toward the end of the second round at New South Wales – one of the most scenic golf courses in Australia – they asked him to take pictures of them.
“You don’t expect that from your playing partners in the middle of the round,” Percy said.
YOGI AND THE HOPE: Yogi Berra will take on a new role at the Bob Hope Classic as the first “Classic Ambassador,” in which he will perform a variety of duties during the 51st edition of the tournament in the California desert.
The Hall of Fame catcher played 15 times in the Bob Hope, during which he brought his brand of wisdom to the game.
“Ninety percent of all putts which finish short of the hole don’t go in,” Berra once said.
Among other things, Berra will hit the ceremonial first tee shot on Jan. 20 and present the trophy after the 90-hole tournament.
“It’s a privilege for me to be honored by the Bob Hope Classic, which has always been a wonderful tournament,” Berra said. “I thought the world of Bob, for all he’s done for golf and everything and everybody, and I cherish the times we spent. Playing this tournament every year over the last 15 years, I can honestly say has been a great experience.
“I can also say, being 84, not many can beat me in experience.”
GRAND FINALE: Anders Hansen of Denmark goes into the South African Open with a chance to become the first player from the northern hemisphere to win the Order of Merit on the Sunshine Tour.
That’s not all that’s at stake. The South African Open is the final tournament of the year that awards world ranking points, and the top 50 in the final ranking Dec. 28 will be invited to play in the Masters. Hansen is at No. 48.
Even without golf being played, points are gradually reduced from a player’s record each week. Among the players on the bubble for an automatic bid to Augusta National are Miguel Angel Jimenez (No. 47), former British Open champion Ben Curtis (No. 49) and big-hitting Alvaro Quiros of Spain at No. 50.
Ryan Moore and Dustin Johnson are just outside the top 50, although they already are exempt.
DIVOTS: Tadd Fujikawa has been given a sponsor’s exemption to the Sony Open in Honolulu. … Ryo Ishikawa had last week off, and the Japanese teenager certainly earned his break. Dating to the PGA Championship, Ishikawa played 17 weeks in a row. … Lee Westwood has won the Golf Writers’ Trophy, joining Seve Ballesteros as the only three-time winners of the award from the Association of Golf Writers in Britain. Catriona Matthew, who won the Women’s British Open, was the runner-up, while Rory McIlroy finished third. … Sophie Gustafson won the Ladies European Tour money title for the fourth time this decade.
STAT OF THE WEEK: The Ladies European Tour has more tournaments (27) on its 2010 schedule than the LPGA (24).
FINAL WORD: “I just don’t think that even if you become a professional athlete that you have to give up your education.” – Michelle Wie, who took a final exam at Stanford over the Internet just hours before shooting 65 in the final round of the Dubai Ladies Masters.
Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs
Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.
Everything before that, however, was far from routine.
That face when you realized you visa to the UK is expired the same day you were supposed to travel. La cara cuando te das cuenta que tu visa al Reino Unido está vencida el mismo días que viajas.pic.twitter.com/lztAcLUNN0— Jhonattan Vegas (@JhonattanVegas) July 12, 2018
Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.
He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.
"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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How to watch The Open on TV and online
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)
The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major
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.