Frazar leads suspended Barclays, but Irene gets the headlines

By Doug FergusonAugust 26, 2011, 12:27 am

EDISON, N.J. – Harrison Frazar is leading The Barclays. All anyone wanted to talk about was Irene.

Whatever enthusiasm there was for start of the FedEx Cup playoffs was dampened Thursday – first by rain that halted the first round for more than three hours, then from the gloomy forecast of Hurricane Irene. That left players and officials wonder when, how or even if they can finish the opening playoff event.

Of the early starters – who didn’t finish until mid-afternoon – Frazar led an onslaught of birdies on rain-softened Plainfield Country Club, shooting a 7-under 64. One of the few times he was in trouble, he chipped in from behind the first green to turn bogey into birdie.

Vijay Singh overcame a double bogey early in his round for a 65 and was tied with Jonathan Byrd. Adam Scott was in the group at 66. Nick Watney, the No. 1 seed as the race begins for the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus, was among those at 67.

When it was too dark to continue, 51 players did not finish the round. They were to return at 7:15 a.m. ET on Friday, and the tee times for the second round were expected to be pushed back by about 30 minutes.

William McGirt, the last of the 125 players who qualified for the playoffs, had to stop after making his seventh birdie in an eight-hole stretch to get to 7 under par through 11 holes. Matt Kuchar, the defending champion at The Barclays, also was at 7 under through 16 holes.

“I wanted to get done today,” Frazar said. “With the way the weather is coming, I didn’t want to have to sit around and play too much tomorrow or too much Saturday. It’s going to be a long week by the time this thing is over.”

Slugger White, the Tour’s vice president of competition, was hopeful that everyone from the afternoon group could at least make the turn. That would give the tournament a chance to complete 36 holes by Friday, and if the expected wind and rain holds off long enough, get through the third round Saturday.

No one was sure what to expect after that, if anything at all. White ruled out a 36-hole Saturday.

The concern is that Plainfield about 10 inches of rain over the last few weeks and probably can’t take much more.

“If we get 5 or 7 inches of rain here, we are probably dead in the water,” White said.

This is supposed to be the time the 125 players who qualified can start dreaming about golf’s biggest payoff – $10 million to the winner after four playoff events in the next five weeks. Officials again painted “PGA TOUR PLAYOFFS” into the grass of one hill, much like is seen on midfield at a football game.

It’s a wonder the paint didn’t wash away.

Then again, the Deutsche Bank Championship last year braced for remnants of Hurricane Earl to possibly wash out big chunks of the tournament outside Boston, and it never materialized.

Bad weather is not unusual in golf, and the tour has a policy to only reduce events to 54 holes if there is no way to finish on Monday. But this is not an ordinary event. Only the top 100 players in the FedEx Cup standings after The Barclays advance to the second round.

What might help is that the next event, the Deutsche Bank, doesn’t start until Friday because of its traditional Labor Day finish. Only PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has the authority to allow for a Tuesday finish if it comes to that.

“I don’t think anybody has any clue,” Charley Hoffman said after a 66. “I’m pretty sure 100 percent of us want to play 72 holes out here, and we all know the tournament (next week) doesn’t start until Friday. So I’m pretty sure the players will commit to go to Tuesday if possible. But if this place gets 10 inches of rain two weeks in a row, I don’t know how playable this golf course is going to be on Tuesday.”

There was so much talk about weather that Watney said he heard a rumor that Manhattan might be evacuated. Left unsaid was how he heard such a thing while being too preoccupied with his golf to check on any such reports.

He found it fascinating, nonetheless.

“That would be quite a sight of evacuating Manhattan,” he said. “Where would they all go. That’s like 12 million people.”

Everyone else just kept plugging away, coping with a course that was starting to get firm and fun until they returned from a rain delay and tried to control how much the ball was spinning once it landed on the green.

The tournament was a sellout even before it began, and despite the weather, there was plenty of cheers. With the tees moved up on the 18th hole this week, making it play 285 yards up the hill, the lone eagle came from Troy Matteson, who pitched in from 35 years. Steven Bowditch hit his tee shot to within 5 feet, only to three-putt for a par.

Singh, who hit a beautiful approach into 6 feet on the tough 17th for birdie, drove to the front of the green on the 18th and chipped to 8 feet to close out his round of back-to-back birdies. That atoned for hitting into the water on the par-3 third.

Meanwhile, White said the Tour won’t decide how to proceed until they see the forecast on Friday.

“I really don’t want to paint myself in a corner right now,” he said. “There’s a lot of scenarios out there.”

DIVOTS: J.J. Henry was not in the pro-am Wednesday, yet he still made good use of his time. He went over to Pine Valley in southern New Jersey to play on the eve of The Barclays. … Pat Perez withdrew after opening with a 79, although his position is secure to play next week in Boston. … The day began under sunshine, yet players were told they could lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway because of the approaching weather.

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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.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.