Guthrie four up, Daly six back at BMW Masters

By Doug FergusonOctober 25, 2013, 9:09 am

SHANGHAI – Luke Guthrie brought only one 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew from America, enough of a caffeine fix to get him through the week without headaches. He packed only one sweater – lime green – because his crash course on Shanghai did not include checking the forecast.

At this rate, Guthrie might end up staying another week, a problem he would love to have.

Guthrie coped with another day of harsh wind and plunging temperatures Friday with a 1-under 71, giving the 23-year-old American a four-shot lead over six players going into the weekend at the BMW Masters.

A victory would make him eligible for his first World Golf Championship next week across town in the HSBC Champions.

''I was just coming over to challenge myself, put myself in a new environment and see what I could make of it,'' Guthrie said. ''I'm playing well right now. I've got 36 more holes and I'm looking forward to the opportunity and hopefully I come out with a 'W' and get to stay in Shanghai longer.''

Guthrie never let anyone get closer than two shots at Lake Malaren, and he started to pull away with a 20-foot birdie putt that broke three directions on the par-3 17th. But his misjudged the speed of the 18th green on a long chip, and then narrowly missed a 10-foot par putt on his last hole.

It was a tough way to end a solid day, though he had no complaints at 8-under 136 and four shots clear of the field.

Even as everyone else was battling par and conditions that were getting colder by the minute, Guthrie marched along in short sleeves. That wasn't by choice.

''I should have looked that up about Shanghai before I came here,'' Guthrie said. ''I didn't know exactly what the weather was going to be like. I only have one sweater here. I'm wearing blue and pink today, so I'm kind of out there already. I didn't want to put a green sweater on top of it. So I just dealt with being a little cold.''

Ricardo Gonzalez didn't make a bogey until the final hole and still had a 67, the lowest round of the day. Also in a tie for second were Scott Jamieson (68), Paul Casey, Thongchai Jaidee, Craig Lee and Simon Dyson, who each shot 70.

John Daly showed plenty of power but couldn't make a putt in his round of 74, which included a double bogey-birdie-bogey finish. He was six shots behind.

Peter Uihlein, who was two shots behind after chipping in for eagle at No. 7, made six bogeys over his next seven holes. He tried to salvage his round with two later birdies, only to catch a mound short of the 18th that sent his approach into the bunker for one last bogey and a 75. He was at 144.

As for Guthrie, not everything that happens in Las Vegas stays there – such as his game. He closed with a 64 in Las Vegas to tie for fifth and then flew straight to Shanghai, leaving him enough time to get over jet lag and see the Jack Nicklaus design at Lake Malaren in the pro-am.

Even if he didn't bring enough warm clothes, he brought his game.

''I'm playing well. I was in good form coming here and had been hitting it really well,'' Guthrie said. ''Kind of felt the trend going in the right direction.''

Guthrie made his first bogey of the tournament with a tee shot that left him against the lip of a fairway bunker on No. 5, and he had to knock it out to the fairway. He dropped another shot on the 10th, and hit a poor shot that left him in an impossible spot on the 12th. Everything else, however, was solid. He rolled in a 15-foot birdie on the 11th, got up-and-down behind the green on the par-5 15th for a birdie and hit 6-iron into 20 feet on the 17th.

The BMW Masters is the start of ''The Final Series'' on the European Tour, four tournaments with at least $7 million in prize money that concludes the Race to Dubai. Guthrie, coming off his rookie season on the PGA Tour, has no stake in that. A win, however, would make him eligible for the HSBC Champions next week in Shanghai, which counts toward the FedEx Cup on the U.S. circuit.

''Still plenty of golf left,'' he said.

Only 18 players in the 77-man field were under par, a testament to the tough conditions.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello didn't figure to be among them until he ran off five straight birdies late in his round for a 68, leaving him five shots behind. Ian Poulter got back in the game until two late bogeys forced him to settle for a 69. Poulter was at 1-under 143, along with Rory McIlroy, who bogeyed the last hole for a 72, and Lee Westwood (71).

Graeme McDowell, in his first event since getting married at the end of September, was trying to push his way up the leaderboard until he bogeyed three of his last five.

''It's been very tough the last two days in the wind,'' Casey said. ''These are not conditions I expected or wanted. But it makes a very good, difficult golf course even more so. It's a great test of golf, which is I guess what we want. This is the Final Series for us in Europe. It's meant to be difficult, and it has been.''

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No indication when Trump Turnberry will next host an Open

By Jay CoffinJuly 18, 2018, 12:25 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Turnberry last hosted The Open in 2009, during that magical week where Tom Watson, at age 59, nearly won his sixth claret jug. Ultimately, Stewart Cink won in a playoff.

While Turnberry remains on The Open rota, according to the R&A, there is no clear understanding of when the club, purchased by Donald Trump in 2014 before he became President of the United States, will next host the championship. The next open date is 2022

“With respect to 2022, I’ve already said, ’21 we’re going to be celebrating the 150th playing of The Open at St. Andrews,” R&A chief executive Marin Slumbers said Wednesday on the annual news conference on the eve of The Open. “And in ’22, we’ll be going south of the border.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


South of the border means the 2022 Open will be at one of the three venues in England. Since the 2020 Open is at Royal St. George’s, that leaves Royal Lytham & St. Annes and Royal Liverpool as the two remaining options. Since Lytham (2012, Ernie Els) last hosted the Open before Liverpool (2014, Rory McIlroy), that’s the likely choice.

Trump was at Turnberry for two days last weekend, 150 miles southwest of Carnoustie. The R&A said it did not receive any communication from the U.S. president while he was in the country.

Turnberry hosted the Women’s British Open in 2015. Inbee Park beat Jin-young Park by three shots.

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Slumbers explains driver test; Rory weighs in

By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2018, 12:18 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Players and manufacturers were informed about three weeks ago that the R&A intended to test individual drivers at this week’s Open Championship, marking the first time the rule makers have taken the current standards to players.

Although the R&A and USGA have been COR (coefficient of restitution) tests on drivers for some time, they have been pulling the tested clubs from manufacturers, not players.

“We take our governance role very seriously, not just on the Rules of Golf and amateur status, but also equipment standards, and we felt it was an appropriate next step to more actively seek to test players' drivers straight out of the bag,” said Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive.

Thirty players were notified their drivers would be tested this week - including Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson - from a list that roughly mirrored the breakdown of various brands based on current equipment counts.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


The R&A test center was set up on the Carnoustie practice range, and according to Slumbers there were no violations of the testing limits, which essentially measure the spring-like effect of the driver clubface.

Although none of the drivers failed the testing, Rory McIlroy did say that TaylorMade was “singled out a bit more than anyone else.”

“A manufacturer is always going to try and find ways to get around what the regulations are. It's a bit of an arms race,” said McIlroy, who plays TaylorMade equipment but said his driver was not tested. “If there is some drivers out there that have went a little bit over the limit, then obviously guys shouldn't be playing them. I think the manufacturers are smart enough to know not to try to push it too much.”

There was no individual driver testing at last month’s U.S. Open, and it’s not expected to become the norm on the PGA Tour, but Slumbers did say the R&A tested drivers at an event earlier this year on the Japan Golf Tour.

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Carnoustie open to any number of scenarios

By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2018, 12:07 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Carnoustie holds a distinct position within the Open Championship’s rotation of storied venues. It’s come by its nickname, Car-Nasty, honestly as the undisputed rough-and-tumble heavyweight of all the championship links.

Historically, Carnoustie is a beast. A punch in the mouth compared to the other stops on The Open dance card. If the likes of the Old Course and Muirfield are the fair ladies of the rotation, the Angus Coast brute would be the unfriendly bouncer.

As personas go, Carnoustie wears its reputation well, but the 147th edition of the game’s oldest championship has taken on a new look this week. It’s not so much the softer side of Carnoustie as it is a testament to the set up philosophy of the R&A.

Unlike its sister association in the United States, the R&A allows Mother Nature to decide what kind of test a championship will present and this Open is shaping up to be something far different than what the golf world is accustomed.

Instead of the thick, lush rough that ringed the fairways in 1999 and 2007, the last two stops at the par-71 layout, this year has a dust bowl feel to it. The stories have already become legend: Padraig Harrington hit a 457-yard drive on the 18th hole during a practice round that bounced and bounded into Barry Burn and on Monday Tiger Woods slashed a 333-yard 3-iron down the same power alley.

“It’s so fast. It’s nothing like ’99 – that was like a jungle. It was wet, rough was up, there was wind. In 2007, it was cold and green,” said Ernie Els, who has played two championships at Carnoustie. “But this is very, very dry. Very different.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Anywhere else these divergent conditions would simply be the nature of the game’s most hands-off major, but at Carnoustie it’s created an information vacuum and wild uncertainty.

Within a 48-hour window, two of the championship’s easy favorites offered diametrically contrasting philosophies on how they might play Carnoustie.

“There's eight or nine drivers we hit. Depending on the wind direction, we could hit more,” said Brooks Koepka, who won his second consecutive U.S. Open last month. “It's so burnt out, where there's a lot of opportunity where the rough's not quite as thick as I expected it to be.”

That was in contrast to how Jordan Spieth, this week’s defending champion, was thinking he would play the course.

“I talked to [caddie Michael Greller] a little bit about what he thinks, and he said, ‘You might hit a lot of 5-irons off the tee, you might wear out 5- and 4-irons off the tee instead of hitting 3- or 2-irons like you're used to,’” Spieth said.

Unlike previous championships that were played at Carnoustie, which were won by the player best prepared to take a punch, this one might come down to which strategy, controlled and calculated or bold and brash, works best.

In theory, the bombers seem to be on to something, primarily as a result of the dry conditions that have produced uncharacteristically thin and playable rough. The alternative is weaving irons in between the countless bunkers that pepper each fairway, which on links courses are widely considered true hazards compared to what players face at other major venues.

“I would definitely say it is a bomber’s course,” said Gary Woodland, who counts himself among the long-hitting set. “A lot of the bunkers here are 285, 290 [yards] to cover, for us that’s nothing. You can take them out of play, which normally isn’t the case because it’s windy and rainy over here.”

That line of thinking leads to a rather narrow list of potential contenders, from betting favorite Dustin Johnson to Rory McIlroy and Koepka. But that logic ignores the inherent unpredictability of The Open, where countless contenders have been undercut by the rub of a bad draw and the always-present danger of inclement weather.

Although this week’s forecast calls for continued dry weather, winds are currently forecast to reach 25 mph on Sunday which could upend game plans, regardless of how aggressive or conservative one intended to play the course.

Despite conventional thinking and the realities of a modern game that is being dominated more and more by long hitters, there are compelling arguments for the other side of the bash-or-bunt debate.

One needs to look no further than Woods’ record on similarly dusty tracks as an example of how a conservative approach can produce championship results. In 2006 at Royal Liverpool, Woods, who is playing his first Open since 2015, famously hit just one driver all week on his way to victory, and he was just as effective in 2000 at St. Andrews when the Old Course also played to a bouncy brown.

“It could be that way,” Woods said when asked to compare ’06 at Hoylake to this week. “Either case, I'm not going to hit that many long clubs off the tees.”

Adding to that uncertainty is Carnoustie’s track record in producing late drama on Sunday. This is, after all, the same slice of coast where Jean Van de Velde stepped to the 18th tee box with a three-stroke lead in 1999 only to slash his way to a closing triple-bogey 7 and the game’s most memorable, or regrettable, runner-up showing.

In ’07, the heartbreak went extra frames for Sergio Garcia, who appeared poised to win his first major championship before he bogeyed the last hole and lost a playoff to Harrington.

Even this week’s baked-out conditions can’t mitigate the importance and challenge of what many consider the most difficult Grand Slam finish; but the yellow hue has certainly created an added degree of uncertainty to an already unpredictable championship.

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Slumbers: Mickelson penalty 'not good for the game'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 11:44 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said that Phil Mickelson’s controversial penalty at the U.S. Open was not “good for the game,” but he did not say explicitly whether the ruling would have been any different at The Open.

Speaking Wednesday at his annual address, Slumbers said that he spoke with Mickelson last week about the incident. At Shinnecock Hills, Mickelson hit a moving ball in the third round but was not disqualified for a breach of etiquette. Instead, he received a two-shot penalty under Rule 14-5.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“In the event of a similar situation this week, clearly, the first thing is you understand the facts because you never get the same situation and there will be lots of reasons,” Slumbers said. “But we have looked very carefully at the rules, and I don’t think it was good for the game and not the right way to have played this wonderful sport, and we would make a decision based on the facts of any incident that happened later in the week.”

Rule 1-2, which includes a clause for disqualification, was not used because the infraction is covered under another rule.

“Let’s also remember that it’s a moot point for next year,” Slumbers said, “because as of the first of January 2019, there would have been a DQ option in that equivalent rule.”