A little prank on the British Open-winning caddie

By Doug FergusonDecember 23, 2009, 12:08 am

Frank Williams, the caddie for British Open champion Stewart Cink, went from celebrating a major victory to stewing about it – at least until he realized he was the victim of a prank within the caddie ranks.

For whatever reason, Williams has never liked going to the British Open, and he was going to try to sit this one out. Before getting Cink’s permission, he checked on the availability of longtime looper Dave Musgrove, who told Williams he didn’t have work for the week but would be at Turnberry to watch and could fill in if necessary.

It wasn’t necessary.

“He was having a hard time getting travel and finding a place to stay,” Cink said. “He said, ‘Would it be OK if Dave Musgrove worked for you?’ I said, ‘I’d really rather you work for me.’ So I helped him with travel, and I got my agent’s office involved to find places to stay.”

Needless to say, it worked out quite well. Cink closed with a 69 to get into a playoff with Tom Watson, then won his first major with a guy on the bag who didn’t want to be there in the first place.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Scott Gneiser (caddie for David Toms) and Steve Williams (Tiger Woods) caught wind of this and decided to play a prank. Steve Williams’ wife was visiting her parents in Scotland at the time, so he wrote a letter pretending to be from Musgrove, and had his wife mail the letter from Scotland so it would look authentic with the postmark.

“There was no reason for him to believe it was not from Dave Musgrove,” Steve Williams said.

The letter said Musgrove had paid for a room deposit and airfare, both nonrefundable, then spent an entire week at Turnberry without work. He demanded that Frank Williams reimburse him, and it would only be fair to give him half of the caddie’s earnings from the Open.

It was delivered to Cink’s caddie at the Tour Championship.

“I got mad,” Frank Williams said. “I knew I didn’t tell him for sure he would be working. Boy, I was hot, knowing this guy wanted money. I didn’t say anything about it. Scotty and Stevie came up and said, ‘Did you get a letter?’ I said, ‘No, I didn’t get one.’ I was so mad I didn’t want to say anything about it.”

He spent the rest of the week wondering what he would say to Musgrove. The next week, he started wondering if Musgrove could have misunderstood him.

“I was laying in bed at night worrying about this,” Frank Williams said.

Steve Williams asked him again about the letter at the Presidents Cup, and Cink’s caddie finally broke his silence and began ranting about what Musgrove wanted and what he should do about it. Steve Williams’ laughter was the first sign it was a prank.

“That’s probably the best anyone has ever gotten me,” Frank Williams said. “That was good.”

Winning didn’t change one thing. The British Open is at St. Andrews next year, and Williams isn’t looking forward to it.

“Every year, I say I’m not going, and I always go because it’s my job,” he said. “Someone came up to me the other day and said, ‘Guess it’s your favorite tournament?’ I said, ‘No, I probably won’t go next year.’ Everybody knows how I feel.”


 

MASTERS INVITATIONS: Ben Curtis finished his season after the Hong Kong Open and was No. 43 in the world. He figured he was safe to finish in the top 50 and get into the Masters.

Then, his agent called last week to tell him he was at No. 49 going into the last tournament of the year. Curtis, the former British Open champion, wound up at No. 50 by one-thousandth of a point.

“Feels good,” Curtis said from the indoor practice facility at Kent State. “It’s a major, and it’s nice to be in. All it takes is one good week for everything to change.”

It’s not like he was on pins and needles waiting for the final world ranking to come out, however. Curtis has played Augusta National six times, missing four cuts. His best finish was this year, a tie for 35th.

Going into next year, 91 players already have qualified for the Masters. Sixteen players will be competing for the first time, a list that includes Brian Gay, Jason Dufner and Steve Marino.

The only other way to qualify is to win a PGA Tour event that offers full FedEx Cup points, or finish in the top 50 in the world ranking published a week before the Masters.

Among those still not in: Stephen Ames, Justin Rose and Davis Love III.


 

YAHOO HITS: At the start of the month, Tiger Woods ranked No. 18 among the most searched athletes on Yahoo! in 2009. Three weeks later, Woods was at the top of the list, bumping LeBron James out of the top 10.

When the search combines athletes and teams, Woods still is No. 1 over the Dallas Cowboys.

Perhaps the most telling aspect to the Yahoo! Top 10 list for most searched athletes? Natalie Gulbis is No. 8.


 

WELCOME TO THE 60s: Either these guys are good, or they tend to play the easier courses.

The PGA Tour released a statistic last month showing David Toms led the tour with 51 rounds in the 60s this year. Upon closer inspection, Toms also led the tour in a more dubious category. He had five tournaments in which he broke 70 every round and failed to win. Toms did that at the Sony Open, FBR Open, St. Jude Classic, Travelers Championship and Wyndham Championship.

He wasn’t alone. There were 120 players who had at least one tournament with every round in the 60s without winning, and 55 players did it multiple times. PGA Tour rookie Jeff Klauk did it four times, and the 12 players who had three such tournaments included Justin Leonard, Ryan Moore, Chad Campbell and Zach Johnson.

In all, there were 192 times this year when a player broke 70 in every round and did not win.

Strangely enough, neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson were on the list.


 

DIVOTS: Bernhard Langer was voted by his peers as the Champions Tour player of the year for the second straight season. … Nigel Edwards has been appointed Great Britain & Ireland captain for the Walker Cup in 2011 to be held at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland. Edwards played in four Walker Cups with a record of 4-5-3. … The Presidents Cup raised $4.2 million for charity. The PGA Tour also donated $500,000 to The First Tee of San Francisco as part of its agreement to host the matches at Harding Park.


 

STAT OF THE WEEK: David Duval and Todd Hamilton, who failed to make it through Q-school, are eligible to play in the Masters.


 

FINAL WORD: “It was a good year inside the ropes.” – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 12:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch.


Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.