McGirt eyes an Ohio double

By Doug FergusonJuly 1, 2016, 3:28 am

AKRON, Ohio - Golf in Ohio must bring out the best in William McGirt.

One month after his first PGA Tour victory at the Memorial, McGirt looked just as good two hours up the road at the Bridgestone Invitational. In his World Golf Championship debut, he opened with six birdies and finished with a 45-foot par for a 6-under 64 and a three-shot lead.

An Ohio sweep?

That's only happened four times, and McGirt made a strong guess at the answer.

''Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods and Tiger Woods?'' he said. ''That would be pretty special company.''

He left out Greg Norman in 1995 (Memorial and World Series of Golf), no less a select group.

McGirt had some decent company behind him after an opening round of warm sunshine and fast conditions at Firestone. Jason Day, the world's No. 1 player, was among three players at 67, while Jordan Spieth somehow managed to post a 68 despite having only one birdie attempt (he missed) in his first 10 holes.

''I wasn't supposed to shoot 2 under today,'' Spieth said.


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U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson had a U.S. Open kind of round - 15 pars, two birdies and a bogey - for a 69. His big celebration was walking off the 11th green to learn that his alma mater, Coastal Carolina, had just won the College World Series for its first national title. His golf wasn't bad considering that he didn't practice much last week while celebrating his first major (and his 32nd birthday) in The Bahamas.

''I didn't expect a whole lot today,'' Johnson said. ''I always expect to play well, but this golf course is playing tough.''

Only 17 players of the 61-man field broke par. The first round ended with only 58 players.

Daniel Berger withdrew after his opening tee shot with a shoulder injury. Brooks Koepka withdrew after 13 holes with an ankle injury. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, playing at Firestone for the first time since 2009, withdrew after a 78 because of what was described as a torn labrum.

The field also was missing Rory McIlroy and Masters champion Danny Willett, among several European Tour players who opted to play the French Open this week.

McGirt had never played in a WGC until he became eligible with his playoff victory at Muirfield Village a month ago. He showed up at Firestone on Sunday, played nine holes and rode in a cart on the back nine.

''I fell in love with the place because length is not everything out here,'' McGirt said. ''You have to drive it in the fairway. You have to drive it in the correct spots in the fairways to be able to attack pins. I love it because you can't stand up there and just hit it as hard as you want, go find it and hack it on the green. It's an old, traditional style golf course, which I absolutely love.

''I don't know, maybe it's something with Ohio I like,'' he added.

The most peculiar round belonged to Spieth, who said he has been in a lull the last month as he searches for something in his swing, particularly his wedges. It had the look of a score closer to 74 or 75, except that the former Masters and U.S. Open champion kept hanging in there with pars. One shot hit a tree and bounced forward over the water into a bunker. He whiffed on a 7-iron that left him a tough pitch, but he managed to save par from 8 feet.

He ended the front nine with par-saving putts from 20 feet and 25 feet.

It took him until the 15th hole before he had back-to-back birdie putts, and he started converting them. He holed the last four of them.

''I'm really just searching for something that isn't far off, that's real simple,'' Spieth said. ''It really is only taking place on my scoring clubs, but that's where you need them. It's close. It's almost there. And when it clicks, we're definitely in business the way the short game is.''

Emiliano Grillo and Jimmy Walker also were at 67 with Day, while Spieth was joined by Rickie Fowler, Anirban Lahiri and Charley Hoffman.

Day said he felt a burden lifted by making his announcement not to play in the Olympics because of Zika concerns, but he didn't think that equated to his golf. It was a tidy round with only one bogey and four birdies, and a pair of tough par saves from a bunker on No. 9 and behind the green on the par-5 16th.

''It was just kind of a weird feeling of a day where I kind of made some good pars, kept the momentum going, and all of a sudden I shot 67,'' Day said. ''I've just got to keep grinding until Sunday is over.''

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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

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.



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.

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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.