Notes: Nine spots available for British at Travelers

By Doug FergusonJune 24, 2015, 3:25 pm

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Kevin Kisner had to wait until a week before the U.S. Open to find out for certain that he had a spot in the field at Chambers Bay.

He'll have a little more time to prepare for the next major.

As many as nine spots for the British Open are available this week at the Travelers Championship.

Kisner is not playing, though that shouldn't matter. The leading five players – not already exempt – from the top 20 in the FedEx Cup will be part of the field at St. Andrews next month.

Kisner already has playoff losses at Hilton Head and The Players Championship. His tie for 12th at Chambers Bay moved him up to No. 14 in the FedEx Cup, making him virtually a lock for the British Open.

Charley Hoffman (No. 6) and Robert Streb (No. 11) also are set to be exempt. Both won PGA Tour events in the fall. Steve Bowditch, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson, is at No. 18. He essentially needs to make sure he stays in the top 20 after the Travelers to be exempt.

Everyone else from the top 20 already is in the British Open. Daniel Berger, the Tour rookie who lost in a playoff at the Honda Classic, is at No. 27 and would need a solo third place to get into the top 20. But then, third place would get him to St. Andrews, anyway.

The leading four players who finish in the top 12 at the TPC River Highlands also are exempt. The Travelers is the first of three PGA Tour events where top finishers can get into St. Andrews. There are four spots available at The Greenbrier Classic, and one spot at the John Deere Classic.


AUSSIE OMEN: Anyone looking to win a major might want to consider playing the Australian Open this year.

Rory McIlroy was going through a slump in 2013 after going through a management change. He finally won at the end of the year in the Australian Open when he birdied the last hole to beat Adam Scott.

The next year, he won back-to-back majors at the British Open and PGA Championship.

Jordan Spieth was winless on the PGA Tour in 2014 until he found his form late, starting with a 63 in the final round to win the Australian Open.

He has won the past two majors.


MAJOR SHARING: Jack Nicklaus once pointed out that rivalries in golf don't always require going head-to-head as much as trading off victories in the majors. Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer had that 18-hole playoff at Oakmont that Nicklaus won in the 1962 U.S. Open, but they rarely battled each other on the back nine.

That's been the case with Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, though it's very early. Spieth is just 21.

They were paired together for the opening two rounds of the 2013 Masters (Spieth tied for second) and the 2014 British Open (McIlroy won). They have played in the same event only five times this year, and only 13 times in the last year.

But they own all the majors – the last two for McIlroy in 2014, the first two for Spieth in 2015.

The last time four consecutive majors were split by two players was in 1972. Lee Trevino won the U.S. Open and British Open at the end of 1971 (the PGA Championship was in February that year), while Nicklaus won the Masters and U.S. Open in 1972.

That's happened only three other times since the PGA Championship began in 1916:

- Bobby Jones won the British Open and U.S. Open in 1930, and Tommy Armour won the PGA Championship and the 1931 British Open (the first major of the year).

- Walter Hagen won the PGA Championship in 1925, Jones won the British Open and U.S. Open in 1926, and Hagen added the bookend with another PGA title in '26.

- Hagen won the 1921 PGA and the 1922 British Open, followed by Gene Sarazen winning the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.


YOUTH IS SERVED: For the first time in 90 years, five straight majors have been won by players in their 20s – Jordan Spieth (21) in the U.S. Open and Masters, Rory McIlroy (26) in the British Open and PGA Championship, and Martin Kaymer was 29 when he won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 last year.

The kids still have a way to go to catch up to a streak in 1920s.

Walter Hagen was 28 when he won the 1921 PGA Championship, the start of seven consecutive winners in their 20s (Hagen twice, Gene Sarazen three times, Bobby Jones and Arthur Havers).


DIVOTS: Ollie Schniederjans will play the British Open (he's exempt as the No. 1 amateur in the world last year) and then turn pro. He will try to play a number of PGA Tour events, and possibly some Web.com Tour events, and at least try to qualify for the Web.com Tour Finals (the new version of Q-school). ... The Australian PGA Championship will be counted as a European Tour event for next year. It will be played Dec. 3-6 at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast. ... Martin Kaymer can go back to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf even if he doesn't win a major this year. Because Jordan Spieth has won the first two majors, the tournament goes to its alternate system. Kaymer gets in as the defending champion. If Spieth (or Kaymer) wins another major, a points list from the majors will be used.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods are the only players since World War II to win at least four times on the PGA Tour before turning 22. Woods had six wins and a major. Spieth has four wins and two majors.


FINAL WORD: ''You have to use your brain, which is a rare thing in modern golf and something we're not very good at, I don't think.'' - Geoff Ogilvy, on playing Chambers Bay in the U.S. Open.

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Kisner (66) leads Open by 1; Woods 5 back

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 7:44 pm

The course was playing firm and the winds never truly gusted, but it was still quite a mixed bag for some of the world's best during the first round of The Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things stand as Kevin Kisner moved into the lead in search of his first career major:

Leaderboard: Kevin Kisner (-5), Erik van Rooyen (-4), Tony FInau (-4), Zander Lombard (-4), Brandon Stone (-3), Brendan Steele (-3), Ryan Moore (-3)

What it means: Van Rooyen took the early lead in one of the first groups of the morning, and he remained near the top despite a bogey on the final hole. But that left a small opening for Kisner to eke past him, as the American put together a round with as many bogeys as eagles (one apiece). Already with two wins on the PGA Tour and having challenged at the PGA Championship in August, Kisner tops a crowded leaderboard despite never finishing better than T-54 in three prior Open appearances.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Round of the day: Kisner started slowly, as a bogey on No. 5 dropped him to 1 over on the round. But that proved to be his lone dropped shot of the day, and he quickly rebounded with an eagle on the par-5 sixth. Kisner added four birdies over his final 11 holes, including three in a row from Nos. 13-15, and successfully navigated the difficult closing stretch to post the only 66 of the day on the par-71 layout.

Best of the rest: Van Rooyen held a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the Irish Open two weeks ago, but he fell apart at Ballyliffin as Russell Knox rallied for victory. He's off to another surprisingly strong start after a 4-under 67 that included only one bogey on No. 18. Van Rooyen has never won on the European Tour, let alone contended in a major, but he's now in the thick of it after five birdies over his first 15 holes.

Biggest disappointment: Two major champs were among the short list of pre-tournament contenders, but both Patrick Reed (4 over) and Dustin Johnson (5 over) appear to already be out of the mix. Reed has finished T-4 or better each of the last three majors but made only one birdie in his opener, while Johnson was the consensus betting favorite but played his last three holes in 4 over including a triple bogey on No. 18.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Kisner is no stranger to the top of the standings, but keep an eye on the chase pack a few shots back. The group at 2 under includes Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm. Tiger Woods is just five shots off the pace after an even-par 71 that featured three birdies and three bogeys as Woods made his return to The Open for the first time since missing the cut at St. Andrews in 2015.

Shot of the day: Stone put his head on his hands after pulling his approach from the rough on No. 18, but his prayers were answered when his ball rattled off a fence, bounced back in bounds and rolled to the front of the green. One week after winning the Scottish Open with a final-round 60, Stone turned a likely double into a par to close out his 68.



Quote of the day: "I've been taped up and bandaged up, just that you were able to see this one. It's no big deal." - Woods, who had KT tape visible on both sides of his neck after a bad night of sleep.

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Rory 'convinced' driver is the play at burnt Carnoustie

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 6:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – There are two distinct schools of thought at this week’s Open Championship - that Carnoustie is either best played with a velvet touch and a measured hand off the tee, or that it makes sense to choose the hammer and hit driver whenever and wherever possible.

Count Rory McIlroy in the latter camp.

Although the Northern Irishman’s opening 2-under 69 may not be a definitive endorsement of the bomb-and-gouge approach, he was pleased with his Day 1 results and even more committed to the concept.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I’m convinced that that's the way that I should play it,” said McIlroy, who hit just 4 of 15 fairways but sits tied for eighth. “It's not going to be for everyone, but it worked out pretty well for me and I would have taken 69 to start the day.”

From the moment McIlroy’s caddie, Harry Diamond, made a scouting trip to Carnoustie a few weeks ago, the 2014 Open champion committed himself to an aggressive gameplan, and there was nothing on Thursday that persuaded him to change.

The true test came early on Thursday, with McIlroy sending his tee shot over the green at the 350-yard, par-4 third and scrambling for birdie.

“That hole was a validation for me. It proved to me it’s the right way for me to play here. It was a little personal victory,” said McIlroy, who played his opening loop even but birdied Nos. 12 and 14 to move under par.

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Report: USGA, R&A to 'severely restrict' green books

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 6:42 pm

The detailed yardage books that many players rely on to help read greens at various tournaments could soon become a thing of the past.

According to a Golfweek report, the USGA and R&A are poised to "severely restrict" the information offered to players in green-reading books, which currently include detailed visuals and specifics about the location and severity of slopes and contours on each putting surface. The change is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Green-reading books have come under scrutiny in recent years as their use has increased, seen as both an enemy of pace of play and a tool that can take the skill out of reading the break on putts.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


"We believe that the ability to read greens is an integral part of the skill of putting and remain concerned about the rapid development of increasingly detailed materials that players are using to help with reading greens during a round," the R&A said in a statement. The USGA also reportedly issued a statement that they plan to update their review process on the books "in the coming weeks."

Speaking to reporters after an opening-round 72 at The Open, Jordan Spieth seemingly implied that the rule change was all but official.

"I don't think we're allowed to use them starting next year, is that right?" Spieth said. "Which I think will be much better for me. I think that's a skill that I have in green reading that's advantageous versus the field, and so it will be nice. But when it's there, certain putts, I certainly was using it and listening to it."

According to the report, new language in the Rules of Golf is expected to address the presentation of the books and "end the current level of detail."

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'Super 7' living – and loving – frat life in Carnoustie

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 6:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It’s not exactly “Animal House Scotland,” but it’s as close as the gentleman’s game allows itself to drift toward that raucous line.

For the third consecutive year, some of golf’s biggest and brightest chose to set up shop on the same corner of the Angus coast, a testosterone-fueled riff session where feelings are never spared and thick skin is mandatory.

Among the eclectic “Super 7” who are sharing two houses in Carnoustie this week are defending champion Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker and Kevin Kisner – a group that ranges in age from 24 (Spieth) to 42 years old (Johnson).

The tradition, or maybe “guy’s week” is a better description, began in 2016 at Royal Troon when Spieth, Fowler, Thomas, Walker, Johnson and Dufner all roomed together. Kisner was added to the mix this year and instead of baseball – the distraction of choice in ’16 – the group has gone native with nightly soccer matches. Actually, the proceedings more resemble penalty kicks, but they seem to be no less entertaining.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

For the record, his flat mates will attest to Dufner’s abilities as a goalie, although asked about his chances to make the U.S. national team Thomas was reluctant to go that far.

“As a U.S. citizen, I hope he does not make our team, but he's a pretty good backyard goalie,” Thomas said.



The arrangement comes with a litany of benefits, from the camaraderie to the improved logistics of having so many VIPs under the same roof.

“Honestly, it just makes everything really, really easy because there's a lot of cars going to and from the golf course. They know our address. We have food essentially at our beck and call. And we have friends. I mean, we have some women [wives] in there to keep the frat house somewhat in order,” Johnson said. “But I mean, every individual there is great. It's fun.”

But this goes well beyond some random male bonding for what at the moment represents nearly one-third of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. This is a snapshot into a curious side of golf that’s as rare as it is misunderstood.

Unlike team sports, golf is a lonely pursuit. A player can collect as many swing coaches, sports psychologists and handlers around them as they wish, but there’s a connection between athletes at this level that creates a unique flow of ideas that’s normally only present during the annual team events, be it a Ryder or Presidents cup.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this level, players talk a language only they understand that’s littered with the kind of insider give-and-take one would expect from PGA Tour winners and major champions. Between the two houses, which are adjacent to each other, there are eight major victories.

“I have zero, so I don't know how many they have,” Kisner joked when asked about his accomplished roommates.

Kisner is southern like sweat and sweet tea and can trade good-natured jabs with the best of them, but given the pedigrees assembled between the two houses he seems to understand the importance of listening.

“Everybody is just really chill, and it's a lot of fun to be around those guys. There's a lot of great players. It's really cool just to hear what they have to say,” Kisner said. “Everybody's sitting around at night scratching their head on what club to hit off of every tee.”

It’s worth pointing out that The Open winner has come from this group twice in the last three years, including 2017 champion Spieth, who took no small measure of inspiration from Johnson’s victory at St. Andrews in ’15.

Nor is it probably a coincidence that four of those players now find themselves firmly in the mix and all within the top 20 at Carnoustie, including Kisner who will have bragging rights on Thursday night following a first-round 66 that vaulted him into the lead.

“I probably get to eat first,” he smiled.



In their primes, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player would occasionally share a house, they even vacationed together from time to time – you know, SB1K68 – but the practice fell out of favor for a few generations. It’s hard to imagine Greg Norman enjoying a friendly kick-about with any of his contemporaries and even harder to think that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson could share a cab ride, let alone a house for a week.

Some say this type of fellowship is the product of a new generation who grew up playing junior golf against each other and logically took their bond to the big leagues, but that ignores the 40-somethings (Johnson and Dufner) in the frat.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of America’s Ryder Cup rebuilding efforts or an affinity for non-stop one-liners and bad soccer. Or maybe it’s a genuine appreciation for what each of the “7” have to offer.

“[Kisner] is good friends with all those guys, he likes to cut up and have a good time and talk trash. It’s a good little group,” said Kisner’s swing coach John Tillery. “This last year or two and the Presidents Cup and being on the teams with those guys has just escalated that.”

Some seem to think these friendships run a little too deep. That sharing a bachelor pad and dinner for the week somehow erodes a player’s competitiveness. But if the “Super 7” have proven anything, other than American golfers probably aren’t the best soccer players, it’s that familiarity can be fun.