Rory Sabbatini grabs share of lead at BMW Championship

By Doug FergusonSeptember 11, 2009, 2:33 am

BMW Championship 2007 LogoLEMONT, Ill. –  Rory Sabbatini delivered a few surprises in the BMW Championship.

First, he posted a low round. Then, he took the high road.

Sabbatini has not done much on the PGA Tour since he closed with a 64 to win the Byron Nelson Championship in May. In his last eight starts, he has missed the cut four times and has not finished in the top 30.

The spunky South African has been trying to shorten his swing over the last four months and it’s just now coming together. Once he got a few putts to fall Thursday at Cog Hill, he had seven birdies for a 5-under 66 to share the lead with Steve Marino.

The low round came two days after Sabbatini was left off the Presidents Cup team when International captain Greg Norman instead chose Adam Scott, who hasn’t won in more than a year and is ranked lower than Sabbatini.

Sabbatini is willing to speak his mind on just about every subject, even if that means tweaking Tiger Woods.

This time, he kept relatively quiet.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods lines up a birdie during the first round at the BMW Championship at Cog Hill. (Getty Images)

 

“If I’d been playing well over the past couple weeks and didn’t get picked, I might have something to complain about,” Sabbatini said. “But you know what? The situation is such … I’m here this week. I’m going to focus on this.”

Sabbatini was in decent shape to earn a spot on the team until the final week, when Y.E. Yang pulled off a shocker by rallying to beat Woods at the PGA Championship, dropping Sabbatini to No. 11 in the Presidents Cup standings.

Scott has only two top 10s this year – one in January, one in July – and narrowly qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs before he was eliminated after the first round.

Was the Australian, a protege of Norman’s, really deserving of a pick?

“I think anyone in this room will admit that on any given stage, Adam is definitely one of the top five players in the world,” Sabbatini said. “He does have a wealth of experience. He’s a fantastic player. The good news is he will be fresh and ready to go.”

His only beef was that Norman never kept in touch.

What disturbed Sabbatini was not hearing from Norman or anyone else during the three weeks after the PGA Championship when the captain makes his two selections.

“There was not a single conversation or a single phone call, period,” Sabbatini said. “You could say I was a little disappointed.”

As for Cog Hill? There was not much disappointment on the golf course in gorgeous sunshine Thursday.

Sabbatini opened with a bogey, put that behind him quickly and finished off his day with a shot into 6 feet for birdie on the 18th hole to set the pace on this public course in the Chicago suburbs.

Marino, who had a share of the 54-hole lead at The Barclays when the playoffs began, also birdied the final hole to join him.

They had a one-shot lead over Bo Van Pelt and Marc Leishman, who only qualified for the third playoff event by making an eagle on his final hole Monday at the TPC Boston.

Woods, a four-time winner at Cog Hill, was among those at 68. He at least kept himself in the mix this week, making a few good par saves and three birdie putts inside 5 feet.

“I think anything under par is a really good score,” Woods said. “Usually, it takes a little bit before the guys get accustomed to what the scoring is going to be. The whole idea is, I think more than anything, the guys are trying to get accustomed to where to miss the golf ball, because the misses are so different than what they used to be.”

Steve Stricker, whose victory last week in the Deutsche Bank Championship put him atop the FedEx Cup standings, had a three-putt from 10 feet at the turn and didn’t make another birdie until his final hole for a 72.

Heath Slocum, The Barclays winner who is No. 3 in the standings behind Woods, opened with a 1-under 70.

Only 70 players qualified for this third playoff event, and the top 30 advance to the Tour Championship in two weeks with a chance to win the $10 million bonus.

Sabbatini (No. 35) and Marino (No. 26) are simply trying to get there.

“It’s on my mind a little bit, but I’m trying not to think about it too much,” Marino said. “I’m just trying to treat this like any other tournament and just try to do the best I can.”

The surprise is Leishman, who would have finished outside the top 70 in the standings if not for his eagle putt on the last hole. He kept right on rolling at Cog Hill, running off four birdies in a five-hole stretch around the turn and keeping bogeys off his card.

“Three more 67s would be good,” Leishman said. “I mean, I’ve got nothing to lose. Probably top five I would have to do to get to the Tour Championship, so it’s either that or a couple weeks off. Go hard or go home, I guess. Hopefully, I can go hard.”



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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.

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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.