Strickers costly mud ball Perrys collapse

By Doug FergusonSeptember 28, 2009, 4:27 am

THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 Logo

ATLANTA – Steve Stricker had a shot at $10 million. A muddy ball ruined his hopes.

Stricker was briefly atop the FedEx Cup standings Sunday during an ever-changing final round of the Tour Championship, but an unfortunate tee shot at the 16th hole led to a crushing bogey.

“Overall, it was a good day,” he said. “I gave it a good try until catching a mud ball.”

East Lake Golf Club was pounded by heavy rains shortly after the third round ended, and there were still plenty of damp spots on a warm, sunny final day. Stricker’s 280-yard tee shot at the 16th rolled through some mud, making his next shot difficult to control.

From 211 yards, he flew the ball far left of the hole, plopping down in a thick patch of rough. He failed to get up and-and-down from there, taking a bogey-5 that handed the FedEx Cup lead back to Tiger Woods. The world’s No. 1 player held it the rest of the way to capture the biggest payday in golf.

“I knew (the second shot) was going left, I just didn’t know how much and it’s tough to aim it over in the bleachers somewhere,” Stricker said. “It just took off and went over there.”

He pitched past the flag with his fourth shot, the ball rolling to a stop in the first cut of rough. His par save from 18 feet wasn’t even close, coming up about 3 feet short.

The bad break stymied Stricker’s momentum. Knowing he probably needed to close with a pair of birdies, he got too aggressive with a long putt at the next hole and ran it 9 feet past the cup. He missed the comebacker for his second straight bogey.

Stricker finished with a 1-under 69 that left him sixth in the tournament and third in the final FedEx Cup standings, good enough for a $2 million bonus.

Not bad, but not $10 million.

“It was a good run,” said Stricker, who won at Boston and tied for second in New York during the season-ending playoff. “I was confident. I was swinging aggressively at it, and things were going good.”

KENNY’S KOLLAPSE: The tee shot behind a tree. The next shot rolling up next to a fence. Not even holing out from the rough could save Kenny Perry’s final round at the Tour Championship.

The 49-year-old Kentuckian teed off Sunday at East Lake with a two-stroke lead, and it looked like it was going to be his day when he rolled in a 28-foot birdie putt at the second hole to extend his advantage.

It was all downhill from there.

Plagued by shaky iron play, Perry bogeyed four of the next nine holes and spent much of his time hitting from bunkers and rough. Any hope of pulling it together ended at the 13th, where Perry pushed his tee shot behind a tree, forcing him to take a drop and a one-stroke penalty.

He blasted his next shot over the green, the ball stopping against a fence. He was able to take relief, but still found himself hitting his fourth shot from a natural area almost 40 yards from the pin. Now in full freefall, he chunked his next swing and only made it to the rough.

OK, so he holed out from about 30 feet away, but that was of little consolation. On the scorecard, it was a double bogey.

Perry finished with a 4-over 74 and wound tied for fourth, five shots behind winner Phil Mickelson.

CREDIT TO THE CADDIE: Maybe Phil Mickelson should give a bigger chunk of his Tour Championship winnings to longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay.

Turns out, it was Mackay who urged Lefty to get a few putting tips last week from Dave Stockton, the former PGA champion renowned for his advice on the greens.

“I said, ‘Bones, I’ve been kind of floundering here, not having the right direction. I want you to think about it,”’ Mickelson said. “He came back the next day and he said, ‘I think you should call Dave Stockton. You guys putt the same. You’ve talked to him in the past and he had some great ideas.”’

Stockton was at Torrey Pines last week for an LPGA event, and Mickelson set up a meeting. The result: Lefty was persuaded to go back to a style he and Stockton both find more comfortable, in which the hands are pressed slightly forward ahead of the club and the stance is slightly wider than conventional wisdom.

“He was the first one to articulate (about) my hands getting ahead,” Mickelson said. “Other guys can putt other ways, but this is the best way to putt. Once he said that, I said, ‘Yeah, that’s right, I’ve always believed that.’ So I went back to it, and it’s been like a night and day difference for me.”

PADDY’S STRONG FINISH: Padraig Harrington came on strong at the end of the PGA Tour season, finishing in the top 10 at his last six events.

Not that he’s ready to celebrate.

“To be honest, I don’t count top 10s anymore,” said Harrington, a three-time major champion. “I’m only interested in wins.”

Still, the Irishman has reason to be hopeful for 2010. His tour year started dismally with six missed cuts and no finish higher than 11th. But he tied for second at Firestone, tied for 10th at the PGA Championship and finished no lower than sixth in the four FedEx Cup playoff events.

Harrington shot a 69 Sunday to tie for fourth.

DIVOTS: Ernie Els nearly made a hole-in-one at the sixth hole. He knocked his tee shot over the water, caught the left edge of the green and watched the ball funnel right down to the hole. It lipped out, leaving him with a tap-in birdie. … Tiger Woods wrapped up his eighth Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour. His season average is at 68.05 after a runner-up showing in the Tour Championship, leaving him with an unsurpassable lead over Steve Stricker (69.29).

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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  

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; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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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.