Woods leaves Aussies eager for his return

By Doug FergusonNovember 18, 2009, 12:23 am
MELBOURNE, Australia – Still wearing his gold jacket from winning the Australian Masters, with his car waiting to take him to the airport, Tiger Woods had one more stop to make at Kingston Heath.

He stood atop a bench and looked out at some 250 volunteers who had gathered outside the tournament office to see him one last time. Woods thanked them for their support, saying his week would not have been as special without them.

In true Aussie fashion, one bloke wasn’t interested in a speech.

“What about those errant shots?” he interrupted as his fellow volunteers laughed along.

“You’re supposed to kick those back into the fairway,” Woods replied. “Make sure you learn that next time I’m here.”

That left everyone – volunteers in the parking lot, more than 100,000 fans who passed through the gates, tournament officials and anyone who caught a glimpse of the world’s No. 1 player – with a couple of nagging questions.

When exactly does Woods come back?

“I would love to,” he said on three occasions, without saying whether he would return to defend his title.

The only time Woods didn’t defend a title on the PGA Tour, except for being injured, was when the old BellSouth Classic changed its dates in 1999 to one week before the Masters. Woods never plays that week. International events, with their appearance money, are different. Woods twice did not return to defend a title, after the 1997 Asian Honda Classic and the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic.

He received a $3 million appearance fee to play in Australia, half of that paid by the state government.

“I don’t think he’s expected to come back,” Ian Baker-Finch said. “But it would be great if he did to defend.”

The bigger question: What happens to golf in Australia when he doesn’t return?

For a country that produces more PGA Tour players than any other outside the United States, golf Down Under has been lagging over the last decade with a drop in sponsorship and interest. Not since Greg Norman was No. 1 in the world has there been the kind of buzz that took Kingston Heath hostage for a week.

“We had a massive spike,” said David Rollo, who runs tournament operations for IMG in Australia. “If we don’t have something that’s not 80 percent of this, we’ll have lost an opportunity.”

The appeal of Woods was alarming.

Yes, he attracts large crowds wherever he goes. The fans in China were the largest ever for when Woods played the HSBC Champions the previous week in Shanghai. Woods now has won in 13 countries, and he has captured a trophy on every continent that plays golf. Even so, Melbourne is one of the world’s great sporting cities, used to seeing some of the biggest stars in cricket, rugby, tennis, swimming.

Woods captivated them like few others.

A woman standing near the first green on Saturday looked down on a reporter who was inside the ropes. She wasn’t sure why he was there, only that he had an unobstructed view of Woods.

“This must be the greatest day of your life,” she said.

The walking scorer with Woods’ group on Sunday is a member at Kingston Heath who plays off a 1 handicap and has a career-best round of 69. She knows her golf. Yet as Woods was about to tee off in the final round, she looked at the teenager holding the scoreboard and said, “This is the holy grail in golf.”

Melbourne is the kind of place where sports fans don’t typically buy tickets in advance, rather they walk up to the gate on the day of the event. The PGA Tour found that out the hard way in 2001 for the Accenture Match Play Championship when the gallery was sparse until officials gave up on the weekly badges and went to daily tickets.

For the Australian Masters, tickets sold out the first week in October, and 35 percent of the sales were outside the state or country. That’s unheard of for this city.

“I think that because he’s the No. 1 athlete in the world, people appreciated the fact that he came,” said Baker-Finch, a former British Open champion who helped with TV coverage. “He’s held in high regard. Everyone built him up. It was a special week, not just for golf, but for Australia and sport. To me, he over-delivered.”

Rollo said when IMG decided to take over the Australian Masters, its goal was to attract top-ranked players outside of Australia. Victoria won the bidding war for Woods over New South Wales in Sydney, and it proved to be a boon. While the government paid half the appearance fee, it said the economic return in town was $20 million.

Not everyone was optimistic about Woods returning next year, especially since he is expected to be back in 2011 at Royal Melbourne for the Presidents Cup.

What happens in the meantime?

Woods’ appearance in the Quad City Classic as a 20-year-old in 1996 – he lost a 54-hole lead to Ed Fiori and tied for fifth – generated so much enthusiasm that the community rallied around its PGA Tour stop. Woods never returned, although what is now the John Deere Classic is attracting stronger fields than before, even in its spot on the calendar one week before the British Open.

Rollo said IMG is committed to bringing in three international players – in addition to the Australians – from the top 25 in the world. There was talk of making an offer to Phil Mickelson, along with a couple of other players who might move the needle.

“Hopefully, there were a lot of kids who were out there or watched on TV and said, ‘I want to be part of that,”’ Rollo said. “Hopefully, that will be Tiger’s legacy going forward.”

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 11:00 am

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:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

7AM-3PM (Watch): Jordan Spieth fired 65 to move into a three-way share of the 54-hole lead, while Tiger Woods (66) played his way into contention. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler and Thorbjorn Olesen.

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.


Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

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. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.


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 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 marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 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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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 am

Tiger Woods begins the final round of the 147th Open Championship four shots off the lead. He's out at 9:25 a.m. ET on Sunday and we're tracking him.


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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”