The 2002 Open Was Just - Well British
Lets play a silly little game for a moment. Pretend that Saturday never existed. Throw out Woods 81. Pretend that the variables of Sunday never followed the realities of Saturday ' and granted, that is a king-sized stretch of the imagination. But imagine it anyway, and do you know who would have been in the playoff?
None of the four who competed in the actual Sunday playoff. In our fantasy game, Tiger Woods would have played Padraig Harrington. Both would have had 54-hole scores of 10-under-par. Shigeki Maruyama would have just missed with a score of 9-under. Ernie Els, the eventual 2002 British Open champion, would have recorded 8-under, tying him with Duffy Waldorf.
And speculation of the calendar Grand Slam would still have been a distinct possibility. Harrington is a wonderful golfer with unlimited possibilities, but in a four-hole playoff ' especially in THOSE four holes ' youve got to like Tiger.
If Tiger had only shot 74 instead of 81, he would have been in the real-time playoff. If he had just shot 73 ' 2-over-par, he would have won outright. If, if, if
Woods, of course, played in the absolute worst of Muirfields Saturday trifecta of atrocious weather ' gales, cold, and pelting rain. He wasnt the only one ' Els played in it, too, and he fared far better. A 72 that seemed like a 62 in those conditions was what won it. Woods couldnt survive a Saturday score of 10-over-par, and his 10-under the other three rounds was just so much window dressing.
A lot of people say thats a shame. I say its wonderfully apropos, making the British Open again the most quirky major of them all. Check it out since in the recent tournaments 1990 ' theres something in there for everyone in this musty old championship.
In 1989, Mark Calcavecchia won when his approach shot at 17 caromed off a bank and, miraculously, came back onto the green. In the playoff, he beat Greg Norman and Wayne Grady. Norman seemingly had it won before he decided to chip from just off the green instead of putt. He made bogey there, and then blew it completely on the final hole when he selected driver instead of a fairway wood.
In 1992, John Cook had a two-shot lead with four two play, but Nick Faldo won with perhaps the best four holes of his career.
Who could forget Jesper Parnevik in 1994? He went into the 18th hole with a one-stroke lead, but he hadnt bothered to look in on the leaderboard. Consequently, Nick Price snuck in with a long eagle putt back on the 17th while Jesper made bogey up ahead on 18, thanks to an overly aggressive play by Parnevick.
How about 1995? John Daly won in a playoff, but not before Costantino Rocca holed a putt at the Valley of Sin at St. Andrews on the 72nd ' this after Rocca had made a mess of the previous shot. Mark OMeara in 1998 was 62nd at the halfway point, thought he had lost a ball the third round, and he had to go into extra holes to defeat Brian Watts ' who made one of the all-time great bunker shots to send it into the four-hole overtime.
Frenchman Jean Van de Velde did his macho thing in 1999, coming unraveled on the 72nd hole with a triple bogey and allowing Paul Lawrie to sneak in at pitifully prepared Carnoustie. Lawrie beat Van de Velde and Justin Leonard in a playoff.
David Duval lost the 2000 Open when he couldnt negotiate the road hole bunker at St. Andrews, slipping out of sight when Woods won. Last year Duval rebounded to play flawlessly, of course, and pick up this championship. Who was second? Niclas Fasth ' dont you remember?
Which brings us to this years oddity, capped by Saturdays horrific weather and Sundays four-man playoff ' which was played two-by-two, a weird one to be sure. In this one, there was another Frenchman ' Thomas Levet instead of Van de Velde ' and two Aussies, Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington instead of Norman and Grady. Of course, none of the three won.
OK, so it was really weird. But it was the British Open. That should be nuff said. Anyone can win, and just as importantly, anyone can lose. The oldest Open is also the most wacky. Stiff upper lip, old chap! It is, dare we say, the most British?
Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3
Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.
Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.
No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.
No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.
No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.
No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.
No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.
And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.
Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.
Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods made six birdies and one bogey on Saturday for a 5-under 66 in the third round of The Open. We're tracking him as he vies for major No. 15.
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Rose's Saturday 64 matches Carnoustie Open record
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose needed to sink a 14-foot putt on the final hole Friday just to make the cut on the number at The Open.
Freewheeling when he came to the course Saturday, Rose tied the lowest score ever recorded in an Open at Carnoustie.
Entering the weekend nine shots off the lead, the world No. 3 carded a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to at least make things interesting. It won’t be known for several hours how many shots Rose will be behind, but his back-nine 30 gives him an opportunity, if the wind blows 25 mph Sunday as forecast, to challenge the leaders.
After all, Paul Lawrie was 10 shots back entering the final round here in 1999.
“I think the birdie on 18 last night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning,” said Rose, who is at 4-under 209. “So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”
Rose’s 64 matched Steve Stricker and Richard Green’s record score at Carnoustie (2007).
It also was Rose’s career-low round in a major.
Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
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)
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.