Batten the Hatches Bjorn Has Arrived

By George WhiteFebruary 19, 2004, 5:00 pm
So Thomas Bjorn rolls into LA, the second stop on a Conquer America tour that is scheduled to last all of 2004.
Uh he looks pretty serious. He comes directly from San Diego, where he finished in a tie for fourth in the Buick. Before that, he played against a pretty strong field in Bangkok and wound up tied for second at the Johnnie Walker, two shots behind winner Miguel Angel Jimenez. This week he strides up to the Nissan.
We most vividly remember Bjorn with a three-shot lead going into the 15th hole on Sunday at the British Open. Alas, he bogeyed 15, then failed to get out of the sand until his third lash on 16. That meant double bogey on the par-3 hole, and when he bogeyed the 17th, he had lost the major to Ben Curtis.
Overcome with resolve in the middle of fashioning a revamped swing with coach Bob Torrance, he has roared out of the gate this year. Unfortunately for players on the PGA Tour, the man from Denmark has decided in his 34th year to at last try the American circuit. He made enough money last season in PGA Tour tournaments to grant him membership in the U.S - $548,412 in the British Open alone.
I've proven that I can play with the best at any given time, said Bjorn, who will hold dual membership on the U.S. and European tours this year. So I don't think I NEED to play in America. But I think that if you have any ambition in the game, you want to play at the highest level.
Bjorn has come so close in so many big tournaments, twice now finishing runner-up in the British. He defeated Tiger Woods, remember, in 2001 after Tiger had stood on the 18th tee with a one-shot lead at Dubai. Woods dunked his third-shot approach into the water on the par-5 hole, allowing Bjorn to zip past him and win the tournament. It was only the fourth time in his career that Tiger has surrendered the win when he led after three rounds.
Bjorn, incidentally, is one of Woods best European friends. Theyve occasionally played practice rounds together. And Bjorn has studied closely the words of Tiger ' so much so that Thomas has increasingly become a major worry.
'That's all he talks about with major championships - patience, patience, patience,' Bjorn has said.
Bjorn is playing in California for three successive tournaments ' Buick, Nissan and Accenture Match Play ' before he goes to Dubai for a European event. Then its right back to the U.S. for five weeks, including the Masters. After that he isnt sure which events he will play, though he will return to Europe for the summer where he plans to play a full schedule on that circuit, too.
Bjorn is well aware of what hes getting into. But he senses the years slipping away from him, and he figures hed better give America a shot while hes still in the prime of his career.
There's a big difference between playing golf in Europe and in America, he says. In America, the depth of the tour is just a little bit stronger. (In Europe) you might not play that well and still can grind out a result. In America, you've got to be on top of your game to get results.
Bjorn chatted with Ernie Els about the move. Ernie said full speed ahead, with a few precautions.
That's pretty much what his version to me of it is: Just make sure you're ready when you go and play in America. Don't feel like you can go into a tournament and feel like you can be a little bit rusty on your game and play your way into the tournament. Just make sure any time you go that you're ready to play, said Bjorn.
Both gents have seen the disasters that can come when a player tries to make the jump from Europe and America. Bjorn is extremely cautious about the move.
Very few players have been very, very successful doing that - playing both tours over a period. Ernie is probably the only one that I would say has consistently performed by doing it, he said.
There are a lot of players that have struggled by going to America and then trying to play in Europe and play Australia, South Africa and Asia over the winter. I don't know if it suits me, but if I don't try it I'm never going to find out.
So Bjorn is here, and a sneaking suspicion says he is up to no good. Beware of Danes bearing gifts, or something like that. This is no Doubting Thomas ' he is sure of himself, and the results of his initial try say he certainly should be.
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    Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

    The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

    The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

    This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

    After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

    “I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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    Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

    Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

    “I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

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    Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

    To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

    “More punishment,” he said.

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    DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

    Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

    Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

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    Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

    It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

    With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

    Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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    TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

    • Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

    • This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

    • Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


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    • In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

    • At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

    • Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

    • My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.