Battle at Bighorn a Battle to Stay Awake

By George WhiteJuly 31, 2001, 4:00 pm
I wanted to write something nice, really nice, about Monday nights Battle at Bighorn. But what Ive got nice to say, I can say in one sentence ' the left-handed recovery shots were certainly different.
The network, the golfers and an unending array of commercials didnt leave anything positive to say. The one thing that can be taken from this format is ' dont try it again. At least not under the Monday night conditions.
It was embarrassing to watch. The two best men and the two best women team up and you could expect at least a few electrifying moments. It was evident that all four tried, but it just didnt come off. I read Tuesday morning that the winds were high. And the greens rock-hard. The format was different. So, no ones going to shoot 65. But that nonsense ' puh-leeze!
To begin with, lets pinpoint where to start the blame ' the network. The players were already on the first green when ABCs telecast came on the air. Didnt that seem strange? Worse yet, there was no replays of the drives or approach shots. All we saw was Tiger Woods off the green and David Duval with a long putt. Oh ' it ended with a bogey for both. That, unfortunately, was standard fare for the evening.
Now, point No. 2 ' several times later in the telecast, we either didnt see a players shot or got a peek just as he/she was beginning to hit. A long putt by Woods. A decent bunker shot by Karrie Webb. There were only two balls in play and one match, so you would expect to see all the shots. Uh-uh.
Which brings up the teeth-grating commercials. It looked like a never-ending attempt to peddle sales items, interrupted by a little golf. Looking back this morning, I cant remember a single one. Oh yeah ' Tiger driving the vehicle in a particularly silly commercial, the one where a tornado hits in a 15-foot area, vehicles are tossed around, and when it finally passes, Woods is in a different drivers seat.
When the commercials werent going on ad nauseum, the interviews were. Judy Rankin, normally a terrific questioner, must have been asked to get something from Duval about the British Open title. The interview came off particularly strained. Duval did his best, but the question was vague ' something about how the week has been ' and the interview was conducted en route from tee to green after Duval plunked one in the sand.
Then, to compound the folly, they blew Webbs bunker shot. This was not for a commercial, which I guess would have been a little more understandable. It was because of Rankins attempt to get something of interest out of Duval, his futile attempt to cooperate, and then the banter between Curtis Strange and Mike Tirico.
Some of the putts were absolutely pathetic, and Im not sure if that should be blamed on the putt-ee, or on the fact that she/he was in a difficult position and the grounds crew had over-cooked the greens speed. Annika Sorenstam and Webb each stroked putts which passed the cup and picked up speed, finally dying about 60 feet past the pin. Each putt was above the hole. The putts were stroked too hard, granted, but neither woman is that bad. Then a 60-foot putt by Duval ended up eight feet short. That time, there were no excuses.
I fell asleep after the 17th hole, so I cant judge the remainder of play. But here is an amateurs assessment:
Four professionals - two women and two men - meet for a golf match and come away looking like country club hackers. Was it the lack of course knowledge? The wind? The firmess of the greens? You know all four golfers were trying as hard as they could. Somehow, though, the pratfalls got worse and worse. After awhile, it got comical, watching the games four best players swat at the ball in futility.
That was all excusable, though, because they are still human. What is NOT excusable is the sloppy production values. Too many commercials were sold, and that is because the network bid too high a price for the match. Every shot should have been shown ' after all, they do it in the Skins Game, and that doesnt hold anywhere near the potential interest of a mixed foursome such as this.

What evolved was an embarrassment. That is a real shame.
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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.