Els Tiger Brewing Up a Real Rivalry
Now its six and counting. In case you havent noticed, none of Uncle Sams golfers have won on Uncle Sams tour in the last six events. The year 2003 has been a complete washout for those born in the United States, as was the last two events of 2002. Through two tournaments in Hawaii, one in Phoenix and now near Palm Springs, and the final two last year, the results have been the same - anyone can win as long as he doesn't have an American passport.
The past three years it has been the LPGA with Swede Annika Sorenstam, Korean Si Re Pak and Aussie Karrie Webb winning most of the events. Now the men are doing it, too.
South African Ernie Els won the first two. Vijay Singh, born in Fiji, won Phoenix, and Mike Weir, a native of Canada, got the other. And Els, for one, shows no signs of backing down.
Outwardly, the only thing different this year from the last is a new driver and ball. That combination has added nearly 40 yards on his tee shots. He is swatting it nearly 320 yards per whack this year, up from 281 last year.
Of course, every player has access to that same driver and ball. So that fact alone cant be the difference. Maybe its his putting ' he stands 10th on the PGA Tour in this important category after finishing 35th last year. But should those statistics alone account for this kind of difference in the tournaments he has entered?
It has to be a little bit of the inward difference, too. You dont win the first two events on the U.S. tour, finish a stroke out in Singapore, and win again in Australia without some serious head games going on. Thats three wins in four tries, with the other a second in perhaps the easiest event yet ' the Caltrex Open. Methinks ol' Ern has begun to believe in himself.
Actually, this whole thing started at the end of last year. Ernie won the Cisco World Match Play in late October. Then he won the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa - by eight strokes. Both have only 12 players, but the small fields are filled with pretty good players. You have to play some pretty impressive golf to win them, even if you only have to beat 11 other players. Els marched though them all in the match play, then blew away the field in the Nedbank.
Still, the hubbub at the end of last year wasnt overly unusual. But winning the first two events on the PGA Tour this year IS unusual. The Mercedes Championships didnt have Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, and neither did the Sony. But, hey ' he beat everyone who showed up. And when he went on the road to a near-miss at Singapore and a victory last week in Australia at the Heineken ' whoa, Nellie! This is getting downright serious, dont you think?
Obviously, the first thing you point to is ' no Tiger. Hes down in Orlando recuperating from knee surgery. He wont be back for a couple of weeks. For the record, he hasnt been present for any of Els five victories. So lets get that excuse out of the way at the outset.
Having said that, maybe we ought to start looking a little more closely. Maybe weve got something here ' maybe Woods is about to get a serious challenge for the U.S. money title. Its especially critical the first month or so when Tiger will undoubtedly be getting his rust-proofing in order. By the time Woods is in full stride in Florida and ready to go, Ernie may have a money lead that is impossible to overtake.
There is one caveat, of course. Els is not going to play in the U.S. any more than Tiger, even with Tigers reduced scheduled. Els is determined to play around the globe, and he will play his usual complement of European Tour events. The fact that he plays in Australia, the Far East, South Africa and Europe as well as America stretches him awfully thin. Els has to do a burn-out somewhere in mid-season. Uh ' doesnt he?
Ernie has put in his magical three-month splurge, interestingly, just after the birth of his son. That gives him two children now, proof again that you dont have to be single to be a great golfer. Much has been made of the fact that Tiger hasnt wed, and a lot of fellas held out hope he would one day be undone by marriage. Els would seem to suggest that such a prospect is merely hogwash. You can be married and have children ' and be among the worlds best. See Els and Mickelson for proof. See, Duval, David, for another side of the same equation.
For the moment, Els is the best golfer on this planet. Woods himself has definitely noticed. Tiger has undergone the knife and is coming back. But if he doesnt come back ready to go, will he have started too far back? For the first time in four years, Tiger may have competition.
The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major
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.
How to watch The Open on TV and online
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)
First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open
Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Other notable groupings:
- Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
- World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
- World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
- Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
- U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
- Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):
1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva
1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate
1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List
2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris
2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell
2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook
2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry
2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult
3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello
3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry
3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)
3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara
3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang
4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley
4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee
4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na
4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen
4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein
4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat
5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood
5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed
5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas
5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park
5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard
6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage
6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner
6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis
6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III
6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis
7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An
7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood
7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker
7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)
7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen
8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman
8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele
8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace
8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li
8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo
9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim
9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp
9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest
9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak
9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace
9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka
10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma
10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox
10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley
10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura
10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith
11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior
11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.
Tweets by GCTigerTracker