Nelson Says It - Woods the Greatest

By George WhiteMay 7, 2002, 4:00 pm
Byron Nelson is 90 years old now. But his mind is still sharp. And his convictions are strong. Thats why a question about whom he considers the greatest player in history was so meaningful. Byron didnt hesitate a second, and his answer was a little surprising. Tiger Woods, was the answer, spoken without a moments thought.
Surprising, because Woods is only 26 years old, been a pro just five-plus seasons. Surprising, because Nelson has seen most of the great players of the 20th century ' Hagen, Sarazen, Jones, Snead, Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino and Watson. Surprising, because some people would consider Nelson and his 11 straight wins in 1945 and his all-time string of 113 times in the money the greatest of all time.
I have seen Tiger play every year since he was 14, said Nelson. And Ive never seen a player at the age of Tiger ' when he was 14 or 16 or 20 or 22 or 26 ' who was as good as Tiger the age he was. Whether or not he is going to beat Nicklaus major record, I dont know and Im sure he doesnt know. But Ill tell you this ' hes working on it. He has a great desire to accomplish things, and I think hes doing a remarkable job of that.
Every era of players has been better than the last one. That doesnt mean that Nelson doesnt believe he couldnt play today ' I dont think Id go broke, he says. But a greater knowledge of golf, of basic anatomy, of the basics of kinetics, and of the increased size of todays players all play a part. And dont tell Byron its all in todays equipment, which Nelson concedes is a big improvement over the equipment he used. The players are simply better today, he says.
There isnt an era in history where the players who came later werent better than the players who came before, he says flatly. He cant see how anyone will be better than Tiger, but he concedes that the generation which follow might produce someone who might be.
Oldtimers will undoubtedly get their dander up when they read this, but Nelson says there isnt any question that Tiger is better than anyone in history. In fact, a man by the name of Davis Love III might be better than him.
I dont think theres been enough said about todays players having learned to hit the ball hard, he said. They hit the ball so much harder than we did. When I played, it was pretty widely acknowledged that a long hitter couldnt play golf. They couldnt chip and putt and hit the finesse shots. You try to tell that to the big hitters today.
I saw a story comparing my swing to Davis Loves. They discovered Davis backswing covered 17 more inches than mine did. That gives him more time to gather clubhead speed and hit the ball hard. Look at (Jeff) Sluman ' hes worked on his swing and hes picked up 18 yards. I realize the equipment has improved some, but it hasnt improved THAT much.
Actually, Nelson wasnt that far behind todays players. Woods finally broke his scoring record by just 0.13. But over the course of a year, Woods would come out on the plus side of anyone in history, Byron believes.
He does the best job (in history) of course management, of knowing what to do and in which circumstance, as anybody I ever saw, Nelson said. And there has never been enough said about his putting skills. He has days when he doesnt putt as well as others, of course. But he has gone 157 holes without three-putting a green at Augusta.
So that tells you theres a lot more involved than just the stroke. That means hes thinking. Hes reading the green right. If you arent reading the green right, you can have the greatest stroke in the world, but you are going to miss.
And another thing about Tiger ' he gets upset sometimes about a shot, but that is over with by the time he hits his next shot. You never see him thinking about the last shot when it comes time for him to play his next one.
The words were spoken from the mouth of one who has seen every great one, who is himself a great one - and yet there wasnt the slightest hesitation. Tiger Woods is the all time greatest.
Getty Images

Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

Getty Images

Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

Getty Images

Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

Getty Images

Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”