Only Thing Hot Is the Sun on the Course

By George WhiteSeptember 25, 2003, 4:00 pm
The subject was cheats, to be downright frank about it. Jay Haas and Loren Roberts were on the grill, speaking before play began at the Valero Texas Open. Oh - there arent any, both opined.
 
Tiger Woods has called for mandatory testing of drivers to see if those clubs get more yardage that the PGA Tour allows. Tiger stopped just short of saying some of his peers are fudging with the weapons. The tour has called for VOLUNTARY testing. Somehow, that seems to beg the question of the entire issue.
 
If a player knows he is playing an illegal club, he would no sooner want it to be tested than a bank robber would want his picture taken. And if the player doesnt know, doesnt believe he is playing with illegal equipment, then what would be the point of going through the rigmarole of testing?
 
Haas and Roberts, both old birds of 49 and 48 years old, respectively, would seem to know all the tricks of this issue. But they say golfers are conspicuously honest and would not attempt such shenanigans. Even more important, club manufacturers have millions of dollars at stake here and wouldnt monkey around with the rules.
 
Haas said essentially the same thing:
 
Number 1, I don't think that the companies would put drivers in our hands that are illegal, just because if we found out they were, we wouldn't play with them and now we're going to have to have another driver and break that in.
 
We're pretty funny about changing clubs. Most of the guys out here get a club they really like and they don't want to change. They don't want to try something new. If you're going to take that out of their hands after they find out it's illegal, that's going to affect them.
 
And theres more, he said.
 
Number 2, this is a game of honor and integrity and all that. If you trust in us that we're not going to tee our ball up in the rough, and mark it properly and not touch it in the sand, while all of a sudden we're going to have guys use illegal clubs - that's not right. That's just part of the rules. So I don't think you're going to have guys knowingly break the rules.
 
Roberts gave the idea of someone tinkering around with the clubhead an equally short shrift. Of course, he jokingly said that he, personally, might be tempted.
 
I'm 180th in driving distance out here, 182nd or 185th in driving distance, he said, grinning. If I had one (a hot driver), who would know?
 
Yeah, hes right. If he goes from 185th to 175th, no one is going to yelp. But then, getting down to serious business, Roberts defended his fellow pros.
 
If it (the testing) is voluntary, first, there is no player out here that is knowingly playing with an illegal driver. I can't fathom that, he said.
 
We get it from the manufacturer, and you go out and you hit 20 drivers and you're going to pick the one you hit best out of 20 drivers. So nobody is really going to be knowingly playing with an illegal driver. You're not going to measure the face. The only way you can find out is do voluntary testing.
 
If it's voluntary, why would you do it? That would be my point. I think it ought to be mandatory.
 
In other words, no one is going to knowingly use a hot driver to win. But Roberts can see a situation where he might use one totally by mistake.
 
Haas is not so sure there is a need for even voluntary testing.
 
I know there's been a push - or some guys have said, I think this should be tested after a guy wins a tournament, test his equipment, Haas said.
 
Well, if my equipment is legal in January and I haven't made any changes, it should be legal for the rest of the time. There's a rule that says your clubs cannot become illegal just through play. There was a groove issue, and they're saying the grooves get kind of wavy after so many bunker shots. The club cannot become illegal if it was legal one time just through practice and play and things like that. To me, if my driver is legal in January, if I test it, it should be legal in September.
 
Its a moot point anyway, says Roberts. You count the strokes AFTER the ball plinks into the cup. You dont count it after your first whack, regardless of how far it goes with a hot club.
 
It's still a game of getting the ball in the hole, he said. I always felt, the farther you hit it, when it's off line, the farther into trouble it goes.
 
I just don't think length is really the way to make a golf course play hard. I really don't. I think when you play a golf course firm and fast, and you have got bunkers and you've got some rough and whatnot, that's the challenge. If you can hit it a long way and hit it straight, you have it made. Just to hit it long and off-line or play out of the rough, I don't think is an advantage.
 
He, of course, is right. The so-called hot clubs may give you an extra three yards, but unless theyre also straighter, youve lost your advantage. You still have to pop that prodigious drive out of the rough, and then youve still got to use the putter to get it in the hole.
 
Hot putters, anyone?
 
Email your thoughts to George White
 


 
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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 12:55 pm

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:

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

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.


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 early 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 early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

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.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.