A Plea to Tiger Look Homeward

By George WhiteNovember 29, 2005, 5:00 pm
Well, Tiger Woods is about to wind up a stretch in which he plays six events in only five weeks time. And to think I was only lamenting a couple of weeks ago about how difficult it is for these pros to play six consecutive weeks ' as it appeared the guys might have to do under the new schedule of 2007.
Lets see, Tiger played the Tour Championship. Then he played a tournament in China and one in Japan. He played the Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii and the Skins Game in the Palm Springs area. Next week, hes got his own event ' the Target World Challenge.
It doesnt sound as though playing four- , five- or six weeks in a row is terribly difficult. Tiger survived it, even though he has played with a bum ankle, with sore ribs and a virus.
On the one hand, I salute Tiger for teeing it up in other parts of the world. This time it was the Orient and the Western theater. Good for him! When you are a Tiger Woods, people need to see you all over the globe. And Tiger has appeared in virtually all locales. It is, I believe, a simple case of golfs No. 1 ambassador realizing who he is, and what an awesome responsibility he has to be seen all around the world.
Now, on the other hand, I dont quite understand what his remarks were a couple of months ago about the PGA Tour season being too long. If he needed the time to rest and recoup, that would make a whole lot of sense. But obviously he hasnt spent the off-season resting up.
OK, hes spent some time in the Far East, hes spent time in Australia and New Zealand, hes spent time in Europe. But - the people in Palm Springs would undoubtedly love to see him just once at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Memphis citizens would relish the chance to see him once at the FedEx. What wouldnt golf fans in Greensboro give to see him tee it up at their the Chrysler Classic?
Well, well probably never know. The chance of him appearing at those stops, among others, is virtually nil. Tiger doesnt change his schedule too much, regardless ' he isnt going to play at a course which he doesnt feel suits him. Hes not going to play the week before a major. And, outside of his first season when he accepted all sponsors invitations at the end of the year just trying to get his tour card, he doesnt play in Milwaukee, in San Antonio, or in the John Deere.
Wouldnt it be great if Tiger had the same attitude about these tournaments as he doe about an event in China, in Japan, in Germany or Dubai or Malaysia or Thailand?
Look, Tiger gets appearance money to play in these far-flung areas, granted. But I cant believe hes doing it just because of the money. If you made close to $90 million a year just in endorsements, $1- or $2 million appearance money isnt going to make that much difference. Im not going to spend the time on the math, but lets say hes conservatively made $500 million ' and Im sure it is much above that. Do you think one or two million more is going to have an impact? No. It takes much more than just money.
What does it take? Well, who knows exactly? Undoubtedly, his agents have a big hand in his playing decisions. He went to a tournament in New Zealand a few years ago because his caddy is from there. His mother is from the Orient, so he regularly makes a pilgrimage there. Deutsche Bank has a contract deal with him, so he often plays in Germany. And, to his everlasting credit, he takes his act on occasion to other places on the globe where nearly everyone who has an interest in golf gets to see him at least once.
Except in Palm Beach, Fla., or Houston or New Orleans. And - except for that abbreviated first season 10 years ago - in Milwaukee or Quad Cities..
Tiger says the PGA Tour season is too long. And he could be right. But whats he doing by playing this killer schedule the last month or so?
Right ' hes appearing in some places where his face provides a sorely needed punch to boost the game of golf. But at the same time, he HAS to think of some places close to home where Tiger hasnt been spotted in 10 years.
In case you're wondering, yes, he is the only person I'm naming here, the only person to undergo such a scrutiny of schedule. That should be flattering - he's the one person in the game today who commands such a presence, the only person since Jack Nicklaus in the '70s who automatically makes or breaks a tournament.
Is there something here Im missing? Tiger is certainly right to play everywhere that hes played. But there are still several places here, on the PGA Tour, that are begging for an appearance. Hes the No. 1 personage in the sport, and as such, shouldnt the home country have a chance to see him as well?
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Own history, grow the game with Open memorabilia auction

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 1:00 pm

Get a piece of history and help grow the game, that's what The Open is offering with its memorabilia auction.

The official Open Memorabilia site features unique Open assets from famous venues and Champion Golfers of the Year. All net proceeds received by The R&A from this project will be invested to support the game for future generations, including encouraging women’s, junior and family golf, on the promotion and progression of the sport in emerging golf nations and on coaching and development.

Items for auction include limited edition prints of Champion Golfers of the Year, signed championship pin flags and limited edition historical program covers. Memorable scorecard reproductions and caddie bibs are also available to bid for on the website, with all items featuring branded, serialized holograms for authenticity.

Click here to own your piece of history and to get more information on the auction.

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No indication when Trump Turnberry will next host an Open

By Jay CoffinJuly 18, 2018, 12:25 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Turnberry last hosted The Open in 2009, during that magical week where Tom Watson, at age 59, nearly won his sixth claret jug. Ultimately, Stewart Cink won in a playoff.

While Turnberry remains on The Open rota, according to the R&A, there is no clear understanding of when the club, purchased by Donald Trump in 2014 before he became President of the United States, will next host the championship. The next open date is 2022.

“With respect to 2022, I’ve already said, ’21 we’re going to be celebrating the 150th playing of The Open at St. Andrews,” R&A chief executive Marin Slumbers said Wednesday on the annual news conference on the eve of The Open. “And in ’22, we’ll be going south of the border.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

South of the border means the 2022 Open will be at one of the three venues in England. Since the 2020 Open is at Royal St. George’s, that leaves Royal Lytham & St. Annes and Royal Liverpool as the two remaining options. Since Lytham (2012, Ernie Els) last hosted The Open before Liverpool (2014, Rory McIlroy), that’s the likely choice.

Trump was at Turnberry for two days last weekend, 150 miles southwest of Carnoustie. The R&A said it did not receive any communication from the U.S. president while he was in the country.

Turnberry hosted the Women’s British Open in 2015. Inbee Park beat Jin-young Park by three shots.

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Slumbers explains driver test; Rory weighs in

By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2018, 12:18 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Players and manufacturers were informed about three weeks ago that the R&A intended to test individual drivers at this week’s Open Championship, marking the first time the rule makers have taken the current standards to players.

Although the R&A and USGA have been COR (coefficient of restitution) tests on drivers for some time, they have been pulling the tested clubs from manufacturers, not players.

“We take our governance role very seriously, not just on the Rules of Golf and amateur status, but also equipment standards, and we felt it was an appropriate next step to more actively seek to test players' drivers straight out of the bag,” said Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive.

Thirty players were notified their drivers would be tested this week - including Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson - from a list that roughly mirrored the breakdown of various brands based on current equipment counts.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

The R&A test center was set up on the Carnoustie practice range, and according to Slumbers there were no violations of the testing limits, which essentially measure the spring-like effect of the driver clubface.

Although none of the drivers failed the testing, Rory McIlroy did say that TaylorMade was “singled out a bit more than anyone else.”

“A manufacturer is always going to try and find ways to get around what the regulations are. It's a bit of an arms race,” said McIlroy, who plays TaylorMade equipment but said his driver was not tested. “If there is some drivers out there that have went a little bit over the limit, then obviously guys shouldn't be playing them. I think the manufacturers are smart enough to know not to try to push it too much.”

There was no individual driver testing at last month’s U.S. Open, and it’s not expected to become the norm on the PGA Tour, but Slumbers did say the R&A tested drivers at an event earlier this year on the Japan Golf Tour.

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Carnoustie open to any number of scenarios

By Rex HoggardJuly 18, 2018, 12:07 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Carnoustie holds a distinct position within the Open Championship’s rotation of storied venues. It’s come by its nickname, Car-Nasty, honestly as the undisputed rough-and-tumble heavyweight of all the championship links.

Historically, Carnoustie is a beast. A punch in the mouth compared to the other stops on The Open dance card. If the likes of the Old Course and Muirfield are the fair ladies of the rotation, the Angus Coast brute would be the unfriendly bouncer.

As personas go, Carnoustie wears its reputation well, but the 147th edition of the game’s oldest championship has taken on a new look this week. It’s not so much the softer side of Carnoustie as it is a testament to the set up philosophy of the R&A.

Unlike its sister association in the United States, the R&A allows Mother Nature to decide what kind of test a championship will present and this Open is shaping up to be something far different than what the golf world is accustomed.

Instead of the thick, lush rough that ringed the fairways in 1999 and 2007, the last two stops at the par-71 layout, this year has a dust bowl feel to it. The stories have already become legend: Padraig Harrington hit a 457-yard drive on the 18th hole during a practice round that bounced and bounded into Barry Burn and on Monday Tiger Woods slashed a 333-yard 3-iron down the same power alley.

“It’s so fast. It’s nothing like ’99 – that was like a jungle. It was wet, rough was up, there was wind. In 2007, it was cold and green,” said Ernie Els, who has played two championships at Carnoustie. “But this is very, very dry. Very different.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Anywhere else these divergent conditions would simply be the nature of the game’s most hands-off major, but at Carnoustie it’s created an information vacuum and wild uncertainty.

Within a 48-hour window, two of the championship’s easy favorites offered diametrically contrasting philosophies on how they might play Carnoustie.

“There's eight or nine drivers we hit. Depending on the wind direction, we could hit more,” said Brooks Koepka, who won his second consecutive U.S. Open last month. “It's so burnt out, where there's a lot of opportunity where the rough's not quite as thick as I expected it to be.”

That was in contrast to how Jordan Spieth, this week’s defending champion, was thinking he would play the course.

“I talked to [caddie Michael Greller] a little bit about what he thinks, and he said, ‘You might hit a lot of 5-irons off the tee, you might wear out 5- and 4-irons off the tee instead of hitting 3- or 2-irons like you're used to,’” Spieth said.

Unlike previous championships that were played at Carnoustie, which were won by the player best prepared to take a punch, this one might come down to which strategy, controlled and calculated or bold and brash, works best.

In theory, the bombers seem to be on to something, primarily as a result of the dry conditions that have produced uncharacteristically thin and playable rough. The alternative is weaving irons in between the countless bunkers that pepper each fairway, which on links courses are widely considered true hazards compared to what players face at other major venues.

“I would definitely say it is a bomber’s course,” said Gary Woodland, who counts himself among the long-hitting set. “A lot of the bunkers here are 285, 290 [yards] to cover, for us that’s nothing. You can take them out of play, which normally isn’t the case because it’s windy and rainy over here.”

That line of thinking leads to a rather narrow list of potential contenders, from betting favorite Dustin Johnson to Rory McIlroy and Koepka. But that logic ignores the inherent unpredictability of The Open, where countless contenders have been undercut by the rub of a bad draw and the always-present danger of inclement weather.

Although this week’s forecast calls for continued dry weather, winds are currently forecast to reach 25 mph on Sunday which could upend game plans, regardless of how aggressive or conservative one intended to play the course.

Despite conventional thinking and the realities of a modern game that is being dominated more and more by long hitters, there are compelling arguments for the other side of the bash-or-bunt debate.

One needs to look no further than Woods’ record on similarly dusty tracks as an example of how a conservative approach can produce championship results. In 2006 at Royal Liverpool, Woods, who is playing his first Open since 2015, famously hit just one driver all week on his way to victory, and he was just as effective in 2000 at St. Andrews when the Old Course also played to a bouncy brown.

“It could be that way,” Woods said when asked to compare ’06 at Hoylake to this week. “Either case, I'm not going to hit that many long clubs off the tees.”

Adding to that uncertainty is Carnoustie’s track record in producing late drama on Sunday. This is, after all, the same slice of coast where Jean Van de Velde stepped to the 18th tee box with a three-stroke lead in 1999 only to slash his way to a closing triple-bogey 7 and the game’s most memorable, or regrettable, runner-up showing.

In ’07, the heartbreak went extra frames for Sergio Garcia, who appeared poised to win his first major championship before he bogeyed the last hole and lost a playoff to Harrington.

Even this week’s baked-out conditions can’t mitigate the importance and challenge of what many consider the most difficult Grand Slam finish; but the yellow hue has certainly created an added degree of uncertainty to an already unpredictable championship.