Amateur Scheffler - and sister - post 69 at U.S. Open

By Ryan LavnerJune 16, 2016, 9:41 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. – Amateur Scottie Scheffler is the clubhouse leader at the 116th U.S. Open. OK, so only nine players have finished their opening round after a stop-and-start day at Oakmont, but the point remains: The rising junior at Texas has played some solid golf so far.

“I feel pretty good,” said Scheffler, who turns 20 next week. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

Scheffler was a former U.S. Junior champion and can’t-miss prospect from Dallas – sound familiar? – who earned NCAA Freshman of the Year honors in 2015. He suffered a back injury last fall at the U.S. Amateur and had, by his lofty standards, a substandard sophomore campaign, with only one top-10 in 13 starts.

One of the reasons: His body has undergone a massive transformation in the past few years. In high school, at age 14, he was 5-foot-2, 100 pounds. Now, entering his junior year of college, he’s 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, and still growing.

The rapid growth has put tremendous stress on his joints – thus the back injury last year – and he and swing coach Randy Smith have tried to manage an ever-changing swing and body despite limited practice time.

Still, Scheffler has remained competitive because of his world-class short game. He appeared to turn a corner two weeks ago at the NCAA Championship, where he routed NCAA individual champion Aaron Wise of Oregon on his home course in the final match. Texas eventually lost the championship.

“This year in college golf was pretty tough on me,” he said, “and I’m glad that I was on a really good team because that helped me get through it.”

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Scheffler played practice rounds at Oakmont with fellow Texan Jordan Spieth (with whom he’s been compared for years) as well as reigning Open champion Zach Johnson. 

Conditions in the first round were nothing like the practice days, but Scheffler adjusted on the fly. Instead of trying to muster as much spin as possible to hold the rock-hard greens, he played wedge shots with less juice to avoid zipping his ball off the front. He made only two bogeys (on the difficult first and 18th holes) during his round of 69, which put him two shots behind Andrew Landry, who was lining up a 10-footer for birdie on his final hole when play was suspended for the third, and final, time Thursday.

After a 4 a.m. wakeup call, Scheffler was simply relieved to finish.

“I tapped in a 2 1/2-footer kind of quickly, which maybe wasn’t the smartest idea,” he said. “But I wanted our group to get done so we didn’t have to come back in the morning.”

After enduring three weather delays, Scheffler might not hit another competitive shot until Saturday, which would allow for even more family time. Once again, he has his older sister, Callie, on the bag. She’s already looped for him in several big-time events, including the 2013 U.S. Amateur and two cameos on the PGA Tour.

“The comfort level is huge,” Scottie said. “We both kind of knew the drill.”

Callie is interning this summer for WorldLink, a cloud solutions and technology company outside Dallas. To caddie here, she had to ask her boss for a week off work, even though she had spent only nine hours in the office during her internship in the marketing department.

“They were incredibly supportive of Scottie and I,” Callie said, “and they said, ‘Don’t even worry about it. Go caddie. This is an incredible opportunity for your entire family.’”

Callie has one year of eligibility remaining at Texas A&M, where she has improved from a redshirt freshman with a 79 scoring average to a member of the starting five. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in marketing.

“The chemistry is really good between us,” she said. “I know his game and he’s really comfortable with me here.”

Through one day, at least, Scottie appears even more at ease on the big stage.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 9:20 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.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

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.