Coetzee celebrates 28th birthday with 69 at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2014, 12:26 pm

HOYLAKE, England – When did George Coetzee notice he was tied atop the leaderboard at the Open Championship? About the same time he bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17.

“It’s obvious I looked at it as soon as I was at the top,” he said with a laugh Friday at Royal Liverpool.

The back-to-back bogeys might have dropped him out of a share of the lead, but Coetzee sank an 8-foot putt on the last to give him a 3-under 69 – matching his career-low round in a major – and a 5-under 139 total through two rounds. After playing in the late-early wave, in the worst of the conditions, he sits just one shot off the lead of Rory McIlroy, who doesn’t tee off until 9:27 a.m. ET Friday.

Not a bad birthday present.

Coetzee turned 28 on Friday, and he will celebrate with “a couple of Cokes” and some good company, with his girlfriend and mother in town for the Open.

Open Championship full-field scores

Open Championship: Articles, videos and photos

The South African, ranked No. 72 in the world, arrived at Hoylake in search of some form. Entering this week he had missed three of his last five cuts, with no top-25 finishes. This is the championship he covets most, however, and in his first career major, the 2011 British Open, he was tied for seventh, two shots off the lead, after two rounds at Royal St. George’s. He eventually tied for 15th.

“At one stage of my career I averaged 69s for majors,” he said, laughing.

Now, Coetzee is trying to become the second South African in the past five years to win the Open. Growing up there, he admittedly wasn’t very good while playing in the wind. His home course, Pretoria, is a parkland course about 4,600 feet above sea level, and he says that he never broke 80 on the coast until he was 16. 

“I couldn’t understand why the ball was going so short,” he said. 

Eventually, he grew to love links golf, because of the imagination required.

“It’s a lot more fun,” he said.

It wasn’t much fun for the rest of the field Friday morning, when the wind gusted up to 35 mph with ominous skies. When Coetzee finished his round, Royal Liverpool was playing nearly two shots more difficult than it had during the opening round. Coetzee, D.A. Points and Gary Woodland were the only players to post a round in the 60s while playing in the morning.

Coetzee qualified for his ninth career major by winning earlier this season at the European Tour’s Joburg Open. It was his first career title, and he said that it was “nice to tick the box” heading into the heart of the season.  

“Really big,” he said. “It’s nice to take the pressure away from yourself, knowing that you’ve been there and done it.”

Getty Images

Tiger putts way into contention at The Open

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 5:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.

Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.

“I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.

Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.

“I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”

Getty Images

TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 4:58 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:


At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.

• Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.

• This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.

• One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.

• On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.

• One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.

• In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”

Yes, yes it is.

Getty Images

Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open

By Grill Room TeamJuly 21, 2018, 4:55 pm

It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.

Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:

Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.

Getty Images

Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 4:10 pm

Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.

Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.

No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.

No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.

No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.

No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.

No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.

And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.

Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.

Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.