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Punch Shot: Post-Masters questions, Rory to Tiger

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 10, 2018, 1:30 pm

After a little bit of time to soak it all in, writers Ryan Lavner and Will Gray answer the biggest questions to emerge from the 82nd Masters, ranging from the champion to those who left Augusta National very disappointed.

GRAY: The 2018 Masters is officially in the books, and Patrick Reed has a new addition to his wardrobe. Not exactly how most of us expected the week to play out, but Ryan what was your biggest takeaway from seven days on the grounds in Augusta?

LAVNER: A lot to unpack, but I was shocked by the reaction to Reed's win. I get that he's not the most popular champion in history, but it was stunning to hear people outwardly root against him, and to barely acknowledge his good shots, when he clearly played the best last week.

GRAY: Certainly a subdued scene around the 72nd green, but, bell to bell, Reed certainly played the best. His final-round effort was, let's say, scrappy, but it proved to be just what he needed to get a three-shot lead across the finish line. We both know he wasn't short on confidence before last week, so where's the ceiling on Captain America?

LAVNER: He shouldn't have as much self-imposed pressure, he has a world-class short game and he has learned how to hit a cut. It's easy to see him picking off another one.

GRAY: The helicopter finish, while effective, is hard to un-see. Let's switch gears and discuss Rory. He said all the right things Saturday night, then seemed entirely out of sorts from his opening tee shot on Sunday. What are we to make of his latest Masters near-miss, and will he ever join Reed in the champions' locker room?

LAVNER: Rory attempted to divert attention from his career Grand Slam pursuit, but he didn't fool anyone. Augusta is clearly in his head, and the way he lost Sunday may do even more damage than his 2011 collapse.

GRAY: 2011 left a sizeable mark, but I tend to agree. Rory seems to have all the pieces and now boasts five straight top-10s at Augusta, but the magnitude of getting only one shot at the final leg each year will only continue to grow. As Weiskopf, Norman and Els can attest, there are no guaranteed spots at the Champions Dinner.

On a brighter note, Jordan Spieth appears to have eviscerated any lingering demons that lurked around Amen Corner from two years ago. What was your reaction to his final-round charge?

LAVNER: I'm sure he'd like to have the tee shot back on 18, but he had to walk away knowing that he's realistically going to get another ... dozen? ... opportunities to win there. He and Augusta were made for each other.

I was more surprised by his comments that he avoided leaderboards all day. If you're the head coach, don't you want to know the score in the fourth quarter?

GRAY: Totally agree. You and I both know that there are parts of that course – I'm thinking 11 green and 14 tee – where you have to actively work to avoid seeing a board. The "I'm just here for fun" logic is all well and good for the first six holes, but even Spieth and Greller seemed to sense that something magical was still in play. Had Reed dropped a shot coming in, we would be talking about how Spieth played 18 for years to come.

LAVNER: In any event, he finished one back of Rickie Fowler, who, for the first time in ages, played a stout final round with the spotlight on him. This felt like a turning point to me, especially with Shinnecock on deck. What say you?

GRAY: The most surprising aspect may have been how pedestrian the round felt for the first two hours, only to have Fowler go unconscious with the flip of a switch. I'm more convinced than ever that his major win is a matter of when, not if, and with three top-10s in the last five U.S. Opens he'll surely make the short list for Shinnecock.

Let's talk 40-somethings. Who comes away from Augusta more disappointed: Tiger or Phil?

LAVNER: Phil, because he was in some of the best form of his career. What a buzzkill for a guy running out of chances. For as surprisingly good as Tiger looked over the past few months, he clearly still had issues off the tee and with his irons. And guess what happened at Augusta? He was out of position off the tee, and he had poor distance control with his irons. He's just not there -- yet.

GRAY: I'm not sure I've seen Phil look sadder post-Winged Foot than he did Saturday, soaking wet and decked out in rain gear after making a triple with a whiff, resigned to 35 more holes of meaningless golf.

But when it comes to Tiger, this has to be glass half full ... right? Sure, he never really contended and didn't break par until Sunday. And as you noted, he was all over the map. But he still did enough to make the cut and finish in the middle of the pack without anything close to the control he had in Tampa and Orlando.

LAVNER: Anyone who suggests that the Masters was a setback for Tiger has lost sight of the big picture. It was his first time making a major cut in three years. To take the next step and contend, though, he needs to tighten up his ball-striking. And I bet he does over the next few months.

GRAY: And the gym, Lav. Don't forget that he's going to spend some more time in the gym.

Ok, let's end it on this note: next April, Patrick Reed is putting the green jacket on...?

LAVNER: Begrudgingly, he'll help his Ryder Cup partner into the jacket: Spieth in 2019.

GRAY: You stole my answer, but I don't care because I've learned not to bet against Spieth at Augusta. If anything, seeing Reed at the head of the dinner table Tuesday night should prove to be ample motivation.

LAVNER: I've got a feeling Reed might serve crow at next year's Champions Dinner.

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More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:30 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.