Watson, 64, makes the cut at Royal Liverpool

By Jay CoffinJuly 18, 2014, 6:41 pm

HOYLAKE, England – Tom Watson is the only person not surprised that he made the cut at his beloved Open Championship. After all, it was his goal this week and he was determined to achieve it.

The five time Open winner strolled up the 18th hole Friday at Royal Liverpool only needing par to advance to the weekend. He nearly made birdie, but easily tapped in for par. This is the fourth time that Watson made the cut at the Open in the last six years. That includes his epic performance in 2009 at Turnberry where he nearly won a sixth claret jug, but lost to Stewart Cink in a playoff.

“I came over here with a purpose to play my best golf and play on the weekend,” Watson said after shooting a second consecutive 73 that extended his record of being the oldest man to make the cut in the game's oldest championship. “Let’s see what happens on the weekend. See if the old guy can maybe get it rolling a little bit.”

Open Championship full-field scores

Open Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Although it is a surprise, it shouldn’t be. Just two short weeks ago Watson made the cut at the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic and ultimately tied for 35th place.

Watson was 2 over after 10 holes on Friday and he became a bit of an afterthought during a time when leader Rory McIlroy was blitzing the rest of the field. But Watson made birdie on the 14th hole and jumped inside the cut line by a shot. He made par on the last four holes to make the cut on the number and shot the exact same 36-hole score as Tiger Woods, a man Watson says needs to play well to earn a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

“Brilliant,” said Darren Clarke, Watson’s playing partner. “I don’t know where I’m going to be when I’m 64. If I was playing golf like the quality of golf that Tom Watson is playing, then I’d be very, very pleased.

“He’s just a gentleman on the golf course, and he played quite beautifully.”

A man who will likely be on Watson’s Ryder Cup team is Jim Furyk, who is currently No. 6 in U.S. points, and played alongside Watson for the first two days.

“It was pretty special playing with Tom, and the reception he got,” Furyk said. “To watch him grind it out and make a birdie on the way in and make the cut was pretty cool. I was pulling for him pretty hard on 18. And he hit a lot of good shots down the stretch.”

Getty Images

'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

Getty Images

Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”

Getty Images

Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break

By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2018, 2:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.

“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.

Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.

Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.

“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”

It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.

“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.

“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”

This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.