British Open QA - A Quick 6

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 12, 2005, 4:00 pm
With Open Championship Week in full swing we asked The Golf Channel's Peter Oosterhuis and Frank Nobilo to take time away from their Sprint Post Game duties to answer a few questions on the field and the course.
1. A dark horse has won the last two Opens. If another wins in 2005, who will it be?
Peter Oosterhuis:
The very talented Australian Geoff Ogilvy. Long hitter, a little more patient with himself after Tuscon win. His caddie 'Squirrel', Mark James' former caddie, should be a real asset at 'The Home of Golf'.
Frank Nobilo:
While I don't think it is going to happen and it would not be a wild stretch given his T5 and T3 in the last two majors Australian Mark Hensby could provide an upset. He did not drive it that well in the U.S. Open and finished third. Great belief in his own ability and I would put him in the mould of a David Graham who did happen to win two Major Championships.
2. What are Tigers chances to repeat his dominant performance at St. Andrews from 2000?
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods prepares for his run at a second Open Championship title.
Peter Oosterhuis:
I'd rate Tiger's chances as very good! Power, creativeness, desire, love of the history at St. Andrews, everything!
Frank Nobilo:
While Tiger is the favorite to win this year by virtue of being the world No.1 I doubt he will show the dominance he did in 2000. The reason being he is still prone to the errant tee shot. In 2000 he managed to avoid the many pot bunkers that lurk off the tee. When Tiger drives it well, he is so strong through the rest of the bag everybody is forced to play catch up. If he is to stray this year off the tee and find a few pot bunkers this year they will be an instant bogey at best and he will become the chaser.
3. What aspect of a players game is most important at St. Andrews?
Peter Oosterhuis:
There is no easy answer. Power helps! Greens are huge so putting is important! Wind game might be needed! Previous experience at The Old Course is useful. Staying focused no matter what happens. There is a reason the course is so highly respected, you need a little of everything.
Frank Nobilo:
Flair is so important at St. Andrews. Conditions change so quickly that a hole all of sudden plays downwind and you can attack. A severe cross wind challenges the player to be creative. St. Andrews is not for the weak of heart as its roll of Champions proves.
4. How hard is it to get up and down out of the road hole bunker?
Peter Oosterhuis:
If you get unlucky with the lie of the ball you could be delighted just getting out in ANY direction! It will be interesting to see how the rebuilt bunker plays.
Frank Nobilo:
The advent of the lob wedge has taken a lot of the fear of the Road hole bunker away. Gone are the Nakijima days when players couldn't find a way out of it. Hell bunker now presents the bigger challenge.
5. How does St. Andrews rank with the other top courses in the Open rotation?
Peter Oosterhuis:
Awesome. Unique course design and history!
Frank Nobilo:
St. Andrews by virtue of being the home of Golf will always be No. 1 on the British Open rotation. A chance for the young and brave to walk the same fairways as have all the game's greats.
6. What is your most memorable Open Championship moment?
Peter Oosterhuis:
1974 Open at Royal Lytham. Playing in the last group with Gary Player, I parred the last four holes (15 and 17 are very tough par 4s) to finish second, one shot ahead of Jack Nicklaus. Gary was leading by seven with four to play so even though he was in the hay at 17 and up against the clubhouse at 18 he was always going to win. Finishing ahead of Jack in The Open Championship was always an achievement!
1978 had the 'potential' to be the most memorable. In the last group again, this time with Tom Watson, we were tied for the lead. I shot 38 on the incoming 9 with 20 putts!! Finished alone in sixth place, one behind a 4-way tie for second, three behind Champion Golfer Jack Nicklaus! Definitely my best chance to win. Still bugs me to this day. But not in a bad way!
Frank Nobilo:
Strangely enough my best British Open moment did not involve my own participation. I missed qualifying in the 1982 British Open at Troon. I went to the range to see what was happening and in order hitting balls next to each other were Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, David Graham, Miller, Ballesteros, Norman, Trevino and Tom Weiskopf. For a budding 22 year old professional there was no better motivation to continue the quest.
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.