Notes Relaxed Atompshere on Course

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 15, 2003, 4:00 pm
SANDWICH, England -- Brad Faxon finished a British Open practice round Monday playing in a fivesome. Try getting away with that at the Masters.
 
'It's a little more lax over here,' Faxon said. 'But not in a bad way.'
 
Certainly, the island where golf was invented treats this event with a certain irreverence that's not permitted at the three majors played in the United States.
 
On a warm, sunny day, several fans took off their shirts to get a tan. As players came off the 18th green, they were greeted by autograph seekers who had crept inside the ropes without hearing a peep from the marshals.
 
Faxon began his practice round with the regulation foursome, playing with Chris DiMarco, Jay Haas and Jesper Parnevik. Along the way, Sergio Garcia horned his way in to make it a fivesome -- not to mention another 20 or so caddies, agents, coaches and other hangers-on.
 
No one seemed to mind.
 
'Everyone here appreciates golf,' Faxon said. 'They're not as picky about the other stuff, from the locker rooms to having a lot of hotel choices and amenities. You come here with a greater appreciation of the golf.'
 
LOST BALL
 
There's a potential souvenir lurking somewhere along the 18th green.
 
Japan's Noboru Sugai knocked an approach shot into the tall, thick grass located to the right side of the green. He hit another ball onto the green, then spent several minutes in a futile search for his first ball.
 
'I never did find (it),' Sugai said. 'The grass is like this,' he added, holding his right hand about waist high. 'It is not like that on any other hole.'
 
ACQUIRED TASTE
 
Steve Flesch started getting hungry halfway through his practice round Monday.
 
'Is there a McDonald's around here?' he said jokingly to his caddie.
 
No, but they were selling ice cream and baguettes at a concession stand behind the next tee box. Since Bernhard Langer and Matthias Gronberg were taking their time in the group ahead, Flesch sent his caddie for a quick snack.
 
He returned with a 'bacon bap' -- grilled bacon stuffed in a baguette.
 
Flesch stared at the British Open staple, took two bites and tossed the rest of it into the waist-high rough.
 
RYDER CUP UPDATE
 
Sandy Lyle is making his pitch to serve as European captain for the 2004 Ryder Cup.
 
After Sam Torrance cut off any talk of reprising the role at Oakland Hills, Lyle asked to be considered for the role.
 
'Your guess is as good as mine,' Lyle said. 'My name is in the pot for Ryder Cup captain. Whether I get it this year or in the next few years, I don't know. I wouldn't like to let it go too long because you tend to lose touch with the younger players.'
 
Lyle, 45, is a two-time major champion, winning the 1985 British Open and the '88 Masters.
 
'My qualifications are reasonably good,' he said. 'It's not like I haven't won tournaments before. As far as being a good captain, there's no guarantees until you're faced with the situation.'
 
Hal Sutton already has been named the U.S. captain.
 
INTERNATIONAL FIELD
 
As usual, the British Open has the most diverse field of any of the majors. All those flags flying atop the grandstands attest to that.
 
Nineteen countries were represented among the 128 exempt players, including India (Jyoti Randhawa).
 
Forty-seven American players claimed spots, while the United Kingdom had 25 players to defend its home-country advantage.
 
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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

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    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”