Stadler Healthy Again Senior Open Beckons

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 25, 2005, 4:00 pm
Greg Norman and Loren Roberts are the two high-profile names who have just joined the Champions Tour. But Craig Stadler is rapidly showing that he isnt going to let anyone steal his headlines.
Stadler is in Kettering, Ohio, this week to play the U.S. Senior Open. And hes now doing what his competitors feared ' he is starting to have high finishes after half a year of so-so starts. Thats what happens when you are 53 and aches and pains make the body unwilling to do that demands that golf puts on it.
Craig Stadler
Craig Stadler owns eight titles on the Champions Tour.
I had, for about six, eight weeks there - I had elbow and back problems, which I've never had before, Stadler said. I took four weeks off just to get healthy again.
That was only at the beginning of June. Following a month-long period of rest, Stadler feels well again. He finished first in money won on the elder circuit last year, and now that hes healthy, hes showing why.
He finished tied for third in the Commerce Bank Championship earlier this month and was fourth last week in the British. But it has been a long haul out the hole he dug for himself earlier in the year. He played five events on the regular tour and made the cut four times. However, his play on the Champions Tour didnt begin to measure up to last year, when he made the winners circle five times.
This year's been a struggle, said Stadler. I didn't get out real well. Played one good event where I should have won, actually, in L.A., at Valencia, I hit a couple shots on the last two holes coming in that cost me.
He played his regular-tour events up through the middle of April. Then came the odyssey with the back and elbow. And finally, he is back, trying to get back to the place he was last year.
I played OK in New York (at the Commerce Bank), he said. Almost won that. Had a good chance to win there. Couple weeks ago at Ford (Senior Players Championship), never got anything going at Ford Players.
And then came last week at the British Seniors, when Stadler played very well after the opening day when he carded a 73.
Maybe this is what it takes, he said last week. So maybe that's the wake up call my game needed.
Stadler is also calming down in his old age. He was a notorious firebrand in his earlier years. Now, at age 53, life ' and golf ' is just a pleasant stroll in the park.
I think I've been a lot calmer in the last probably 10, 12 years. Than, depending upon how far you want to go back, he said. Late '70s, early '80s, I was a freaking maniac. And I'll be the first to admit it. And it readily hurt my game. There's no doubt about it.
But I still get upset at a bad shot. But by the time I get to the next one, I'm way over it. And I'm thinking I've been that way for probably 8, 12 years any way it's changed. And a lot changed since I started putting better. A little more consistently better. And that helps.
And, theres one thing that really gets him upset. He even occasionally throws a tantrum.
I've always said I don't care if I hit a poor shot and make a bogey or make a double, but the thing that really (irks) me is three putts, Stadler said. And it always has. And I've very much limited those the last six, eight, 10 years.
So, and accordingly, I mean, my mind still is whacked, but it's not as bad.
Greg Norman
Greg Normanwill make his second Champions Tour start at the U.S. Senior Open.
The rookie showed last week in his first senior event that hes ready. Despite not being in contention since the 97 season, he finished only one stroke out of a playoff in the British Senior Open. Was that enough to take off years of rust? If so, watch out this week.
The Walrus appears to be all the way back. Hampered by back and elbow problems all June, he says he is healthy now and ready to go.
Winner of the Senior British last week, he got a new surge of adrenalin with the victory. Hadnt won since 2003 before that, but what has the sudden shot of confidence done for him?
Another rookie who will be playing his second Champions Tour event after finishing fifth in the British. The weather will be hot again, which means it is time for Roberts to sizzle.
The Champions Tours leading money winner should be able to rest now that hes back in official action. Quigley missed the British Open with a tricky hip, but he says it only bothers him when he sits for long periods ' it doesnt affect his golf swing. And ' all last week he played 36 to 54 holes each day at home. He has to go to the Senior U.S. Open to recuperate.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Senior Open
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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.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”