Greenbriers Old White may steal the show
Yes, we love stars like Tiger and Phil, who make marvelous shots on command, but the golf course is always the co-star. The cut 3-wood that Tiger hit to end his third round at the U.S. Open would have been a good shot anywhere else. But the shot had added significance because it came at the iconic 18th hole at Pebble Beach.
Here is a not-so-dirty little secret: Players choose most of their based upon the golf courses. That leads us to the Old White Course at The Greenbrier this week. It is the first course designed on the property (C.B. McDonald with Seth Raynor in 1914), but is lesser known by the current generation than the adjoining Greenbrier Course.
The Greenbrier Course is the one that has hosted the big events in the resort’s history (Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Champions Tour events), but it is only being used by select resort guests this week. That is how deep the roster of courses is at the Greenbrier (4 in total -- you can see some pictures on my Twitter feed -- @scottwalkerontv).
So why wouldn’t the PGA Tour use such an historic venue? Slugger White is vice president of rules and competitions for the Tour. The West Virginia native told me that the decision to use the Old White Course was a gut feel while touring the property a few years ago. That turned out to be a popular decision by the players this week.
“I am a big Seth Raynor fan. I like squared off greens and squared off bunkers. You don't see that a lot around here,” said Brandt Snedeker.
Jim Furyk was also attracted to the McDonald/Raynor design that was updated by Lester George in 2006.
“I am a classic golf course connoisseur,” added Johnson Wagner, who got to see these courses a few times while he played at Virginia Tech, which is about 70 miles away from The Greenbrier.
There are quirks on the course that some may never accept. The valley that runs through the third green (a classic Biarritz green) is one you can hide your car in, as Wagner said in his news conference. There is a blind approach to the 13th green. And there is a “boomerang” ridge that sits in the middle of the par-3 finishing hole that has the players’ attention.
“If someone were to draw up the 18th green today they would get killed. There is an elephant buried in the middle of it. I think it is fun. It's different,” said Richard S. Johnson.
And that is the point this week. If you can get used to the quirks, you can appreciate the challenge. So, keep this in mind you make your weekend viewing plans. The co-star of the tournament, the Old White, may just steal the show.
Watch: All of Tiger's birdies in Rd. 3 of The Open
Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.
Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.
No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.
No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.
No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.
No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.
And No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.
At 5 under for the day, and 5 under for the championship, he was one off the lead at this point.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods, in search of his 15th career major championship title, started the weekend six off the lead at Carnoustie. We're tracking him in Round 3 of The Open.
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Rose's Saturday 64 matches Carnoustie Open record
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose needed to sink a 14-foot putt on the final hole Friday just to make the cut on the number at The Open.
Freewheeling when he came to the course Saturday, Rose tied the lowest score ever recorded in an Open at Carnoustie.
Entering the weekend nine shots off the lead, the world No. 3 carded a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to at least make things interesting. It won’t be known for several hours how many shots Rose will be behind, but his back-nine 30 gives him an opportunity, if the wind blows 25 mph Sunday as forecast, to challenge the leaders.
After all, Paul Lawrie was 10 shots back entering the final round here in 1999.
“I think the birdie on 18 last night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning,” said Rose, who is at 4-under 209. “So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”
Rose’s 64 matched Steve Stricker and Richard Green’s record score at Carnoustie (2007).
It also was Rose’s career-low round in a major.
Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:
Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)
Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)
8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.