Nobilo, Chamblee U.S. Open Q&A

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 12, 2012, 12:30 pm

With U.S. Open week here, Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo open up in a Q&A, with their thoughts on the season's second major championship at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Give us a couple names of who could play the role of Jack Fleck this week at The Olympic Club?

Chamblee: When Jack Fleck beat Ben Hogan in the 1955 U.S. Open, Hogan had won four of the last six U.S.Opens he had played and was in the middle of 12 consecutive top-10s in our national championship. He was considered the most accurate player in history, golf’s most intimidating man and by most, the greatest player of all time. Jack was a middle-aged war veteran who had spent 10 years upon his return from WWII, playing professional golf, with no hint of success and no reason to be playing. Tiger Woods is step-for-step today what Ben Hogan was then and it is almost unimaginable someone as obscure as Jack Fleck was in 1955 beating Tiger head-to-head in a playoff at the U.S. Open. The likes of Kevin Streelman, Shane Bertsch or Charlie Wi come to mind, none of whom have won on Tour and have had very little success in majors. Problem is, none of them are on the Nike staff alongside Tiger, which of course was the footnote of all footnotes to Fleck’s victory over Hogan, with clubs hand delivered to him earlier in the week by Mr. Hogan himself. That’s why my money is on Kevin Chappel this week.

Nobilo: Fleck was 33 when he won the U.S. Open and winless on the Tour. One guy who fits the bill is Steve Marino (32), who played just about every tour imaginable before getting on the big tour and has played in enough majors to have an inkling of what to expect. Wouldn't be an unthinkable thing for his first win on the PGA Tour to be a major. Peter Hanson (34) is another that hasn't taken the direct route to success, playing Swedish, Challenge, European and now PGA tours. He’s playing the best golf of his life right now and looking for first U.S. win.

Olympic CC 

How does The Olympic Club set up vs. traditional U.S. Open venues and whom does it favor?

Chamblee: Olympic has in each of the four U.S. Opens played there, allowed two players to separate themselves by week’s end because it demands of players what few courses do. In order to find the fairways there, a player cannot just play “their” shot. On some holes it is a must to shape the ball only one way to find the fairway and then an opposite way to find another. Olympic will intimidate early and then keep players off balance throughout the round with small greens, uneven lies and a return to a more traditional U.S. Open setup. Tiger Woods, with his newfound accuracy will have few challengers, but straight driving Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley could add to their major cache this week.

Nobilo: Olympic, while being a great test, has a very unbalanced flow. The course puts both hands on your throat early (the first six holes) then, when you can hardly breathe, lets off ever so gently and gives you three very birdiable holes to finish. It requires a very strong mind to deal with the hardship up front and often being over par early. Small firm greens require soft, high accurate iron play. Thick juicy rough around the greens means chipping out of poor lies will be a regular issue. Slopes on fairways running opposite of the direction to the dogleg gives even the straightest drivers a problem. No surprise it suits the two players playing the best right now Luke Donald and Tiger Woods.

Phil Mickelson 

Will Phil Mickelson ever win a U.S. Open?

Chamblee: Phil Mickelson’s style of play has never been a good fit for the U.S. Open, so while some may be surprised that he has never won our national championship, one of the most baffling things about Phil, to me, is that he has managed to finish second place five times. In 2006, at Winged Foot, Phil’s most famous collapse, he only hit 29 fairways for the week; I suppose if he had hit 30 he would’ve won. The last time the U.S. Open was at Olympic Phil only hit 30 fairways and still finished in the top 10. There is a sense that his time has come and gone in the U.S. Open and like Sam Snead, his legacy, in part, will be that he was one of the best of all time who failed to win this major.

Nobilo: Tough to win a U.S. Open in your prime let alone in your 40s. Not only is time running out for Phil but all the things that make him great - the go for broke mentality and desire to hit driver more often than most - doesn't lend itself to running out the string of pars often required to win a U.S. Open. Like Snead, he will more than likely forever be snakebit at golf's toughest test.

Tiger Woods 

How will Tiger Woods fare?

Chamblee: Tiger Woods’ newfound accuracy and confidence will make him the favorite at Olympic and by Sunday, I doubt if there are more than a few players who will have a chance to beat him. He is in ONE way better than he was for two of his three U.S. Open wins. He is a better driver of the ball than he was, by quite a bit, in 2008 and by a little bit in 2002. In no other way is he better, and in a few notable ways he will struggle at Olympic. Shaping the ball both ways off the tee, a must at Olympic, is still hard for Tiger and with his short irons he has never been worse. With stiffer penalties for a missed green this week, he will pay a penalty for those short-iron misses. He resorts to mechanics when he misses a shot or makes a bogey now far more than ever before, hence the reason he is 136th in the bounce-back stat, which, is the worst of his career. When he played more by feel in 1999-2002 he owned this stat. All of these issues are the larger part of why his scoring average is much higher than it was in ’08, ’02 and ’00, the three years he won the U.S. Open. Still, if not him, then who? The answer to that question is a small list and none of them has the accumulated advantages of owning 14 major titles.

Nobilo: Tiger Woods has a great chance to add to his major haul this week. Improved tee to green play plus his ability to hit the high soft landing iron approach will be well suited to Olympic’s small greens. Two recent wins on tough courses will continue to add confidence to his short game, which had been down a notch or two from his halcyon years.

Rory McIlroy 

Is Rory McIlroy more likely to defend his U.S. Open title or miss the cut?

Chamblee: Willie Anderson, John McDermott, Bobby Jones, Ralph Guldahl, Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange are the only men to successfully defend a U.S. Open so just from a historical standpoint, Rory McIlroy is a bad bet to win back-to-back titles. The infrequency of the occurrence is testament to the difficulty of having fate kiss you on the shoulder two years in a row. On the other hand, McIlroy’s early success in majors is reminiscent of Bobby Jones and perhaps he will show us all again just how special he is.

Nobilo: In the last 60-plus years only two players have ever successfully defended their U.S. Open wins. The easy money is for the weekend siesta as opposed to the defense for Rory. But if there is one thing we learned about Rory last year is that he became a better player after the Sunday at Augusta than before. Consequently there is no reason to think his latest play won’t add more steel to the machine. Last year is a tough act to follow but I don't see him taking an early exit.

What will the lead headline be Sunday evening when it’s all over?

Chamblee: Olympic, Giant Killer, Again

Nobilo: Brit Takes the Torch at Olympic

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”