Punch Shot: Who is the next maiden major champion?

By Ryan LavnerApril 18, 2013, 12:30 pm

Adam Scott has the major monkey – or koala bear – off his back. Who will be next to win their maiden major championship? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with their predictions.


Brandt Snedeker.

He keeps putting himself in the mix on Sundays – his T-6 at the Masters was his seventh top-15 finish in a major – even if major weekends remain a work in progress: the 75 last Sunday at Augusta; the 73-74 weekend at Lytham; the Sunday 77 at the ’08 Masters.

Learning experiences, all of them.

Sneds is 32, in the prime of his career, and one of the hottest players on Tour. Driving accuracy, greens hit, birdie average, scoring average and all-around ranking – he is ninth or better in all of those statistics. Three top-10s in his last four majors show that he’s learning and, more importantly, trending upward.

Yes, Tiger Woods is the favorite to win every time he tees it up. But at Merion, Snedeker will be a close second.


Brandt Snedeker.

For those of us who are paid to read tea leaves, this one is written in 40-point bold type – Snedeker will be the next first-time major champion.

Sneds is our pick because for the first month of the season no one played better than he did – starting his year with a third-place showing at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, runner-up finishes at Torrey Pines and TPC Scottsdale, and a victory at Pebble Beach.

Since then he’s been sidelined with an ailing intercostal muscle, but he rebounded last week to put himself in contention, again, at the Masters.

Sneds also has the look of the perfect prototype player for Merion, which just so happens to be the site of the next major championship – June’s U.S. Open. The tight layout will play to just under 7,000 yards with a premium on accuracy off the tee and clutch putting.

In fact, Merion may turn out to be more of a putting contest than Augusta National, which began the week with surprisingly slow greens on Thursday and ended in a steady drizzle on Sunday which mitigated the layout’s normally glassy putting surfaces.

But most of all, Snedeker seems like the most-likely candidate to win his first major because he is ready and resilient.


Matt Kuchar.

With the last 18 majors going to 17 different men, predicting the next player to hoist one of golf’s biggest trophies for the first time is clearly an inexact science. The player I’ve circled, though, is one that has already demonstrated the ability to win on some of golf’s biggest stages: Matt Kuchar.

Kuchar has assembled a quality track record in majors; his tie for eighth last week at Augusta National is his third top-10 finish in the last five majors, and he has notched a top-10 finish in each of the four majors at least once since 2010. In the interim, Kuchar captured a FedEx Cup playoff event (The Barclays in 2010), won the Players in 2012, an event that arguably boasts the strongest field in golf each year, and earlier this season claimed his first WGC title.

Having rebounded from a rough patch earlier in his career, Kuchar has been remarkably consistent since 2010, finishing inside the top 11 on the Tour’s season-ending money list each of the last three years. He’s also been inside the top 26 in strokes gained putting each year since 2010, showing that when potentially faced with a 15-foot putt to lift a trophy, he is among those for whom the ball is more likely to find the bottom of the hole.

A consistent game tee-to-green, a dependable putting stroke and the proven ability to win top-tier events. Kuchar has all three, and I believe that shortly he’ll be able to add a fourth attribute: major champion.


Brandt Snedeker.

From Luke Donald to Justin Rose, Jason Day to Ian Poulter, there are plenty of viable candidates on the list from which to choose the next first-time major champion, but I’m going with Snedeker for the same reason Adam Scott just won the Masters on Sunday.

Too often players are criticized for getting into the heat of contention on the back nine of a major championship, only to falter down the stretch. What many observers fail to recognize is that experience breeds confidence. Sure, it’s better to win than lose in crushing fashion, but in most scenarios it’s better to lose in crushing fashion than miss the cut altogether.

If you don’t believe that, just ask Phil Mickelson. Or Padraig Harrington. Or, yes, even Scott, who famously butchered the final four holes at last year’s Open Championship, but quickly learned from the heartbreak and won soon thereafter.

Like them, Snedeker has now found his share of disappointment. The next time he gets into a situation with a major title on the line, he will be more prepared, confident and ready to succeed.

And it could come sooner than later. Merion, anyone?

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More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.