What We Learned: Volvo, Byron Nelson

By Jason SobelMay 19, 2013, 11:02 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on Graeme McDowell's victory in the Volvo World Match Play Championship, Peter Uilein's first win as a pro and the remarkable collegiate performance of the California Golden Bears.

The list of 'best current match-play competitors' doesn't extend very far, for the simple reason that the format is implemented in only a few professional tournaments per year. Tiger Woods and his three WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship titles place him firmly at or near the top of this list. Ian Poulter's one such title and Ryder Cup fire and brimstone act has him there, too. Graeme McDowell is one of the few others who can stake a claim to this placement, as well, with his Volvo World Match Play triumph serving as the latest example. McDowell has shown a tendency to make more clutch putts when the pressure is greatest. It's one reason why he won't be a one-time major champion for too much longer – especially if his next major title hope turns into a match-play type of scenario. – Jason Sobel

Peter Uihlein has never been afraid to leave home. At age 13, he gave up his New England youth for Bradenton, Fla., to attend the IMG Academy golf program. Upon graduation, he chose faraway Stillwater, Okla., to test himself in the college hotbed of Oklahoma State. And when it came time to pursue a professional golf career, Uihlein picked countries like Germany and Spain on the European Tour over a barnstorming life through the minor leagues of American golf.

On Sunday, his vagabond existence paid off in his first professional victory at the Madeira Islands Open in Santo Antonio Da Serra in Portugal. The 2010 U.S. Amateur champion birdied four of his last eight holes in the final round, carding a 68 to win by two shots over Denmark’s Morten Orum and Chile’s Mark Tullo.

Uihlein acknowledged Sunday that he has faced many challenges navigating countries where he doesn’t speak the language. The simple tasks we take for granted – finding a warm bed or a hot meal – hasn’t always come easy. But the life experiences the 23-year-old Uihlein has gained will serve him both inside and outside the ropes. In so many ways, they already have. And once he lands on the PGA Tour, he will feel at home wherever he plays. – Damon Hack

I'm not normally one to follow astrology, but there had to have been something in the stars this week. Sang-Moon Bae pulled a lunar eclipse in topping Keegan Bradley Sunday at the Byron Nelson. Jennifer Johnson switched to a spaceship putter, and then gravitated to the top of the Mobile Bay leaderboard for her debut LPGA victory. A few Blue Moons and some moonwalking seems in order. – Bailey Mosier

Closing is an art form. For the second time in three weeks, an established player took a lead into the final turn on a PGA Tour Sunday and lost. Two weeks ago at the Wells Fargo Championship it was Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney, a shot clear of the field heading into the final turn, who lost to little-known Derek Ernst. This week at the Byron Nelson Championship it was Keegan Bradley pacing the field through 54 who came up short to Sang-Moon Bae. – Rex Hoggard

While the focus remains on Tiger and Rory and Keegan, a remarkable story continues to play out among the college ranks. The top-ranked Cal Golden Bears won their NCAA regional Saturday, their 11th win in 13 tournaments this season – a new single-season NCAA record. The team has no world-beater, yet all five of Cal’s starters – Michael Kim, Max Homa, Brandon Hagy, Michael Weaver and Joel Stalter – have won an individual title this season. Dating to last season, the Golden Bears have won 17 of their past 27 tournaments and finished inside the top five in all 27. The best part? It still doesn’t guarantee an NCAA title, at least not yet. The finals begin in nine days, in Atlanta. Cal has to navigate not just three days of stroke-play qualifying, but then three rounds of match play against the top eight teams. Could even more history await the winningest team in college golf history? – Ryan Lavner

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 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.