What We Learned: World Challenge

By Damon HackDecember 3, 2012, 12:09 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from recent tournaments and news developments. This week, our writers weigh in with their thoughts on the USGA anchoring announcement, and Tiger's World Challenge event at Sherwood.

Graeme McDowell’s 15th club has to be his attitude. When the 2010 U.S. Open champion is in contention, his swagger and confidence seem to grow with every swing. It doesn’t mean he wins all the time (McDowell hadn’t won a tournament since Tiger's 2010 World Challenge) but he always looks ready to win. Even in his pair of appearances in the final group of the 2012 U.S. Open and Open Championship, McDowell looked like the happiest player on the golf course. There was nowhere else he wanted to be.

Watching McDowell hold off Keegan Bradley on Sunday at the World Challenge was a reminder just how much he relishes the fight. – Damon Hack

The overreaction to the potential anchoring ban was predictable. Seemingly as a rule, members of the golf community despise change. Remember the u-shaped grooves debate? In 2010, Scott McCarron called Phil Mickelson a cheater for using a wedge that was allowed only because of a legal technicality. The grooves’ impact on scoring has been negligible. Remember the uproar over the PGA Tour’s impending changes to Q-School? Considered blasphemy by fans and writers alike . . . yet only a handful of national media outlets are covering the final Q-School. The latest uproar, of course, was caused by the governing bodies’ decision to ban anchoring. Keegan Bradley intends to use the belly putter until it is pried out of his hands, which, sadly, may open himself up to more incidents such as what he encountered Saturday, when he was called a “cheater” by a numbskull fan at Sherwood. But Keegs can take solace in this: In golf, short-term angst almost always morphs into long-term indifference. – Ryan Lavner

Graeme McDowell is the indisputable No. 1 in the world. No, not on the course. His countryman Rory McIlroy has those honors locked up for now. I’m talking about in the interview room. Once again at this week’s World Challenge, McDowell further established himself as the preeminent speaker amongst the game’s elite players. He is equal parts loquacious, thoughtful, humorous and forthcoming. Ask him about the anchored putter proposal? He’ll proffer a three-minute debate that would make Mike Davis jealous. Throw him a question about the state of his game? He’ll be honest to a fault, admitting that he hasn’t played well enough over the past two years. If one of the networks which broadcasts PGA Tour golf needed a current player to become an analyst, he would be at the top of the list. The only problem, of course, is that he’s too good at his day job, meaning his gain is our potential loss. For now, we’ll have to settle for McDowell speaking after rounds whenever he plays well. Fortunately, that happens pretty frequently. – Jason Sobel

There is now a difference between what is 'legal' in golf and what is 'proper,' and there will be a difference until the ban on anchored putters becomes official. There is a difference in that the U.S. Golf Association and R&A have gone to great lengths to define anchoring as an improper stroke. While the ruling may not take effect until 2016, the conclusion the governing bodies have made casts a shadow over anchored strokes made from now on, even those legally made. That doesn't mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that a player who anchors is cheating. It's within the rules today, and you can't begrudge a player for taking advantage. In that regard, it's no different than using the rules in other ways to your 'legal' advantage. – Randall Mell

I was surprised to learn that I did not, in fact, receive OWGR points for tuning in to this weekend’s World Challenge. Each of the 18 participants did, though, and Zach Johnson even received $120,000 for his 18th-place finish. I have no qualms with any of the players choosing to participate, and the tournament certainly has the right to establish a purse as it sees fit. But in an era where tournament fields are often decided by the permutations of the world ranking system, it still seems curious to me that an offseason, limited-field event like the World Challenge can lure players with automatic OWGR points. While I was happy to see Graeme McDowell end his two-year winless drought, in my view this weekend’s tournament continues to serve as the clearest example that as currently constructed, the OWGR system is one in which the rich merely get richer. – Will Gray

Getty Images

Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break

By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2018, 2:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.

“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.

Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.

Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.

“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”

It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.

“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.

“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”

This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.

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Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated,” taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor. Kang made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

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Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.