Motivated by McIlroy, Scott grabs share of lead

By Jason SobelAugust 22, 2014, 11:11 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Prior to the opening round of this week’s Barclays, former No. 1-ranked player Adam Scott sat back in his chair behind an interview room podium and ruminated on a month in golf that saw him not only lose that title, but become completely overshadowed by the man who raced past.

“He's put on a clinic the last few weeks in how to drive the golf ball,” Scott offered in regard to Rory McIlroy’s straight, booming tee shots. “And it's motivating for me, because I can see what's possible. I believe if he can do it, I can do it for sure.”

Good news, golf fans: These are exactly the words you wanted to hear.

Dominant players shouldn’t send their fellow competitors scurrying for the nearest bunker to bury their head and crawl into the fetal position. No, they should inspire them. Motivate them. Provoke them into practicing more and focusing better and playing improved golf. 

It appears that’s exactly what McIlroy has done, too – at least for Scott.

Thanks to a second-round 6-under 65, the defending champion has claimed a share of the lead entering the weekend.

And thanks to the player who’s won three tournaments in the past month, he isn’t showing any signs of letting up anytime soon.

“I think you've got to draw motivation from wherever you can,” Scott explained. “I'm not afraid to say that I look at the way he played and I want that to be me. And I feel that I can play like that and have runs like that. You've got to learn from the best and he's one of them.” 


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A calm competitor on the outside who burns with intensity on the inside, Scott seems annoyed – if not completely frustrated – that his good hasn’t been good enough lately.

Since his victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational back in May, his results read as follows: 4-9-5-8-15. That’s enough to have some players ecstatic. For Scott, it meant losing the No. 1 ranking and trying to get better.

That includes trying to chase down Rory and reclaim that position.

His goals, though, aren’t so tangible.

“It's not that specific. I think it's more about what's possible. I mean, to win two majors in a month ‑‑ we've seen other guys do it, but it doesn't happen very often. But I think you've got to believe it can just happen a bit more often.

“I'd love to get back to No. 1 and I think this is a good stretch of golf for me to try and do that. But the standard I'll have to play at is really high. So it would be great to put myself up in the mix and hopefully have Rory think he's got to look over his shoulder – at least for me.”

Not that this is anything close to a two-man tournament, but it should be noted that McIlroy remains five strokes behind Scott entering the final 36 holes, a position that would have the latter smiling if it hadn’t also come with so much missed opportunity.

In the second round, Scott put on an impressive ball-striking display, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation. His putting, however, was another matter. Still wielding the anchored broomstick, he holed only four putts of longer than 4 feet and missed three inside 10 feet.

When asked how many shots better his 65 could have been if he’d putted well, he answered, “Always hard to put numbers on it, but 6-7. … Ifs and buts, but I played well enough that if I had it really going on the green today to do that for sure.”

Afterward, he appeared both dismissive of how poorly he putted, but aware of how it affected his score.

“Your speed's got to be perfect to get that true roll, and most of them were good putts,” he maintained. “Of course, some were not. My putting feels good. It just wasn't my day today on the greens.”

Scott will undoubtedly try to change that during the weekend rounds. He’s not only chasing another title at this event, he’s chasing a player who has prompted a frenzy over the past month.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – or at least that’s what they say. Scott is trying to beat McIlroy by joining him as a recent elite player taking a turn in the winner’s circle. That’s been Rory’s domain lately, but it’s given his next-closest pursuer on the world list plenty of motivation.

“Look at what he's doing,” Scott said. “The way he's going about it is important, because it's relevant to the way we all play out here.”

So far this week, McIlroy’s recent dominance has been relevant to lighting a fire under Scott, helping to ignite his run to the top of the leaderboard.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 146th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Royal Birkdale, broken down into daily segments:

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 early 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 early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”

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Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:43 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.

According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.

Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:

Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).

Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).

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Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.

Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.

Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.

“I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”

Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.

“Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”

Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.

On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.

“These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”

Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.

More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.

Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.

Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.

“He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”

Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.

He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.