No earthly way of knowing

By Jason SobelAugust 26, 2011, 1:15 am

EDISON, N.J. – With part of the opening round of the FedEx Cup playoffs now in the books – though not the entire thing, thanks to a lengthy weather delay – let’s take a quick look back at the PGA Tour's regular season: Parity ruled, with no player winning more than twice; a rookie playing his first major was victorious; and the world’s most famous athlete failed to finish inside the top 125 on the points list.

In what has been one of the most patently unpredictable golf seasons in years, we shouldn’t be surprised that more of The Great Unknown is permeating through Plainfield Country Club right now.

That’s not a commentary on the current state of the standings, although it easily could be. After all, entering these four playoff events, the favorite to win the $10 million first-place prize is … Nick Watney? Steve Stricker? Luke Donald? Phil Mickelson? None of the above? Pick a card, any card.

No, this is in reference to the actual Barclays itself. The event already endured a 3-hour, 16-minute suspension due to torrential rainstorms in the middle of the first round, which was only an appetizer before the main entrée, as Hurricane Irene is expected to rip through this area beginning Saturday night.

All of which leaves the PGA Tour with some decisions to be made, as this thing could finish up anytime between Saturday and next Tuesday. Let’s break down those possibilities.

Saturday finish: This would require a decision to play 36 holes in one day prior to the hurricane reaching New Jersey. It’s an ingenious idea, really, which would afford the tournament the chance to get ahead of the situation rather than linger behind it.

“I think they should,” said Ryan Palmer, who posted an opening-round 66. “If they want to play 72 holes, they should have us play as much as we can on Saturday.”

Perfect, then. They’ll finish up the second round on Friday evening and play the final two rounds the next day. Done deal. Um, right?

“No, we are not going to do that,” tournament director Slugger White contended.  “We don't have enough daylight, is one thing. We can't get it in. Plus, we have got not a very good forecast Saturday afternoon.”

Bad move. This would have been a popular decision amongst players and a way to potentially give it an effort, but it apparently won’t happen.

Sunday finish: Hey, the PGA Tour always finishes on Sunday, so why not this week, too?

Oh, right. That huge orange-red-purple blob on the radar, which has been referred to as “a 100-year storm” by New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Monday finish: So, how long does it take to clean up a golf course after a massive hurricane? At least 24 hours.

Even if Irene has completely blown through Plainfield, the expected destruction left in its wake will require massive work on the golf course, from draining water in the bunkers to squeegeeing the greens to repairing any damage to grandstands and ensuring their safety.

“This golf course took about, I think, like 13 inches of rain last week,” White explained. “I just can't even imagine what another – if we are looking at five to seven inches of rain, what that's going to do.”

Tuesday finish: This is the doomsday scenario – well, doomsday as far as golf is concerned, which takes a backseat to any damage that could be done by the hurricane – but it looks like the most likely one to occur.

The best part about this scenario, if there is one, is the fact that next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship doesn’t start until Friday, so Tuesday is essentially equivalent to Monday of any other week.

“Just rough it out, I guess,” Vijay Singh, who shot 65, said when asked what he would do if he was in charge. “There's nothing else we can do. We can play till Tuesday, which is a big thing, so hopefully it's going to miss us. You never know.”

You never know.

That’s sort of been the motto for this entire season. With so much on the line in these upcoming playoffs, nothing has changed.

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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.