To all the no-shows: You guys blew it

By Joe PosnanskiAugust 14, 2016, 7:47 pm

To: Jordan Spieth

Cc: Jason Day; Rory McIlroy; Dustin Johnson; Adam Scott; Hideki Matsuyama

Bcc: Vijay Singh

Subject: Rio!

Hi guys, sorry for the bulk email. I just wanted to see if you had a chance to watch any of that Rafael Nadal-Juan Martin del Potro tennis match from here at the Olympics. It was pretty thrilling stuff. Those two guys blasted thunderclaps at each other for three crazy sets. Then the third set went into a tiebreaker. Each point was like a novella. The crowd was delirious, practically incoherent with joy. It was incredible.

Anyway I know tennis is not your sport but I was wondering if you happened to see Nadal in that tiebreaker. You know, Nadal is a pretty accomplished guy. Fourteen Grand Slam titles. Nine French Opens in 10 years. Four-time Davis Cup champ.

And there he was in that tiebreaker, grinding with all his heart, playing with every ounce of emotion in his body, caring so deeply. Why? Because this is the Olympics.

I guess the point is, all due respect, you guys blew it.

Sure, I understand why you decided not to come to Rio to play golf. I get it. Golf is a weird fit for the Olympics. The Olympic Games really should be the Mount Olympus for sports, meaning it should be each sport’s most important event like it is for track and swimming and gymnastics and dozens of other sports. It can never be Olympus for men’s golf. No, men’s golf has the Masters and the U.S. Open and the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup and The Open and the PGA Championship and the World Golf Championships and The Players Championship – so many championships.

And yes, it’s true, golf wasn’t in the Olympics when you were kids, so you never dreamed about being here, never planned a spot in your life for the Olympic Games.


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And, yes, there were concerns about Brazil, are concerns about Brazil, about Zika and crime and security and political upheaval and logistical breakdowns. I get it.

But you blew it, guys.

You blew it in two ways. One of those ways has been discussed at length but it remains true – you blew it for golf. It seems that in the countless warnings and cautions and bad omens leading into these Rio Games, you forgot something basic: Just how BIG the Olympics really are. Leave it to USA Boxing coach Billy Walsh, in his glorious Irish brogue, to explain: “There were, what, 40 million people around the world watching Pacquiao-Mayweather?” he asked. “We have 3.5 BILLION people watching the Olympics. Forget everything else. This is the biggest (bleeping) show on earth.”

The biggest (bleeping) show on earth, guys, and you had a chance to be a part of it. You had a chance to show new parts of the world just how wonderful your sport is. You had a chance to support women’s golf, to support amateur golf, to blow the mind of some kids who might never have seen this crazy game before.

Yes, you had a chance to give the sport you love, the sport that has given you dream lives, a boost, a big stage. I don’t like the phrase “grow the sport.” But everybody knows that golf is in a bit of a lull. Nike just pulled out of the equipment business. Participation stagnates. The Tiger hangover isn’t going away anytime soon. Nobody expects that the Olympics turns everything around. But it’s something new and fresh. It’s an opportunity.

“They don’t want to promote golf and they don’t realize how lucky they are,” an angry Gary Player told reporters. “They don’t realize what the Olympic Games can mean for the sport.”

Thing is, I suspect you did realize it. You just decided to pass anyway. You’ve talked about it. Rory, you talked bluntly and with admirable honesty about your disinterest in growing the game. “I don’t feel like I’ve let the game down at all,” you said. “I didn’t get into golf to try and grow the game. I got into golf to win championships and win major championships.” I respect you being that honest. And I think it’s an astonishingly bad attitude about a sport which earns you tens of millions of dollars.

But forget what being here might have done for golf. I’m more interested in the second way you blew it – guys, you blew it for yourselves.

This was, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime chance for you. Yes, there will be other Olympics and at least one of them will have golf in it. But it will never again be the FIRST Olympics with golf. It will never be like it is here on Sunday, with a beautiful blue Brazilian sky and a miraculous little golf course carved out of nothing and a sellout crowd coming out to see a sport many of them have never seen before.

You will never play in a tournament that has the spirit of this one, where all the odds were stacked against it and yet it came off and people had the time of their lives.

You will never again see it like it was at the 18th when fans gave Brazilian Adilson da Silva such an ovation that he broke down in tears.

Or how about that moment when Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson got to go hang out at the practice pool with the U.S. swimmers. As they left, the swimmers rang the bell. This is what they do whenever one of them heads out for a race.

Fowler and Watson did not know what was happening, so they turned around. And they saw and heard the U.S. swim team, the greatest swim team in the world, chanting “USA! USA!” for them.

“Words can’t really put it into perspective,” Fowler would say.

You think that happens at the Buick Championship?

Or how about a group of Brazilian fans following around Matt Kuchar just so they can shout “Koooch!” as he charges on Sunday.

Or how about coming down the stretch on a Sunday at the Olympics with what turned out to be a fantastic leaderboard – Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar shooting it out for themselves, for their countries, for a little piece of history.

This isn’t just a golf tournament. This is different. You play golf, sure, but then you go watch some of the best athletes in the world – and they’re all incredible. The athleticism you see at team volleyball or rowing, it’s overwhelming. You walk around with synchronized swimmers and team handball players and shooters and archers and judokas and gymnasts, and they all speak different languages, and they all look so different. And you’re connected to them. You’re all Olympians.

You missed it. Hey that’s not to say that it’s perfect here – it isn’t. Rio is a sprawling and complicated place and while there is so much spirit here, there is anger too, there is poverty, there are inconveniences, issues, mosquitoes, risks. Just like everywhere. You guys don’t live in a bubble. This is a big and tangled world. You don’t let these things keep you from living.

In the end, I don’t know if golf belongs in the Olympics. But that’s not the point – golf IS in the Olympics, and you guys had a chance to be here at the start, to be part of this bold experiment for the game you grew up playing. And you decided to stay away. You had a chance, Rory, to win Ireland’s first gold medal at these Games and only the second gold medal in the last 20 years. You had a chance, Jason and Adam, to be part of the Australian Olympic team, which is like one giant party train moving through Rio.

You had a chance, Jordan, to be part of the happiest week in golf. And that’s what it is here: Happy. It isn’t like any other golf event on earth. Nobody is saying it is as important as a major championship or the Ryder Cup or any other big money tournament. It isn’t as important.

But that was never the point. Why does it have to be like a major? When Rafael Nadal was playing Juan Martin del Potro in that third-set tiebreaker, with a shot at a gold medal on the line, he wasn’t thinking: “Yes, I will try, but this isn’t as important as Wimbledon.” He wasn’t thinking, “I would sure like to win, but I do not feel the same emotions I would feel in New York at the U.S. Open.”

No, he pushed to the same level of extreme, and he got lost in the moment, and he was utterly heartbroken when he lost, because these are the Olympics. True, it’s not a 100-meter race against Usain Bolt. It’s not the 200-meter butterfly against Michael Phelps. It’s not a balance-beam duel with Simone Biles. But it is the Olympics. The biggest (bleeping) show on earth. I’m sorry you missed it.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1