Americans Shutout Internationals on Day One
Prior to play, Kiwi Michael Campbell, flanked on both sides by the International and American teams, performed the Haka - a Maori war dance - on the putting green outside the clubhouse. The Maori are New Zealand's indigenous Polynesian people.
'It's simply challenging our opponents,' Campbell said of the Haka.
The U.S. willingly accepted that challenge on Thursday.
Tom Lehman and Phil Mickelson got the U.S. off on the right foot by routing Australians Greg Norman and Steve Elkington 5-and-4. The match only lasted 14 holes, not one of which was halved.
The four other matches were closer, but all ended with the Red, White and Blue on the winning side. In a battle of Presidents Cup rookies, Stewart Cink and Kirk Triplett bettered Retief Goosen and Mike Weir 3-and-2. Hal Sutton and Jim Furyk topped Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby 1-up, the same score Tiger Woods and Notah Begay beat Vijay Singh and Ernie Els. David Duval and Davis Love III also won by the same 1-up score over Nick Price and Carlos Franco.
The Americans used the hard, fast greens at the Robert Trent Jones golf course to their advantage; the same way in which they did the first two times the event was contested in Prince William County, Va. Through five matches in 1996, The U.S. led 4-1. At the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994, the U.S. swept the first five matches, though it was Four-Ball. That year, the Americans went on to soundly defeat the Internationals 20-12.
Thursday, both teams sported black ribbons on their hats in honor of the 17 men and women who died on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen last week.
Mickelson/Lehman vs. Norman/Elkington
Steve Elkington struck the first shot of the 4th Presidents Cup, but it was Tom Lehman who drew first blood. Lehman sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 1st to take a 1-up lead. The U.S. never trailed in the match.
Norman and Elkington, who both underwent hip surgery this year, spent the better part of the day trying to find the firm Virginia greens. Despite squaring the match at the 2nd, Norman and Elk lost holes 3-8. They did manage to win the par-3 9th with a birdie, but carded a front-nine 41 to enter the inward half 5-down to the American squad.
Lehman and Mickelson maintained a 5-up advantage over the first four holes on the back nine, and closed out the match by posting a par 5 at the 14th.
'We've been looking forward to this day for the past two years,' said Mickelson. 'We wanted to comeback from the shellacking we took (in 1998). We did that today.'
Triplett/Cink vs. Weir/Goosen
They were the third match out, but the second to come in. Playing in their first professional team match-play competition, Triplett and Cink looked like wily veterans on Thursday. The two rookies put on a picture-perfect display of how to play alternate shot golf. Cink stuck the approach shots; Triplett converted the putts.
Leading 1-up through 11 holes, Triplett drained a six-foot birdie putt at the 12th to go 2-up. The Americans then went 3-up with another birdie putt by Triplett. Sporting a baseball cap rather than his trademark bucket hat, Triplett made his third birdie in as many holes to take a commanding 4-up lead with four holes to play.
Fellow rookies Goosen and Weir managed to win the 15th to cut their deficit to 3-down, however, Triplett rolled in a 30-foot birdie at the 16th to win the match 3-and-2, as the Internationals were conceded their birdie putt. The U.S. now held a 2-0 overall lead.
'I set him up with some pretty good birdie putts and he drained them all,' Cink said of his teammate. 'Kirk had an awesome day putting.'
Sutton/Furyk vs. Allenby/Appleby
In two previous Ryder Cup and one President Cup matches, Furyk was a perfect 3-0 in singles competition. However, he was 0-7 in team play.
Thursday, Furyk collected his first personal team victory. He and Sutton were cruising through 12 holes, before the Aussies pulled a birdie out of their hat at the 13th to cut the American's lead to 1-up.
Sutton made a 3-foot par putt at the 16th to reclaim a 2-up lead with two holes to play. But a bogey at the 17th opened the door for the International squad to earn at least a half-point.
It wasn't to be.
Sutton smoked his tee shot at the par-4 18th. Furyk then stuck his approach shot from 181 yards inside that of the Internationals. The Aussies weren't able to convert their birdie putt, leaving the U.S. with two putts to win the match, which they did, 1-up.
'We had plenty of chances (to close out the match),' said Sutton. 'They hit a great shot on the 13th out of the rough and we were in the fairway. That kind of took the wind out of our sails. Then we missed a few putts, but fortunately, we came out on top.'
Woods/Begay III vs. Els/Singh
It was considered the match of the day and it lived up to its billing. Former college buddies Tiger Woods and Notah Begay won the first hole and staked themselves to a 3-up lead through 10 holes. That's when Els and Singh woke up.
At the par-3 11th, Begay hit his tee shot six feet from the cup, but Singh responded by sticking his to within two feet. Woods missed his birdie putt, while Els made his to get within 2-down.
Singh and Els went on to square the match by winning the 12th and 13th holes with a par and a birdie, respectively.
The turning point came at the par-5 14th. Following a monster drive by Tiger, Begay hit a fairway wood from 221 yards, which barely cleared the water, onto the green. Singh had a 10-foot birdie putt to halve the hole but couldn't convert. Woods and Begay two-putted for birdie and a 1-up lead. It stayed that way for the remainder of the match.
The 16th hole provided the event's first true show of sporting emotion. Faced with a 20-foot par putt to halve the hole and maintain their 1-up advantage, Woods dropped the putt, pumped his fist and traded high-fives with his teammate and caddie. Els was forced to make a five-foot par save just to halve the hole.
'Obviously, the 16th was a big blow,' said Els. 'What can you say? We've got a long way to go. We have 36 holes tomorrow. It's a big day. We can get it back tomorrow.'
Duval/Love III vs. Price/Franco
The day's final match was the most closely contested on the first day. Neither side led by more than 1-up until the U.S. put together back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th holes to go 2-up with three holes to play.
Struggling with his flatstick all day, Price finally made a putt at the 17th to go 1-down entering the final hole. However, the Zimbabwean came up short with his approach to the home hole. Franco narrowly missed chipping-in to halve the match, leaving the Americans with two putts from the fringe to win 1-up.
This is the first time in the four-year history of the Presidents Cup that only five matches were played on the first day. Friday, there will be 36-holes of competition scheduled with five morning Four-Ball matches and five afternoon Foursomes. Friday Morning Four-Ball Matches
Sutton/Azinger vs. Campbell/Goosen
Lehman/Roberts vs. Weir/Elkington
Furyk/Duval vs. Price/Norman
Woods/Begay III vs. Maruyama/Franco
Mickelson/Love III vs. Els/Singh
Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs
Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.
Everything before that, however, was far from routine.
That face when you realized you visa to the UK is expired the same day you were supposed to travel. La cara cuando te das cuenta que tu visa al Reino Unido está vencida el mismo días que viajas.pic.twitter.com/lztAcLUNN0— Jhonattan Vegas (@JhonattanVegas) July 12, 2018
Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.
He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.
"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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How to watch The Open on TV and online
You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.
Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie
In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.
Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:
(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)
Monday, July 16
GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)
GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Tuesday, July 17
GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Wednesday, July 18
GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Thursday, July 19
GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)
GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)
GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)
GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)
GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Friday, July 20
GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)
GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)
GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)
GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Saturday, July 21
GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)
GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)
GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)
GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
Sunday, July 22
GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)
GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)
GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)
GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)
GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)
The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major
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.