Change Creates First Controversy

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2002, 4:00 pm
SUTTON COLDFIELD, England ' Some of the drama that has defined past Ryder Cup Matches at The Belfry may have been neutralized in a decision made Tuesday by European captain Sam Torrance.
Torrance informed U.S. captain Curtis Strange that the par-4 10th would be played exclusively from the back tees. Being captain of the home team, Torrance has the final say on such matters concerning the course.
This means that players may be less inclined to attack the green with their drives. The hole can measure anywhere from 255 to 310 yards, but when played from the back tees, several obstacles come into play.
Take a look at the par-4 10th hole
The hole naturally bends left to right. Trees guard the green on the right-hand side, while a water hazard protects it in the front and to the left.
When the tees are up, a right-handed player can fade his ball around the timber, over the water and onto the green ' with as little as a long iron, which was the case when the Benson & Hedges International was played at The Belfry in May. But with the tees back and pushed further to the right, and a metal wood needed, the trees present a major problem.
We have already pretty much decided ' going around and looking at groups ' that its better to have two putts and a birdie than one putt for par, said Strange in relation to minimizing the risk. He meant, of course, needing one putt for par after taking a drop from the pond in front.
Tiger Woods, for one, did go for the green off the tee Tuesday ' it measured 262 yards to the front ' reaching it with a 3-wood.
I can hit 3-wood there every day and get there. But the problem is I have to come through the trees. And theyve got 60-, 70-foot tall trees there, Woods said.
Sergio GarciaIn addition to the decision made at the 10th, Torrance said he has shortened the grass around the greens in order to give his team an advantage.
The Americans know how to handle maybe the thick rough around the greens better than some of the European players, said Sergio Garcia, who also reached the 10th green with a 3-wood Tuesday and said the decision to move back the tee would not effect his aggressive approach.
Despite the fact that 10 of the 12 European Ryder Cuppers got a course preview when they played in this years Benson & Hedges, its debatable as to whether the course offers a home-field advantage.
The Brabazon Course has been criticized as being too American. It lacks the brown, crusted fairways, pot bunkers and knee-high heather seen on many links-style courses. Instead, its an optical beauty with lush, tight fairways; thick rough; reasonable greens; trees to try and impede the blustery winds; and man-made bodies of water.
The set-up is tough, said Jesper Parnevik. For being a European-type golf course, I think it looks more like a U.S. Open-type golf course.
But despite the courses identity crisis, the 10th hole has always stood on its own merit.
In 1985, U.S. captain Lee Trevino forbade his team to go for the green off the tee. It may have been just coincidence, but the Americans then lost the Cup for the first time since 1957.
In 89, Seve Ballesteros eagled the hole twice in the same day. He made an 18-footer after Jose Maria Olazabal drove the green in the morning foursomes. He then did all the work himself in the afternoon four-balls.
Four years later, Ballesteros laid up with a 9-iron off the tee, while Davis Love III hit a 3-wood to five feet and made eagle. Love and Kite won the hole and their match.
Now, the hole may be reduced from the ultimate in risk-reward, as Love once described, to just a 7-iron and sand wedge.
Im really disappointed, said Paul Azinger, who played in the 1989 and 93 Matches at The Belfry. I mean, I think its a mistake, quite frankly, because I think that the 10th hole at The Belfry had a lot of history, and traditionally I would say 80 percent of the players could go for the green. Now, its maybe 20 percent.
Even Woods said the risk was now far greater than the reward, and that the hole was more intriguing in its old state.
Without a doubt. Its a lot more fun, Woods said. It was the perfect match-play hole because anything can happen. You can make 2 or you can make 6. And I think thats what made it so much fun to play. But thats not going to be the case this year.
Torrance disagrees, and thinks the hole will play the same as it did when the course first hosted a Ryder Cup, in 1985.
My idea was that in the old days when we first played the Ryder Cup here, it was probably, depending on the wind off the front tee, a good, hard 3-wood or sometimes an easy driver, Torrance said.
At the Benson & Hedges this year we played off the front tee and some guys were playing a 3-iron. Thats not a golf hole for a par-4. The technology has taken over. Weve reverted to the back tee, and its possible to knock it on from there.
The hole this week will be equivalent to the hole you had from 85 and onwards.
This is the fourth time The Belfry has catered to a Ryder Cup. Europe won for the first time in 28 years at this venue in 85. They then retained the Cup by halving the Matches with the Americans here in 89. The U.S. won in 93.
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches
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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

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

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”

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Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:33 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.

Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.

“Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”

One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.

“When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “It’s going to be a true test, and we’ll get to see really who’s hitting it the best and playing the best.”

Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.

This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.

“It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”