Monday Scramble: McIlroy's struggles continue

By Mercer BaggsJune 1, 2015, 12:00 pm

Steven Bowditch won his second PGA Tour event, the Byron Nelson turned into a sloppy mess in the second round, Rory McIlroy missed a second consecutive cut, and I'm writing a second consecutive Monday Scramble:

There is reason to be concerned following McIlroy's 80-71 showcase at Royal County Down. Not necessarily for the U.S. Open, but for further down the road. Golf Digest's Jaime Diaz said the same thing much more eloquently and intelligently than can I, so I encourage you to click here and read it.

It's good to hear a powerful and well-respected voice in the game question McIlroy's willingness to grind. We'll say in the future, "McIlroy turned a 75 into a 71 today." But in the present, that 75 is an 80. And 71's should be 68's.

This is disconcerting from a world No. 1. Even more so when you consider McIlroy should go down as one of the top 10 players of all time. He may win the U.S. Open by eight shots in a few weeks, and if so, some will say 'Eat crow.' (People still say that?) But that would be missing the point of this Takeaway. Rory will win many, many times. He will win majors and win by large margins. But, eventually, at some point, he will miss consecutive cuts again. He will get loose with the driver early and never straighten the wheel. One missed 4-footer will turn into four missed 4-footers. That's just who is he for now - not necessarily forever.

Big deal. It happens to everyone. But McIlroy is special. His game is brilliant, of legendary proportions. He's good enough to win events by multiple shots without his best. He doesn't need to sustain that brilliance for long periods of time. He just needs to add in a consistency of averageness (by his standards). If he does that, forget a top-10 all-time player. We're talking a historical Big 3: Jack, Tiger and Rory.

1. Last week around these parts we exalted the PGA Tour for its bevy of fabulous finishes. Like during a no-hitter, perhaps we shouldn't have made mention, because the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship went and did this.

That's not to disparge champion Steven Bowditch. The 31-year-old Australian earned his victory with a final-round, 5-under 64 that included six birdies and several impressive par saves over his final 13 holes. Bowditch got married on the 18th hole at TPC Four Seasons and this is his second triumph in the Lone Star State (2014 Texas Open). He overcame the multiple weather delays and the akward setup. He's as worthy a winner as there's been on Tour this season.

I just wish I could stop staring at his eyebrows. He looks like Sam Eagle. Was he bitten by a werewolf? I. Just. Can't. Stop. Staring.



2. And, just to be safe, because one reader believed me to be serious last week when I said Chris Kirk's fourth PGA Tour win got him into the Hall of Fame conversation, I offer this:



Yes, it's low-brow humor (OK, puns are worse than sarcasm) but it's all I got.

3. Jordan Spieth, competing in his hometown event, finished T-30 at the Byron Nelson. The highlight of his week came in a 5-under 64 on Friday while grouped with friend Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka. Spieth, born in Dallas and still an area resident, is the Nelson's saving grace. He's 21, a major champion, a fan favorite and never likely to abandon this tournament.

Tiger Woods stopped playing the Nelson in 2005. Mr. Nelson died in 2006. The event has struggled to stand out ever since. It's still not on par with upper-echelon Tour stops, like this week's Memorial Tournament, but Spieth's involvement - along with his primary sponsor, AT&T, serving as title sponsor of the Nelson - adds enough weight to keep the event from floating into obscurity.

4. McIlroy stepped out Sunday with his new girlfriend, PGA of American employee Erica Stoll. Twitterverse and the tabloids were giddy. We created a photo gallery. Honestly, I just want to know who's the sidler in the background?



As far as his play in concerned - McIlroy has missed three consecutive cuts at the Irish Open, which his foundation hosts - here is a suggestion: the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation and Contested in Jupiter, Florida.

5. Soren Kjeldsen won the Irish Open despite a final-round, 5-over 76 on "wind-swept and rain-batterd Royal County Down," as the Associated Press described. Kjeldsen's playoff victory, his fourth on the European Tour, got him into the British Open. The top three players inside the top 10 at the Irish, not otherwise exempt into the British, earned a spot at St. Andrews. That included Eddie Pepperall, who, along with Bernd Wiesberger, lost to Kjeldsen on the first extra hole Sunday, and Tyrell Hatten (T-4). Hatten edged out Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who also finished T-4, by virtue of his higher world ranking (142nd to 148th). Similar golden tickets will be available at the French and Scottish Opens, as well as the three PGA Tour events between the U.S. Open and Open Championship.

6. The Nelson nearly had a top-15 winner. World No. 10 Dustin Johnson and No. 12 Jimmy Walker were in contention on Sunday. Johnson chipped in twice and then made a quadruple bogey-8 at the par-4 sixth. Walker stumbled around the turn and wasn't able to catch up late. We'll have to wait to see if Walker can measure up to the Rickie Fowler post-victory-kiss standard.



 7. Speaking of Fowler, he was in contention at the Irish Open until an 8-8 (quad-triple) finish on Saturday. His 76-73 weekend put him in a tie for 30th place. He was even par through two rounds, a notable accomplishment as his playing competitors, McIlroy (9 over) and Martin Kaymer (6 over), both missed the cut, with neither making a birdie in their first rounds.

8. The Stanford Cardinal won its first NCAA Women's National Championship in golf, defeating the Baylor Bears in a compelling match-play final. You can nitpick the tournament all you want, but the new format (four days of stroke-play qualifying, followed by three rounds of knock-out match play) was a success. The semifinals and finals produced great theater, from the Lauren Whyte-Lisa Maguire Final-Four duel, to the Mariah Stackhouse-Haley Davis thriller to determine a champion. The men are competing now at Concession Golf Club, with Golf Channel airing the final round of stroke play and the entire match-play portion.

9. Switching to the professional ladies, Anna Nordqvist won for the third time in two years (fifth in her career) at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Morgan Pressel missed another chance to end a seven-year winless drought, shooting 2-over 73 to drop from overnight leader to T-3.

10. Meanwhile, Michelle Wie returned from a hip injury to compete at the ShopRite. For two rounds. She missed the cut, shooting 74-72 (4 over). Following her breakout campaign last year, Wie doesn't have a top-10 in 12 starts this season. Only two Americans have won this year: Cristie Kerr and Brittany Lincicome.

How dare you? You cynical lot of people. Just because 12 players withdrew prior to the start of the Byron Nelson Championship, where the weather forecast resembled Picaso's Blue Period, you go all Chuckie Sullivan (warning: profanity in video):



Ian Poulter strained something in the gym. Jason Day was dizzy. Kevin Kisner, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Kokrak, Scott Gardiner, Chris Stroud, Alex Cejka, George McNeill, Neal Lancaster, Fredrik Jacobson and Will Zalatoris had stuff. Al Czervick broke his arm.



"There is no such thing as coincidence," said a lot of people a lot of times. "Maybe some reasons are legitimate, but not all," said the doubters.

How can we unite as a society if we can't believe the excuses and non-excuses our professional golfers give to us when they back out of tournaments? You say, these guys are spoiled and abhor inconvience. I say ... well, you may be right:

U.S. Open sectionals began this past week, with 36-hole qualifiers in Japan and England. Ten Stateside qualifiers will be contested on June 8. ... Phil Mickelson was spotted practicing at Chambers Bay. ... European Ryder Cup qualifying for the 2016 Matches begins in Russia, in Sepetember. It will still be more interesting than current Presidents Cup qualifying. ... Rory McIlroy's Northern Ireland home is for sale. It was on the market before this past week's performance. ... European Solheim Cup captain Carin Koch named Sophie Gustafson and Martina McBride Maria McBride (formerly Hjorth) her vice captains, along with previously announced Annika Sorenstam. ... Alabama's Emma Talley won the NCAA women's individual title. ... And, on the men's side, the NCAA doled out four slow-play penalties during on Sunday. Hey, Finchem, you paying attention? 

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Fleetwood: Carnoustie course record won't help at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, but he’s skeptical that his past experience will help him at The Open.

Last fall, in the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, Fleetwood birdied six of his last eight holes to card a bogey-free, 9-under 63, the lowest score ever at what is widely considered to be the most difficult course in the Open rota.

No one expects a repeat this week at Carnoustie – not with the conditions this brown, firm and fast.

“It’s a completely different course,” Fleetwood said Monday. “Shots that you’ve hit have literally no relevance for a lot of it.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It doesn’t do any harm to have played it for a few years. It doesn’t do any harm to have a course record, but it’s a completely different challenge to what we normally face.”

Fleetwood took a much-needed two-week break after the French Open, deciding to withdraw from last week’s Scottish Open for a bit more time in his own bed. (He said it was his last full week at home until mid-October.) Since his sparkling 63 to nearly steal the U.S. Open, the Englishman said that he’d “run out of steam” but now feels energized.  

“There’s not really a good reason why I couldn’t do it (this week),” he said. “It really doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past. The only thing they could do is build your confidence and give you examples of what you can do – examples that you can end up there, and you have the game to compete.”

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NBC Sports Group Kicks Off All-Encompassing Coverage From The 147TH Open

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 16, 2018, 1:25 pm

Five Past “Champion Golfers of The Year” Highlight Broadcast Team

Technology Enhancements: Links-Optimized Toptracer, Wind Gauges and Bunker Cams, Including “Johnny Miller Bunker” Along 18th Fairway

NBC Sports Group’s all-encompassing coverage from The 147TH Open kicked off today with Golf Central Live From The Open, which throughout the week will deliver nearly 50 hours of news and analysis on Golf Channel from Carnoustie Golf Links on the east coast of Scotland. The network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage will feature another 50 live hours being broadcast on linear television (Golf Channel, NBC), spanning from the opening tee shot at 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday through the final putt on Sunday. An additional 170 complementary hours of streaming coverage will include featured holes and groups, bringing NBC Sports’ overall production to more than 350 total hours surrounding The Open.

“The Open is unique. Golf’s original championship isn’t just steeped in nearly 150 years of tradition; it features a multitude of storylines that fuel our comprehensive coverage plan,” said Mike McCarley, president, Golf, NBC Sports Group. “Fans look forward to the best players in the world conquering nature’s elements – this year at iconic Carnoustie Golf Links – in their quest to become the Champion Golfer of the Year. Our extensive approach utilizes a deep roster of commentators to set the stage leading up to our unprecedented coverage from the first tee shot early Thursday morning through the last putt on Sunday evening.”

Led by the deepest and most-experienced roster of analysts, hosts, reporters and personalities in the game, coverage will set the scene for golf fans with a focus on key storylines and showcase the unique traditions synonymous with golf’s original championship, culminating in the winner being awarded the iconic Claret Jug and introduced as the Champion Golfer of the Year.

“CHAMPION GOLFERS OF THE YEAR” HEADLINE BROADCAST TEAM:

NBC Sports’ live tournament and news coverage will utilize several past “Champion Golfers of the Year,” including NBC Sports’ lead analyst Johnny Miller (1976), as well as Nick Faldo (1987, ’90, ’92) and Justin Leonard (1997). David Duval (2001) and Tom Lehman (1996) are in the field as past champions, and also are scheduled to contribute to coverage. *Full broadcast teams outlined below*

THE MOST LIVE COVERAGE FROM ANY GOLF EVENT: NBC Sports’ 50 hours of live tournament coverage will utilize more than 100 available cameras and employ several technology enhancements to showcase Carnoustie’s distinct characteristics:

  • “Links Toptracer”: A reverse ball flight configuration optimized for links golf will showcase not only where shots land, but also – given players’ strategic use of the ground in links golf – “Links Toptracer” will track how shots roll out.
  • “Bunker Cam”: Coverage will feature NBC Sports’ popular “bunker cam” technology in a total of eight bunkers on Holes 5, 8, 12, 13 and 18, including in several of Carnoustie’s challenging pot bunkers. For the first time, the network will use the embedded camera technology in the face of fairway bunkers (Holes 12 & 18), including the “Johnny Miller bunker,” positioned along the right side of the fairway on the par-4 18th hole. The bunker is named in his honor after it took him two shots to get out of it during The Open in 1975.
  • Influence of Wind: Wind indicators will be utilized around the course to measure changes in wind conditions in real-time, providing immediate ultra-precise data so viewers can easily distinguish what a player is facing over a given shot.
  • “Playing Through” Returns; Callaway to Feature Custom Creative Content: Enhancing both the viewership and commercial experience, NBC Sports’ popular “Playing Through” split-screen commercial format returns for The Open, ensuring viewers don’t miss key stretches of the action during commercial breaks. For the first time at The Open, Callaway has produced an innovative “Playing Through” 30-second spot featuring 2013 Open champion Phil Mickelson. During NBC Sports’ coverage of The Open at Royal Birkdale last year, an additional 200 shots of live golf were shown via “Playing Through.”

MORE THAN 170 HOURS OF COMPLEMENTARY LIVE STREAMING COVERAGE: Complementing traditional linear broadcast coverage, NBC Sports will showcase more than 170 hours of live tournament feeds being streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms and TheOpen.com. These feeds also will be available as part of DirecTV’s featured mosaic coverage of The Open. The four feeds will include a simulcast of tournament coverage; a “Marquee Group,” for both the morning and afternoon waves of competition; a “3-Hole Channel,” featuring tournament play on Holes 8, 9 and 10; and “Spotlight,” (also available in 4K) showcasing competition taking place on Holes 1 and 18, along with competitor interviews on the range and inside the press center.

Additional Highlights Surrounding NBC Sports’ Coverage of The 147TH Open:

  • NBC News’ Dylan Dreyer to Contribute from Carnoustie: Golf enthusiast Dylan Dreyer of NBC News’ TODAY will offer contributions from on-site at Carnoustie. Given the extensive influence weather tends to have on The Open, Dreyer’s experience as a weather anchor and a golf fan will provide a unique perspective.
  • NBC Universo Airing Simulcast of The Open: NBC Universo will deliver live Spanish-language coverage of the third and final rounds of The Open, Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22. Third round coverage will air live from 1-3 p.m. ET on Saturday, and final round coverage will air live from Noon-2 p.m. ET on Sunday. Coverage will be led by play-by-play host Miguel Gurwitz alongside analyst Edgar Lopez.
  • Conor Moore, Vernon Kay to contribute to NBC Sports’ Digital and Social Media Platforms:After grabbing the attention of the golf world leading up to the Masters earlier this year, social media influencer Conor Moore has partnered with NBC Sports to contribute to the network’s digital and social media platforms surrounding The Open, including a series of impersonations of top players in the field. Additional social media efforts throughout the week will offer expanded original content, including: a collaboration with British television host Vernon Kay, reports from Golf Channel social media correspondent Alexandra O’Laughlin, and a Lego recreation of Jean Van de Velde’s collapse in 1999.

NBC Sports Live Tournament Broadcast Team

Tom Abbott, Notah Begay, Billy Ray Brown, Curt Byrum, Nick Faldo, David Feherty, Jerry Foltz, Terry Gannon, Dan Hicks, Peter Jacobsen, Gary Koch, Justin Leonard, Todd Lewis, Jim “Bones” Mackay, Roger Maltbie, Johnny Miller, Frank Nobilo, Jimmy Roberts, Mark Rolfing, Tim Rosaforte, Steve Sands, Mike Tirico

Golf Central Live From The Open Broadcast Team

Cara Banks, Notah Begay, Steve Burkowski, Brandel Chamblee, Jaime Diaz, Rex Hoggard, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard, Rich Lerner, Todd Lewis, Frank Nobilo, Mark Rolfing, Tim Rosaforte, Ken Schofield

Morning Drive

John Cook and Damon Hack on-site at Carnoustie

Complementary Streaming Coverage Broadcast Team

Tom Abbott, Cara Banks, Steve Burkowski, Ryan Burr, Curt Byrum, John Cook, Damon Hack, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard

NBC Universo Broadcast Team

Miguel Gurwitz, Edgar Lopez

Golf Channel Digital

Mercer Baggs, Jay Coffin, Rex Hoggard, Ryan Lavner, Bailey Mosier, Ryan Reiterman, Brandon Tucker

Social Media Contributors

Vernon Kay, Conor Moore, Alexandra O’Laughlin

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What's in the bag: John Deere winner Michael Kim

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 1:11 pm

Michael Kim won his first career PGA Tour event at the John Deere Classic. Here's a look inside his bag:

Driver: Titleist TS2 (10.5 degrees), with Aldila Rogue Black 60X shaft

Fairway wood:  Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Rogue Black 70 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 816H1 (21 degrees), Graphite Design Tour AD DI-85 X Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (4), 718 AP2 (5-PW), with True Temper XP 115 shafts

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 (52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S300 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS Newport 350 prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 12:20 pm

Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Other notable groupings:

  • Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
  • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
  • World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
  • Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
  • U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
  • Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):

1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva

1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate

1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List

2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris

2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell

2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook

2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry

2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult

3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello

3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry

3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)

3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara

3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang

4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley

4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee

4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na

4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen

4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein

4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood

5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed

5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas

5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park

5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard

6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage

6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner

6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis

6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III

6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis

7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An

7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood

7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker

7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)

7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen

8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman

8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele

8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace

8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li

8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo

9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim

9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp

9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest

9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak

9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace

9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka

10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma

10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox

10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley

10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura

10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith

11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior

11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon