Ty at the Top
Better known as Ty, Tryon became a media sensation this week in Coral Springs, Fla. The Lake Highland High School (Orlando, Fla.) sophomore made news by shooting 70 and Monday qualifying for the Honda. He then grabbed the major headlines by shooting 67 in Round One and eventually becoming the second youngest player in PGA Tour history to make a cut.
A modest and affable kid, Tryon was a deer in headlights when the throng of reporters came to interview him the first two days. Though quite poised on the course, he didn't really know what to do off it.
'Do I look at you or at the camera?' he asked NBC's Mark Rolfing before a live interview following his second-round 73.
'That was the most nerve-racking experience of the week,' he later said of the interview.
But by Saturday he was a seasoned veteran. Joking with the scribes. Acknowledging his audience. It had almost become routine. It was certainly expected.
But the awe hadn't completely vanished from awesome. After his third-round 70, he was once again interviewed by NBC. 'Is this live?' he asked. When the reporter answered, 'No,' Tryon responded, 'Cool, then I can go watch it.'
That was the best part of the week for Tryon - seeing himself on television.
'That's awesome, being on SportsCenter and The Golf Channel - even for one second, that's cool,' Tyron said with a joy that is most often reserved for kids.
Admittedly, Tryon loved the attention. He especially loved wowing the crowd. In the third round, after recording seven straight pars, Tryon looked to his caddie, Tim 'Smiles Malone' Thalamueller, and said he needed to start making some birdies because 'my crowd is dwindling.'
Thalamueller was just one of many who was impressed by the 16-year-old. Known simply as 'Smiles,' he has seen this kind of talent before, having toted a bag for the likes of Tom Watson, Mark O'Meara and John Cook. In fact, it was Cook who arranged for the two to work together.
Cook is the assistant coach to Tryon's team, which also includes the sons of he and David Leadbetter, as well as Christo Greyling, who qualified for the 2000 Buick Challenge and missed the cut.
Cook played the Honda and actually finished one shot higher than his pupil, who ended the tournament at 10-under-par.
This Monday, Tryon said Cook is taking the team to California to play, among others, Torrey Pines and Mission Hills. That meant as soon as his final round ended and he had fulfilled his obligations to the media and his fans, he was going to ride back to Orlando with his parents, who were in attendance, get a bit of sleep and head to the Golden State at 6:45 a.m.
'That's gonna be great,' Tryon said with a smile. This from a kid who slept a carefree ten hours after shooting 67 in his PGA Tour debut.
When asked where school fit into his schedule, Tryon just shrugged his shoulders. He's got one week of golf vacation until he returns to his air-conditioned classroom.
Tryon knows when he gets back home the reaction is going to be 'mind-boggling.' But he's prepared.
'I think I know what to expect,' said the country's fifth-ranked junior amateur golfer. 'I've already dealt with a lot this week.'
That includes signing autographs - hundreds and hundreds of them. He even signed a couple coming off the 18th green on Friday - in the middle of his round.
'It's so weird. That's the No. 1 new thing to me, signing autographs. I can't believe I'm signing autographs for kids my age. And like turning people down, I feel like so bad.'
Tryon knows what it's like to get turned down for an autograph. Living in Orlando, he got turned down by the best golfers in the world. Now he knows how difficult it is to try and please everybody. Though, he really did try and usually succeeded.
Tryon's performance this week - both on and off the course - drew rave reviews from all involved, including the players.
'I was really impressed with his composure. He seemed to have it together emotionally as well as physically,' said Jeff Hart, who was paired with Tryon in the third round. 'He's got a pretty bright future ahead. If he needs a sponsor, I'm willing to ante up. I'd take out a loan for him.'
Said Honda champion Jesper Parnevik: 'I talked to a few guys and we could hardly remember what we did when we were 16. So what he's doing here is unbelievable.'
Perhaps the most unbelievable thing occurred Friday, when after 31 holes of competition, Tryon was just two shots off the lead and tied for second place. He reeled off three consecutive birdies on his back nine, but then like Icarus, whose wings melted when he flew too close to the sun, Tryon faltered down the stretch.
Tryon played his final five holes that day in 5-over. But he made the cut. In the process, he became the youngest player since Bob Panasik (15 years, eight months, 20 days) in the 1957 Canadian Open to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.
'This is like a movie,' said Leadbetter, Tryon's main instructor. 'You see 16-year-olds playing like this in junior tournaments, but you don't see it in this company.'
The fairy tale continued on Saturday, when Tryon concluded his third round by holing a bunker shot for birdie on the par-4 finishing hole.
'It's the best shot I've ever hit,' he told the press. 'That's going to stick with me forever.'
Saturday night, he watched his highlight on ESPN. 'That was awesome,' he said.
Sunday was another memorable day. Tryon made the turn in 4-under-par 32, and then birdied the 10th to move to 11-under for the event. He bogeyed holes 12 and 13, but responded with a birdie at the 14th.
He capped his day - and his tournament - with an eight-foot par save on the 72nd hole.
'That was pretty impressive,' said Tom Lehman, who played in the final round with Tryon. 'He's way, way, way beyond his years.
'He's also very polite. He kept calling me `Mr. Lehman,' which was pretty hard to swallow.'
Said Tryon following his 4-under-par 68: 'I had fun today. I had fun all week. I just didn't want it to end.'
Alas, it had to. But not without a lifetime experience gained. For now, Tryon returns to playing with kids his own age. Still a greenhorn behind the wheel of a car and not yet ready to use the electric razor his dad bought for him, Tryon is back to just being another kid - at least off the course.
'I hope I get back (from California) to Bay Hill on Sunday and watch the guys,' Tryon said in reference to next week's PGA Tour event in Orlando.
'The guys.' Tryon feels like he's one of them, now. That more than anything has to feel awesome.
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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open
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.
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
Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm
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.
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.”
Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish
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.”
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.”
After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood
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