Tough calls tough security - COPIED

By Michael CollinsAugust 14, 2008, 4:00 pm
So, you think my job is glamorous? Well Im spending hour 5 in the Atlanta airport this Wednesday afternoon, because my flight out of Florida Tuesday evening was cancelled.
 
I had to wake up my 19-month-old boy (who really likes to sleep) at 4:45 a.m. to take Daddy to the airport. His mom didnt really like me before this morning; now ... anybody know where I can get a good bullet proof vest?
 
All this to go to Canada, a country with a history of giving caddies a tough time just to get in. Every year at least three caddies get denied entry. The last time I tried to leave Toronto, Canadian customs asked me if I had been arrested while in Canada. No, How was your stay? No, Did you enjoy our Tim Hortons coffee (it is better than Dunkin Donuts, sorry)? Just a couple of taps on a keyboard and the guy looks up and says, Have you been arrested?
 
Huh? Man, its 6 in the morning; I havent had my coffee and the dude Im caddying for just missed the cut by 12. No. (pause) Are you messing with me?
 
No, Mr. Collins. Have a nice flight home.
 
What the ? Thank you, Captain Paranoia, I wont be needing my coffee this morning, wheres the bathroom? All Im thinking about is Enemy of the State with Will Smith and Gene Hackman (I watch way too many movies).
 
Dont get me wrong, one of my coolest experiences happened in Canada, too. Playing the Canadian Open in Vancouver the week before the old 84 Lumber Classic, Omar Uresti told me we were playing in the Monday pro-am at the 84. I said, Youre playing in the Monday pro-am. Im flying on a red eye that makes three connections and doesnt get to Pittsburgh (2 hours drive away from the course) until noon.
 
O and a few other players figure out their caddie dilemma, make a phone call, and presto ' private G5 jet just for caddies! The players and families are on a private 767 and the caddies get a fully stocked (free food and drinks) and staffed (yes, the flight attendant was a very attractive girl) little jet. There were six caddies on that flight. I dont remember too much from it other than playing cards and sleeping. But I do remember the airport: no check in lines and no funny customs officers (Im still paranoid).
 
Now here I sit reminiscing.
 
Ive been asked what its like to pull a player off a club. The first time is horrible, because you know if youre wrong its like lying to a girlfriend. If you get caught, you never recover.
 
My first time was for Chris Couch at a Nike Tour (now Nationwide Tour) event in Florida. Were playing a par 4. After a perfect tee shot, he had a 9-iron in hand and started to step in to the shot and I said, Hold on pro. Now he backs off and gives me a look like, this better be good. I calmly told him to look at the trees around us, watch how hard the wind was helping us, how when the ball gets above the tree line its gonna go hard. Gotta hit PW here. He says, OK, takes the pitching wedge and starts going through his pre-shot routine. Remember how I said I calmly told him... well that calm has left the building, I need a Port-A-John bad!
 
Theres a bunker short of the green and the hole is tucked, so if this shot comes up short its a guaranteed bogey. My knees buckle as the ball comes off the club face and I watch it sail up into the sky. Now your instinct is to start screaming, GET UP!!! PLEEEEEEEEEASE FOR THE LOVE OF JOSE! But that wouldnt be cool and I am cool.
 
The ball carries the bunker, one hops and spins back to 6 inches! Couch turns to me and says, Good call pro. Yep is all I could get out cause I was still having a tough time breathing.
 
Anytime a caddie pulls a player off a shot, its because we want to be sure our player has gone over every option. If they take our advice and make a bogey or double its because they didnt hit it right.
 
What are you laughing at? Im the one sitting in the Atlanta airport for three more hours when I couldve been back in Pennsylvania playing golf at the Coatesville Country Club with Rob from the Philadelphia Phillies and Jose, my best friend, while Major (my 19-month-old) putts and chips. No, Mr. Cool and Glamorous is somehow gonna get to Canada with an open shoulder and a dream.
 
Anybody know where I can get a good passport picture?
 
Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
 
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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”