Reflections on the Amateur

By Mike RitzAugust 26, 2001, 4:00 pm
If ever a place and an event were made for one another, this was it. East Lake and the U.S. Amateur. East Lake Golf Club was Bobby Joness club. The Amateur was Joness championship.

Jones won the Amateur Championship five times. The final time ' in 1930 ' gave him a sweep of all four major championships that year.
 
As the 312 players who started this week in the 101st U.S. Amateur Championship walked through East Lakes historic clubhouse, 312 jaws dropped.
 
The centerpiece in the lobby was the Havemeyer Trophy, the glamorous prize awarded to the Amateur champion. On display on the front wall are all four trophies from Joness 1930 Grand Slam. The staircase is lined with newspaper clippings of the golfing greats many accomplishments. One walks through this place and realizes it is golfs hallowed ground.

My God! This is where he played. This was his championship. To win this U.S. Amateur championship would surely be something special.
 
The 312 were whittled down to 64 for match play. The youngest player to make it that far was 17-year-old Daniel Summerhays of Farmington, Utah. Bobby Jones would have been proud of Summerhays, whose uncle, Bruce, stars on the Senior P.G.A. Tour. After young Daniel surprised everyone, especially himself, by winning his first three matches and advancing to the quarterfinals, he said, I really didnt expect to do much when I got here.
 
The high school senior had a wonderful perspective. I figured if I played real well I might make it into match play and maybe win one. Im just enjoying being here Im soaking it all in, he said.
 
Daniel never stopped smiling, even after he lost in the quarters to Robert Hamilton. As Jones, himself, might have said, Summerhays gushed I just love the game of golf.

The stamp of Bobby Jones is, thankfully, all over this championship. The two players good enough and lucky enough to make it to the final earn invitations to the Masters ' the championship created by Jones.

Next year the aforementioned Hamilton and Ben Bubba Dickerson will get to play Augusta National in April. After winning their semi-final matches they both said, Its a dream come true.

Dickerson had just missed an invitation to the Masters last year when he lost in extra holes in the final of the U.S. Public Links Championship. Hamilton had never come close. In fact, the former University of California golfer had tried and failed to qualify for the Amateur six previous times.
 
In Sundays 36-hole final, it was the more experienced Dickerson who looked nervous early. Bubba double-bogeyed the second hole and bogeyed the fourth. Meantime, a steady Hamilton birdied holes three and five to win four holes in a row and go four-up through the first five. All week long Robert had said hed been eerily focused. The key to his success was the ability to stay in the moment. Hamilton was enjoying this moment.

Dickerson had matched or bettered par in four of his five previous matches. His worst medal score was one over par. But in the final Bubba was five-over through 14 and five-down. Dickerson had rallied from two-down with four to play in the semi-finals and he came from behind again. Bubba birdied two of the final four in the morning 18 while Hamilton bogeyed two of four. Dickerson captured four holes in a row. When they broke for lunch, Hamiltons lead had dwindled to just one hole.

The second 18 was a nail-biter. No one led by more than one hole. It was all square when the two reached the 36th. The match ended when Dickerson hit a brilliant tee shot to 12 feet on the 235-yard par-3 and Hamiltons shot buried under the lip of a bunker. Dickerson had the luxury of three putts to win the championship. He calmly rolled in his birdie for a one-up victory.

What a summer its been for Dickerson. He helped his Florida Gators win the N.C.A.A. championship. He won the prestigious Western Amateur and now becomes the first player since Tiger Woods to win the Western and the U.S. Amateur the same year.
 
When asked what went through his mind when he faced a five-hole deficit today, Dickerson said he remembered how Tiger had rallied from six-hole deficits to win two of his Amateur titles.

Now Dickerson can look forward to next April when he will be paired with Woods for the first two rounds of the Masters. The Amateur champion and the defending Masters champion. A Tiger and a Bubba at Bobbys place.
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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.


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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

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.