Notes Sendens Angst Caddie Mocks Poulter

By Pga Tour MediaMarch 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. -- Stewart Cink already had in effect lost the tournament when he rolled in a 50-foot birdie putt that allowed him to join six players at second place, which was worth about $130,000 and extra FedExCup points.
But that putt was plenty significant to John Senden.
The lanky Australian was on the cusp of moving into the top 50 in the world rankings, and a five-way tie for second would have made him eligible for the World Golf Championship at Doral next week, an event Senden has never played.
With a six-way tie at Innisbrook, Senden moved up only to No. 51, missing out by one-hundredth of a point. He still has one more chance at Bay Hill to crack the top 50.
Same scenario as last year, he said Tuesday. Ive got to play well.
At least this year, Senden appears to have a fighting chance.
He was at No. 52 last year when he arrived at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, desperate to get into the top 50 for two reasons. It would make him eligible for Doral, and give him one more week to qualify for the Masters. But he started feeling sick early in the week, and was so ill Thursday morning that he couldnt make it to the first tee.
Ive always been just on the outside, Senden said. It would be exciting to get Doral with lots of world points. My goal is to play all four majors this year. Im in two right now.
One of those is the Masters. He qualified by tying for fourth in the PGA Championship last year.
The PGA TOUR scored a small victory last month when the USGA recognized the FedExCup while handing out exemptions to the U.S. Open. Along with giving a free pass to the top 30 on the PGA TOUR money list, those in the top 30 in the final FedEx Cup standings dont have to qualify, either.
It was thought the USGA would pick one or the other, but officials recognized it would only affect a couple of players. By also taking the field from the Tour Championship, Jonathan Byrd and Camilo Villegas are exempt for Torrey Pines.
Doing the numbers, I am very confident that the majority of the U.S. Open field will still come via qualifying, USGA executive director David Fay said Tuesday. Adding the TOUR Championship field will not tilt that.
And that was important to the USGA, since 54 percent of the field last year came from qualifying.
Not to bring politics into this in an election year, but we like to think the U.S. Open is the most democratic golf championship, Fay said.
Ernie Els has had some peculiar travel habits this year. He flew 10 hours from London to Arizona to play in the Accenture Match Play Championship after saying he would not compete, then he decided against a 15-minute drive down Apopka-Vineland Road to play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Els withdrew from Bay Hill on Monday, and word was the tournament host was not pleased.
As far as Im concerned, Arnold Palmer is the King and I will always be appreciative of the start that he gave me in America when I first played here in 1993, said Els, who won 10 years ago at Bay Hill. I will personally be speaking to Arnie to explain why I have taken the difficult decision to pull out after supporting his tournament for the last 15 years.
So why did he take this week off?
'The bottom line is that I have to ensure that my body and game are in perfect shape in the run-up to the Masters, Els said in a statement. There are things I need to take care of this week, which means that Bay Hill does not fit into my new schedule as I would have liked it to.
Controversy seems to follow the PGA TOUR cut policy no matter what it is.
The most recent change allowed for a secondary cut after the third round if more than 78 players made the cut. Seventy-nine players made the cut last week at Innisbrook, and the 54-hole cut to top 70 and ties eliminated eight players.
So it worked'except for one thing.
The second cut was not made until Sunday morning because of weather delays, so the final round features threesomes on both tees. If the TOUR had stuck with the original change'closest number to 70 play the final two rounds'then 64 players would have advanced to the third round, and there would have been enough daylight to finish.
I find that ironic, said Paul Goydos, no fan of either change. I find that hilarious.
Dottie Pepper joined some of the NBC Sports staff for a round on the Island course at Innisbrook early in the week at the PODS Championship. She looked as if she had seen a ghost when she pulled up to the practice green.
The 18th green brought back some bad memories, she said.
She had not been on the Island Course since 1984, when she was a freshman at Furman and had a chance to win the NCAA title until a three-putt on the last hole.
A day later, Pepper returned to the Island course. Playing the 18th, she holed out from the fairway for eagle with a 7-iron.
Ian Poulter says his comments were taken out of context by a British golf magazine, but that hasnt let him off the hook with his peers ' not only players, but caddies.
Some quick background, if needed.
Poulter told U.K.-based Golf World that while he respects every golfer, I know I havent played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.
John Wood, the looper for Hunter Mahan, arrived at Riviera early Sunday with his game face on.
I think this is the day that I reach my full potential as a caddie, Wood said. And when I do, it will be just me and Stevie.
That would be Steve Williams, caddie for Tiger Woods.
The PODS Championship had a stronger field than the Honda Classic, based on the world rankings. David Toms is not eligible for the CA Championship, the first time he has missed a World Golf Championship since Firestone in 2000. Tiger Woods again will play the Tavistock Cup, matches between touring pros from Isleworth and Lake Nona in the Orlando area. Newcomers to the Isleworth team include J.B. Holmes, Daniel Chopra and Paula Creamer.
Justin Leonard is No. 32 in the world. He was at No. 210 a year ago.
My first practice round was Tuesday, and I played with Tiger and Mark OMeara. I needed a diaper. It was pretty overwhelming.'Sean OHair, on his first trip to the Masters.
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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, 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?’”