Ko overcomes rough start to tie Sorenstam's record

By Randall MellApril 3, 2015, 12:40 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lydia Ko can make the game look like child’s play, but there was nothing easy about the way the 17-year-old phenom reached a historical mark Thursday at the ANA Inspiration.

All that giggling coming from Ko near the end of the round belied just how tough the day was.

Ko had to fight her way to a 1-under-par 71 to equal Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam’s mark of 29 consecutive rounds under par.

The LPGA says it’s the longest streak dating back to 1992, which is as far back as detailed LPGA tournament records go.

Ko battled blustery, early morning winds. She battled out of more ankle-deep rough than she’s used to playing through. She even battled her swing, too, and somehow still reached the mark.

It was all daunting enough to keep Ko from thinking about anything beyond the shots at hand.

“A record was the last thing I was thinking about,” Ko said.

You saw just how maddening the battle was becoming for Ko after she clumsily pitched a shot off a tree and made bogey at her ninth hole of the day.

Ko turned in exasperation leaving that hole and chucked her golf ball into the water behind Poppie’s Pond.

ANA Inspiration: Articles, videos and photos

Rarely does Ko let emotion like that escape for everyone to see, but it was her fourth bogey over six holes.

“I really wasn’t hitting my driver well,” Ko said.

Ko played the first nine in 1 over despite making three birdies.

“What impresses me most is her ability to grind out a good score when she isn’t having a good day,” said Jason Hamilton, Ko’s caddie. “She had her B game today.”

Hamilton was on Ko’s bag for all 29 sub-par rounds. He picked up her bag full time late last fall in Asia. He saw this kind of fight more than once in that streak.

“Even when she has an off day, she still finds a way to post a decent number,” Hamilton said.

Ko said she regrouped at her 10th hole, at the No. 1 tee box. That’s where she pulled out a note her swing coach, David Leadbetter, gave her before the round.

“I don’t want to say exactly what it was,” Leadbetter said. “I told her it was a little psychobabble, just a little something meant to be inspirational. There has been so much talk about her breaking records, you can get really consumed by it, so it was just something to release a little of the pressure, to get her mind off it all.”

Whatever it was, Ko said it helped.

In the end, Ko’s giggling belied just how much the day challenged her. She practically laughed her way through the last two holes with banter between playing partner Lexi Thompson and their caddies leaving her in stitches.

Ko played the back nine in 2 under par, though it was dramatic to the finish.

At her 16th hole, where she was even par for the day, Ko hooked her tee shot behind a stand of trees. She fought a pull hook all day. That’s been her miss of late. From 160 yards out, Ko didn’t have a clear shot at the green. Hamilton told her she didn’t have to get too creative with the shot.

“Look, you don’t have to work it back on to the green,” Hamilton recounted telling her. “If you make it into the bunker up there, you can still make par.”

With a 6-iron, from the rough behind those trees, Ko did better than that. She hit a low hook that curved sharply around the trees, nipping some leaves before running up onto the green, where she was left with a 25-foot birdie putt. She two putted for par.

“That was awesome,” Hamilton said. “She couldn’t have played the shot better if she had a bucket of balls.”

At her 17th hole, Ko sealed the deal. She hit another beautiful 6-iron, this one a pretty, pure draw left of the flag. The ball fed down a slope to 18 inches of the cup. She made an easy birdie to get to red numbers.

If there was any stress building up, it drained away walking to that shot. Ko laughed uncontrollably exchanging banter with Thompson, with Hamilton and with Thompson’s caddie, Benji Thompson (no relation).

“Benji’s a real ham,” Hamilton said. “He and I were talking about how badly we were doing as their caddies, how badly we were reading the greens. I think Benji said, `Yeah, we suck today.’”

The remark set Ko off on a hard belly laugh walking to her last birdie putt. She made an easy par coming home to close out the day.

“Lydia has a great personality, and we definitely stay loose out there,” said Thompson, the defending champion, who shot 72, a solid start.

Thompson was as impressed as everyone else watching Ko match Sorenstam’s mark.

“Lydia might have been a little bit off today, but she has an amazing short game and hit some incredible shots,” Thompson said. “It doesn't surprise me she shot under par again.”

Ko will be looking to do it again Friday to surpass Sorenstam’s mark.

“Annika Sorenstam is legendary,” Ko said.

Ko seems intent on working her way to that lofty status, too.

Getty Images

More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

Getty Images

How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 18, 2018, 8:40 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.

Getty Images

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

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 8:30 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.