Europes Weakest Link

By Renton LaidlawJune 12, 2002, 4:00 pm
European golfers seldom win the U.S. Open, but that has never stopped them from trying. Since that day in 1913 when a 20-year-old American amateur Francis Ouimet took the mighty Harry Vardon, winner of a record six British Opens, and another Englishman Ted Ray in a playoff for the American title and won, the American championship has been one major that has proved as darned elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel in Baroness Orczys novel.
 
The U.S. Open record books make a dismal reading for the British. Ted Ray, stunned by Ouimet in 1913, did take the title seven years later at the Inverness Club in Toledo but since then only Tony Jacklin has been successful. He led from the start to win by seven at Hazeltine in 1970 when he also happened to be the reigning British champion. It did not herald, however, a dramatic revival in European fortunes. Jacklins success remains the only European win in 82 years! Is it any wonder that you might be considered somewhat eccentric if you suggested there could be a British winner at Bethpage Park this year of the title all American professionals dream of winning?
 
Having said that, it is a fact that British players have come close in the past few seasons. Only a brilliant up-and-down from a bunker at the final hole on the final day prevented Nick Faldo from beating Curtis Strange at The Country Club, Brookline in 1988. Strange easily won the playoff. The following year Ian Woosnam had a go at bringing the trophy back across the Atlantic but failed by a shot at Rochester. Strange was the winner again.
 
More recently Colin Montgomerie came in third at Pebble Beach in 1992, pipped only by the fast finishing Tom Kite and often under-rated Jeff Sluman, then lost a playoff to Ernie Els at Oakmont six year later. In 1997 Monty battled all the way again at Congressional in Washington with Tom Lehman and Els who played a career best second shot to the 71st green which proved a winner again.
 
Closest any Continental European has come to winning recently was Miguel Angel Jimenez who was joint runner up to Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach in 2000. Going good but he and big Ernie Els were 15 back at the close.
 
Still if the record of British and European players makes dismal reading we can at least claim that the title is not beyond the reach of members of the European Tour. Els is not a member of the European Tour and has won twice. The defending champion this year is Retief Goosen who not only plays the European Tour full-time but was last years top Euro earner so it is not all that bad.
 
Yet why is it that Europeans seem to do so well at Augusta and so poorly at the U.S. Open? Perhaps the key to that lies in the way the United States Golf Association sets up their Championship tests. Those thick collars of rough around the greens are not what European players are used to. They perform better at Augusta because there are not collars. You have to be more imaginative around the greens, be adept at the traditional little Scottish chip-and-run. Significantly, Europeans have won the Masters 11 times since 1980.
 
Then there is the climate. It can be hot and steamy at a U.S. Open and the Europeans do not like playing golf in conditions in which their shirts stick to their backs and you perspire buckets simply walking to the tee. In Europe the weather is altogether more inclement. Didnt the Scots invent golf in order to enjoy a dram of the product the country is most famous for without feeling guilty? After suffering the wind and rain at St. Andrews, or Prestwick or Musselburgh, they had a ready made excuse for medical reasons to down a whisky or two or three
 
Looking for excuses, however, for European failure at the U.S. Open is pointless. The fact is that the top European Tour players, whether they are from Europe, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, or Asia, are golfing globetrotters. No golfing conditions, no course set-up should ever faze them. The worldwide European Tour starts each year in Asia moves on to South Africa and Australia, heads back to Asia and the Middle East before it finally comes home. The Tour does not even hit Britain until Week 18!
 
My point is that Europeans, most of who do manage to play a number of events in America, early in the season anyway, really are capable of playing any course. Maybe it is only matter of time before a European manages to do what Goosen did last year at Southern Hills.
 
A hundred years ago at Garden City, N.Y., when the entry incidentally was a modest and manageable 90, it was Scot Laurie Auchterlonie from St Andrews who walked off with the first prize, preventing in the process fellow Scot Willie Anderson from winning five years in a row.
 
Those were the days before Ouimet when the men from across the pond dominated the event. It is different now but you can be sure the Europeans in the field this year will come as determined as ever to take the title. They will take no notice of the historical facts and figures. After all, to any European winning the American national championship comes second only to being a member of a winning Ryder Cup side on U.S. soil. There is one problem, one reason, however, why the Europeans might have to wait another year for a much-needed U.S. Open win. He is a bit older that Francis Ouimet. His name is Tiger Woods.
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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.



Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 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)

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

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 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.