Bethpage Primer

By Rex HoggardJune 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
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DUBLIN, Ohio ' The comeback everybody hoped for at Augusta National and leveraged the house on at The Players arrived on a breezy Sunday afternoon in central Ohio.
Tiger Woods said he needed some time to sort things out. Times up. Now the clock starts for Bethpage Black and the U.S. Open.
With a slightly shorter driver with slightly more loft he slighted the field at the Memorial with a fairways-and-greens exhibition and a hint of what awaits in two weeks on Long Island.
Tiger Woods
We all know what happened the last time Tiger teed it up at Bethpage. (Getty Images)
Yet ballstriking brilliance and a one-stroke, come-from-behind, white-knuckle victory aside, the comeback is not over. Not for Woods.
Not with three turns still left in the Grand Slam season and favored-layout status waiting at the U.S. Open (Bethpage) and PGA Championshp (Hazeltine National). The Memorial victory was nice, historic actually, but one-half of the single-season legends slam ' Memorial and his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March ' is not what sends Woods to the gym and the practice tee and back to the gym.
If the Memorial is any measure, the event Jim Furyk dubbed a mini-major, Woods could become the first player to win, place and show at Americas national championship.
This is how you have to hit it to win the U.S. Open, Woods said.
He should know, only Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson have more Open hardware on the mantle and perhaps only Woods has the mettle to overpower a brutish layout like Muirfield from the middle of the fairway, of all places.
For the week, Woods put on a ballsriking clinic. On Sunday he went 14-for-14 from the tee, the first time hes done that since 2003, and connected with the short grass a Kreskin-like 49 times out of 56 attempts for four rounds, tying the best driving week of his career.
Woods was second in driving accuracy, third in greens in regulation (73 percent) and 12th in driving distance. His 25 putts in Round 4 ' including a 38 footer at the second that was his longest of the week and third-longest of the year ' were notable, particularly on greens most players dubbed the fastest they will play all year, but were more a byproduct of superior ballstriking.
I really controlled my flight and felt in control with shaping the ball both ways. I didn't really have a problem hitting it either way. That's when you know you feel like you're in control of what you're doing, said Woods, who added that he hadnt hit the ball this well since the 2006 British Open when he brought Hoylake and the worlds best to their knees with a cleek. I didn't hit any surprises out there.
Yet perhaps his most impressive feat of the week is that he saved his best for last.
Woods teed off for the final round four-strokes adrift of Mark Wilson and someone named Matt Bettencourt and paired with a dead ringer for Cosmo Kramer, otherwise known as the hard-swinging Michael Letzig. He needed just 30 minutes to pull within one shot of the lead.
By the turn he was atop a congested leaderboard and he closed with consecutive birdies at Nos. 17 and 18 to make the final three two-balls a formality.
I didnt say much to him all day, just nice, shot. Nice shot. Nice shot, Letzig said. I dont know what everyone is talking about how he drives it. He was perfect all day. Ive never seen iron shots like that. Its unreal.
There was a foreshadowing to the entire affair when the day dawned just as Nike stablemate and good friend Roger Federer was clearing his mental attic at Roland Garros, Woods followed the lead but he was eyeing a contenders-by-committee gathering much more fearsome than Federers French Open ghosts.
Even with his swinging show, the outcome remained curiously in doubt until Muirfield Villages grueling closing stretch. A leaderboard with more traffic than a Dublin ' Ohio, not Ireland ' roundabout and more moving parts than an economic stimulus plan featured as many as five co-leaders at one time, many of them with major championship pedigrees.
Bettencourt ' a former college flamethrower for the Modesto Junior College baseball team turned journeyman pro making his first Memorial start and first cameo on a Tour leaderboard ' grinded to an even-par start through eight holes before rinsing his title chances at the ninth. Apologies to the likeable rookie, but with the stars aligned behind him a Bettencourt victory was about as probable as a run on Arnold Palmers in the Muirfield Village clubhouse.
In order Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and Jonathan Byrd tilted at the games preeminent windmill before crashing into statistical reality.
Byrd, whose work with swing coach Mike Bender and sports psychologist Dr. Morris Pickens has produced a player on the cusp of a breakthrough, went from 2 up on the field and cruising to a 2 down contender in less time than it takes to watch a sitcom. He followed a three-putt bogey at the 13th with an unsightly double at No. 14 to finish tied for third.
Love moved into a share of the lead with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13 and 14, but squandered his title chances, and a chance to avoid U.S. Open qualifying, with a 3-over-par finish.
While Furyk, an Open player rounding into form in time for Bethpage, held on the longest thanks to one-putting Muirfields closing three, but couldnt match Woods and finished alone in second place.
For Woods it was a text book back nine. Three birdies, an oak-shaking chip-in eagle at the 11th and a wind-gust bogey at 17 added up to a closing 65 and 12-under 276 total. The kind of round Woods has said was coming since he reintroduced himself to the fold back in February at the WGC-Match Play Championship.
There is no secret to Woods march back into the history books other than Hogans famed elixir ' practice.
At Augusta National, Woods fumed because he couldnt cover the final two holes in anything resembling par, but ostensibly because he couldnt work out the kinks on the practice tee afterward. The knee just wouldnt cooperate.
Things started getting better at Quail Hollow and continued to improve through The Players.
My practice sessions started getting longer at home. Hit more balls, play more golf, all these things. People don't realize you need to do that. You need to have that ability, said Woods, who became the first player to win Jacks gem four times. You can't just think about your swing and how to be great the next day. I needed to do the reps.
Dont underestimate the power of practice. Or Woods chances at Bethpage in a fortnight, where he won the second of his three U.S. Open titles in 2002.
Just ask Nicklaus, perhaps the only man alive who can relate to Woods brilliance.
If he drives the ball like that it wont be a contest, Nicklaus said. Can you imagine, 14 of 14 fairways (hit) today, seven (missed) fairways all week. Thats pretty good...
It seems the only thing that can leave a legend speechless is a legendary performance.

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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 was able to cobble together 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  

    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; or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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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.