Bounce in Tiger's step

By Rex HoggardAugust 10, 2011, 6:08 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – “Our anniversary on Tuesday,” Sean Foley smiled. Not that it’s felt like a year since the affable Canadian joined Team Tiger.

For those searching for perspective, or context, in Tiger Woods’ last calendar there is little of either to be found, the byproduct of a fits-and-spurts existence that has been slowed by injury and defined by a scorecard that is best dubbed incomplete.

For the record, Woods has played 11 official PGA Tour events on Foley’s watch. That’s not even a good spring for most players.

Some critics say Woods is still searching for answers, but the truth is he probably couldn’t even start asking the right questions until three weeks ago when doctors cleared him to start hitting full shots. Other athletes play through pain. Woods himself limped his way to U.S. Open glory in ’08 at Torrey Pines, but this time was different. The mind was willing, the ailing Achilles tendon was willful.

“I was trying to block out pain,” Woods said on Wednesday at Atlanta Athletic Club. “That’s not a lot of fun to play through. It’s nice to have a kind of bounce in my step again and walk around these hills and not have to worry about hills.”

For a dozen odd years Woods’ only competitive focus was history. For the last dozen odd months “public enemy No. 1” has been hills, a truth that may also explain the bounce in Foley’s step this week.

A punchbowl existence was always part of the job description, an occupational reality when one has been entrusted with what may become the game’s most-prolific action. A 35-year-old left leg that has more scar tissue than a cadaver simply compounded that reality.

“What we have now is Tiger’s blueprint and getting his swing in the position where he can be himself, a creative, artistic feel player,” Foley said following his morning session on Wednesday with Woods at the PGA Championship.

“It’s all about the shot right now. I think that’s really cool that he’s into his target and not his technique.”

Foley sees a player who is no longer painting by numbers. A player who is seeing and executing shots, not drills. Whether that produces his first Tour title since that historic victory at Torrey Pines in ’08 remains to be seen. What is certain is that both Woods and Foley are finally asking, and answering, the right questions.

“This is the fun part,” Woods said of this week’s PGA, triple-digit heat index and all. It’s an interesting take for Woods considering that everything up to now has felt like work, that as recently as the Masters he was “frustrated.” Pain will do that. A body that no longer seemed to be playing for the same team will do that.

In hindsight the long drive back to central Florida after his front-nine 42 and early exit at TPC Sawgrass may have been every bit the epiphany moment at the metaphorical crossroads.

Skeptics considered Woods’ most-recent hiatus another speed bump on a road that’s become littered with them. In retrospect this trip to the “DL” may end up being a crucial turning point in his quest for Jack Nicklaus’ historic haul of 18 grand slam titles.

Consider that after Torrey Pines he really had no other choice than the surgeon’s knife, but this time he could have limped along almost indefinitely, clinging to the outdated notion that injury and pain are part of the process. Instead, he listened to doctors and went on the shelf.

“For him to take three months off to assure the big picture is huge,” Foley said.

Three months on the couch also seemed to instill a measure of perspective into Woods, who has eschewed the long view for competitive blinders for much of his career. If ever he needed a dollop of patience it is now, fresh off the “DL” with a new swing that still has that new-car smell and a stand-in caddie on what may end up being the year’s toughest test.

“I came off of (knee surgery) in ’08 going into ’09, I was still under the same coach, same theories, same everything. I just had to get back to it,” Woods said. “Down the road if I would have gotten hurt and still been under Sean’s tutelage for years then that’s a different story. I could pick up from there. Here I’m still learning things.”

Woods doesn’t play the “what if” game often, but it was an assessment that must have been music to Foley’s ears. It’s a chicken or fried egg scenario, there was never going to be a full understanding of Woods’ new action without a left leg that was ready for prime time.

“The lead leg is the post,” Foley said of the knee and Achilles’ tendon injury that has sidelined Woods. “Just like in pitching and for a quarterback. Quarterbacks don’t have much success throwing off their back foot.”

On Wednesday Woods offered a quick assessment of his medical status, “pain free.” Good news for Foley and golf and the answer to the age-old question: What do you get a swing coach on your one-year anniversary? For Foley, a healthy left leg will do.

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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.

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.