Day threatening to run away with Players

By Rex HoggardMay 14, 2016, 12:26 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Much like the weather-delayed second round of The Players, this isn’t over.

When Jason Day punched out late Friday he still had four holes to complete in his round, and he will join 32 of his PGA Tour frat brothers bright and far-too-early Saturday morning looking to get things back on schedule.

But there is a presence looming over TPC Sawgrass and not just that storm cell that sent players scrambling to the clubhouse for more than two hours on Friday afternoon.

Day is moving to another level and those inside and outside the ropes can feel it. The man who led wire-to-wire in his last start in Florida, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, followed his opening 63 with a 14-birdie card through 32 holes for a three-stroke lead at 14 under, which was also the number Day predicted would win this week.

The dude who has won six times in the last 12 months appears back on cruise control after a brief hiatus from the winner’s circle on a course that – like Bay Hill – he hadn’t enjoyed a lot of success on.

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In his previous five trips to the circuit’s flagship event, Day had never carded back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He still hasn’t, but unless he endures a dramatic lapse early Saturday the field will set out for the weekend playing an imposing game of catch up.

His Players history aside this doesn’t look anything like the guy who finished with an 81 in Round 2 last year at TPC Sawgrass, and there’s a reason why the Australian is the world’s top-ranked golfer. Pros at that level have a tendency to convert these types of opportunities.

Since 2010, the world No. 1 has held the outright lead in a Tour event four times and that player went on to win each time.

“I will have some opportunities on 15 and 16, as well,” Day said as dusk descended on TPC Soft & Soggy. “[No.] 16 will be downwind. Hopefully I can hit some solid shots and try to get a few more birdies.”

After four days of target practice – made possible by exceedingly long drives and soft, receptive greens that won’t get much firmer thanks to Friday’s afternoon deluge – this marathon will quickly devolve into a sprint.

That doesn’t exactly give the field much hope to chase down a player who doesn’t have a single bogey on his card for the week.

The silver lining in Friday’s metaphorical cloud could be found just 11 spots down the leaderboard thanks to Rory McIlroy’s eight-stroke improvement on Day 2.

The Northern Irishman moved into a tie for eighth place, just six strokes off Day’s pace, thanks to a 64, and set the stage for one of those showdowns that make for good talking points but rarely occur in golf.

Earlier this year your scribe was attempting an informal poll of players and various observers, asking who would have the upper hand if McIlroy and then-world No. 1 Jordan Spieth went toe-to-toe with their best stuff. It should have been no surprise how many hijacked the conversation, suggesting Day was the best of the lot.

Day seemed to suggest as much late last year.

“If we had to put it in words these days it's like Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy had a baby and I was it,” Day said at the 2015 Tour Championship.

He enjoys the length of McIlroy – Day ranks 24th on Tour this season with a 299-yard driving average, Rory ranks 10th at 305 yards – and the putting prowess of Spieth – Day is second on Tour in strokes gained-putting compared to Jordan at 20th.

At their best, both players can separate themselves from the pack with surprising ease. Imagine the theater if they were given a chance to test their best in a much-anticipated mano-a-mano match.

But first, McIlroy will have to close the gap and that will likely require a little help from the front-runner, who hasn’t exactly been in a giving mood of late. Day's point-and-shoot mentality on a soft Stadium Course certainly won’t help.

“I have a big lead, but I have to keep pushing forward with as much golf as we have left,” Day said.

He’s right, of course, but for those playing catch up the weekend is starting to feel considerably more abbreviated.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 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 (