A Different Animal

By Rex HoggardJune 14, 2010, 3:46 pm
2010 U.S. OpenFrom Pebble Beach Golf Link’s 11th fairway, Bobby Brown is out of breath, partly the byproduct of a good walk unspoiled and the difference 4 ½ months can make in the agronomic disposition of a golf course.

“I’ve never seen a golf course change so much in (4 ½) months,” Brown gushes into his cell phone. “Unbelievable.”

Brown should know. The soulful looper spent three years working out of the Pebble Beach caddie yard, from 2002 to late ’04, and he has spent the last three seasons caddying for Dustin Johnson, winner of the last two AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Ams. What Brown was realizing and the rest of us will start to understand this week is that the old “Clambake” looks nothing like the course that will host the year’s second major.

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson and caddie Bobby Brown have won the last two Pebble Beach Pro-Ams. (Getty Images)
“Our game plan is going to be totally different,” Brown concedes. “It sounds corny, but you have to stay below the hole in these conditions. At the Pro-Am you throw darts.”

Because few, if any, are as qualified as Brown to analyze Pebble Beach we had him do a hole-by-hole breakdown for this week’s championship with an occasional assist from Mike Davis, the U.S. Golf Association’s top set-up man who also ran through the Pebble Beach card recently with GolfChannel.com.

No. 1 (par 4, 380 yards): From the outset, Brown makes it clear that Johnson, who led the field in driving distance at the 2009 and ’10 Pro-Ams, will not try to overpower Pebble Beach. “He will hit driver at 2, 3, 9, 10, 13, 14 and 18,” Brown said. “That’s it.” Johnson won’t have to at the first, which was among the easiest holes during the 2000 Pebble Beach Open with a 4.151 scoring average.

No. 2 (par 4, 502 yards): A par 5 during the Pro-Am and for guests, but the course recently lost two Monterey Pines near the driving area and officials decided to play it, as they did in 2000, as a long par 4. During Saturday’s practice round Johnson his driver/9-iron into the small green.

No. 3 (par 4, 404 yards): The third was lengthened for this year’s championship and the added real-estate appears to have the intended impact. “We wanted to put driver back in their hands,” Davis said.

No. 4 (par 4, 331 yards): Davis’ Open legacy, along with graduated rough and varied tee boxes, is a drivable par 4 and the fourth will be Pebble’s shortie. “Pretty sure they will make it drivable at least one day,” Brown said.

No. 5 (par 3, 195 yards): Davis may also get creative here. There is a forward tee box, which shortens the hole to about 140 yards and slightly changes the angle of the shot. Expect it to be used at least once.

No. 6 (par 5, 523 yards): The easiest hole during the 2000 Open, but don’t expect the longer hitters to be overly aggressive. The fairway has been shifted over to the right, bringing the ocean more into play. “If you get any cut spin at all it’s going to run off (the cliff),” Brown said. “It’s right on the edge. I’m afraid to walk over there.” On Saturday Phil Mickelson hit 2-iron/4-iron into the hole.

No. 7 (par 3, 109 yards): The shortest hole in U.S. Open history is little more than a sand wedge for most players in calm conditions.

No. 8 (par 4, 428 yard): Davis and the USGA have shifted the fairway some 30 yards right of where it was before and the hard, fast conditions will force players to lay well back from the canon. Brown said Johnson will likely tee off with a 5-iron and have about a 6- or 7-iron for his approach shot.

No. 9 (par 4, 505 yards): Brown said the downhill hole will play much shorter with the firm conditions, but – like many of Pebble’s fairways – Davis has brought the ocean into play on the right. The ninth was the hardest hole at the 2000 Open (4.556 average).

No. 10 (par 4, 495 yards): Even with new tees that added nearly 50 yards to the hole, Brown said Johnson should have a short iron for his approach.

No. 11 (par 4, 390 yards): Brown said Johnson will tee off with a 4-iron and, if history holes, this should be a birdie hole. In 2000 the 11th played to a 4.16 average.

No. 12 (par 3, 202 yards): Brown said the 12th is normally into the wind, which will require longer players to hit 6- or 7-iron tee shots.

No. 13 (par 4, 445 yards): Davis calls this the “neatest” hole on the course and Brown said Johnson will be aggressive at the 13th, hitting driver off the tee which will leave him about an 8-iron for his approach because, “Any putt from above the hole is the fastest at Pebble Beach,” Brown said.

No. 14 (par 5, 580 yards): Expect players to challenge here, Brown said Mickelson hit driver/4-iron into the 14th on Saturday, but Davis has shaved the collection area behind the green which will make any shot long that much more demanding.

No. 15 (par 4, 387 yards):
Brown said any tee shot short of the pot bunker will leave little more than a pitching wedge approach shot for most players.

No. 16 (par 4, 403 yards): Brown said the key on this hole is to avoid the “Hale Irwin” bunker off the tee.

No. 17 (par 3, 208 yards): Tough hole will be even more demanding in dry conditions. Brown said Johnson hit his 5-iron tee shot four paces short of the green on Saturday and lipped out the ace attempt.

No. 18 (par 5, 543 yards): Davis said the USGA has narrowed the fairway, from about 45 yards wide in the landing area to about 30 yards wide. Still, Johnson plans to hit driver. On Saturday Brown said he tossed five balls into the bunker where his man got up-and-down from earlier this year to win his second Pro-Am. “He hit them all to 2 feet,” Brown said. “It was great to relive those memories.
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Tiger putts way into contention at The Open

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 5:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.

Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.

“I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.

Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.

“I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”

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TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 4:58 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:


At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.

• Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.

• This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.

• One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.

• On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.

• One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.

• In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”

Yes, yes it is.

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Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open

By Grill Room TeamJuly 21, 2018, 4:55 pm

It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.

Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:

Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.

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Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 4:10 pm

Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.

Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.

No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.

No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.

No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.

No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.

No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.

And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.

Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.

Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.