Final Exam Over

By Rex HoggardDecember 8, 2009, 4:11 am
PGA Tour (75x100)WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The final day of PGA Tour Q-School is the matriarch of multiple-choice exams, with a lineup that includes winners, losers and others.

On Monday at Bear Lakes Country Club the former is a group that includes a wedding-day special: something old (Tour veteran Jeff Maggert), something new (freshman phenom Rickie Fowler), something barrowed (hard charging David Lutterus) and something blue (Boise State products Troy Merritt and Graham Delaet).

The losers cover the competitive spectrum, starting at Josh Broadaway – who started the final turn well within the safety of the top 25, signed for a 78 and has a seat reserved at Nationwide Tour orientation later this week – to Andrew McLardy, who secured a Tour card on the number at 9 under but cost himself valuable early-season starts with a closing 77. Truth is there is no scale capable of measuring the biggest loser at Bear Lakes.
Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler hangs his head, but he was one of the survivors Monday. (Getty Images)
But then Q-School is all about the ambiguous middle ground between black and white. Not since the BCS started deciding national championships has the line between victory and defeat been so blurred depending on player and perspective.

Merritt took medalist honors at 22 under to further boost a stock that has been slow to match the talent. Virtually unnoticed by Division I schools, Merritt walked on at Boise State and hasn’t stopped high-stepping since.

“All he’s ever done is win,” said one long-time observer late Monday afternoon. Twenty-one victories in college, to be exact, followed by a steady climb through the mini-tours and Nationwide Tour.

A clubhouse away, slumped on a bench with a cup of coffee in one hand and a busy cell phone in the other was Julien Trudeau. Trudeau had just signed for a closing 70 which he knew was not going to be enough to push him from obscurity and occasional insolvency to the PGA Tour, yet the smile on his face made it impossible to distinguish between his fate and the fate of Merritt.

“I can’t believe I’m even here,” said Trudeau, making his first finals appearance. “I’ve got David Duval over there and (Tim) Herron showing me how to hit that little butter fade. I finally feel like I can do it.  I finally feel like I belong.”

Forgive Trudeau if his glass is a tad too full. He’d come up short at second stage three times, twice as a player and once as a caddie, so perspective comes easy. He’s also flirted with more financial margins this year than the AIG.

Which begs the delicate question, Did he ever think about quiting?

“Which month of the year are you talking about?” he deadpans.

So he finished at 8 under, one shot outside the Tour bubble and is bound for a year on the Nationwide Tour. Life goes on. Life is good.

“I was talking to Spencer (Levin) and he asked, ‘What is it going to feel like next week to play golf with your buddies?’” Trudeau laughs. “We’ve got a game next week at my club and I’m going let my caddie play. I’ll carry the bag. Hope he doesn’t make me carry the staff bag.”

Not far from Trudeau’s perch was Tom Pernice Jr., foot propped up on a bench in the locker room and completely at ease, at least externally, with the type of late-round collapse that often defines this week. Pernice, you see, was inside the number through 107 holes, pulled his tee shot into the pond where Tour dreams go to die on the 18th hole on the Lakes Course and double bogeyed his way out of card.

Yet if Pernice was dying inside, you couldn’t tell.

“I didn’t come here to not make it so you’re disappointed,” said Pernice, whose safety blanket includes limited veteran status on Tour next year and a Champions Tour card. “Sill, I had a chance I just didn’t get the job done today.”

Maybe a career of solid performances, combined with the golden parachute of the over-50 circuit, helped soften the blow. Maybe Pernice hides his disappointment well. Either way, neither Pernice nor Trudeau had the look of men ready to hurl themselves off Bear Lakes’ post-modern clubhouse.

The same could not be said for Jay Williamson, at least not when he teed off Monday afternoon closer to Nationwide oblivion than the annuity that has become the modern Tour. Williamson is a 42-year-old father of two with a meat-and-potatoes game and a mind that moves too fast for his own good sometimes.

“Hardest week of my life,” sighed Williamson, who ran his Q-School record to 7-for-8 with his 11th-place finish. “I wish I could say I wasn’t nervous, but I haven’t had a good enough career.”

Williamson’s reward was a card with his name and picture on it. No trophy and a check not large enough to cover his expenses for a week, but he embraced his metaphorical chalice with all the zeal of an Open champion hoisting the Claret Jug.

That’s the way it goes when you’ve etched out a career on the fringes of the biggest Tour in the world. That’s the way it goes when you’re a self-described “part-time player” who struggles with nerves and expectations, not high fades and 6-footers.

“This is one of my greatest achievements,” Williamson said. “The problem is I know how hard this is.”

It would be unfair to say Fowler, the up-and-coming star who never looked as if he was more than a single shot away from securing his first Tour card, doesn’t understand the gravity of his accomplishment. But to fully grasp Monday’s happenings one needed a perspective litmus test.

It is the beauty of Q-School, win, lose or other.
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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  

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.