Four-bogey finish dooms Scott's bid for first major

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2012, 7:50 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – It wasn’t Jean Van de Velde, there was no winding burn, no ridiculous ricochet, no dumbfounded Frenchman standing in shin-deep water watching the claret jug flow away with the tide, but that won’t make the wound heal any faster.

In a flurry of late bogeys and clutch birdies, Adam Scott went from a four-stroke favorite on a victory lap to a forlorn loser stunned by blows self-inflicted and otherwise.

Within 45 minutes on an overcast and windswept day at Royal Lytham & St. Annes the Australian, who had posted just four bogeys through 54 holes, dropped four shots starting at the 15th hole to finish a stroke behind Open champion Ernie Els.

Not since Van de Velde in 1999 at Carnoustie has a claret jug been ripped so ruthlessly from a champion’s grasp, not since Tom Watson in ’09 at Turnberry has there been such a collective pang for an also-ran.

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“It may not have sunk in yet,” said Scott, who followed near-flawless cards of 64-67-68 with Sunday’s 75 to finish at 6 under. “Hopefully I will be able to move on.”

On the eve of Sunday’s final 18, Scott received a text message from his idol Greg Norman. We’re not sure what the often-jilted “Shark” had to say, but given how things played out he should have suggested, “Don’t look down.”

For the better part of 14 holes on Sunday Scott had sidestepped trouble on a golf course that after three benign days developed a breezy punch. Wind gusts to 30 mph greeted the field on Day 4 but after starting his round bogey-birdie-bogey Scott turned in 2 over and was seemingly in control of his game and his emotions.

“I was surprisingly calm the whole round,” Scott said. “I probably spent all my nerves over the 24 hours leading up to playing today. Even the last few holes I didn’t really feel like it was a case of nerves or anything like that.”

Even after bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16 Scott didn’t have the look of a man in need of a lifeline and he was still two shots clear of Els, who had failed to birdie the short par-4 16th hole.

But in a championship blur everything changed.

Els, who closed with a 68, dropped his approach shot at the last 15 feet left of the pin and ignited the Lytham crowd with a closing birdie. Moments later, Scott’s 6-iron from 176 yards started too far left of the 17th green and rode the wind into trouble for his third consecutive bogey.

“Looking back at it the shot into 17 is the most disappointing,” said Scott, lapsing into the type of retrospection that promises to fill his next few days if not months.

Needing a par at the last to force a playoff, Scott pulled his drive into one of Lytham’s 205 bunkers, was forced to chip out sideways and his 10-foot par putt “was never on line.” The final line: 68 solid, if not spectacular holes, and a 4-over-through-four finish.

The Australian who lives in Switzerland and went to college in Las Vegas was undone in a New York minute.

For Scott, whose major resume before last year had been devoid of any redeeming qualities, the 141st Open Championship was his best chance to get off the major schnied, the culmination of a master plan that took root in early 2011 and has transformed this one-time afterthought into a world beater, again.

In order, he changed caddies (Stevie Williams), putters (long) and his schedule all with an eye toward – with respect to the rank-and-file PGA Tour schedule – the only four weeks that matter in golf, at least to a player of Scott’s caliber.

Before 2011, Scott had just 4 top-10s, and no real chance, in 39 major starts. He has now matched that total since rededicating himself last season, including runner-up showings at Augusta National (2011) and the British Open.

Trending, however, will do little to sooth Sunday’s sting.

In the aftermath of Scott’s 4-over finish, Els put a knowing arm across his the Australian’s shoulder.

“I said to him, ‘I’m sorry how things turned out. I’ve been there many times and you’ve just got to bounce back quickly. Don’t let this thing linger,’” Els said. “I feel for him, but thankfully he’s young enough.”

If Van de Velde’s collapse was acute, Scott’s meltdown was chronic, a slow burning pain that built to a fatal blow. The result, however, was the same, only the quality of the player demands distinction. Coming to terms with what happened at Lytham will likely be an even slower process.

“I know I’ve let a really great chance slip through my fingers today,” Scott said quietly. “But I’ll take the positives from it. I don’t know if I’ve ever played this well in a major.”

It’s not a claret jug, but from the ashes of Lytham Sunday it’s a start.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 7:08 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.

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Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.

Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.

Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.

Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.

Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.

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Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:17 pm

Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.

Full-field scores from the Portugal Masters

A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.

Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.

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Watch: 100mph storm destroys tent at St. Andrews

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 20, 2018, 4:25 pm

The Old Course at St. Andrews has endured all sorts of wacky weather over the years, but things ratcheted up a notch this week with the arrival of Storm Ali.

The first named storm of the season struck Wednesday, bringing 100 mph gusts, killing two people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.

According to the Courier no one was injured in the St. Andrews area, but a video posted from the home of golf shows just how powerful the storm was as wind absolutely destroyed one of the hospitality tents set up in advance of the Dunhill Links Championship:

While plenty of clean-up is sure to be needed, officials say the Dunhill Links, which also be conducted at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, will go on as scheduled October 4-7.