Game's best still looking over shoulders at Match Play

By Rex HoggardApril 27, 2015, 5:39 pm

Fans got a glimpse at the new-look WGC-Cadillac Match Play on Monday as officials unveiled the 16 groups that will compete against each other the first three days via a lottery-style selection process.

While the PGA Tour’s only individual match play event has previously defied conventional wisdom with a straight bracket absent power protection, this new format would seem to finally favor the higher-ranked player.

That said, Tuesday’s selection process seemed to temper some of those expectations with some competitive groupings.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy drew Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner in the first group, and Group 13 may end up the proverbial “group of death,” with Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry and Harris English.

The new format will include 16 four-player groups, with the top 16 players in the World Golf Ranking anchoring each group followed by players picked randomly from one of three pools. Pool No. 1 included players ranked from 17th to 32nd, followed by Nos. 33 to 48 in the second pool and Nos. 49 to 64 in the last pool.

Every player will compete in three days of round-robin play, with the winners of each group advancing to single-elimination match play starting on Saturday.

“The old format of straight knockout can be a little harsh," McDowell said. "You can show up, like I did a few years in Tucson [Ariz.], and shoot your 66, lose and go home. And that can be difficult, especially for the sponsors when their top players are flying home on Wednesday night.” 

“Even if you lose on Day 1 you still have something to play for.”

McDowell has advanced to the weekend the last two years at the WGC-Match Play, while English beat Lee Westwood and McIlroy in his first start in the event last year. In 2013, Lowry beat McIlroy in Round 1, and Fowler won the consolation match last year.

The rankings, however, don’t always tell the full story even with the new format. Group 9, for example, includes Adam Scott, Chris Kirk, Paul Casey and Francesco Molinari.

Although Scott is the highest-ranked player in that group, he’s struggled this season as he continues his transition to a non-anchored putter, and Molinari has been sidelined recently with a wrist injury. Conversely, Casey, No. 37 in the world, is playing solid golf in 2015 and has two runner-up finishes in the WGC-Match Play.

Similarly, Jimmy Walker drew match-play magician Ian Poulter, who won this event in 2010, long-hitting Gary Woodland and Webb Simpson in Group 11.

“It’s match play and you have to learn to expect the unexpected,” said Walker, who played Poulter in a four-ball match in last year’s Ryder Cup. “It’s going to be fun.”

J.B. Holmes in Group 12 also drew a tough lineup for the first three days in Brooks Koepka, Russell Henley and Marc Warren.

Masters champion and world No. 2 Jordan Spieth will play Lee Westwood, Matt Every and Mikko Ilonen, who was a last-minute addition to the field when Phil Mickelson announced on Sunday he would not play the WGC-Match Play for personal reasons.

Here are the groups selected Monday for pool play:

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
Rory McIlroy Jordan Spieth Henrik Stenson Bubba Watson
Billy Horschel Lee Westwood  Bill Haas Louis Oosthuizen
Brandt Snedeker  Matt Every  Brendon Todd  Keegan Bradley 
Jason Dufner  Mikko Ilonen  John Senden  Miguel Angel Jimenez 
Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
Jim Furyk Justin Rose Jason Day Dustin Johnson
Martin Kaymer  Ryan Palmer Zach Johnson  Victor Dubuisson
Thongchai Jaidee  Anirban Lahiri  Branden Grace  Charl Schwartzel 
George Coetzee  Marc Leishman  Charley Hoffman  Matt Jones 
Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
Adam Scott Sergio Garcia Jimmy Walker J.B. Holmes
Chris Kirk Jamie Donaldson  Ian Poulter Brooks Koepka
Paul Casey  Bernd Wiesberger Webb Simpson  Russell Henley 
Francesco Molinari  Tommy Fleetwood Gary Woodland  Marc Warren 
Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
Rickie Fowler Matt Kuchar Patrick Reed Hideki Matsuyama
Graeme McDowell  Hunter Mahan Ryan Moore  Kevin Na 
Shane Lowry  Stephen Gallacher  Danny Willett  Joost Luiten 
Harris English  Ben Martin  Andy Sullivan Alexander Levy 
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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 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.