Karlsson puts yips behind, qualifies for British Open

By Rex HoggardMay 21, 2013, 1:51 am

PLANO, Texas – On the eve of last year’s Open Championship Robert Karlsson withdrew because, he tweeted at the time, he had acquired “some bad habits in my game.”

The square-shouldered Swede later admitted it was the yips that drove him from Royal Lytham & St. Annes, all of which made the scene late Monday at Gleneagles Country Club all at once surreal and special.

With a return trip to this year’s Open at Muirfield hanging in the balance, Karlsson raced his first putt on the first hole of a four-players-for-three-spots playoff some 15 feet past the hole.

“I had the same putt an hour ago,” Karlsson later admitted.

In regulation, Karlsson had three-putted for bogey on the penultimate hole and then hit into a water hazard at the last hole to finish in a four-way tie for sixth place at 4-under 136. So from virtually the same spot on the 17th green he had the opportunity for the ultimate mulligan.

But then the last year has been something of a career mulligan for Karlsson.

“I felt like I started from the beginning,” Karlsson said. “In August (2012), I didn’t know if I would ever play golf again.”

Karlsson overcame his bout with the yips, regained his PGA Tour card at Q-School in December and took another step toward closing that dark chapter in his career when he calmly rolled in the 15-footer for par at the first extra hole at Gleneagles to earn his 12th start at golf’s oldest championship.

“I didn’t want to hit it short,” Karlsson grinned when asked about his first putt that raced by the hole at the par-3 17th. “I had the same line up the hill that I had (in regulation play) and knew what I needed to do.”

Karlsson finished the 36-hole marathon tied with Bud Cauley (70-66), Luke Guthrie (65-71) and Andres Echavarris (67-69), who bogeyed the first extra hole to end the playoff.

Photos: Top photos of the week

Josh Teater took medalist honors with rounds of 64-69 to qualify for his first major championship, while Johnson Wagner (68-66) and Camilo Villegas (68-66) tied for second place.

Brian Davis (66-69), who also qualified for the Open at Gleneagles in 2011, and Scott Brown (71-64) rounded out the top 8 to earn invitations to Muirfield in July.

It seems about right that on a day fit for flying a kite, eight players weathered the wind to advance to the ultimate wind-tunnel test.

“I’m quite surprised how good the scoring was,” said Davis, whose opening round featured a tee shot at the first that sailed out of bounds followed by six consecutive birdies. “It was blowing a hoolie all day.”

Not that Teater seemed to have much trouble with the winds after opening his day with a 64 and he was pleased with his closing card of 1 under considering the increasingly difficult conditions.

“I was just trying to hit shots in this crazy wind,” said Teater, who has never played a links course. “I wasn’t trying to attack any flags. Normally, in those 36-holers you have to go low but in that wind you just tried to hold on.”

And if dealing with the gale wasn’t challenging enough, Wagner had the added duties of also playing caddie for the day.

Wagner’s regular caddie, Matt Hauser, took the week off to be with his family following the death of his brother, Zack, two weeks ago; so Wagner’s trainer, Victor Trasoff-Jilg, stepped in at Gleneagles.

“It was the first time I had a yardage book in my hand since college,” Wagner said. “I may start carrying one all the time. It gave me a purpose walking up to the ball.”

Karlsson’s purpose since last year’s Open meltdown has been to savor how far he’s come. Following a pedestrian start to the season he withstood brutal weather on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month to finish tied for fourth.

Quail Hollow was Karlsson’s first top-five finish on Tour since the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational. For a player of Karlsson’s caliber two years out of contention is an eternity and what makes Monday’s 37 holes so significant.

“I try to look at all the qualifiers as an opportunity,” said Karlsson, who tied for fifth in 1992 when the Open was played at Muirfield. “It’s a chance for me to go out and see what I can do without any pressure.”

He now gets to return to the Open Championship, where he hit rock bottom last year, with a similar attitude and, more importantly, without the “bad habits” that haunted him in 2012.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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)

Getty Images

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.