Love renewed at U.S. Open

By Rex HoggardJune 16, 2011, 8:41 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Deep into his preparation for the 111th U.S. Open late Wednesday afternoon Davis Love III paused and his eyes widened, “Take a look at this,” he gushed as he quickly flipped to a picture on his iPhone.

Atop a paddle board, Love’s second or maybe third love, are two children and a dog. “A friend just bought it. It’s great,” he smiled widely.

Maybe someday Love will slow down enough to allow a doctor to officially diagnose him with Attention Deficit Disorder. Until then it’s best to categorize him as “Type A” and leave it at that.

If Love had business cards they’d read, in no particular order: U.S. Ryder Cup captain, father, husband, golf course architect, hunter, snowboarder, tournament director, paddle board shop owner, PGA Tour Policy Board member and, following Thursday’s 70 at Congressional, U.S. Open contender.

But then that’s nothing new. In 21 Open starts he’s finished inside the top 6 five times, including last year’s tie for sixth that may have been the toughest of all his near misses at the national championship.

“Last year I felt like I had a great chance to win and just kept making doubles that killed me,” said Love, who played his last seven holes at Pebble Beach in 3 over including a double bogey at the 17th hole.

In 1997, the last time the Open was played at Congressional, he tied for 16th place, but that doesn’t begin to explain how the 47 year old found his way into the windy mix on Thursday. No, that goes back to this year’s Ryder Cup announcement and later to a conversation with his son, Drew.

In the strongest terms, Love is a reluctant captain – honored to have his turn at the helm but, some would say, stubbornly optimistic he could take one final turn inside the ropes at the biennial grudge match.

“He wants to play on the Presidents Cup team and the Ryder Cup team,” Love’s manager and longtime friend Mac Barnhardt said on Thursday. “This is the most enthusiastic about his golf game that I’ve seen in a long time.”

But then Love always worked hard, betrayed on some level by a calm exterior that was sometimes mistakenly interpreted as indifference, and his ballstriking is better now at 47 than it was at 27. It’s always been a suspect putter, not the pace of time, that has held him back.

“If he putts good, not great, just good he’s got a win this year,” reasoned Barnhardt. The statistics support his claim.

At the Sony Open, where he finished tied for ninth, Love ranked 66th in putts per greens in regulation; at The Players where he tied for 12th he ranked 47th in that category and at Quail Hollow he tied for 16th and 66th in putts per GIR.

Drew Love, 17, finally took on the elephant in the room earlier this year, suggesting his father try a belly putter, which he did, albeit briefly. The belly putter didn’t stick, but the concepts did. If Thursday’s 31-putt effort doesn’t exactly sound Ben Crenshaw-like when compared with his season average it is progress by any measure.

“It could have been better,” Love reasoned after his round, but given his U.S. Open history it also could have been worse. Much worse.

His 1-under card was his best opening effort at the national championship in more than a decade (1999) and, for better or worse, promises to only fuel Love’s desire to avoid his golden years.

For Love golf has become a race against a clock that began with so much promise. He turned pro at 20, had seven Tour titles before his 30th birthday and a major before he was 35.

But somewhere along the road all that progress turned to an impasse. Victories came, 20 and counting, but the big events, the events that mattered the most, continued to stay just out of arms reach, including runners-up in 1995 and ’99 at the Masters followed by another in ’96 at the U.S. Open.

When he arrived at Congressional this week he was officially on the clock.

“I was a little jumpy when I got here but experience helped calm me down,” he said.

Maybe this time will be different. For the first time since 2007 he’s already exempt into all four majors and with the specter and pressures of next year’s Ryder Cup looming this may be his last, and best, chance.

For the man that always had time for golf and life, the countdown has begun and Congressional could be his line in the sands of time to add one more title to that metaphorical business card – U.S. Open champion.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 146th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Royal Birkdale, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”

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Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:43 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.

According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.

Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:

Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).

Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).

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Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.

Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.

Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.

“I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”

Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.

“Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”

Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.

On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.

“These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”

Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.

More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.

Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.

Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.

“He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”

Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.

He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.