Tiger, Rory, Phil, Augusta ... believe the hype

By Rex HoggardApril 10, 2013, 2:40 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – From unrealistic expectations normally comes disappointment. If something is too good to be true, it probably is.

Beware buzz words like epic, awesome and historic, because the capriciousness of competition historically tempers even the most optimistic forecast. Truth is grand, title bouts rarely go to script (see Watson, Bubba, 2012 Masters).

But as the stars and azaleas align for this week’s Masters it’s impossible not to imagine the Sunday possibilities – Tiger vs. Phil, Tiger vs. Rory, Tiger vs. Sneds. OK, Tiger head-to-head with almost anyone late on Sunday is worth the price of admission. It’s been that way since he won one for the ages in 1997.

The difference this year is that for the first time in at least seven calendars the entire cast seems up to the task.

Woods has now played 14 major championships since he collected Grand Slam glory and his title drought is at an inexplicable 0-for-7 at Augusta National. In Woods’ first six Masters as a professional he won three green jackets – that’s right, he batted .500 straight out of spring training. In his last 10 starts on the former fruit nursery he has just one victory.


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Whether you attribute that record to the so-called “Tiger proofing” of the Peachtree playground in 2002, when officials lengthened nine holes, or simply a competitive quirk really doesn’t matter. For Woods, the seven-year itch has turned into a nasty rash.

“I wouldn’t have been happy with that,” Woods said on Tuesday when asked how he would have felt in 2005 had he known it would be at least another seven years before he slipped into his fifth green jacket.

For Woods, the dichotomy of the drought is simple. In the seven Masters he’s played since outdueling Chris DiMarco in ’05, he has finished inside the top 10 in putting for the week just once.

Although Augusta National officially added driving and chipping to the annual putting contest on Monday when they announced a new junior initiative that will be played at the club in 2014, winning the Masters is, and will always be, about putting.

“I was there ball-striking-wise a few years through that stretch, where I think I hit it pretty well. Hit a lot of greens, but just didn't make enough putts,” said Woods, who has finished inside the top 10 in all but one of his last seven Masters. “You have to make the majority of the putts inside 10 feet, and you've got to be just a great lag putter for the week.”

For all his near-misses, however, Woods sounded positively upbeat on Tuesday, the byproduct of one of his fastest starts on Tour in years. He has three victories in five starts and, perhaps even more important this week, leads the circuit in strokes gained-putting, the convoluted formula that is the benchmark for success at Augusta National.

But Woods’ 2013 momentum is only part of the frenzied formula that has turned the 77th Masters into the acme of hyperbole.

In contrast to Woods’ relative swoon since officials began tinkering with Augusta National, Phil Mickelson has won all three of his green jackets since the changes and has only been out of contention on Sunday twice since 2000.

What Lefty lacks in recent form – in his last three starts he’s gone T-3 (Doral), missed cut (Bay Hill) and T-16 (Houston) – he makes up for in passion. In short, the right turn onto Magnolia Lane off of Washington Road is akin to a competitive B-12 shot for the big left-hander.

“Having the opportunity to be in the thick of it and to feel that excitement, to feel that pressure, to grace Amen Corner knowing that you need birdies and trying to win a green jacket, that is the greatest thrill a golfer can possibly experience,” Mickelson said.

The thrill for fans is simply to watch Mickelson, both on and off the golf course, and he didn’t disappoint on Tuesday.

The man who has played the Masters with two drivers and one of the longest courses in U.S. Open history with no driver will tee off on Thursday with something in between in his bag.

Mickelson has replaced his driver with what has been dubbed “Phrankenwood,” a fairway wood chassis with a driver face. Or, put another way, it is essentially a 2-wood.

“It just bores through the air and I don't have to manipulate it and it just goes so far,” Mickelson said.

However unintended, Mickelson’s maneuvers dovetail with a collective move to play this year’s Masters with a more measured approach. Power, it seems, is passé, likely mitigated by lush conditions, in favor of control.

It is a philosophy that will be embraced by Rory McIlroy, of all players. McIlroy, the man who blew his title chances into the cabins right of the 10th fairway in 2011, has emerged from an early slump and is sounding surprisingly restrained.

“I’m going to try to hit it into the fat parts of the fairway,” said McIlroy, who heightened this week’s pre-tournament rhetoric with his runner-up finish last week in Texas. “Is there really a difference between hitting an 8-iron or a 6-iron into a par 4? There's certain holes on this golf course that if you play them the right way, you play them smart, you can make a birdie every day or you can definitely limit the mistakes and not make a big number.”

But if the Big 3 has created a vacuum, the list of legitimate contenders goes well beyond the top of the marquee.

World No. 3 Justin Rose may be the game’s most consistent player having finished inside the top 20 in every event he’s played in 2013, and following his runner-up to Woods at Bay Hill he seems poised to take the next step; while Brandt Snedeker, the hottest player in golf following runner-up finishes at Torrey Pines and Phoenix, and his victory at Pebble Beach, appears fully recovered from a muscle injury.

Historically, embracing expectations is the quickest path to disappointment, but on the eve of the year’s first major it’s impossible to not revel in the hype.

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"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

  • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
  • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
  • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.

 

“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange

 

“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico

 

Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 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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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.


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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 8:30 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.