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McIlroy gets chance to avenge 2011 Masters collapse

By Ryan LavnerApril 8, 2018, 1:00 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Traipsing through the azaleas, lost in a sea of pink, Rory McIlroy was on the verge of another indelible Masters moment on the 13th hole.

As many times as his embarrassing visit to the cabins gets replayed each spring, it was his hooked tee shot on the dogleg-left par 5 that officially doomed his chances in 2011. With his ball heading toward Rae’s Creek, he slumped over his driver, dropped his head into the crook of his elbow and looked like he wanted to cry. “Once I hit that tee shot left on 13,” he said that day, “I was done.”

In dozens of interviews over the years, including one on Saturday night, he has claimed that the disastrous, final-round 80 at Augusta National was a significant turning point in his career.

“It was the day that I realized I wasn’t ready to win major championships,” he said, “and that I needed to reflect on that and realize what I needed to do differently.”

Turns out he was ready to win majors just two months later, blowing away the field at the U.S. Open. Since then, he has grown his major total to four – the most of golf’s heralded 20-somethings – and now it’s Patrick Reed’s turn to see if he’s ready.

On Saturday, McIlroy wasted little time throwing down the gauntlet once his bogey-free 65 was enough to secure a final-round pairing with Reed, with whom he memorably sparred during the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.

Sure, McIlroy is the one chasing the career Grand Slam here. And he’s the one who hasn’t won a major in four years. And he’s the one with the higher world ranking and more big-game experience. “But I feel like all the pressure is on him,” McIlroy said.

And in many respects, he’s right. Reed has the lead, by three shots at 14-under 202. He hasn’t yet won a major. He has three of the top-8 players in the world behind him. And as an Augusta State alum, he supposedly has the hometown support, too.

“He’s got to deal with that and sleep on that tonight,” McIlroy said. “I feel like I can go out there and play like I’ve got nothing to lose.”

That’s not completely true, of course. With a comeback win Sunday, McIlroy can become the sixth player to win all four major championships, joining the greats of the game, all of whom are on a one-name basis: Sarazen, Hogan, Jack, Gary and Tiger.

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But there’s a reason why McIlroy is 0-for-9 on a course that is tailor-made for his awe-inspiring skill set – it’s a challenge, mentally and physically, to capture that final leg. Arnold Palmer never did it. Tom Watson never did it. Lee Trevino never did it. McIlroy has come as close as anyone, grabbing a four-shot lead in 2011, but then he self-immolated on the final day.

“But now I’m ready,” he said. “I learned a lot from it. I’m happy to be in the final group.”

To get there, McIlroy needed his best round of the week on a wild and soggy Saturday at Augusta. He was already 3 under for the day when he arrived on the par-5 eighth. His second shot caromed off a mound and into a tricky spot right of the green, leaving him little margin for error. He bumped his pitch shot into the hill, watched it race onto the green and disappear after clanking off the flagstick for an unlikely eagle to share the lead.

“I rode my luck a little bit,” he said.

McIlroy stalled around the turn, allowing Reed to get away again, and then got caught in the heaviest rainfall of the day as he lined up his second shot into the par-5 13th. He conceded afterward that he probably rushed his shot to keep from getting soaked, but he yanked his long-iron approach into the azaleas. Fortunate to even find his ball in the flora – “Not the first time,” he smiled – he chopped out to the front of the green. From there he got up-and-down for a momentum-saving par.

After his tee shot on 18 caught the pines and left him 186 yards, uphill, to a back pin, McIlroy carved his approach to 20 feet, then rolled in the putt for one final birdie and fist pump. He practically floated toward the clubhouse, where he issued the first salvo.

“I’m really excited to go out there tomorrow and show everyone what I’ve got, show Patrick Reed what I’ve got,” he said. “All the pressure’s on him tomorrow. I’m hoping to come in and spoil the party.”

Because he has his own celebration planned, seven years in the making.

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More sun, dry conditions expected early at Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 9:14 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – An atypically dry Scottish summer is expected to continue this week at The Open.

There’s a possibility of a few showers Thursday and Friday, but otherwise conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures around 70 degrees and winds in the 15-20 mph range.

The forecast for the opening round at Carnoustie is sunshine with clouds developing later in the day. The high is expected to be around 70 degrees, with winds increasing throughout the day, maxing out at 18 mph.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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There’s a chance of rain overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, but it’s not expected to slow down the fiery conditions.

It’s been one of the driest summers in recent memory, leading to fairways that are baked out and fescue rough that is lighter and thinner than in previous years.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 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  

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; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

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

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 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.