Mid-am verdict: Gotta earn your Walker Cup spot

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 9, 2013, 4:35 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – How appropriate that this Walker Cup was held in the Hamptons, the ultimate beach getaway.

Because Sunday’s closing ceremony at spectacular National Golf Links unofficially marked the end of summer. Now, it’s back to reality.

It’s back to campus for Alabama teammates Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt, Cal’s Michael Weaver and Michael Kim, Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers and Oklahoma State’s Jordan Niebrugge.

It’s back to the classroom for Todd White, a 45-year-old high-school history teacher in South Carolina, and to the business world for Nathan Smith, a 35-year-old financial adviser in Pittsburgh.

And it’s off to the pro ranks for Justin Thomas and Max Homa, accomplished amateurs who will test the play-for-pay ranks and compete not only for paychecks but precious few exemptions on the big stage.

As the 10 U.S. team members leave Long Island and head their separate ways, so, too, will Jim Holtgrieve, who went 1-1 as U.S. Walker Cup captain and who on Sunday experienced “one of my more gratifying days in my 65-year golfing career.” Now, he’ll make way for Spider Miller, 63, who has already been appointed as the skipper for the 2015 squad.

It’s a significant transition, for it was Holtgrieve who personally lobbied the USGA to enact a controversial mid-amateur rule that dominated much of the pre-Walker Cup discussion. Whether in two years Miller, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur winner himself, has the same vision for the mid-ams remains to be seen.

“Selfishly, I would love to see (the rule) stay in place,” White said. “If not, I’m still going to work my tail off to try and earn a spot on the team, whether it’s as a mid-am or regular.”

Was the new rule effective? Well, a single two-day event is too small of a sample size to render a verdict. Of course, many will remember the exemplary Sunday singles play of White and Smith, who earned the 13th and 14th points, respectively, to clinch the cup for the Americans. But in a 17-9 rout – the U.S. team’s largest margin of victory in 16 years – it was merely coincidental (and, yes, a bit ironic) that those two players secured the winning points.  It’s also worth noting that they combined to go 0-3 in foursomes play, a format in which their experience and leadership was supposed to shine.

“The barometer for me was not if we won or lost,” Holtgrieve said late Sunday night. “I think the barometer was going to be how was it received or accepted.”

In that respect, then, many remain divided. Holtgrieve raised a few eyebrows when he told reporters before the competition even began that “building relationships,” not winning, was the most important aspect of these Walker Cup matches. But then again, that’s the same philosophy he has held for two years.

Still, that stance was in sharp contrast to what came from Camp GB&I, and particularly captain Nigel Edwards, who repeated on several occasions that he and his 10 players were there to win, nothing less. Team GB&I had no such mid-am mandate in place, nor does it seem keen to add one.

“We’re all here to win,” Edwards said Sunday. “Let’s not pretend that we’re not, because kids like competing.”

Were the Americans at a disadvantage at National? Perhaps on paper, where matches are debated, not played. In the end, GB&I holed too few putts, displayed sloppy course management and wedge play, and finished the weekend with only two players boasting a won-lost record above.500. In singles, it lost 13 1/2 of the possible 18 points.

Holtgrieve said the difference between this congregation of players, and the immensely talented squad he brought to Royal Aberdeen in 2011, was camaraderie. “I probably did a bad job of not putting them together as a team,” he said of the group that two years ago lost, 14-12. “There became some individuals. I didn’t have that situation here.”

Much of that can be attributed to the six players (three apiece) who were from Alabama and Cal, but also to the influence of the mid-ams, who not only bring sporty games but also a broader perspective, a bigger-than-me mentality that often helps unify in team competitions.  

“What I wanted to accomplish was for them to be able to contribute to winning the Walker Cup,” Holtgrieve said, “and they did it.”

The curious choice, then, was not having two mid-ams on the team, but rather requiring that they were on the team. College players delayed turning pro – spending money, not making it – in order to try and make the 10-man roster, but the USGA designated two of the available spots to mid-ams in January, before the heart of the season. And it was obvious which two players would eventually be selected – Smith and White, the only two mid-ams who were among the 16 players at the Walker Cup practice session last December.

Why not wait until later in the summer to evaluate the mid-ams – whether there’s one, two, three or none selected – just like the rest of the team? After all, White played eight amateur events this season, oftentimes against his future Walker Cup teammates, and twice finished inside the top 10. Don’t bother comparing that résumé to those of, say, alternates Brandon Hagy and Sean Dale.

Ideally, the selection committee would begin filling out the entire 10-man team around the U.S. Amateur, no sooner, and if there were a few spots left for Smith and White, or any other deserving mid-ams – men who could bring a different dimension to the squad, who could help team chemistry – then add to them to the roster. Essentially, captain’s picks.

In the wake of this past weekend’s thumping, Holtgrieve anticipates that more mid-ams than ever before will try and make the 2015 squad, and he’s probably right. But just like any other player, they should have to secure their spot on the team based on merit, not mandate.

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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.