Monday Scramble: Lowly ranked make big headlines

By Ryan LavnerMay 2, 2016, 7:50 pm

Former world No. 513 Brian Stuard ends a long week, former world No. 1,198 Bobby Wyatt capitalizes on his opportunity, current world No. 508 Tiger Woods remains on the sidelines, and more in this week's edition of Monday Scramble:

With a short birdie on the second playoff hole, Stuard put everyone – players, tournament officials, volunteers, fans, media members, catering staff, valet attendants – out of their misery Monday to win the hard-luck Zurich Classic. 

Unfortunately, the weather-shortened event is bound to go down as one of the most forgettable in recent memory, with more than a dozen hours of delays over five mind-numbing days at a waterlogged TPC course. In the end, Tour officials were fortunate the proceedings didn’t stretch into a sixth day. 

Stuard had four missed cuts and a tie for 55th heading into New Orleans, but he credited a session with Michigan-based swing coach Gary Robinson for his quick turnaround. The 33-year-old is plenty talented – he was top 80 in FedEx Cup points in both 2013 and ’14 – and now he will enjoy job security, his new No. 143 world ranking, $1.2 million in earnings and a spot in his first Masters.

Not even Mother Nature can take that away.  

1. What a funny game we follow. 

Stuard was a below-average putter – ranked 128th in strokes gained-putting – when he grabbed a Odyssey Works Marxman Fang Tank counterbalanced putter from a demo bag on the practice putting green two weeks ago in San Antonio. He stroked a few putts with it and put it in play.

A week later in New Orleans, he went 56 holes without a bogey and rolled in each of his 44 (!) attempts from inside 10 feet to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.

“I wish I knew what the difference was,” he said afterward. “But it was a nice feeling.”

2. Before his weather-shortened title, Stuard was best known as the player who needed to pull a fan from the crowd to caddie for him, Tin Cup style, after his regular looper bailed on him midway through a round in Reno.

“His disrespectfulness for golf and for the other players in his group is wrong,” caddie Michael Lawson said in 2014, according to this local report. “It’s embarrassing.”

His new caddie, Mike Downey, took over later that fall. When I asked him about this story, and if Stuard’s woe-is-me attitude was still a problem, he seemed confused. “Brian? Never,” he said. “OK … a little. He beats himself up to do well. He never goes after me.”

3. The Zurich was a career-changer for 23-year-old Wyatt.

Playing on a sponsor exemption, the former Alabama star entered the week with no status on any major tour and a world ranking of 1,198th. The only three tournaments he’d played this year were on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, which he accepted simply to remain competitive. 

In the third and final round, Wyatt rebounded from back-to-back bogeys to shoot an 8-under 64. The fourth-place finish sent him to this week’s event at Quail Hollow via the top-10 rule.  

“This is where I mostly want to be,” he said, “and I feel like I can play out here. It’s great to have another opportunity.” 

Wyatt advanced through Canadian Tour Q-School and intends to play that 12-event summer schedule, but only as a "backup plan."

4. No, seriously: This was a career-changer.

Wyatt's earnings in his first eight PGA Tour starts: $36,983.

His paycheck Monday: $336,000. He's also now ranked 431st in the world.

5. After coming up two shots shy of the playoff, Jason Day summed up his feelings thusly: “I just wish it was 72 holes. I’d stay here until the weekend if we could play 72 holes.”

You'd have liked the world No. 1’s chances if the Zurich went an extra day, especially with how the unproven frontrunners were tripping all over themselves trying to get in the house. 

Day closed with 66, but he lamented a number of missed opportunities – not least the way he closed out the first round, when he came back from a five-hour weather delay and bogeyed his last two holes. 

Still, he continued his year-long tear: This was Day's 15th top-15 finish in his last 18 worldwide events. 

6. Byeong-Hun An was told by a few friends that TPC Louisiana was a good fit for his game – wide open, little rough, plenty of birdies available – and that he wouldn’t be wasting one of his precious 12 spots there. 

Good call. 

Though he was ranked 31st in the world, An doesn’t have a PGA Tour card. The Zurich was one of his maximum 12 events allowed to non-members, and the former U.S. Amateur champion said that his goal was to hold dual membership on the PGA and European tours. 

He moved a step closer, with the playoff loss earning him special temporary status (and the ability to receive unlimited sponsor exemptions) on Tour for the rest of the season.

7. Before there was Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, there was Jamie Lovemark, the California-cool 2007 NCAA champion.

A back injury sent his career off the tracks – he underwent a microdiscectomy, the same procedure that Tiger Woods had – but he has shown signs this season of fulfilling all of that promise. His playoff loss was his fifth top-10 in 16 starts.

Good finishes, yes, but there are several missed opportunities mixed in there: The closing 77 at the Frys; the final-round 73 in Palm Springs; the 76 when staked to a share of the 54-hole lead in Houston.   

Lovemark had a one-shot lead on the final hole Monday, but only after a series of gutsy up-and-downs when his ball-striking clearly deserted him. Then came a three-putt from 90 feet, including a how-did-you-leave-that-short? 10-footer for the win. He missed a putt of similar length on the first playoff hole as well, then made a sloppy par on the second extra hole to hand the title to Stuard, who stiffed his approach.

“Sucks not to win,” Lovemark said. “Not too disappointed, just a little bummed. But moving on to next week.”

8. One thought crossed our minds watching the Zurich playoff unfold Monday: Why didn’t they just pop over to the par-3 17th if they’re racing to finish? They probably could have played that hole three times in the amount of time it took to play a long par 5.

No drops. No layups. No long walks to the next shot. 

Shouldn’t the Tour be able to alter the playoff format because of extenuating circumstances? The players are competing against each other. Why does the hole matter?

9. Besides, tournament officials were uncomfortably close to a nightmare scenario.

After 41 players finished 54 holes Monday, the rest of the field had to complete the third round – no matter when it ended. 

Another line of strong storms was bearing down on TPC Louisiana when Stuard holed the winning putt. If that system had arrived a little earlier, the event could have been pushed back to Tuesday. 

If half the field didn't finish three rounds Monday, then the 36-hole results would have been used; Stuard, who was alone at 12 under, still would have been declared the winner.

Only twice in the past 36 years has a PGA Tour event gone to a sixth day: The 2006 Booz Allen Classic and 1980 Tucson Open.  

10. Woods might be “sick and tired of being on the sidelines,” but he won’t make his PGA Tour return this week.

Despite a report that he was targeting a Quail Hollow-Players comeback, Woods didn’t sign up for the Charlotte-area event – and neither he nor his agent, Mark Steinberg, even reached out to the tournament director beforehand. 

During a clinic last week in Las Veags, Woods said he was carrying his drive 290 yards and had “a lot more in the tank.” That still isn’t nearly enough, though, to make a full-fledged return to competition.  

11. Haotong Li made the leap from potential star to European Tour winner Sunday with a sizzling final-round 64 to take the Volvo China Open.

It came at an important time for Li, 20, who vaulted to the top of the Chinese Olympic team rankings. Without a win on a major tour, the Tour player would have struggled to gain ground on Wen-Chong Liang and Ashun Wu because of his limited world-ranking potential.     

This guy has serious game: The 2014 PGA Tour China Order of Merit winner finished seventh at the WGC-HSBC Champions last fall, the best showing ever by a Chinese player in a Tour-sanctioned event. 

Cody Gribble should have won the Tour’s United Leasing and Finance Championship if not for a few course setup issues.

Clinging to a one-shot lead, Gribble hit a hard hook into the hole cut in the middle of the 18th green. His shot landed about 5 feet from the flag, but with his hook spin, the severe slope and the steep bank right of the green, his ball rolled all the way into the water, leading to a bogey. He tied for second.

Slick greens shouldn’t have holes cut that close to a slope, especially if it drops off into a hazard. It was a poor design, and an even worse setup, and hopefully it doesn't eventually cost Gribble his PGA Tour card. 

This week's award winners ... 

Welcome Back: Jim Furyk. Well, at least one top-five all-time money earner will return at Quail Hollow. It’ll be Furyk’s first action since September.  

Youth is Served: LPGA. With Jenny Shin’s victory at the Texas Shootout, all 11 tournaments this year have been won by players 23 or younger. They’re making Jason Day, 28, and Rory McIlroy (27 this week) seem ancient by comparison.  

Better Late Than Never: Rickie Fowler. Despite a quiet week in the Bayou, Fowler birdied four of his last five holes to salvage a top-20 finish. 

If You Have $21.9 Million Sitting Around: Nick Price's South Florida home. It's up for sale, and it’s pretty spectacular.   

#Trending: Texas, Illinois and Stanford. Three of the top four men’s teams in the country notched double-digit wins at their respective conference championships, which would seem to bode well for NCAAs later this month. 

What’s Happened To …?: Brendon Todd. Mike Weir catches a lot of social-media flak, but Todd, the 2014 Nelson winner, has taken a similar nosedive: He’s missed 14 of his last 16 cuts, including nine in a row. 

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Justin Rose. The defending champion stalled with consecutive rounds of 72, ending a run of five consecutive top-20s. Sigh.

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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.

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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  

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 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.