USGA's pin-setting strikes a nerve with players

By Ryan LavnerJune 15, 2014, 1:40 am

PINEHURST, N.C. – For the first time this week, players saw Pinehurt No. 2.  

Martin Kaymer rapped his 50-footer up the hill on the sixth hole Saturday, but the ball took a peek at the cup and sped by, down the slope, ultimately finishing 15 feet off the green. The fans by the green responded accordingly – Woahhhh-OHH-ohhh! – as if they were riding a roller coaster on a terrifying downhill plunge, hands held high.  

A day earlier, Kaymer wondered aloud how the USGA would set up the course for the third round here at the U.S. Open. Leading by six, with only one bogey through 36 holes, he hoped for the most difficult conditions possible – that way, he said, it’d be harder for his pursuers to play catch-up.  

Well, he said with a smile Saturday night, “The USGA listened, unfortunately.”

With a birdie on the last, Kaymer posted a 2-over 72 – nearly two shots better than the field average (73.82) – on a day in which the penal setup drew the ire of some players.  

There were only two rounds in the 60s Saturday. There were four rounds in the 80s, including an 88. There also was a 79, posted by Brendon Todd, who was playing in the final group.  

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Fourteen holes yielded single-digit birdies. The field of 67 could muster one only birdie on both Nos. 2 and 6, par-4 holes that played in excess of 500 yards and featured back hole locations, on the top of a slope, mere paces from hell. Todd putted off the green on 2. Kaymer, of course, did the same on 6.  

Todd, who took 36 putts, described the hole locations as “very aggressively set.”

“It was a little bit of a revenge day,” he said.  

Kenny Perry, who shot 74 Saturday and is playing in his 13th Open, took it a step further: “It was a golf course of 18 of the toughest pins I’ve ever seen.”

The unsettling part is that players expect those hole locations because, well, it’s the U.S. Open and apparently that’s what’s supposed to happen. Holes teetering on the edge of unfair is just part of the gig. Over the years the Open has become as much a physical examination as a mental one, to stay in it, to not get rattled.  

The irony, of course, is that Pinehurst doesn’t need to be tricked up, with its domed, turtleback greens – already running at 12 1/2 on the Stimpmeter – as menacing as anything you’ll ever see.

But on Saturday, “I think they used the hardest pins they could possibly use on almost every hole,” Jordan Spieth (72) said.  

Said Matt Kuchar (71): “In practice rounds you guess where you think the pins will be and you kind of say, ‘Well, that’s too severe; they won’t put them there.’ And sure enough, that’s where the pin is. It seems to be year after year, and you should know better by now.”

So maybe Kevin Na should have known better too, but he was cruising along, only four shots back, when he hit what he thought was a brilliant shot into the par-4 14th. Heck, he even twirled his club. His ball landed short of the flag and skipped to about 15 feet right of the cup, seemingly an ideal birdie position, but then it kept going, and going, and going … and eventually it was 20 yards off the green.  

“No WAY!” he yelled from the middle of the fairway.  

Naturally, it only got worse up by the green. Attempting to drive his chip into the bank between him and the hole, Na instead caught the ball a little too cleanly and skulled it over the other side of the green. His next shot? Flubbed.

“Oh, Kevin,” he groaned, and the ensuing double bogey led to a closing 39 and, now, an eight-shot deficit.  

Which makes you wonder what type of setup we’ll see for the final round Sunday, with Kaymer leading by five shots and no rain in the forecast.  

“I think they’ve got to know that we’re teetering on the edge,” Kuchar said, “and they don’t want to have another Shinnecock (in 2004) all over again. It’s close. I think the guys understand that, and I think it could easily become that again.”

As for the leader? Oh, he wants it tough, as tough as possible. Again.  

“It would be nice if they made it difficult, because then it’s all about ball-striking,” Kaymer said. “I enjoy playing those courses a lot more than just a putting competition.”

And then he smiled, knowing what a baked-out, on-the-edge setup would potentially mean.  

“But it’d also be nice to have some kind of a chance every once in a while,” he said.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods is under par in the final round of the 147th Open Championship and stalking the lead. We're tracking him on Sunday at Carnoustie.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 11:00 am

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

7AM-3PM (Watch): Jordan Spieth fired 65 to move into a three-way share of the 54-hole lead, while Tiger Woods (66) played his way into contention. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler and Thorbjorn Olesen.

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.

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 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 marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 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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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”