Weathering the weather: Wind, rain hammer Birkdale

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2017, 8:51 pm

SOUTHPORT, England – It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment this 146th Open Championship truly began, but 11:56 a.m. local time is a pretty good guess.

Standing in the ninth fairway, the poor lad carrying the standard lost complete control in the whipping wind, and the name cards MCILROY, JOHNSON and SCHWARTZEL sailed into the rough.

Up ahead, Dustin Johnson didn’t even seem to notice. He was deep in discussions about club selection with his caddie/brother, Austin – a rare sight for a duo that often needs only a few seconds to pull the trigger. But there was DJ, waiting and waffling, until he eventually pulled a short iron and sent his second shot screaming toward a gorse bush right of the green. His ball drilled a journalist, Philip Reid of the Irish Times, squarely in the left cheek, leaving a sizeable welt.

Unfortunately, Reid fit right in Friday, as he and everybody else at Royal Birkdale got roughed up on a day that had a little bit of everything – cold, hellacious wind, torrential rain … and plenty of exasperation.

“An awful day out there,” huffed Kevin Na, who shot 75. “A good day to sit at home and watch a movie.”

After finishing his round, Matt Kuchar was downright giddy at the thought of watching the afternoon wave slog through what was supposed to be the most difficult conditions of the week. After all, he’d done well just to come in at 71, and he was more than happy to regale the press with stories of his wind-whipped day, when it felt like every hole, every shot, was into a stiff crosswind.

Most telling was the 162-yard 12th hole. Kuchar needed to start his tee shot way left of the green, over the spectators, and only in the last 20 yards of his ball’s flight did it finally slide right, into the middle of the green.

“There’s a whole lot of trouble to be had,” Kuchar said, “and trying to hit solid shots that the wind is going to affect the least is challenging. It’s really, really tricky trying to figure it out.”

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The scores reflected the players’ uncertainty:

• In the first 20 groups alone, 17 players shot 40 or worse for nine holes.

• The second-round scoring average was 74.00 – more than two shots higher than Thursday.

• There were only eight sub-par scores Friday, and just nine players under par after 36 holes.

• Zach Johnson shot 66 – and the two-time major champion said it was one of his top-5 rounds, ever.

“It would be a shame if it poured and blew a little harder later,” Johnson said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “It would just be a crying shame.”

Johnson got his wish, although the players (and caddies) in the afternoon wave faced a different set of challenges.  

Though he started in relatively benign conditions, Jordan Spieth eventually had more wardrobe changes than a Katy Perry concert. The first squall rolled through while Spieth was on the seventh tee, and caddie Michael Greller rummaged through a pile of assorted rain needs – extra towels, five gloves, mismatched black and blue rain gear – to keep his boss dry. (Little wonder the bag weighs about 40 pounds.) The second squall came on Spieth’s 10th hole, while he chipped in for par. Moments later, play was halted so officials could squeegee the waterlogged greens.

That blustery stretch brought to mind last year’s second round at Royal Troon, when Spieth and Co. caught the bad end of the draw and played through sheets of rain and 50-degree temperatures. But overall, Spieth was pleasantly surprised by what he faced Friday – especially after watching the early starters suffer.  

“It was tough watching,” he said. “It wasn’t a great feeling knowing we were coming into something harder than what we were watching. … But I didn’t think the conditions got as bad as when I was sitting on the couch this morning, as what we expected.”

And so, as he often does, Spieth was able to capitalize on a brief respite during the round. When the heavy rain turned to a mist and the flags were limp, he poured in a 35-footer (11), stiffed a tee shot (12) and then made eagle (15), after his 3-wood skipped along the soggy turf and rolled within 20 feet.

Following a second-round 69, Spieth was asked about his mindset and his nerves, holding another 36-hole major lead.

“Honestly,” he said, “right now, I’m just happy to be inside.”

Sounds like a typical day at The Open.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 2:15 pm

Tiger Woods, in search of his 15th career major championship title, started the weekend six off the lead at Carnoustie. We're tracking him in Round 3 of The Open.

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Rose's Saturday 64 matches Carnoustie Open record

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 1:03 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose needed to sink a 14-foot putt on the final hole Friday just to make the cut on the number at The Open.

Freewheeling when he came to the course Saturday, Rose tied the lowest score ever recorded in an Open at Carnoustie.

Entering the weekend nine shots off the lead, the world No. 3 carded a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to at least make things interesting. It won’t be known for several hours how many shots Rose will be behind, but his back-nine 30 gives him an opportunity, if the wind blows 25 mph Sunday as forecast, to challenge the leaders.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

After all, Paul Lawrie was 10 shots back entering the final round here in 1999.

“I think the birdie on 18 last night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning,” said Rose, who is at 4-under 209. “So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”

Rose’s 64 matched Steve Stricker and Richard Green’s record score at Carnoustie (2007).

It also was Rose’s career-low round in a major.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 12:20 pm

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)

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.

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 21, 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 (