One for the Records at Wentworth

By Sports NetworkOctober 14, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 HBSC World Match Play ChampionshipSURREY, England -- Retief Goosen posted a record-setting win over Jeff Maggert on Thursday at the HSBC World Match Play Championship.
The start of the round was delayed 2 1/2 hours due to heavy overnight rain. More rain throughout the round slowed play and the action was eventually finished Friday morning.
Goosen was 7 under through the first 18 holes of the match and led 10-up after the first 18 holes en route to a 12 and 11 win. That is the largest margin of victory in event history. The previous mark was set by Mark O'Meara, who defeated Vijay Singh, 11 and 10, in 1998.
Maggert, who bogeyed five of the first seven holes of the match, managed two birdies on the second 18, but it was not nearly enough.
Goosen, the reigning U.S. Open Champion, was 5-up through seven due to Maggert's struggles. Another bogey by Maggert at the ninth and a Goosen birdie on 10 extended the South Africans lead to 7-up.
Goosen birdied three of the final four holes of the first 18 of the 36-hole match on the West Course at the Wentworth Club to stretch his lead to 10-up. Goosen tallied four more birdies over the first seven holes of the second 18 holes to secure the win.
'I birdied the second hole and went 1-up. Then I really played sort of solid from there,' Goosen said. 'I putted really well for a change. I've been struggling with my putting the last few weeks.'
World No. 1 Vijay Singh was ousted by European Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer in the only match to go extra holes.
Coming out Friday morning, Singh trailed 2-down through 26 holes and 3-down through 32 holes before a furious rally down the stretch to get the match to all even by the 35th hole. They both parred the 36th hole before Langer stopped the top-seeded Singh on the first extra hole.
Prior to play being halted for the night, Langer grabbed an early 1-up lead when Singh bogeyed the second hole. The Fijian evened the match at five, but Langer birdied six to regain the lead. Singh later birdied the 17th to square the match.
Singh grabbed his first lead when Langer bogeyed the 19th hole. The German birdied the next to square the match. Langer, a two-time runner-up at this event, birdied Nos. 23 and 25, while Singh bogeyed the 24th hole to give Langer a 3-up lead. Langer bogeyed the 26th hole as his lead fell to 2-up.
World No. Ernie Els fared better than Singh as he disposed of Scott Drummond 2 and 1.
Els stumbled to a bogey at the first to fall 1-down. He slipped to 2-down on four separate occasions, but continued to fight back. He birdied the par-5 18th to head to the second 18 trailing 1-down.
Els, a five-time winner of this event, birdied the 20th and 21st to claim his first lead at 1-up. Drummond and Els matched eagles on the 22nd hole, but the South African's lead grew to 3-up when he birdied the 26th hole and Drummond bogeyed the next.
Drummond got back within 2-down with a birdie on the 29th hole. He bogeyed the 31st, but Els dropped a shot at the 33rd hole to drop his lead to 2-up. He finally closed out Drummond 2 and 1.
The remainder of the 36-hole matches that were suspended Thurday were completed early Friday morning.
Angel Cabrera defeated K.J. Choi 1-up despite losing a 3-up lead through 25 holes. A pair of Ryder Cuppers, Chris Riley and Padraig Harrington, battled it out before Riley succumbed to the Irishman 2 and 1.
Harrington led 1-up through 10 holes before Riley fought back to square the match. The Irishman eagled the 17th to head to the second 18 1-up.
Riley squared the match with a birdie at the 23rd hole and took the lead when Harrington bogeyed the next. Harrington evened the match at the 26th and regained the lead with a birdie at the 28th. Riley again squared the match with a birdie on No. 31 and they halved the next hole before play was halted Thursday.
Frenchman Thomas Levet topped Canadian Mike Weir 2 and 1and Lee Westwood beat Britsh Open champion Todd Hamilton 4 and 3.
Hamilton and Westwood were all square for 13 of the first 16 holes of their match. The Englishman eagled the 17th to lead 1-up. Hamilton squared the match at 19, but fell 2-down after a bogey and a Westwood birdie. Hamilton squared the match at the 25th, but Westwood then won three straight from the 27th to take a 3-up lead with seven holes to go.
Steve Flesch and four-time winner this season Miguel Angel Jimenez were all square through 26 holes before Jimenez came Friday morning and won 3 and 2.
Jimenez was 3-up through five, but Flesch cut it to 2-down through 18 when he birdied the 18th. The Spaniard's lead fell to 1-up through 21 after a bogey. Flesch squared the match with a birdie on the 23rd hole.
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

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    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

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    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.