European perspective

By Tom AbbottSeptember 24, 2011, 1:00 am

European Tour

Michael Campbell managed to suspend the parliament of New Zealand back in June 2005. Such was the significance of Campbell’s victory at Pinehurst; ministers felt it was more important to watch their fellow countryman win the U.S. Open than deal with matters of State. 

It was an impressive win, as he fended off the challenge of Tiger Woods, imagining the huge roars he heard rumbling through the pine trees were all for him rather than for their intended targets. He was on top of the world, and went on to claim the Volvo World Matchplay at Wentworth later in the year.

Yet four years later he was lost, a shoulder injury was not helping the cause, but his lack of confidence – especially with the driver – was killing him.

From late 2008 until March of this year, Campbell failed to finish inside the top 50 of a European Tour event. It was a stretch that saw him miss 35 of 44 cuts.

Some questioned whether he would disappear from competitive play in a similar fashion to the way Ian Baker-Finch drifted to the commentary box, but a chance meeting at last year’s Dunhill Links Championship seems to have changed his fortunes. 

Campbell took a courtesy car from Carnoustie to St. Andrews with Sir Steve Redgrave, the five-time Olympic Gold Medal winner who claimed his titles in five consecutive Summer Games. The pair have been friends for six years and Campbell had been keen to rack his brains, and with the journey time close to 45 minutes, he had the perfect opportunity. 

Redgrave told his friend to start working harder, explaining that once you’ve achieved the pinnacle of the sport there is no reason why you can’t do it again.

“if you’ve already climbed Everest, do it the next time without oxygen,” he said.

The words stuck and now some six months later, Campbell believes he’s turned the corner.

After an opening 67 at the Volvo China Open last week, he told the media he was on the way back. A third-round 75 knocked him back down the field but it was another check banked and a third consecutive cut made.

Campbell is traveling with a full-time fitness instructor keeping a careful eye on his shoulder problems, he’s working hard and seems to be making steps toward finding the sort of form which has propelled him to the top of the game.

This isn’t the first time he’s made a comeback, after finishing fifth on the European Tour Order of Merit his rookie season of 1995, a year in which he sniffed an Open Championship at St. Andrews, finished just outside the play-off, Campbell lost his way before re-emerging in 2000.

There’s nothing to say he can’t do the same again.

 


 

The future of the Volvo World Matchplay Championship is secure. Per Ericsson of Volvo, speaking during Saturday’s broadcast of the Volvo China Open, confirmed the event will be a regular fixture on the European Tour calendar.

Having been absent last year, the event will continue in its May time slot each year from now on.

The same can also be said for the new Volvo Golf Champions event which was played this year in Bahrain, shortly before the country was affected by civil unrest.

Ericsson confirmed the company’s pleasure with the tournament but said the host country and venue was still to be confirmed. Ericsson will travel to Bahrain next week to meet with officials and discuss the country’s future involvement.

Golf is not the only sport with question marks surrounding its future in the Kingdom, organizers of the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix, which was cancelled due to the troubles, have until May 1st to confirm whether they will re-schedule the race for later this year.

One option which has been discussed with the Volvo Golf Champions is to move the event around the world, playing in a different region each year. With a February slot on the schedule one thing is for sure, “It won’t be played in Europe,” said Ericsson.

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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”