Wind breaker: Harrington channels old form

By Will GrayFebruary 26, 2015, 10:40 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The smile was back.

The toothy grin worn to a trio of major titles, the one that Padraig Harrington once took with him during his trip into golf’s stratosphere, was on full display Thursday at the Honda Classic.

With winds whipping across PGA National, Harrington opened with a 3-under 67, his lowest score on the PGA Tour in nearly nine months. A full decade removed from his Honda win across the street at the Country Club of Mirasol, he's two shots off the 18-hole pace.

At age 43, Harrington’s weathered look is that of a man whose career approaches its third decade, but he strode to the podium with the confidence of a player equipped with plenty of experience in blustery conditions.

“On a windy day, momentum is bigger than any other day,” Harrington said.

Harrington had no issue creating momentum in the opening round, countering his lone bogey of the day at No. 2 with a birdie at No. 3. He added three more circles to his scorecard, including a pair of birdies across his final three holes to move onto the first page of the leaderboard. 

Much has changed for the Irishman since his major wins in 2007 and 2008; following last year’s Wyndham Championship, his five-year PGA Tour exemption based on his ’08 victories expired. While he had a one-time career money list exemption at his disposal, Harrington chose to save it, opting instead to patch together a schedule based on sponsor invites and past-champion status.

Thus far, the strategy hasn’t panned out. Harrington has missed the cut in five of eight starts this season and remains in search of his first top-50 finish.

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“I came out starting the year with really high expectations, and I fell right back into struggling,” Harrington said. “I was confident in doing the right things. I just really, really struggled.”

Even the most talented golfers can wander in search of that elusive spark, the moment when things finally click. For Harrington, it came last week during, of all things, a third-round 76 at the Northern Trust Open. His mental approach to shots began to change, and he bounced back with a final-round 71 at Riviera.

The confidence from his West Coast epiphany has carried over into this week, although Harrington also cited another source of inspiration – a recent “summons” to dinner from mental coach Bob Rotella, with whom Harrington has worked for most of his career.

“I think we’ve had the intervention before,” Harrington said. “He’s like the school teacher. He tells you, and it’s up to you to do your homework and do it right.”

The two met Tuesday night at a restaurant near PGA National, their first chance to connect in person since the end of 2014. Rotella wanted an opportunity to chat openly with his longtime pupil without the distractions that a more-populated setting might create.

“I said, 'Let’s go to dinner together,'” Rotella said. “I just wanted a chance to get together and really spend a bunch of time.”

The issue, according to Rotella, has been convincing Harrington to embrace the notion that added practice does not necessarily mean better results – that less, sometimes, can be more.

“He’s been taking so much time off. I mean, we’ve been trying to get him to forever,” Rotella said. “Someone finally documented for him that when he’s more rested, he has more club head speed, so he liked that. Wouldn’t do it for the sake of doing it.”

Harrington has always been seen as a player who tinkers with his game, making changes that led to three major titles in the span of 13 months but also changes that have contributed to his subsequent decline. He won on the Asian Tour in December to end a four-year worldwide winless drought, but his last PGA Tour title remains the 2008 PGA Championship. He teed off this week at No. 297 in the world rankings.

Having successfully battled the crosswinds on the Champion Course for 18 holes, Harrington hopes to build upon his opening round as he seeks his first top-10 finish on Tour in nearly two years.

“When I wasn’t playing great, I kept walking off the golf course feeling like I played 70 shots and signed for 73 shots,” he said. “Today, I feel like I played in 70 but signed for 67, so that’s a nice place to be.”

Rotella noted that when Harrington is at his best, he plays the game devoid of mid-round swing keys and mental cues.

“He doesn’t think about any technical stuff on the golf course. He really plays golf,” Rotella said. “Playing golf is just seeing the shot and hitting it, not judging. Just go get it and hit it again until you run out of holes.”

On a day when many of the game’s best were humbled by difficult conditions, Harrington displayed the poise and control of a savvy veteran. Rotella remains optimistic that his pupil’s world ranking will soon be a more accurate reflection of his ability.

“The good news with him is that we’ve seen it before,” he said. “Now it’s a question of if he can sustain it.”

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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.

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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.