Wed, 17 Jul 2019 15:28:33 GMT
Wed, 17 Jul 2019 14:14:20 GMT
The R&A kept their annual press conference short and mostly upbeat, with Championship Committee Clive Brown opening the live set with one song and a nice thank you for his services, followed by an upbeat set from always upbeat chief Martin Slumbers.
He confirmed completion of the Distance Insight Report’s findings and a release of those conclusions until this fall. I asked after the press conference what his views were and Slumbers focused on the question of skill erosion. From my Golfweek report on the comments:
“Golf should be a game of skill,” he said Wednesday. “It should not be a technology driven game. And where that balance is depends on how good you are. And that’s still my gut view. The data will guide us.”
Not surprisingly, it sounded as if the report will focus heavily on the question of some skills having been reduced or nullified by distance, just as the original Statement of Principles said 17 years ago.
In other news, Slumbers discussed the Open rota as remaining at 10 courses, including Trump Turnberry. But no Open’s were announced.
He also explained the R&A’s thinking on the future of the Women’s British Open, from name to style of course and to equal prize money. Alistair Tait with that report for Golfweek.com.
Regarding the growing purse structures in golf, I asked Slumbers whether there is a point the number begins to chip away at the R&A’s core mission, which he seems more passionate about than any of golf’s leaders.
Q. Given some of the things you've described that The R&A is working on, we've seen some significant increases in purses. Is there a point where you could see this sort of race to increase purses impacting your ability to carry out the mission that you're hoping to succeed with so many of these various ventures?
MARTIN SLUMBERS: Yeah, I look at the business in the round. So a lot of my responsibility is to balance out the revenues and expenses of our championships with our desire to invest 200 million pounds into the game in this decade. We're two years into this decade.
I think we have to keep growing The Open. This is our biggest event. And we need to keep growing it to keep it one of the greatest sporting events, with half an eye on how do we improve the difference in pay between The Open and the Women's British Open. You will all have seen that we increased the Women's British Open prize money for this year by 40 percent, and to do that in line with our investments into the game. And we have to juggle all three things.
I think that's what's really important about The R&A. What we really care about is a great championship out here but we really care about the game. We want the game to be here 50 years from now. We want it to be thriving. We want more people to be playing it, more families to be playing it. And try to balance all that out. That's part of my job.
On the financial front the championship has its second largest “attendance” ever. That’s UK parlance for ticket sales.
Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:36:54 GMT
There is only so much we know about players and their feelings for (or against) Royal Portrush. And we don’t know whose wife yelled at them, whose caddie’s bad breath is wearing thin and whose chef just isn’t bringing it this week.
But we do have a weather forecast and so far it’s been pretty accurate this week. I tweeted the current Thursday/Friday weather forecast on Wednesday:
Given the tee times, the most significant chance for a disruptive wind event appears to be midday Thursday, potentially throwing a wrench in enthusiasm you might have for mid-morning and midday tee times by for names like Fowler, Matsuyama, McIlroy, Woodland, Casey, Molinari, DeChambeau and Scott.
You can monitor any and all winner odds here at OddsChecker.com.
There are also handy links her to other opportunities, such as a first round leader (a fun longshot option I enjoy), low English player, etc…
My top ten to watch heading into the event for Golfweek’s print edition got an update, with on Jon Rahm slid in over Tommy Fleetwood. Adam Scott might have made it too based on his recent major play and deep dive into Portrush, but I reserved him for…
Golfweek staff picks.
Dan Kilbridge looks at some interesting bets and prices, including some head-to-head options.
Golf.com’s picks and reasoning behind them.
Sleeper picks are a big part of this round up by the Golf team on site.
On that note, I’m off to William Hill to do my part for the local economy. My tastes have moved from betting each/way on the winner pre-tournament given the silly odds. Instead, first round leaders, some longshots and missed-cut bets based on weather will have me handing over some notes. Good luck!
Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:23:50 GMT
I penned this explanation—delivered with his typical gentle forthrightness—here for Golfweek.
I will say, in the FedExCup’s defense (which Rose rightfully says should not be dictating the major schedule)—that the real juggernaut is not necessarily the “playoffs” but the NFL and college football season golf is working around.
Either way, however, the numbers are suggesting top players have played less in the calendar year portion due to the tighter schedule and that can’t make sponsors or television happy.
Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:50:29 GMT
The Open remains mostly an antiseptic affair with regard to merchandise, a start contrast to the overall character of this championship.
That said, if you don’t want to dress like a marshal and enjoy things with some local flair, I managed to find a few…
The best of at Golfweek.com.
Tue, 16 Jul 2019 21:15:00 GMT
And finally, the finishing holes which figure to provide more interest than most Open rota conclusions. At least, based on architecture and setup.
The 408-yard 17th plays from an elevated tee to a crowned landing area before the fairway falls down to the green abutted by the 13th green. With any helping wind, the firm ground and and open green front, there will be a temptation to drive it.
At 345 yards of the tee a new bunker has been added by Martin Ebert to add some zest to the decision should the conditions allow.
The finishing hole is a beautiful piece of work and where the influence of H.S. Colt is felt more than most links finishers, with classic strategy incorporated and a sense that features were used with an intelligent purpose in mind. A new tee to offset driving distances changes the angle a bit, with players driving toward an out of bounds line detailed here for Golfweek that could prove problematic (though historically consistent with the 1951 Open).
The players now drive directly out the out of bounds line. A sizeable carry is required to actually cross the stakes line, but downwind it’s very doable. To get a good look at the 42-pace deep green, players will want to see it and can only do so from the left side of the fairway.
Lay up right and the view is poor or completely obstructed. At 474 yards it’s a beast into the wind, but a case could be made that down wind breezes from the north make it play almost as tough.
As for the OB, it almost assuredly takes away aggressiveness unless a left-to-right wind is blowing. Expect to see plenty of three-woods here and irons with any helping wind. In other words, the risk/reward qualities may be nullified.
One final note: Luke Kerr-Dineen points out for Golf.com how we might see some intentional plays off of the grandstands. Grandstanding!
Tue, 16 Jul 2019 09:38:25 GMT
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch helps the rest of us better understand Ireland, Nortrhern Ireland and The Troubles as we approach the first Open here since 1951.
Even in the darkest of days — and there were many, still etched on the faces of older spectators at Royal Portrush this week — the perception distorted the reality. For much of my childhood, the annual death toll from the conflict hovered around 100, a figure described with callous indifference by one British government official as “an acceptable level of violence.”
One hundred souls. That’s about two days worth of murders in the United States. The threat of violence was more pervasive than the violence itself, metastasizing into every aspect of everyday life. Even today, two decades after the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland retains a slightly sinister air, its people still able to decipher clues about the beliefs of strangers from language or utterances that seem meaningless to the untrained ear.
Tue, 16 Jul 2019 08:43:28 GMT
The narrative is probably well known by now, but hopefully this Dominic Dastoli-produced piece with yours truly narrating gives you a nice table-setting overview of the renovation that helped land Royal Portrush. As we note in the piece, attempts to add holes to elite courses generally ends in failure, as the un-doing work at several famed layouts in recent years has proven.
This first aired on Live From The Open Monday and may get subsequent airings, but in the meantime…
Mon, 15 Jul 2019 15:26:55 GMT
Mon, 15 Jul 2019 15:13:33 GMT
Words that are music to any golf architect’s ear and likely to mean Tiger Woods will be a happy camper if he’s forced to push so many buttons.
Having walked a few holes with his practice pairing alongside Patrick Reed, Tiger was understandably jet-weary from an overnight flight and easing into the round Sunday, but by day’s end appeared to be striking the ball as well as he has lately, with only a couple of quack push-shots. But Tiger Woods otherwise seemed ready and willing to see what he could learn in three days about Royal Portrush, as Steve DiMeglio reports for Golfweek.
Tiger’s attitude toward the course is a good starting place:
“A lot of movement,” Woods said of his initial reaction of the course hard by the North Atlantic in the northern-most tip of the country. “A lot of decisions off the tees, with all the angles. Now, with the wind switching coming out of the south in the future, a lot of these shots we hit today are useless. So we’re trying to figure out what lines to take on and what lines not to take on. And these green complexes are so complicated, you have to miss in the right spot.”
Mon, 15 Jul 2019 15:08:10 GMT
Sun, 14 Jul 2019 22:15:00 GMT
Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:38:40 GMT
One player who immediately comes to mind reading the Forecaddie’s first look assessment of Royal Portrush is Adam Scott.
Ballstrikers course, mostly quiet greens and a real examination of all shot shapes. Throw in how few players know the course and his six-day deep dive into the 2019 Open venue makes him a very attractive 30-1 shot.
From Doug Ferguson’s AP story, that includes Darren Clarke’s (slightly predictable) suggestion for Scott to sample local whiskey.
“I was a bit surprised, my first look, at how demanding a golf course it is,” Scott said. “Sometimes on a links you can get away with wide shots. Here, you don’t. It’s so penal off the tee, no matter what you hit. If you start spraying it, there’s going to be reloading a lot. If the wind doesn’t blow, there will be less of that. It is a very, very strong golf course.”
Sun, 14 Jul 2019 16:22:11 GMT
The punters have Rory McIlroy at 8-1 or so, the only single-digit price on the current OddsChecker board totaling all of the UK betting houses.
And while he wasn’t ashamed of his 67-67-68-69, the pushover that Renaissance Club proved wasn’t quite the exacting links test some might have wanted. Though McIlroy says he just wanted “a scorecard in his hand” and while it was unsaid, he surely wanted to arrive at Portrush late enough to cut down on the amount of “Rory” screams he will hear all week (with the best intent of course).
From Alistair Tait’s Golfweek report:
“All I wanted to do was get a scorecard in my hand,” McIlroy said. “Doesn’t matter if the winning score is 20 under or 10 under or whatever. I just wanted to play four rounds of competitive golf. I’m going to do that this week and at least have a better idea of where my game is at heading into next week, instead of having a few weeks off and trying to figure it out once I get there.
Sun, 14 Jul 2019 05:35:00 GMT
Sat, 13 Jul 2019 23:14:00 GMT
Fri, 12 Jul 2019 16:28:00 GMT
Carve out a few minutes to read John Fischer’s look back at Max Faulkner and the 1951 Open win at Royal Portrush. Fischer covers so much of note about a fascinating character from the past who was rightlyfully remembered as an eccentric who lived an extraordinary existence.
Here is just one of many tidbits of note:
Faulkner had a major weakness: putting. His idol, Locke, seemed to make every putt, but Faulkner missed too many, and he continually changed putters, sometimes even making his own. His most unusual putter had a shaft made from a billiard cue and a head made from a piece of driftwood that Faulkner had found on the beach. He got good press about the odd putter, but it wasn’t that often in his bag.
Here is the official Open site’s write-up of the ‘51 event where hometown man Fred Daly was the favorite son.
There is also this cartoon—yes—recreating the greatest shot final round playing partner Frank Stranahan had ever seen, documented in Fisher’s piece.
Peter Alliss on Faulkner and the 1951 Open. He’s a bit more frail and yet as elegant as ever.
And the old film:
Fri, 12 Jul 2019 08:24:44 GMT
Fri, 12 Jul 2019 04:13:00 GMT
Thu, 11 Jul 2019 09:28:43 GMT
I’m overseas now and seeing some Sky coverage, but for those in the U.S. the Scottish Open accelerates the run-up to The Open. This year from the Renaissance Club, where architect Tom Doak and Sam Torrance are scheduled to make booth visits today.
Martin Dempster sets the table for The Scotsman, where the focus is understandably on Rory McIlroy. He’s kind of big over here in Ireland too, just based on the 14 questions I’ve gotten at customs, the taxi, the bartender, the…
Anyway, your Golf Channel Scottish Open coverage details that include network coverage on NBC during the weekend…
Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
Dates: July 11-14
Venue: The Renaissance Club, North Berwick, Scotland
Tournament Airtimes on GOLF Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 5:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday 5:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern)
Saturday 12:30-3 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 12:30-3 p.m. (Live)
New venue: The Renaissance Club is hosting the event for the first time, and also will stage next month’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open.
Final opportunity to earn a spot in The 148TH Open: The event will present the final opportunity (for those not already in the field) to gain entry into next week’s 148TH Open. The top-three finishers inside the top-10 (not already qualified) will earn a spot into the field.
Stone defends: Brandon Stone finished four shots ahead of Eddie Pepperell to claim his third European Tour victory.
Headlining the field: Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Graeme McDowell, Si Woo Kim, Martin Kaymer, Matt Wallace, Henrik Stenson and Ernie Els.
NBC Sports Broadcast Team:
Play by Play: Rich Lerner
Analyst: David Feherty
Tower: Curt Byrum / Tom Abbott / Matt Adams
On-Course: Jim “Bones” Mackay / Warren Humphreys
Interviews: Damon Hack