The Starter: The Open Championship Edition

Ben Hogan - Carnoustie British Open Winners
Winner Ben Hogan walks through the gallery of spectators during the 1953 British Open Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland. Credit: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

If the Open Championship is anything like the Scottish Open, expect some deep red. Yeah, but we’re talking about Carnoustie. The Starter also notes it’s a busy fortnight on the women’s side, too, with Laura Davies making history and Brittany Lincicome trying to go where Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie couldn’t.


THREE HEADLINES

Brandon Stone Wins 2018 ASI Scottish Open
Brandon Stone of South Africa poses with the trophy at Gullane Golf Club after winning the 2018 ASI Scottish Open in Gullane, Scotland. Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

1. Brandon Stone’s Scottish charge just misses European Tour’s first 59. The South African needed a birdie in his final two holes at Gullane GC to cross the threshold, but missed a 7-foot try at No.18. Stone’s consolation prize was his third European Tour crown and a spot in the Open Championship.

2. Brittany Lincicome preps for PGA Tour try by nearly winning in Ohio. A 67-67 weekend got her into a Marathon Classic playoff, though a watery second shot gave Thidapa Suwannapura the win. Next up: The Barbasol Championship, where she’ll become the first woman since 2008 to tee up on the PGA Tour.

3. Laura Davies runs away with inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open. The Hall of Famer may be in the record book for a good while after her 10-shot romp over Juli Inkster at Chicago GC. Davies played her final 27 holes in 10-under par, shooting 66-68 on the weekend to leave everyone in her wake.


AROUND THE PRO GOLF TOURS

Rory McIlroy Open Championship
Rory McIlroy on the 18th green during Tuesday’s practice round at Carnoustie Golf Club in advance of the 147th Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland. Credit: Matthew Lewis/R&A via Getty Images

PGA Tour/European Tour: The Open Championship
Course: Carnoustie Golf Links (Championship)
Where: Carnoustie, Scotland
Defending: Jordan Spieth

PGA Tour: Barbasol Championship
Course: Keene Trace GC (Champions)
Where: Nicholasville, Ky.
2017 champion: Grayson Murray

Web.com Tour: Pinnacle Bank Championship
Course: The Club at Indian Creek
Where: Omaha, Neb.
2017 champion: Sam Ryder


FEDEXCUP RANKING REPORT

Adam Scott
Adam Scott during a practice round prior to the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, NY. Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

With five weeks left in the FedExCup regular season, it’s crunch time for those hanging around the cut line of 125 to make the postseason lineup and retain full PGA Tour status for the 2018-19 season.

More than half the field at this week’s Barbasol Championship in Kentucky, for those who didn’t qualify for the Open Championship, find themselves below No.125 in this week’s rankings. Even though Kentucky only offers half the points of Carnoustie, every point counts at this juncture.

Note that the following list of bubble boys includes a pair of former Masters champions, both of whom took a tumble while taking a week off. Both are at Carnoustie this week, but the pressure will still be on when they get back to U.S. soil unless they turn in a solid performance on the Angus links.

POS-PLAYER(LAST WK)-PTS
121. Adam Scott (112) – 356
122. Tyrone Van Aswegen (114) – 353
123. Corey Conners (117) – 344
124. Danny Lee (119) – 333
125. William McGirt (120) – 327
126. Lucas Glover (121) – 324
127. Harris English (122) – 322
128. Sergio Garcia (124) – 316
129. Robert Garrigus (129) – 315
130. Nick Taylor (128) – 314
131. Troy Merritt (127) – 310


STAT OF THE WEEK

Michael Kim Wins 2018 John Deere Classic
Michael Kim engages fans after making a putt on the 16th hole during the final round of the 2018 John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After a spring in which it seemed every PGA Tour event went to a playoff, the past three stops have been won by a combined 21 strokes.

Francesco Molinari began the run with an eight-shot romp at the Quicken Loans National, followed by Kevin Na’s five-stroke win at The Greenbrier. Michael Kim completed the trilogy on Sunday by outpacing his nearest pursuit by eight.

Compare that to January and February, where four consecutive playoffs from the Sony Open to the Waste Management Phoenix Open lasted a combined 17 extra holes. After a two-week respite, two more playoffs ensued at the Honda Classic and WGC Mexico Championship.


HOLE OF THE WEEK: THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

18th Hole Carnoustie Golf Links
A view of the 18th hole at Carnoustie Golf Links in advance of the 147th Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland. Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

No.18, Carnoustie Golf Links
Par 4, 499 yards
2007 average: 4.61 (toughest)

Though not always the harshest hole Carnoustie will throw at Open Championship entrants – in 1999, six holes were statistically tougher – the narrow landing area off the tee and double dose of the Barry Burn might make it the most intimidating.

Consider that in both Opens at Carnoustie in the past 40 years, playoffs ensued because the leaders tripped up at No.18.

Fans easily recall Jean Van de Velde’s follies in 1999, wading into the burn on the way to triple bogey when a double would have given him the Claret Jug. Of lesser recall, perhaps, is that No.18 struck 2007’s front-runners not once, but twice.

Padraig Harrington held a one-shot lead over Sergio Garcia when he twice hit into the burn, thinking he’d thrown the championship away with a double bogey. But Garcia, playing two pairs behind, also couldn’t make par as they went to extra holes.

Tom Watson won the 1975 crown in part because of a rare closing birdie, lifting him into a playoff with Australia’s Jack Newton. Tied coming to the end of their 18-hole playoff, Newton bogeyed as Watson prevailed.

2007 Open Championship: no eagles, 17 birdies, 209 pars, 172 bogeys, 44 double bogeys, 10 higher


STAT OF THE WEEK II

Vijay Singh Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship
Vijay Singh hits a tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of the 2018 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois. Credit: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

With his playoff victory at the Senior Players Championship, Vijay Singh became the seventh different winner in the past seven senior majors. He’s also the third man this year to capture his first senior major, joining David Toms (U.S. Senior Open) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (Regions Tradition).

Paul Broadhurst won this year’s other major at the Senior PGA Championship, while the no-repeat streak began last year with Kenny Perry (U.S. Senior Open), Scott McCarron (Senior Players) and Bernhard Langer (Senior Open Championship).


HISTORY SPOTLIGHT: THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

Ben Hogan - Carnoustie British Open Winners
Winner Ben Hogan walks through the gallery of spectators during the 1953 British Open Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland. Credit: Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Because of travel complexities and injuries he suffered in the 1949 auto accident that nearly took his life, Ben Hogan crossed the Atlantic just once to play the Open Championship.

He prevailed, winning the 1953 Claret Jug at Carnoustie.

Hogan already had won the Masters and U.S. Open earlier that year, which helped sway him to finally make the journey to Scotland. He arrived a week early to adjust to conditions and survived qualifying like everyone else.

Hogan opened with a 73 and improved on his score each day, closing with a 68 that rewrote the Carnoustie course record and sealed a four-stroke triumph over his nearest pursuers. The “Wee Iceman” is one of only four Open champions to better his score each successive day.

It marked the ninth and last major title of Hogan’s career, with the last six coming in a stretch of eight starts. He had no opportunity to complete the 1953 cycle, as the PGA Championship was played during Hogan’s voyage back to the United States.


DID YOU KNOW

Brittany Lincicome Barbasol Championship
Brittany Lincicome on the 3rd tee during the final round of the 2018 Marathon LPGA Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio. Credit: Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With all of golf’s top names in Carnoustie this week, Brittany Lincicome might have the best chance of anyone to date to become the first woman to play a PGA Tour weekend since Babe Zaharias at the 1945 Los Angeles Open.

Lincicome, in fact, is the first woman to even test herself against PGA Tour competition in nearly a decade. The last before this week was Michelle Wie, who missed the cut by nine at the 2008 Reno-Tahoe Open.

That was the last of eight attempts by Wie to stand alongside The Babe. She actually came closest in her mid-teens, missing the cut by one in her first try at the 2004 Sony Open in Hawaii. She also missed by two at the 2005 John Deere Classic.

Others to make the attempt were Annika Sorenstam, who restarted the pursuit when she played the 2003 Colonial, and Suzy Whaley at the 2003 Greater Hartford Open.


FRENCH PARTY FOR SIX

Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth
Bubba Watson (L) and Jordan Spieth on the second hole at Riviera CC during the first day of the 2017 Genesis Open in Pacific Palisades, CA. Credit: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and three bubble players took U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk up on his invitation to get an early look at this year’s venue before heading over to Carnoustie.

Kevin Kisner, Brian Harman and Tony Finau rounded out Saturday’s tee party at Le Golf National outside Paris, enough to go out in two threesomes.

“I think it’s a big advantage to see the golf course,” Finau said, “and see it as many times (as possible) before the competition.”

Furyk issued the invitation last month to more than a dozen of his Ryder Cup hopefuls, knowing not all could be on hand. Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler, for instance, were playing the Scottish Open. Bryson DeChambeau was defending his John Deere Classic title.

“It’s great to see the camaraderie,” Furyk said. “But most important, it’s just getting a general idea of the routing of the golf course, the shots it takes. It’s a placement golf course; they’re not going to hit a lot of drivers. It becomes a second-shot golf course, (and) I want them to see that and know that.”


END QUOTE

“One day people will look at this tournament when I’m long gone, and they’ll see my name on there. … This thing is going to be around a lot longer than the rest of us, so it’s just nice to get in there early. The trouble is the U.S. (Women’s) Open, I won that in my second attempt and never won it again, so I hope this isn’t going to repeat history.”
– Hall of Famer Laura Davies, after winning the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open trophy

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