Friday, July 21, 2006

British Open notes

If you like notes and details, here are the first round notes from the PGA Tour staff:

The 67 sub-par first rounds were the most for an opening round at the Open Championship
since TOUR records in relation to par began being kept in 1956. The previous high was 59 in
1995 at St. Andrews. The first-round highs among the other major championships are 57 in the
1993 and 1995 PGA Championships (stroke-play began in 1958), 39 at the 1990 U.S. Open and 35 at the 1992 Masters. The last time the Open Championship was held at Royal Liverpool GC, there were 19 sub-par rounds. Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, a member of the PGA TOUR, holds the first-round lead alone at the 2006 Open Championship, one stroke ahead of Greg Owen, Anthony Wall, Miguel
Angel Jiminez, Keiichiro Fukabori
and Tiger Woods. The two-time winner on the European Tour fired a 6-under 66 set a course record (course has been modified since last Open Championship in 1967) and post his career-best round in a major and just his third round in the 60s in 21 major championship rounds. Previous best was a 5-under 67 during round four of the 2005 Open Championship (T11).

England’s Greg Owen, a member of the PGA TOUR, produced a 5-under 67 on Thursday. It was his best round in a major championship in 23 rounds. Owen is making his sixth start in an Open Championship and has made two prior cuts with a career-best finish of T23 in 2001. Earlier this season, Owen finished one stroke behind Rod Pampling at the Bay Hill Invitational for his best TOUR finish.

England’s Anthony Wall, playing in his second career major, sits in a tie for second after
his 5-under 67. Wall finished T46 at Royal St. George’s in 2003, his only other start on the

The 5-under 67 by Miguel Angel Jimenez on Thursday is his best opening round in a major
since he posted a 5-under 66 during round one of the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf
Links. It’s his best round at the Open Championship since a 67 during round three in 2001 at
Royal Lytham.

Tiger Woods posted an opening-round 5-under 67 on Thursday. It was the seventh time in his last nine starts at the Open Championship that Woods has opened with a sub-par round. He’s also recorded 10 of his last 11 rounds in the Open at par or better. It’s just the second
time he has opened a major with a round in the 60s since the 2002 Open Championship (17
starts), the other was a 6-under 66 during his win in 2005 at St. Andrews.

This is the fourth time in 12 starts at the Open Championship that Tiger Woods has opened with a round in the 60s. He has finished no worse than third when doing so with two wins in 2000 (67) and 2005 (66) and a third (65) in 1998.

Sergio Garcia finished with a 4-under 68. It was his best round in a major championship
since a 2-under 68 during the second round of the 2004 U.S. Open. It’s also the first time
Garcia has opened a major with a round in the 60s since a 69 in the 2003 U.S. Open (13

Australia’s Marcus Fraser, playing in just his second career major, fired a major
career-best 4-under 68 to sit in a tie for seventh. He missed the cut at St. Andrews in

South Korea’s S.K. Ho fired his first major round in the 60s in 17 rounds with his 4-under
68 on Thursday. Ho’s previous low in a major was 70 during the first round of the 2003 Open
at Royal St. George’s.

Australia’s Mark Hensby, playing in his second Open Championship, opened with a round in the 60s (4-under 68) for the second straight year. Last year, his 5-under 67 helped him to a T15 finish.

Canada’s Mike Weir posted a 4-under 68, his best round in a major since a 68 during the
third round of the 2005 Masters. Since his win at the 2003 Masters, Weir has posted just
seven of 46 rounds in a major in the 60s. It was Weir’s first major opening-round in the 60s
since a 69 at the 2004 U.S. Open Championship where he finished T4. Weir is looking to post back-to-back top-10s in a major (T6-2006 U.S. Open) for the first time since a T4 at the
2004 U.S. Open and a T9 at the Open Championship.

Ernie Els began an Open Championship with a round of par or better for the 11th time in 16 starts and is looking to make his 15th consecutive cut in the tournament. His 4-under 68 was
his best opening-round at the Open Championship since a 6-under 66 in 2000 at St. Andrews GC when he finished T2. It’s just his third round in the 60s over his last 25 rounds in the majors dating back to 2004 PGA Championship.

Jim Furyk’s 4-under 68 was tied for the best round posted by a player from the United
States. Furyk is looking to break a streak of five consecutive missed cuts at the Open
Championship. Interestingly, he made the cut in his first five Open Championship starts,
including three top-10s. The 68 was one off Furyk’s low round in an Open, a 4-under 67
during the 1997 first round at Royal Troon.

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman matched Furyk with a 4-under 68. The 1996 winner at Royal Lytham posted his best round at the Open since an opening-round 68 in 2000 at St. Andrews.

The 68 was Lehman’s best round in a major since a 68 during round two of the 2001 U.S .Open at Southern Hills CC. It’s just his second round in the 60s in his last 43 major rounds (69, rd 2, 2005 Open Championship).

Australia’s John Senden, who became the eighth first-time winner on the PGA TOUR at last
week’s John Deere Classic, fired a 2-under 70 during Thursday’s first round. This is his
second trip to the Open Championship, he missed the cut in 2002 at Muirfield GC after rounds of 76-70—146 (+4).

There are seven players from the PGA TOUR making their initial start in an Open
. The group was led by Lucas Glover and Vaughn Taylor with even-par-72s on Thursday. The others -- J.J. Henry (73)., J.B. Holmes (74), Arron Oberholser (73), Brett Quigley (79), and Brett Wetterich (75).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lopez on Wie

Let there be no question about where Nancy Lopez, the Tiger Woods turned grande dame of the LPGA, stands when it comes to Michelle Wie - - she should forget about the PGA Tour.

Check out these excerpts from Lopez's recent pre-tourney intervew at the Jamie Farr:

Q. Being a child prodigy yourself, to some degree, what do you think of Michelle Wie and the approach she is taken to being professional at the age of 16?

NANCY LOPEZ: I'm really always saying I'm kind of confused, I'm not really sure what she wants to do. I haven't really talked to her about it.I know if I had a 16 year old that could play golf the way that she did, or she does, I think I would have advised my 16 year old to play more amateur golf. I would have never encouraged her to play on the men's tour.

I think that, you know, we have a woman's tour, and I think the men, I would probably say that most of the players on the PGA TOUR probably don't want her to play on their TOUR. They probably don't say that, but I'm speaking for them and my opinion. You know, I respect the PGA TOUR. They have their tour. I don't want any of their guys to play on our Tour. If we did not have a rule, I wouldn't want them to be over here. If they did we would have no women Tour because we would have a bunch of men on our Tour beating us. I'm a little confused there because I know when I was a little girl I wanted to win. I just don't think Michelle can win on the men's tour.

I would think that her goal would be to win on the woman's tour and be the best she can be on the woman's tour. Because she is such a great talent and she is really a nice girl. To be the best right now, she is going to be playing against some of the best players that's ever played on the LPGA Tour. I think we have the best product we've ever had with all of the young players that are out here and they will be here for many, many years. Most of them are around 20.

So I would think that she would set her goals to be the best, and to beat Annika, and to win more tournaments than Kathy Whitworth. She can do that. But everyone says, ‘Well, she has finished second in that event.' There is a big difference second and first. There really is because I've been there. To win you know when you are walking down the 18th fairway, and you're either one shot behind, or tied, or one shot in the lead, that is pressure.

So, you know what it's all about if you've been there. She hasn't won for a long time. I mean it's been a while. I think it's going to be harder – I think if she would have played more amateur golf she would have already won out here. I truly believe that. Because she would have come out here with the attitude internally that she was the best and that she could win. I don't really know if she can answer that question to herself now that she can really win right now. I think she will eventually win for sure on the LPGA Tour, but I really think she would have won already by now.

Q. Do you think it would benefit the LPGA to get her out to a few more things? I know there are a myriad of rules because she is not a full time member, giving the attention that she draws.

NANCY LOPEZ: Definitely. I want the LPGA Tour to succeed. The PGA TOUR is already doing that. We need her on the LPGA Tour to bring those people in the gates to watch her play. That's why we are going to make more money for charity first, and then for the LPGA Tour for the purses to get bigger. I hope that she cares enough about the LPGA Tour to come out here and play with us and bring those fans out here to watch Michelle Wie on the LPGA Tour.

Shove it

Phil Mickelson is now offiically sick and tired of questions about his monumental meltdown at the U.S. Open.

After his first round 69 at the British Open this morning, Mickelson sat down for a quick chat with Jim Huber from TNT. Soon enough, of course, the conversation turned to you-know-what and whether it might haunt him this week as his chased his first Claret Jug. Mickelson, who is as savvy as it comes in media relations, forced a smile and said something like, "Well, I'm not going to let one hole affect how to do in majors."

But what was obvious and undeniable as Mickelson spoke through gritted teeth was that he wanted to lunge across the chair, yank that microphone out of Huber's hand, and shove it down his ever-loving throat.

British Open digs

Here in the good old US of A, when we travel, we tend to take accommodations for granted. Not so in Europe.
I once had a hotel room at the Ryder Cup that had a shower but only half a shower door.

Check out this "Postcard" from this week's British Open from Barker "The Rover" Davis of the Washington Times:

In the well-established tradition of bizarre British Open lodgings, the Rover is delighted to report that his accommodations in Liverpool this week are the most shocking he's ever encountered in nine trips to the Open.

The Rover is booked into a massive hotel in center city Liverpool (a stunningly dirty port town that should be renamed Cesspool) called the Adelphi. The once-grand Adelphi is one of the largest and oldest hotels in the city. And it's quite clear the owners haven't spent a shilling on upkeep since Bill Shakespeare stayed there. It's simply an impossibly shabby old dame. The Rover's room is large enough for a basketball court, complete with 12-foot ceilings, intricate molding and gaudy candelabra lighting. But every stick of furniture in the room, all of it gloriously unmatched, is marred by a combination of cigarette burns and stains of dubious origin. The "king-sized bed" is two sagging twins shoved together. Better yet, both are fitted with single sheets, completely dispelling the illusion.

Not only are grime, cobwebs and dust omnipresent, the Rover arrived to find the following objects under a high side table: two cigarette butts, an empty pint glass and two soiled cocktail napkins. And after two visits from the maid, they're still there. Suffice it to say, it's the kind of room where one never removes his shoes, much less his socks. Should the Rover fail to correspond later this week, it will undoubtedly be because Jack Nicholson has burst out of a closet and induced a coronary.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Arnold grabs early lead in the Philly Open

This just in from the Golf Assn of Phila...

Steve Arnold, an amateur from Yardley CC, holds the first-round lead after posting a 3-under-par 68 at Llanerch CC in the Open Championship.

For live scoring, click here.

Top golfing docs

Who's the best golfer among doctors in the area?

That would be Dr. W. Clark Hargrove, a heart surgeon at Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia, and a 1.3 handicapper at Merion and Pine Valley.

I wasn't surprised to stumble across that fact in the August issue of Golf Digest, because, as it happens, Clark and I grew up in the same small town in North Carolina, Tarboro. I can remember Clark winning the club championship at our little 9-hole club, Hilma Country Club, when he was only 13 or 14. He's still got game, ranking tied for 19th in the magazine's national list.

For Golf Digest's complete list of Top Docs, including a few more from the area, click here.

Tiger's pre-British Open interview

Excerpts from Tiger Woods' pre-tournament interview at the British Open.

Q: Tiger, coming here to a links course, which is in true links condition, you've been here
for a few days now, how do you find the course playing?

TIGER WOODS: It's not playing slow. The golf course is definitely fast. It's hard. It's a
little bit slower the last couple of days because obviously they're putting some water on
it, trying to keep it alive. But overall it's going to be a fantastic challenge this week to play a golf course this fast. We don't get a chance to do this very often, but when we do, it sure brings back shot making and creativity back in the game.

Q. The last time you had the 2 iron in the bag before this week, and kind of talk about
TIGER WOODS: The last time I played with it was probably it was Dunlop Phoenix last year.
Yeah, that's the last time I actually have used it in competition.

Q. Can you talk about that?
TIGER WOODS: The 5 wood just definitely is not rolling, obviously. That's the reason why
it's in the bag, on most golf courses. But this week, I like the feeling, I'm trying to take
advantage of the fast fairways and roll the ball out there. And the 2 iron enables me to do

Q. You obviously missed the cut at the U.S. Open. Now you've had a month to prepare and you seem to be very much ready for The Open. How do you get ready for this? Is it mental?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just getting back into the playing again. I took a lot of time off
prior to the U.S. Open and I wasn't hitting the ball as well as I wanted to in competition.
But I fixed those mistakes prior to the Western and I got back into the competitive flow
again. And I got things going and it's nice when you play four rounds. I had two extra days
there at the Western to get back into the flow of things and the weekend I played great. So
I feel like I'm back into playing again after taking such a long time off prior to the U.S.

Q. I was going to ask about your father. Those of us who saw you in THE PLAYERS and then The Masters and the U.S. Open have seen you in different and obviously very understandable circumstances, and those of us who have lost parents understand. When do you think you can say I'm clear of it, I've come out of it, I've learned how to deal with it, and do you still think of your father every day?
TIGER WOODS: Well, there's not a day that I don't think I'll ever go through life without
thinking about my dad. I love him dearly. And everyone I've ever talked to that has lost a
parent, they think about them every day and they always miss them, and especially if the
bond that we've had, you know, I think it transcended just a normal parent/child
relationship. And I think that's probably why I will think about him more, and especially
when I'm out here playing and practicing, because a lot of the fundamentals actually all the
fundamentals that I learned were from him.

Anytime I go back to my basics and work on grip, posture and stance and aim and all those
things that I learned from him, I always think about those younger days. I honestly don't
think there will ever be a day that I won't think about him.

Q. But there will be a day when you say to yourself, yes, I've come to terms with it, I've
worked it out. Have you arrived at that day or when do you think it will come?
TIGER WOODS: I've come to terms with it, there's no doubt about that. He's not here anymore. It's not like I can pick up the phone and call him and say, "Pop, what do you think about my putting stroke?" Those days aren't here anymore. So I've got to come to terms with it and understand it, it's just not there. I have so many wonderful memories that I'll look back on
it with smiles every time.

Q. Given how unusual it was for you to miss a cut in the U.S. Open, what were the practice
sessions like the next couple of years? How significant was it to sort of feel that Sunday
pressure and get in the chase again at the Western?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it was nice to get back out and practice after The Open and work on the things that I did not do well at The Open. And I felt like I rectified that at the Western.
And after the first day I didn't really I didn't putt all that well and got it going on the
weekend with the putter, but I also hit the ball better. It was nice to be back in the mix
with a chance on the back nine, even though I didn't pull it off, but I had a chance. And I
would say it's been a while, but it's only been two tournaments. I had a chance at Augusta
and my next tournament was the U.S. Open. Tournament wise it was only two tournaments, but time wise, it was a little longer.

Q. I'm curious, with regard if there's anything fun you've done with the Claret Jug, having
it, and if so, what did you do when you had it, showing it around, bringing it to places?
TIGER WOODS: Just filled it up with beverages of my choice (laughter).

Q. At home, or did you bring it around at all?
TIGER WOODS: What, would I bring it out to I wouldn't do that, no.

Q. You've been drawn with Nick Faldo the first few days. What's your current relationship
with him after the way he criticized your swing a year or two back?
TIGER WOODS: We really don't talk much.

Q. You don't talk much? Will you be talking on Thursday and Friday?
TIGER WOODS: I've only played with him two times since I've been a pro. And there wasn't a lot of talking there, either.

Q. So does that mean you'll shake hands on the first tee and on the 18th green, and that
will be it?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I really don't know. It's up to him and I'll be in my world
trying to compete and trying to win the Championship, and I'm sure he'll probably do the
same thing.

Q. If he wants to talk, what will be your reaction?
TIGER WOODS: Surprised (laughter).

Q. If we could talk about the golf course for a second. It's not often you have a course
with bunkers like this. Is it as much of an issue as some of us are making it to be?
TIGER WOODS: It depends on what you're trying to do with your tee shots. I don't know what most of the guys are doing on 3, but you have that option of driving it over, if you want
to. On 18 they can come up on you a little quick, if the wind is down off the left. But
other than that it really doesn't come into play.

Q. Two thoughts, how often do you use the driver here, because it is so fast? Are you using
a 2 iron off the tee more than the driver?

Q. Tiger, before the U.S. Open you said that you felt ready to compete. After missing the
cut there, do you did you rationalize missing the cut as basically the fact that you just
hadn't played competitively since The Masters?
TIGER WOODS: I was ready to compete, there was no doubt about that, I was ready to compete and I was ready to play and I just didn't play well. I just didn't get into the competitive
flow fast enough. By the time I did get into the flow of the round, I was always behind the
8 ball, and you can't wait that long to get into the flow of a round.

Taking that much time off and then coming back to well, as it is, the hardest U.S. Open
venue we've ever played, it made it really difficult. Subsequently I didn't execute. I
didn't execute fast enough. As I said, I got into the flow too late. If I had gotten down to
a flow a little earlier, things might have been different.

Q. Going back to what you said about how you would want to ring your father and say "Pop,
what do you think about my putting stroke," who do you ring up now? Do you talk to Mark
or your mum?

TIGER WOODS: I always talk to my mom, I talk to her all the time.

Q. Does she give technical
TIGER WOODS: No, no, no, no (laughter). No. She usually gives words of encouragement from mom. As everyone knows, she's pretty fiery. So it's more from that side than it is from a
technical side.

Q. Who would you ring for the who could you say, "What do you think of my putting stroke," Hank or Mark?
TIGER WOODS: Hank. That's why he's my coach.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the imagination you need to use specifically here at
Hoylake? Some of the guys were saying they couldn't keep their balls on the greens on the
par 3s on the front.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, some of them. Yeah, if you get downwind it's really hard to
keep it on the green, unless you get a chance into the wind to use the wind as a backboard.
But when it gets going downwind and the greens are this firm you have to to a front pin,
it's going to be really hard to get it close. A lot of good shots here downwind are going to
be 20, 30, 40 feet away and it's going to be a good shot.

That's one of the neat things about playing over here is that the galleries certainly
understand that. You hear the types of applause; we play around the world and a lot of times
the ball gets airborne there's always applause. Over here if you hit a good shot and they
know it and it's 30 feet away, there's a pretty good roar, because that is a good shot. The
people are very knowledgeable when we come over here and play an Open Championship.

Q. You mentioned playing the birdie holes. There's already conjecture that you might see the
first sub 63 in a major this week. And your 18 under par in St. Andrews, could you talk
about that? You mentioned the support. Do you think you've been more of a crowd favorite
because of the way you handled everything surrounding your dad's death?
TIGER WOODS: Wasn't it 19? I got to 20 and bogeyed 17. Sorry. Give me a little credit.
No, I think it's if the wind doesn't blow, you can make some birdies out here. The par 5s
are reachable and there are some short par 4s out here. You can get the ball in pretty
close. You would have to take no wind in order to have a chance of going to sub 63. But as
far as the 19 under par mark, I think it obviously can be done, but will it be done is
obviously a different story. And as we all know, it's all dependent on the weather. We
played St. Andrews in 2000 with almost no wind.
Q. Do you look at it as sympathy?
TIGER WOODS: I don't think of it as sympathy. We all have things that go on in life. I'm not
the first one, I'm certainly not the last one. It happens to everybody. Everybody goes
through moments like this. You've got to handle it and move on. It's been fantastic to have
the people, all the letters and the e mails and the phone calls we've received. I think
mainly because of the impact my father has had on the game of golf, and as a person. That to
me means so much to me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Philadelphia Open

Time once again for one of the biggest days in local golf, the Philadelphia Open. Defending champion Graham Dendler, an assistant pro at Merion, heads the field of 45 club pros and 15 top amateurs.

Here's GAP preview:

For the first time in more than half a century, the Open Championship returns to historic Llanerch Country Club. The 102nd Open Championship takes place on Wednesday, July 19, with a field of 60 players competing in the one-day, 36-hole stroke play championship. The field will be comprised of 15 amateurs from the Golf Association of Philadelphia and 45 professionals from the Philadelphia Section of the PGA.

Back to defend his championship is Graham Dendler, 34, of Havertown, Pa., an assistant professional at Merion Golf Club. Dendler defeated a strong field by a stroke last year at a difficult Aronimink Golf Club. He looks to become the first back-to-back Open winner since Frank Dobbs of Spring Ford Country Club turned the trick in 1991-92.

For the rest of the preview, tee times and tournament history, click here.

Ho hum Hoylake

Most years, the British Open is played on a course with history and impeccable credentials. This year, as the Open returns to Hoylake for the first time on four decades, the silence is deafening. John Huggan, Golf World's man in the U.K., offers this preview.

By John Huggan
Golf World July 14, 2006

Driving past the course, aloong a blandly suburban road on the Wirral Peninsula perhaps 10 miles from the city of Liverpool, you'd never know Hoylake existed. Underwhelming, unimpressive even, the initial glimpse of the links itself is but marginally more interesting.

"On first view [the holes] are not imposing," said the first great golf writer, Bernard Darwin. And he wasn't wrong. Shadowed by distant dunes whose sole scene-stealing purpose seems to be obscuring the striking blue waters of the Dee Estuary and the rolling hills of North Wales, Royal Liverpool offers gentle changes in elevation and little more than the odd bush or two to occasionally break the monotonous vista.

Later, even a closer inspection does little to immediately recommend the place; golf's supposedly sure-fire indicator of architectural inadequacy, the various internal out-of-bounds, here marked by small grassy banks known as "cops," inevitably provokes bemused smiles and the odd furrowed brow. You can almost see the questions forming in the minds of every first-time visitor.

For the rest of the story, click here.

So long ABC

With ABC Sports bowing out of PGA Tour coverage starting next year, this week's British Open is the network's swan song. Expect the farewell to be sentimenal and sad.

For a good idea of what's going on behind the scenes, check out this story in Golf World by Dave Shedloski.

By Dave Shedloski
Golf World July 14, 2006

More than 100 of them assembled for dinner at the Marriott Rancho Las Palmas Hotel in Palm Springs on a crisp Saturday night in January, their appetites diminished as they tried to talk around the tumult injected into their cloistered realm. Overshadowing the occasion for which the ABC golf team gathered that evening--to celebrate the beginning of another season of PGA Tour telecasts--was the week-old, other-shoe-dropping news that 2006 would be their last for the foreseeable future.

"It was the weirdest feeling," Brandt Packer, then-associate producer of the network's golf broadcasts, said of a banquet where humble pie was the main course. "There was a wedding going on in the ballroom next to ours. Our room was like a wake."

Sensing the maudlin atmosphere during early-round cable telecasts of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, producer Mark Loomis hoped to rally the troops. In a halting voice he quoted from author Muriel Strode: "I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path and leave a trail." Then he had the lights turned down and presented a video montage of ABC's golf highlights from the previous year.
How we got to this point I don't know, but it's the end of a wonderful journey. "
-- Peter Alliss
"Mark was trying to show us all the good work we had done and what we had to look forward to," said Andy North, on-course reporter and two-time U.S. Open champion. "It was a great way to lead us into the year. But to watch the video also reminded us that we weren't going to have a chance to do any of those things again."

For the rest of Shed's story, click here.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ah, the British Open

I was finally getting okay with the fact that I'm not covering the British Open this year -- my favorite tournanent of the year, hands down -- when the phone rang Sunday night. It was Ed Sherman, golf scribe for the Chicago Tribune and one of three other writers I always share a house with at the British.He was calling from O'Hare Airport as he was about to board the flight to Manchester, England.

"We're playing Royal Birkdale tomorrow," he said.

I groaned. "Thanks, I needed to hear that," I said, immediately falling into a self-pitying funk that will last all week.

A post-flight round of golf is part of our routine after the overnight flight; it's the best way we've found to get your body clock get in sync with the five-hour time difference, when the natural inclination is to crash into the nearest bed immediately.

Once we land and locate each other in the airport, we head to the best course we can get on (within a reasonable driving distance) and play golf til we drop. The only downside is that those times I didn't sleep so much as a wink on the flight, I ended up sleep-walking my way through a round on a great course (Royal Lytham comes to mind).

The Masters, the U.S. Open, the PGA, they're all great. But the British Open has been my personal favorite since the first one I ever covered, coincidentally, at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England in 1998. Mark O'Meara won in a play-off against Brian Watts.

What's so great about the British?

Everything. If you're a golfer and you don't get chill bumps at the Open Championship, as they call it, you don't have a sense of golf history and you may not have a pulse. It applies every year, but it was truest of all last year when the Open was at St. Andrews.

The golf is special, obviously. But what appeals to me even more is everything else that goes along with the Open. Unlike so many tournaments in the U.S., the British Open tends to be played in small towns, even villages (Carnoustie, St. Andrews, Southport, Muirfield, Sandwich), which often feel like American towns must have felt 100 years ago. I spend hours walking the streets, popping into little corner shops, bistros and bakeries, snapping pictures as I go.

More later.

Tiger on the British Open, LeBron

A few tidbits from Tiger Woods' July newsletter to fans...

By Tiger Woods

I love the British Open. Any time you win that championship, it's pretty special. It's the oldest one in our sport. I've got a couple of Claret Jug replicas at home that I look at from time to time, and the names on the trophy are pretty amazing: Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead. It's an honor to have my name on there twice.

I honestly don't know anything about Royal Liverpool, but I'll play three or four practice
rounds and that should be enough time to prepare. The key is to make sure you do your
homework and find out what the golf course will allow you to do.

It was the same with Royal Birkdale, Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Carnoustie and St. Andrews. It's not like I haven't done it before. We play around the world and learn different golf courses in a day or two. It's part of playing golf. I think people are making too big a deal out of the fact that the tournament hasn't been played at Hoylake since 1967.

Geez, time flies when you're making millions...

Next month (Aug. 29) marks my 10th year on the PGA Tour. It's hard to believe the time has
gone by that fast. It doesn't feel like I've been out here that long, but after a while, it all blends in with the same golf courses, hotels, restaurants and volunteers. No way did I think I would have accomplished what I've accomplished in the game. It's quite remarkable, actually. In 1996, I was just hoping to earn my PGA Tour card and prove I belonged.

A bunch of things have changed since I started: the money involved; the physical fitness of
players; technology, especially the size of driver heads; and the length of golf courses. I
feel very fortunate to make a living playing a game I love and look forward to the next 10

Pity the fool who only makes $20 mil a year...

Speaking of money, I just read that LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers signed a new
three-year contract for $60 million. Obviously, that's a great deal, but I wouldn't trade
places with him. Most NBA players only have two options: a team contract and a shoe deal.
That's the only exposure they get.