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Tiger Woods avoids penalty at Hero World Challenge

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5-under through 17 holes in his second round at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods was sailing along nicely until his drive at Albany’s 18th, well, sailed right and wound up beneath a bush in the native area.

After considering his options, Woods, from his knees, attempted a quick swat at the ball with an iron. The good news: Woods extricated himself from the trouble. The bad news: Woods’ rules trouble was only beginning.

First, have a look at the shot here, via PGATour.com on Twitter.

As you can see, and as the coverage team suggests, the ball appeared to stay on the club face for an extended period of time. If Woods “pushed, scraped or spooned the ball” he violated Rule 14-1 (a two-stroke penalty).

Secondarily, some questioned whether Woods struck the ball twice in the course of freeing it from the native area, a violation of Rule 14-4 (which is still in effect until the 2019 revision goes into effect).

When Woods entered the scorer’s tent, he was asked to review footage of the incident in conjunction with Tour Officials.

(via PGA Tour on Twitter)

Ultimately, as PGA Tour Rules Official Mark Russell told Golf Channel, Woods wasn’t assessed a penalty, it seems, because all parties believed he intended to make a legal strike. Further, as a double-hit couldn’t be determined by the naked eye, and per the 2017 rule limited the power of later video evidence, Woods was cleared of a breach of Rule 14-4.

Russell cited Decision 18/4 , which states “a player’s determination that the ball has not moved will be deemed to be conclusive, even if that determination is later shown to be incorrect through the use of sophisticated technology.”

He added the following later, via Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard on Twitter

For his part, Woods has this to say to Golf Channel’s Steve Sands

“First of all, I didn’t feel like I violated any rules. I felt like I was trying to play a shot. But the rules committee pulled me aside and said ‘Hey, there may be a violation there’ so we took a look at it. I didn’t feel like I hit it twice, it happened so fast and it was such a short motion, but under high def and super slow-mo, you can see it. I made contact twice, but there was no, they’ll explain it to you. There is no violation, I guess, so I shot what I shot today.”

What he shot — after an 18th hole double bogey — was a 3-under 69. Through two rounds, he sits at 2 under, eight strokes behind leader Jon Rahm and tied for 15th in the field of 18.

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39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Darryl

    Dec 5, 2018 at 6:38 am

    What I love is that the raking story has had zero coverage on the home page here. If Eldrick had hit a 290 yard baby fade out of a pot bunker to a tight cut pin with a 6 iron, all top 5 stories would be about it, three days later, even if he still only finished 17 of 18. But since the actual story doesn’t depict him as Jeebus on a flaming bun, all is quiet.

  2. Tom

    Dec 4, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    He has impeccable character and honesty, just ask Elin or Lindsey. lol!

  3. Kelly Gallagher

    Dec 3, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    All players can feel the difference between pushing the ball away and hitting it. I wish just once he would admit to doing something wrong. But I’m sure that will never happen. He showed with all his lying and cheating he has no morals. Yes he is one great golfer. But that is where it ends.

  4. Bob Jones

    Dec 3, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    They said he wasn’t assessed a penalty because he was intending to make a legal strike.

    I was intending to hit my ball in bounds, so I shouldn’t have to take a penalty because I missed.

  5. Bob Jones

    Dec 3, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    They said he wasn’t assessed a penalty because he was intending to make a legal strike.

    Well, I was intending to hit my ball in bounds, so I shouldn’t have to take a penalty because I missed.

  6. Dave r

    Dec 3, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Who cares he finished 17th out of 18 players. And yes he hit it twice and then proceeded to rake it out, the call was up to him to make and as usual he did not , can’t recall him ever calling himself on anything it must be great to be so perfect.

    • Tartan Golf Travel

      Dec 3, 2018 at 3:45 pm

      Correct. In 20 years on tour he had never called a penalty on himself. In fact he has argued vehemently when visual proof has been shown to him.

    • Kelly Gallagher

      Dec 3, 2018 at 11:32 pm

      Yes he did push it out. One of many things he has been caught at. He just won’t admit it. Liar,Liar.

  7. Ron

    Dec 3, 2018 at 11:41 am

    All these comments on here about Woods cheating….The determination was made by the officials, not Tiger.

    • Jack Nash

      Dec 3, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      It was Tigers Tourney, I’m sure they’ll penalize him. Kinda like years ago at the Masters where he “wasn’t” penalized for an obvious infraction on 15 with the “yellow” staked area.

  8. CJ

    Dec 3, 2018 at 11:15 am

    I believe he got away with a clear penalty. Not on purpose but its still a penalty regardless

  9. Tartan Golf Travel

    Dec 3, 2018 at 8:19 am

    It’s obvious he cheated and it’s certainly Not his first time. Sad to see especially in a hit and giggle.

  10. Tony

    Dec 3, 2018 at 1:13 am

    In my opinion (and as an experienced trial lawyer and long-term golfer I think I bring to bear objectivity and experience) it was a two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 14.1.a, which provides that “The ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club and must not be pushed, scraped or spooned.” The fact that it was also a double hit (as determined on slow motion television) compounds the offence.

    Any experienced golfer who has been in that position will know when the ball has been scraped or spooned. I can recall several occasions when I have been against a tree with limited backswing and I have genuinely attempted to strike the ball but it has stayed on the clubface resulting in a scrape or spoon. I have always felt it and penalised myself.

    Ruling 14.1.a/4 provides, inter-alia, as follows: “It is possible to strike a ball fairly with a half inch backswing. However, in most such cases the player would be pushing the ball, contrary to Rule 14-1a. In the absence of strong evidence to the contrary, it should be ruled that the player has pushed the ball. In order to strike the ball fairly, it must be swung at with the clubhead. If the ball is moved by any other method, it has been pushed, scraped or spooned. If a ball is fairly struck at, there is only momentary contact between the clubhead and the ball or whatever intervenes between the clubhead and the ball.”

    I note part of Mark Russell’s explanation that you could see the “club [sic-ball] stay on the clubface quite a bit of time”. Why, then, did they not have reference to Ruling 14.1.a/4 — the contact was not momentary and the ball was pushed, scraped or spooned.

    Admittedly the backswing was more than half an inch – but it was only a few inches, and the ball was in sand. The fact that Tiger genuinely attempted to strike the ball is irrelevant. If the motion was a push, scrape or scoop there is a two shot penalty. A compelling piece of evidence against the “first strike” finding by the PGA officials is the fact that, in the motion, Tiger turns his wrist to hood the toe of the club to scrape it in the right direction. Also, I don’t believe a fair strike with such a limited backswing, with the ball in sand, would ever have resulted in the ball travelling as far as it did.

    Finally, all of those who say get over it because the rule changes next year are missing the point that rule 14.1 does not change and has nothing to do with double hits. It is Rule 14.4 which will change from January.

  11. b

    Dec 2, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Woods purposely RAKED the ball with the clubface!!!

    It was raking just like you would use to rake leaves or rake anything by keeping the object you are trying to move on the clubface or head of the stick.

    If Woods at made a strike (in lieu of a raking motion) the ball would have compressed and bounced (sprung) off the clubface instead of remaining on the clubface as it was raked.

    It was definitely a PENALTY that Woods got away with. BIG TIME BAD RULING!!!

    • geohogan

      Dec 3, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Ball clubface contact is 5, 10, 000 th of a second

      Clearly , in real time, without stop action camera, Tiger raked the ball.

      If Woods “pushed, scraped or spooned the ball” he violated Rule 14-1 (a two-stroke penalty).

  12. Bert Gwaltney

    Dec 2, 2018 at 10:42 am

    1″ back swung usually doesn’t produce a 3′ follow-through, yes he was trying to get the ball out and into the grass, past the sand area. Certainly looks like a swoop and not a normal hit, but he said he make a stroke at the ball, and didn’t believe he hit it twice. OK, but maybe when he viewed the shot on camera, he might have thought of calling the penalty on himself. “I saw the ball move” seems to remember a great amateur making that comment.

    in 2019, golfers will Intentionally strike the ball twice, perhaps with the putter and claim, it wasn’t intentional. This is why a rule for double-strike was put into the Rules of Golf in the first place. A putt that might come up a little short on slow greens could be made with a long follow-through.

  13. Tom

    Dec 1, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Cheetah

  14. Johnny Penso

    Dec 1, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    You’re in 15th place out of 18. One would think that legacy would triumph personal reward at an event that is almost entirely meaningless within Tigers’ career.

  15. RulesCop

    Dec 1, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    There are golf pros and there are true, iconic, consummate sports heros. I can’t imagine Arnie, Jack or Jones not owning up to a rules breach, but not Eldrick. That’s yet another reason why Eldrick will never be in their league no matter which and how many wins. You have to have the whole package to qualify……performance and integrity.

    • TWE

      Dec 3, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      Ummmm…..please don’t make statements when you don’t know the facts…..Palmer won his first Master after he insisted on playing two balls because he did not get the ruling he desired on an embedded ball rule. I love Arnie, but please don’t spew garbage.

      • Peter McGill

        Dec 4, 2018 at 5:38 am

        You’re allowed to play a second ball in those circumstances. Apples and oranges.

    • Kelly Gallagher

      Dec 3, 2018 at 11:38 pm

      Rules Cop you are so bang on. He has no class and that has shone through for years. The greats would have put their hand up and said yes I did that. And taken their penalty. Not him. I don’t care how many wins or majors he has. Just cause you can golf does not make you a stand up person.

  16. Nack Jicklaus

    Dec 1, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    I rake my balls too.

  17. Rich Douglas

    Dec 1, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    SCRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPE!

    This isn’t even close, and it doesn’t require high-def replay to discern it. (Lame excuse, Tour officials!)

    How is that any different than swiping away someone’s gimme putt? He used the exact same method you’d use to pull the ball out of there so you could drop it.

    Another example of Tiger being Tiger and the Tour being his best friend.

  18. RulesCop

    Dec 1, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Double hits aside, it was obvious, even a normal speed, that he raked it out. That is a penalty in any year. Shame on Tour officials and so much for Woods ‘integrity’ setting an example for the 1st tee kidz.

  19. David

    Dec 1, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    ANOTHER example of Woods CHEATING again…
    There’s no way in this world anyone can make a pulling motion to the ball with no back swing without double touching/ball sticking on the club face .. and Woods KNOWS that.
    He also KNEW immediately he’d double touched. Anyone else would have called it on himself but not Woods… it shows his total lack of honesty.
    Anyone that’s ever played golf know exactly when they’ve double hit … anyone reading this and feels differently has never played golf.
    And that they let him off without penalty is utterly RIDICULOUS … anyone other than Woods would DEFINITELY have received a penalty.

  20. S&TisKing

    Dec 1, 2018 at 11:32 am

    That wasn’t a swing, that was a swipe!!!

  21. Andrew Wainer

    Dec 1, 2018 at 6:00 am

    He “scoop/spooned” it

  22. DONNIE GRAY

    Dec 1, 2018 at 12:06 am

    PGA STOOPED TO A NEW LEVEL,DRIVING WITH 4 DIFFERENT PRESCRIPTION IN SYSTEM, ONLY 2 HE HAD PRESCRIPTIONS FOR[NO REPERCUSSIONS FROM TOUR],REMEMBER WHEN THEY SUPENDED DALY FOR THE HOOTERS INCIDENT HE ADMITTED HE HIT IT TWICE AND THE NEW RULES ARE NOT INFECT TILL JANUARY IN HIS CAREER HOW MANY FAVORABLE CALLS HAS HE RECEIVED IN HIS CAREER

  23. Lovejoy

    Nov 30, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    A player admits to a double hit having seen the evidence and does not call a penalty on himself?

    CHEAT

    • Scheiss

      Dec 1, 2018 at 11:16 am

      Exactly. Signed for wrong score, therefore DQ

  24. He Who Remembers

    Nov 30, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Yeah, this kind of stuff reminds me of the EXTRA favorable drop Woods received at the Players Championship……got away with that one too. It took a call from a distinguished senior tour player to make the officials rule Tiger made an illegal drop at The Masters. Cmon, how many time does the tour have to roll over for this guy.

  25. BF

    Nov 30, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    If they were playing under the new 2019 rules, which I know they aren’t, isn’t there no penalty for hitting it twice if it’s unintentional?

    • Bubbert

      Dec 1, 2018 at 8:33 am

      In the new 2019 rules, there is no penalty for unintentionally hitting the ball twice.

    • Rich Douglas

      Dec 1, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      This wasn’t a case of “hitting it twice” with one swing. This was a scrape. He yanked the ball out of there, not using a clean hit. That is a penalty now, and it will be a penalty in 2019.

  26. dat

    Nov 30, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Certainly didn’t look like a double hit or a scoop to me in real time. Slo-mo is deceptive and irrelevant here. Officials made the right call.

  27. Brian McGrnahan

    Nov 30, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Its obvious the ball was compressed on the clubface.

  28. Tom

    Nov 30, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Ray Lewis told him to say “I didn’t see nuttin!”

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Morning 9: (People’s) Champion Golfer of the Year | BK on J.B.’s pace of play | Xander vs. R&A? | Portrush triumphant

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com; @benalberstadt on Instagram)

July 22, 2019

Good Monday morning, golf fans.
1. Champion Golfer of the Year
Look, you watched Shane Lowry win The Open by six strokes, holding his never to improve by upon the margin he started Sunday at Portrush with by two. No need to recap that. Instead, let’s check out some of the fantastic writing inspired by Lowry’s hoisting of the Claret Jug.
For example, this passage from Tom English at BBC Scotland…
  • “…The 16th is infamous around here. It’s called Calamity Corner for a reason. Lowry, though, was in a place where nothing could hurt him. He was kicking for home and preparing for victory. Still a steely focus, still in his bubble. It’s impossible to know if Lowry heard it, but on his way to the 16th tee a Northern Irishman shouted out at him: “You’re doing us proud, Shane.” Us.”
  • “Through the sunshine of Saturday and the brutality of Sunday, Lowry was serenaded. He wasn’t south or north, he wasn’t Catholic or Protestant, he was Irish. He was their guy. He was the one they transferred all their passion and all their love to when Rory McIlroy exited on Friday.”
  • “Through Lowry, they united. And it was powerful. Back in the worst days of The Troubles, the people trying to build bridges were always horribly undermined by those trying to blow them up. The badness always got more projection than the goodness.”
2. Lowry’s day in the sun was windy, rainy for pretty much everyone else
Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”The final round of the 148th Open Championship will be remembered for Shane Lowry’s fairytale victory and the sordid horror stories that many of his pursuers will recall with strains of bemusement and bewilderment.”
  • “Royal Portrush was as mendacious as advertised on Sunday after three days of general hospitable appeasement. All it took was a strafing wind out of the southwest – the wind most oppressive on the Dunluce Links – to provide the kind of necessary accouterment.”
  • “…It’s not that the weather that moved in over the Causeway Coast and Glens was more severe than anything most competitors had seen before. But as Russell Knox explained after shooting a 77: “We’ve played in worse rain. We’ve played in more wind. But it was on the biggest stage on a demanding course. So everything is kind of highlighted.”

Full piece.

3. BK won’t blame J.B. 
Per Golfweek’s Steve Dimeglio Koepka (who finished tied for fourth after a final-round 74) had this to say about his exceedingly deliberate playing partner…”J.B. had a rough day. J.B. is a slow player. I know it’s difficult with the wind, but I didn’t think he was that bad today,” Koepka said. “I thought he was all right. There were times where I thought it was slow. There’s a lot of slow guys out here.”
  • “What I don’t understand is when it’s your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that’s where the problem lies. It’s not that he takes that long. He doesn’t do anything until his turn. That’s the frustrating part. But he’s not the only one that does it out here.
  • “But like I said, it wasn’t that bad today, it really wasn’t. It was slow, but it wasn’t that bad for his usual pace. It was relatively quick for what he usually does.”
4. Leaning on Bo
Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge…”Lowry needed someone to talk to Sunday afternoon.”
  • He knew he was lucky to escape the first hole without significant damage, dropping just one shot to Tommy Fleetwood by making a bogey putt of significant length. All afternoon he held his lead, and all afternoon thoughts persisted about how bad it would hurt to see it slip away in front of his countrymen. Some of them were faces he recognized from back home in Clara, County Offaly.”
  • “Enter caddie Brian ‘Bo’ Martin.”
  • “He was unbelievable today,” Lowry said. “He kept on my back all day, kept talking to me, he kept in my ear. I kept on telling him now nervous I was, how scared I was, how much I didn’t want to mess it up. All I could think about was walking down 18 with a four- or five-shot lead. And lucky I got to do that.”
5. John Bradley’s bad Sunday
Golf Channel’s Jay Coffin…”Holmes began the final round in third place and in the penultimate group with Brooks Koepka. He shot a final-round 87, seven shots worse than any other player, and tied for 67th place, beating only three players who made the cut.”
  • “The first shot of the day flew left off the first tee and into the internal out of bounds. He reloaded and opened with a double-bogey 6.”
  • “By the time Holmes made the turn, he shot 41 and was well out of contention. But the next nine holes were much, much worse than the previous nine.”
  • “Holmes, 37, made triple bogey on the par-4 11th hole, then followed it with a double bogey on the par-5 12th. After two more bogeys over the next four holes, he closed with consecutive double bogeys on the final two holes to shoot a second-nine 46 and a 16-over 87.”
6. A relatable champion
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”Only his exquisite command of a golf ball distinguishes Shane Lowry from any Irishman you’d get from central casting. He is a dry wit, is fond of a pint, is colorful with his language, is devoted to his family and is a stranger to the gym. He looks like a man more likely to be guarding the Claret Jug than having his name engraved on it, but he’s undeniably a man you’d want to be drinking from it with.”
“Lowry grew up just 130 miles from Royal Portrush, a journey of four hours across Ireland’s backroads and, crucially, the U.K.’s border. That’s why Lowry can escape the yoke that has often been draped on the shoulders of Northern Irish natives who make a name in the world beyond. Unlike Rory McIlroy, he need not navigate the binary bigotry of Northern Ireland, and isn’t asked to declare an allegiance, Irish or British. In a place consumed with identity, he is someone fans can simply identify with.”
7. Take us back to Portrush!
So pleads Golfweek’s Forecaddie...
“After all, players have given their thumb’s up, as The Man Out Front’s colleague Alistair Tait reported. And R&A officials on site all seemed giddy about the venue, openly gushing about ticket sales and mostly pulling off a successful operation. The club members, other than having their phones ring off the hook with golfers wanting to experience one of golf’s best courses, struck TMOF as quite pleased they hosted and sounded ready for another.”
  • “Golf architect Martin Ebert, the club’s consulting architect who was doing his best to take in the proceedings in between congratulations for deftly touching up H.S. Colt’s design, told The Forecaddie that meetings this week will determine what went well and what needs work. Topics may include adjustments to Ebert’s new 7th hole, the internal out of bounds that killed Rory McIlroy’s week and a few other intriguing restorative elements held back from the pre-2019 preparations.”
8. Xander vs. the R&A?  
ICYMI: Xander remained unhappy over the weekend about his (driver’s) failed test (he did delete a couple of tweets on the subject though)…
Geoff Shackelford…”At issue: Who went public or even leaked news of Schauffele’s Callaway Epic driver failing a COR test for “spring like effect”?
  • “Schauffele says it was the R&A, host this week and one of two governing bodies in golf. But assembled media and fans were unaware of the issue until the world No. 11 spoke following Friday’s second round. While there were rumblings of failed tests on the grounds, according to Schauffele, within the “traveling circus” of pro golf the failed test was known. One player jokingly heckled Schauffele, and he blames the R&A.”
  • “It is an unsettling topic,” Schauffele said. “I’ve been called a cheater by my fellow opponents. It’s all joking, but when someone yells ‘cheater’ in front of 200 people, to me it’s not going to go down very well.”
9. Other golf stuff!
On the LPGA Tour…(AP report)Cydney Clanton and Jasmine Suwannapura ran away with the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on Saturday, shooting an 11-under 59 in best-ball play for a six-stroke victory.
  • At the PGA Tour’s alternate event, the Barbasol Championship, Jim Herman fired a final-round 2-under 70 for a one-stroke win over Kelly Kraft.
  • Kristoffer Ventura won on the Korn Ferry Tour.

 

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Not even gaoth and basiteach could stop Lowry’s march to the Open Championship

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In Gaelic, gaoth is wind, and basiteach is rain. Don’t ask for a pronunciation lesson, however. Neither of those elemental forces offered much opposition to Shane Lowry, in his essentially, wire-to-wire victory in the 148th playing of the Open Championship.

10 years after he won the Irish Open, as an amateur no less, at Baltray, Lowry came to Royal Portrush and held off Tommy Fleetwood to win his first major championship.

We’ve identified 5 keys to victory, and are pleased to relate them below. It was a glorious week in Portrush, and our return should not be too far off in the future.

1. The atmosphere

In Scotland, it’s the craic; in Ireland, it’s the shebeen. That wondrous, celebratory mood that transcends age, weather, and any conceivable obstacle. Lowry withstood a short, missed putt in 2009, and here he was again, a decade later, in similar circumstances. Eager to lay away the burden of his 2016 US Open loss to Dustin Johnson, Lowry breathed in the environment with enthusiasm. Eschewing a Saturday evening of monastic contemplation, he and his caddie went out for a pint or two. It was the craic and the shebeen that carried him on its shoulders, to victory.

2. The quick starts

There was no doubt that Brooks Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott, had much experience going round the Portrush. Trouble was, Brooks didn’t. His putting abandoned him for four straight days. In complete contrast, Lowry appeared to make every roll in site, until Sunday. By then, no one was making putts. Have a glance at these starts for the burly Lowry:

  • Thursday: -2 through 7
  • Friday: -5 through 8
  • Saturday: -2 through 7
  • Sunday: -2 through 7

Never once did he get off with a struggle. 11-under par each day, heading to the back nine, was a whale of an advantage. Many will point to the glorious birdies he made over a closing hole or two, but it was that knowledge that the outward half was his, that doubtless buoyed his spirits.

3. Grace while scrambling

It would be fitting that, in some dialectal variation of a communication system, the word Lowry or a derivative, meant Big man with soft hands. His driving was exquisite all week, but in order to secure birdies, he needed to chase it on here, bump it on there, flop it on here, and roll it up there. The launch pad made no difference: short grass, thick stuff, or sand. Lowry was on point from start to finish. If it were a Ryder Cup year, the European captain would doubtless search for a partner for the Irish Hagrid. As it is, they have plenty of time to figure out how to use this latest weapon.

4. Consistently great play

Not once all week did Lowry make a fortunate bogey. Even as he gave a shot or two away  (8 bogies in total, 5 in the final round) he was never on the brink of disaster. Near as the cliffs and the causeway were for some, Lowry never dance along gravity’s edge. The entirety of the week was an artisan’s master class. Fortunate us, we have the video to review, to review what Lowry taught us in real time.

5. The fan support

There’s a difference between atmosphere and fan support. Atmosphere is for the fans, and can distract the player if he allows it. Support needs nor writing nor speech; it is felt by the intended recipient and utilized to will shots toward their target. After Clarke, McDowell and McIlroy gave evidence that they would not challenge for the title of Champion Golfer of the Year, Lowry became a de facto Ulsterman. And why not? County Westmeath borders County Cavan, and the later is one of the 3 non-Northern Ireland counties of Ulster. There was great affection and appreciation for each competitor this week, but a special warmth was reserved for the eventual champion.

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5 things we learned on Saturday at The Open Championship

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On Saturday, the Royal and Ancient announced that tee times would be moved up on Sunday, in anticipation of, well, British Open golf weather. Cue head scratch and chin stroke. At least the organizers didn’t opt for split tees or some other, silly-American addition to the game. On Saturday, we again watched the ebb and flow of Royal Portrush. The “strike early and hold on late” mantra that has characterized this tournament.

On Saturday, we marveled at one man’s near-mastery of this wondrous, Harry Colt design, whose absence from the Open Championship rota must never be repeated. To limit ourselves to five things learned is lamentable, but it is both burden and duty. Accordingly, here are the 5 things that we learned from Saturday’s 3rd round of the Open Championship.

1. European golf fans are marvelous, while American ones have much to learn

“Ole, ole ole ole” is the most supportive thing you can hear on a golf course. Not bah-bah-black sheep, err, booey, not mashed potatoes. Today, the “ole” was replaced with “Lowry,” in tribute to the Irish champion. There is community in European events, and much as they want their golfer to win, they support everyone who plays proper golf. There will be no appeal here to the wags who insist on cementing their unfortunate place in history as burdensome; instead, we tip our cap to the great golfing fans of Northern Ireland, who carry all who compete on the wings of appreciation.

2. Shane Lowry is happy to dream a dream

Don’t wake him just yet, thank you very much. Another 24 hours of this hypnagogic state will suit him well. The Irishman had 8 birdies on Saturday, for 63 and 197. He has 19 birdies and a mere 3 bogeys on the week. He sits at 16 shots below par, 4 clear of his nearest pursuer. No, it’s not over. It has barely begun. Royal Portush has shown that it will cede a low score to great golf, so a 62 is not out of the realm of the possible.

In truth, perhaps a dozen golfers have a chance, but you would be challenged to find a better selection of challengers. Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood are four Englishmen who would love to lift the Claret jug in triumph on Sunday. Brooks Koepka, J.B. Holmes and Rickie Fowler represent the American contingent who hope to spirit the trophy away to a distant shore. And lest we forget, the young Spaniard, Jon Rahm, continues to take steps toward the highest echelon of championship golf. Above them all sits Lowry, current occupant of the Iron Throne. He has lost a final-round lead in a major event before. Sunday will give him a chance to demonstrate all that he has learned in the interim.

3. Brooks Koepka blueprints major championship golf

Speaking of Koepka, he’s still here. He birdied 17 and 18, just as viewers and fans were convinced that this tournament had left his domain. Only the envious and the haters (cousins to the envious) find fault with his golf game. They attempt to marginalize his skill set, focusing in desperation on his power, calling him one dimensional. In truth, we haven’t yet seen his best. He has reached -9 with a B+/A- effort at best. If the cylinders that fired for Lowry on Saturday, find their way to Koepka’s engine on Sunday, he will claim the title. It’s not possible to say that confidently nor currently about any other golfer than him.

 

4. Tommy Fleetwood will have his major opportunity on Sunday

The Englishman did what he needed to do on Saturday, to secure the coveted pairing with Lowry in round 4. Fleetwood made 5 birdies on the day, and didn’t threaten to make worse than par. The only difference between his round and that of the leader, was his concluding run of 6 pars. Reverse hole 15-17, and Fleetwood sits at -15, while Lowry resides at -13. Fleetwood has been accurate as a laser this week, and he will need to repeat that performance from both tee and fairway, to give himself a chance at victory.

5. What will the weather bring?

Wind, for one thing. For three days, competitors have dictated the shape of their shots. On Sunday, that right will not be theirs. Winds from the left, from the right, from every possible angle, will demand that golfers play shots low, under and through the gusts, to reach their targets. Rain, for another thing. The moisture will thicken the rough, allowing balls to drop deep into the native grasses. It will cause shots to squirt sideways, perhaps down a ravine, perhaps worse. If what is predicted, comes to pass, we’re in for an entirely-new tournament over the final 18 holes.

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