Golf Buzz

July 20, 2014 - 8:00am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tom Watson
USA Today Sports Images
2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson, 64, saved his best for last in the 2014 Open Championship, carding a 4-under 68 in Sunday's final round at Royal Liverpool.

Tom Watson, the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain, never ceases to amaze.

In 2009, at the age of 59, he very nearly won the Open Championship for a sixth time, coming up just short in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

Fast forward five years to today and the final round of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Did the 64-year-old Watson contend? No. But his 4-under 68 -- his best round of the week by five shots -- was impressive.

RELATED: Open leaderboard | Full coverage | U.S. Ryder Cup standings

Watson bogeyed his opening hole on Sunday. That was the only blemish on his card. He went on to collect birdies on Nos. 2, 5, 7, 16 and 18. For good measure, the birdie at 18 was from short range after Watson teased the crowds with an eagle putt.

Watson is a lot of things: an eight-time major champion, a gentleman, a fiery competitor, but -- above all -- he's an inspiration.

Let's get this straight -- 64 is not old. Not these days. Even still, a person over the age of 60 shouldn't be doing the things Watson continues to do.

Just a couple of months back at the Senior PGA Championship, Watson shot a 65 in the final round. You'd think he'd be delighted after such a fine round. Instead, he was irked by a hole where he missed a putt that ruined the chance to have his score match his age and talked about how much better the round could have been had his putter been working.

The assembled media laughed. Watson was serious.

Few men have accomplished more in the game than Watson. Only five players -- Jack Nicklaus (18), Tiger Woods (14), Walter Hagen (11), Ben Hogan (9) and Gary Player (9) -- have been more successful in majors.

At an age where he should be able to relax and look back proudly on an amazing career, Watson instead continues to grind on the range to find that one little swing thought or move that will make him better.

Watson should be cherished.

He's going to finish this Open as low Watson (the two-time Masters champ, Bubba Watson, missed the cut), low "TW" (Tiger Woods will finish well behind Watson) and several shots ahead of Martin Kaymer, runaway winner of the U.S. Open just a few weeks ago.

Impressive stuff when you consider the man won his first Open Championship in 1975 -- before an overwhelming majority of this year's Open field were even born. 

Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler
Getty Images
Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler have been friends and opponents on the golf course for years.

Good buddies Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler have both been playing golf since they were tykes. They first squared off against each other in the 2007 Walker Cup, when they were 18, and now are frequent practice partners down in South Florida.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Follow the Open Championship along with us all week 

We know what they look like now. Here are a few photos of them back in the good ol' days.

 

 

 
Rory McIlroy and Gerry McIlroy
Getty Images
Should Rory McIlroy win the Open Championship on Sunday, both he and his dad will have plenty to celebrate.
If Rory McIlroy goes ahead and wins the Open Championship on Sunday, he'll pocket a cool $1.67 million.
 
And his dad and three of his friends will split a fairly substantial prize of their own.
 
No, there isn't a paternal payoff clause in the Open regulations. Gerry McIlroy's reward would stem from his belief in his son's golf talents a decade ago.
 
 
According to reports in the British media, Mr. McIlroy and three of his friends strolled into a betting shop in their hometown of Holywood, Northern Ireland, when Rory was a 15-year-old prodigy. They wagered £400 – £100 each – that the youngster would win the Open sometime in the next 10 years – before he turned 26.
 
Guess how old Rors is now? Well, he was born May 4, 1989, which makes him – 25 years old.
 
So, £400 at 500-to-1 odds comes out to £200,000. And £200,000 right now equals about $341,000. 
 
So, needless to say, Mr. McIlroy and his betting buddies will be cheering extra hard for McIlroy to claim the claret jug. If he does, they'll have no trouble buying a round for the house on Sunday night, and Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday ...
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tom Watson at the Open Championship
USA Today Sports Images
Tom Watson's good play at the Open Championship had another Tom Watson fretting about his financial future.
On Friday, Tom Watson became the oldest player ever to make the cut in the Open Championship. No one was more upset by this development than Tom Watson.
 
The "other" Tom Watson is the manager of a William Hill betting shop in Hoylake – just down the road from Royal Liverpool – and his shop figures to lose a bundle if the U.S. Ryder Cup captain happens to pull off a sixth Open victory. Because the shop manager and the Hall of Fame golfer share the same name, plenty of "punters" have popped into the shop this week and put some money down on Watson to win – at 500-to-1 odds.
 
"I saw his practice round and I was hoping to witness him having a nightmare on the course at Hoylake, yet it was anything other than that," Watson the shop manager told The Liverpool Echo. "I'll be getting my leg pulled all week if he's on the leaderboard."
 
 
Watson the golfer opened with a pair of 73s to make the cut, then added a 75 on Saturday. That leaves him 15 shots behind 54-hole leader Rory McIlroy – and should afford Watson the shop manager the luxury of a decent night's sleep ahead of the final round.
 
And now that Watson's worries are largely over, he'd love to join his namesake for a round of golf.
 
"I play off 11 at Bromborough Golf Club, so I'd be no match for Tom," he said. "But after all the stick I've had sharing his name, I'd love to play a round with him and pick up some tips."
 
July 19, 2014 - 10:10am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
T.J. Oshie
YouTube
After seeing this video, you get the feeling T.J. Oshie might want to stick to hockey.

If you're choosing teams for a pick-up hockey game and St. Louis Blues star and U.S. Olympic hero T.J. Oshie is available, you'd make him your first selection.

Oshie, you'll remember, led the U.S. to a preliminary-round victory over Russia in the Winter Games when he scored four times in six tries during a shootout.

Now... if you're choosing a partner for your weekend golf match and Oshie is an option, you might want to take a pass -- even though he might have some game based on something we saw earlier in the year.

During the first round of the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe on Saturday, Oshie four-jacked from just a few feet.

Yikes.

In Oshie's defense, those were a couple of serious power lip outs.

I wonder if Oshie happened to see any of the first round action from the Open Championship on Thursday... specifically, this:

It happens to the best and the worst of us. Nice to know we're not alone.

July 19, 2014 - 6:39am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rory McIlroy
USA Today Sports Images
If Rory McIlroy is able to win the Open Championship this weekend, he will put his name alongside some elite company in the annals of golf history.

Rory McIlroy is hoping to do something this week that has only been done six times in the long history of the Open Championship -- win from start to finish.

Ted Ray (1912), Bobby Jones (1927), Gene Sarazen (1932), Henry Cotton (1934), Tom Weiskopf (1973) and Tiger Woods (2005) are the only players to win the Open wire-to-wire.

MORE: Open leaderboard | Saturday's Open Championship photos | Complete coverage

McIlroy began the third round of the Open on Saturday at Royal Liverpool with a four-shot lead at 12 under over Dustin Johnson.

According to Justin Ray, a researcher for Golf Channel, in major championship history, players with a 4+ shot lead after 36 holes have gone on to win 51 percent of the time.

So, yes, the odds are in McIlroy's favor, but perhaps not as severely as you'd think.

It should be noted that McIlroy is included among that 51 percent -- he won the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional after taking a six-shot lead into the weekend (he was also the wire-to-wire winner there).

Should McIlroy win come Sunday, he'd also join Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players in history to win three majors (since the Masters became a major) by the age of 25.