Golf Buzz

Ian Poulter's Arsenal golf bag
Ian Poulter via Instagram
Ian Poulter has football on the brain, and on his bag, this week at Royal Liverpool.
A lot of golfers are wearing special clothes or carrying special equipment this week at the Open Championship. Among them is Ian Poulter.
But instead of commemorative Open gear, Poults is taking this opportunity to reaffirm his support for Arsenal – the London-based English Premier League team that he so passionately supports.
Not sure how well that is going over at Royal Liverpool, seeing as how Liverpool FC has as ardent a group of supporters as any. But I give Poulter credit – if you follow him on social media, you know he catches as many Arsenal games online or on TV as possible, and he is a die-hard fan.
Click on the Instagram link in the tweet below to see his original photo.
July 17, 2014 - 2:36pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Adam Scott
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World No. 1 Adam Scott -- who has finished in the top 3 in each of the last two Open Championships -- shot a 4-under 68 at Royal Liverpool on Thursday.

Adam Scott, the No. 1 ranked player in the world, has some unfinished business when it comes to the Open Championship.

The 2013 Masters champion has been in prime position on the back nine in the final round in each of the last two of the Open Championships, but wound up finishing runner up and in a tie for third, respectively.

Both were heartbreaking.

RELATED: Open Championship leaderboard | Tiger opens with a 69 | Complete coverage

And that's why Scott is on a mission. On the late end of the draw Thursday, Scott managed to shoot a 4-under 68 in the first round of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, which left him just two shots behind early clubhouse leader Rory McIlroy.

Scott was 3 under through five holes after a birdie at No. 4 and an eagle at the par-5 fifth. He closed out the front nine with a birdie to make the turn at 4-under 31.

Scott squeezed in a birdie at No. 13 between bogeys on Nos. 12 and 14 and snagged one last birdie on No. 16 for the 68.

Since a tie for second in the 2011 Masters, Scott has finished in the top 9 eight times in the last 14 majors. He tied for eighth in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in 2006. 

July 17, 2014 - 2:08pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Ernie Els
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A three-putt from roughly two feet on the first hole? That's not exactly the way four-time major champion Ernie Els planned on starting out this Open Championship.

Ernie Els is a four-time major champion. Two of those victories have come in the Open Championship, most recently just two years ago.

For that very reason, the Big Easy -- even at age 44 -- is always a player to look out for at the majors.

This one, however, sure didn't start out the way Els planned.

RELATED: Open Championship leaderboard | Tiger opens with a 69 | Complete coverage

It began with his opening tee shot at Royal Liverpool, which sailed into a spectator and drew blood. Els was understandably shaken.

When he finally made it to the green, Els was faced with about a 2-foot putt for bogey. And that's when the madness happened.

Ouch. A three-jack from two feet to start the Open Championship with a triple bogey.

That was hard to bounce back from. Els finished the day with a 7-over 79. He shot 7-over 42 on the front nine and played the second nine in even-par 37, making his lone birdie at the 16th hole. 

July 17, 2014 - 9:53am
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T.J. Auclair
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Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson channeled his inner Bo Jackson after an errant shot in the first round of the Open Championship on Thursday.

Henrik Stenson -- the No. 2-ranked player in the world -- is often a fun-loving guy. But, like all of us, he sometimes gets a little annoyed on the golf course.

That was evident on Thursday in the first round of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. After a less than desirable iron shot on the par-4 17th hole, Stenson pulled a Bo Jackson and proceeded to snap his golf club with his knee.

Stenson made bogey on the hole, but bounced back with a birdie on the par-5 18th for an even-par 72.

Here's an old video of Jackson, inventor of the knee snapper:



July 17, 2014 - 9:26am
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T.J. Auclair
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Rory McIlroy
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Rory McIlroy got off to another fantastic first-round start, firing a 6-under 66 at Royal Liverpool to take the early clubhouse lead in the Open Championship.

Rory McIlroy got off to a dream start Thursday in the first round of the Open Championship.

The two-time major winner fired a bogey-free, 6-under 66 to take the early clubhouse lead at Royal Liverpool.

McIlroy is looking for his first major win since the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island and his first win on the PGA Tour since the 2012 BMW Championship. He has six top-10 finishes in 10 PGA Tour starts this season, highlighted by a runner-up showing at the Honda Classic.

RELATED: Open Championship leaderboard | Rory's scorecard | Complete coverage

Though he's in a bit of a drought stateside, McIlroy notched a win at the European Tour's flagship event -- the BMW PGA Championship -- in May.

It's not much of a surprise to see McIlroy at the top of the leaderboard in the first round. Including today's 66 McIlroy is a combined 103-under par in rounds 1, 3 and 4, in official events this season. It's the second round that's been raising eyebrows. McIlroy is a cumulative 9 over in Round 2s.

Last week's Scottish Open was a microcosm of McIlroy's trends. He started out with a brilliant, course-record 64 at Royal Aberdeen only to follow it up with a disappointing 78 in Round 2. He wound up finishing in a tie for 14th.

He's hoping to buck the trend this week.

"I don't know what it is," McIlroy told ESPN following Thursday's round. "Maybe I'm putting a little bit too much pressure on myself. I'm going to take it shot-by-shot. I know everyone says that, but that's what you've got to do."

In five Open starts as a professional, McIlroy's best finish is a tie for third in 2011 -- that's also his only top 20. 

July 17, 2014 - 8:44am
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T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
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Despite a bogey-bogey start, Tiger Woods bounced back to shoot a 3-under 69 in the first round of the Open Championship on Thursday.

All eyes were on Tiger Woods at Royal Liverpool as the Open Championship teed off on Thursday.

Pain-free in his return from back surgery, Woods -- playing in his first major championship of the season and just his third competitive round since March -- got off to a bumpy, bogey-bogey start at the course he overpowered in 2006 when he won the Open for a third time.

It didn't look good early on for the man trying to snag major victory No. 15 and his first since the 2008 U.S. Open.

RELATED: Open Championship leaderboard | Tiger's scorecard | Complete coverage

But, he quickly settled in and finished with a stellar 3-under 69 that left him two shots behind early clubhouse leader Matteo Manassero.

Woods birdied the fifth hole and rattled off four pars for an outward-nine of 1-over 36. Then he really got hot on Royal Liverpool's more scoring-friendly second nine.

After a par on the par-5 10th hole, Woods rattled off three consecutive birdies, bogeyed No. 14 and then bounced back with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 -- he nearly chipped in for eagle on the par-5 16th.

Woods closed out the round with par on the par-5 18th hole that was set up by a spectacular shot from a greenside bunker.

All in all, a solid start for Woods.