July 18, 2014 - 8:19am
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T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
USA Today Sports Images
Disappointed with a 2-over 74 on Thursday, defending Open Champion Phil Mickelson was four shots better at Royal Liverpool on Friday and will enter the weekend at even par.

Listening to Phil Mickelson following an opening-round, 2-over 74 on Thursday in the first round of the Open Championship, you could tell he was a frustrated man.

That score, the defending Open Champion insisted, was not indicative of how well he struck the ball. He just couldn't get the putts to drop.

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

In a difficult, stiff wind on Friday, Mickelson was four shots better with an impressive 2-under 70 that pulled him to even par for the tournament with 36 holes to go.

If the wind hangs around at Royal Liverpool the rest of the day -- and it looks like it will -- there's a chance Mickelson could be within a handful of the lead at day's end. South Africa's George Coetzee shot an early 69 and has the early clubhouse lead at 5 under.

Friday's round was a move in the right direction for Mickelson, who is still looking for his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season.

Mickelson responded to an early bogey on No. 3 with a birdie at No. 4 and an eagle on No. 5. He bogeyed No. 8 and made the turn at 1-under 34.

His inward nine was made up of a string of eight consecutive pars before a closing birdie.

Defending Open champ Mickelson bounces back with 2-under 70
July 18, 2014 - 6:40am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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A.J. Hawk
Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk is in Lake Tahoe this week for the American Century Championship -- a celebrity golf tournament. On Thursday, he sent a fan into the sod.

We interrupt our scheduled Open Championship coverage to bring you this...

From the "what was that guy thinking" department, we bring to you this morning video of a man tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk.

It's not quite what you might think, however.

Hawk is out in Lake Tahoe participating in this week's American Century Championship -- an annual celebrity event that very much has a laid-back, frat party feel to it.

With that, a fan wearing a t-shirt with cut-off sleeves (great golf course attire, by the way!) begged Hawk to tackle him on Thursday. This wasn't one of those cases where a crazy fan storms the field in a baseball game.

This fan, very politely, kept asking Hawk to tackle him. Hawk was reluctant, but after some urging from the gathered fans, he obliged.

Check it out:

So now for the rest of his life, this fan can tell his friends, "I got tackled by A.J. Hawk."

That's awesome... we guess. People are strange. He should have just settled for an autograph. 

Green Bay Packers linebacker tackles fan on golf course
July 17, 2014 - 6:46pm
john.holmes's picture
Beatles playing golf
The Beatles dabbled in golf in their movie, "A Hard Day's Night," but that apparently wasn't enough to impress some of the game's top players at Royal Liverpool.
As the senior member of the PGA.com production team, I feel like I'm not surprised at much anymore. But I was surprised today.
ESPN asked several of the game's top golfers if they could name all four members of the Beatles, who of course came to fame right there in Liverpool, just down the road from where the Open Championship is being played this week.
I've been able to name the Fab Four since I was a grade-schooler. And while today's top golfers are a decade or two (or, in some cases, three) younger than me, I would have never guessed that so few of them could rattle off John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison.
Ian Poulter? Nope. Justin Rose? Nah. Hunter Mahan? Negatory.
Rory McIlroy came up with George Lucas, who of course is more famous for "Star Wars" than Fab Fours.
Bubba Watson's answer: "The lead singer, the drummer, the guitarist and the guy who packed all it it up." 
The only player who easily came up with all four names was Lee Westwood, who unsurprisingly was the oldest of the interviewees. "Everybody else," he said, "is uncultured."
I'm right there with you, Lee.
Here's the video from ESPN UK:
Can golfers name all four Beatles?
July 17, 2014 - 1:36pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Adam Scott
USA Today Sports Images
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. 

Scott in the mix after firing 4-under 68
July 17, 2014 - 1:08pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Ernie Els
USA Today Sports Images
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. 

Cringe-worthy three-putt from two feet for Els
July 17, 2014 - 8:53am
Posted by:
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:



Video: Stenson breaks club over knee