The Local Knowlege


This collection of highlights from each of the past 100 Open Championships is the ultimate time suck

The Open Championship returns to St. Andrews in a couple weeks, but that doesn't mean you have to wait to watch action from golf's most historic event.

The tournament uploaded quick highlight videos of every Open since 1914 to YouTube last fall -- although judging by the low number of views each has gotten, most people haven't discovered this treasure trove of clips yet. And that's a shame because they're awesome.

Here are 10 of our favorites. If you're at work, good luck getting anything done the rest of the day.

Related: 11 British Open terms you need to know

We'll start with the 1914 tournament. Harry Vardon won that year for a record sixth time. Impressive. Also impressive is the fact, he did it while basically wearing a suit (OK, so everyone at Prestwick that year wore a suit) and that this was already the 54th Open.

Then there's Bobby Jones winning the 1927 Open at St. Andrews. Not the best collection of highlights, but how about that big band music?!

Jump ahead to 1953 and a video called Hogan's "Open." Not sure why it's not called "Hogan's Open," but either way, this was the one year Ben Hogan played in the British Open and he won. Unfortunately, there's just highlights of him smoking a couple drives and stroking a disappointing birdie effort on Carnoustie's 18th hole before making his par putt for a final-round 68 and a four-shot win.

Nine years later, Arnold Palmer captured his second straight claret jug by winning at Troon. What a smooth operator.

Dustin Johnson's three-putt gave golf's most recent major a stunning finish, but he's not the first golfer to miss a short putt in a big spot. Check out what happened at the end of the 1970 Open between Doug Sanders and Jack Nicklaus. Unless you're Doug Sanders. Then you definitely shouldn't watch this one.

What happened at Turnberry in 1977? Oh, just "The Duel In The Sun" between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus shot rounds of 65 and 66 on the weekend, but was clipped by Watson's pair of 65s. The final three holes provided one of the most exciting finishes to a golf tournament you'll ever see.

Seve Ballesteros. St. Andrews. 1984. What a putt on No. 18 and what a reaction.

Related: Our guide to telling the Open's courses apart

St. Andrews was the site of another incredible putt in 1995 when Constantino Rocca holed out from the Valley of Sin for par (after chunking a chip shot) to get into a playoff. Of course, John Daly -- and his mullet -- emerged victorious.

There shouldn't have been a playoff at Carnoustie in 1999, but, well, Jean van de Velde happened. . .

And remember when Tiger Woods was good? He destroyed the Old Course and the field in 2000.

We could go on and on, but you get the point. Tom Watson's close call at 59 in 2009. Rory McIlroy's wire-to-wire win in 2014. A century's worth of highlights makes for a lot of great videos.

You probably can't watch them all, but. . . eh, you probably could watch them all. They're pretty short, and what else are you going to do for the next couple of weeks?


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British Open

Before we talk Grand Slam, let's look at Jordan Spieth's record in the Open Championship

When Jordan Spieth secured his second major championship of the year to get halfway to the career (and calendar) Grand Slam at just 21 years old, an important question emerged: Does he have a chance at St. Andrews next month?

In Spieth’s young career, he has played in the British Open just twice, and the results are not terribly encouraging. Then again, he hadn't won a Masters or U.S. Open before this year, either. So here are a few quick facts about Spieth’s history at the British Open and where his chances stand:

-- Spieth has never finished better than 36th in the Open. In 2014 at Hoylake, he placed 36th at two under par, and in 2013 at Muirfield, he placed 44th at 10 over.

-- Spieth never graced the top spot on the leader board at any point during his two Open Championship appearances. His highest position was when he was tied for ninth after shooting two under in the first round of the 2013 Open Championship.

-- Last year, he shot the lowest score of the third round at Royal Liverpool GC, a five-under 67.

-- Spieth had five double bogeys, 10 bogeys and 10 birdies in the 2013 Open Championship. He improved upon that last year with just one double bogey and 15 birdies, while bogeying 11 holes.

-- He has never played a tournament at St. Andrews. He did, however, play the Old Course before playing in the 2011 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen. “I've played one round on St. Andrews, and it was when we were playing in the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen and we went as a team to visit St. Andrews first,” said Spieth following his U.S. Open victory. “We played St. Andrews and Kingsbarns before going to Aberdeen. I remember walking around the clubhouse. It's one of my favorite places in the world. I remember walking around the R&A clubhouse and seeing paintings of royalty playing golf, and it was dated 14-whatever, 1460-something. I'm thinking, our country was discovered in 1492 and they were playing golf here before anyone even knew that the Americas existed. And that really amazed me and helped me realize exactly how special that place is. And that's what comes to mind.”

-- At the aforementioned Walker Cup, another links course, Spieth went 2-0-1. He won both singles matches 3 and 2, and halved his foursome matches alongside Patrick Rodgers. Good thing he plays as his own team in the Open Championship, right?

Regardless, Spieth is eager to do well in this year’s Open Championship at St. Andrews, and isn't lacking for confidence. In his press conference following the U.S. Open victory, he said, “I think that the Grand Slam, I think that -- I'm just focused on the claret jug now. This was somewhat of a British-style golf course, so are the next two majors. I've proven to myself that I can win on a British-style golf course now. Now I take it to the truest British-style golf course of any in the world. And I'm just excited for the opportunity coming then, and I'm not going to think about what could possibly happen after.”


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British Open

NBC/Golf Channel land Open Championship TV rights

NBC and Golf Channel have obtained the American broadcast rights to the British Open beginning in 2017, multiple sources confirm.


The announcement, which comes after presentations by several major networks to the R&A, was made Monday to avoid any interference with this week’s KPMG Women's PGA Championship and next week’s U.S. Open. Existing rights-holder ESPN will broadcast its final Open in 2016 after the R&A opted out of the current contract’s final year.

As part of the deal, Golf Channel will get to air coverage of a men’s major for the first time, and the move back to broadcast television from exclusively on cable is expected to improve audience size and visibility, reportedly the most important factor for the R&A that otherwise was said to be pleased with ESPN’s effort.

The Open Championship coverage will be live on NBC, avoiding any potential criticism for the network that has often tape-delayed Olympic and tennis coverage. It’s also a major victory for the Comcast-owned networks, which lost out to Fox Sports for the right to broadcast USGA events, including the U.S. Open.

“We are delighted to announce that from 2017, The Open will be broadcast by NBC Sports Group. They have unparalleled experience in golf and have demonstrated a genuine desire to showcase and promote The Open and The R&A’s elite championships through their extensive range of channels and digital platforms,” said R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson. “The United States is home to millions of fans of The Open and we know that through NBC Sports Group, they will enjoy world-class coverage of the Championship.”


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British Open

Greg Norman is forfeiting his last year of British Open eligibility

Greg Norman gave a hard and fast "No" when he was asked if he was going to play in the British Open this year. In his interview with the BBC, the '86 and '93 British Open Champion gave a few reasons for not teeing it up at St. Andrews in July. 

The first reason is pretty simple: 

"I don't practice anymore."

While Norman says that he still plays a little, he suspects it's not enough to prepare him to play well at St. Andrews. And he's probably right. In the weeks leading up to the Open he'll be an analyst at the U.S. Open and the Senior Open for Fox, so he'll have little time to practice. Standing on the first tee at St. Andrews thinking "I haven't touched a club in weeks" is probably not a recipe for success. 

His second reason for not playing in the British Open is a bit more nuanced.

"I'm not going to walk up to the first tee and feel like I'm taking the space of a young kid who could learn a heck of a lot more from it. I don't believe in doing that. I think it's so unfair to do that."

greg norman british.jpg
Getty Images 

Norman makes it clear that he's grateful for the chance to play and for how much support he receives for his successes in the past, but he thinks it's more important for him to support the future than to ceremoniously tee it up in honor of his past victories. 

"There's a young kid who may be qualifying for the Open that could take my spot and could be the next Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods -- you don't know." 

Video of the BBC interview can be found here.  

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News & Tours

Young gun Rickie Fowler says there's life in the old guard yet!

By Geoff Shackelford

loop-rickie-fowler-18-walk-518.jpgHOYLAKE, England -- As Rickie Fowler was walking beside Rory McIlroy up the 18th hole Sunday at the British Open, the tournament's final group playing the final hole, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were flying over the Atlantic after frustrating weeks. That could lead many to think the torch has been passed to a new generation. Not so says British Open runner-up.

"I don't see Tiger and Phil and some of those guys running off anywhere," Fowler commented after the round. "We're ready to go to battle against them, though." 

Sounding proud but humbled, Fowler spoke softy following his bogey-free final-round 67. The 25-year-old led the field in birdies with 23 and was 12th in greens in regulation with 51 from 36 fairways hit. The overall performance left him questioning why his consistent play in 2014's majors -- he's now had three straight top-five finishes with a T-5 at the Masters and T-2 at the U.S. Open -- hasn't translated to weekly success on the PGA Tour. Not that he's totally upset.

While he won't discount the old guard, Fowler did not hesitate to nominate his walk up 18 with McIlroy as the week's highlight.

"It's definitely up there as the best walk in golf," Fowler said. "And to be there with Rory when he was about to win ... I had a chance at making eagle there, and put a little bit of pressure on him. But it's definitely fun to walk up the 18th hole here at an Open Championship, especially Sunday when you're in the final group."

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Gear & Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Rory McIlroy used to win the British Open

By E. Michael Johnson

HOYLAKE, England -- There was something about Rory McIlroy that was lost in the glare of the glitzy unveiling of his mega deal with Nike last year in Abu Dhabi.

When it comes to equipment, he's a bit of a gear head.

The fact was evident during a sitdown with him last month to discuss his Nike clubs.

"I was really into different shafts and everything," McIlroy said. "I guess now I've got a little more to think about and worry about than just being focused on new equipment. So I let the guys that know more about it than I do help me on that. I let them put the stuff in my hands that they think is going to work, and then we go forward from there."

Not that McIlroy doesn't provide valuable input into the process. "This is really the first time I've worked with a manufacturer where I've been so involved," he said. "We might discuss something, and the guys will come back a couple of weeks later and right away we're working on how does this look, how does it feel, is it what you imagined it to be like. I've worked really hard with the guys on developing stuff that's going to work for me."

Those clubs worked quite well for the newly crowned British Open champion at Royal Liverpool, specifically his Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver.

loop-rory-equipment-driver-518.jpg"I remember having a conversation at the Barclays last year at dinner," McIlroy said. "We talked a lot about Covert 2.0 and what it was going to be like and what I'd like to see in the driver and what sort of things I'd like to change from the current model."

And what did McIlroy want to alter? "Everything is related to the details," he said. "I want it to look a certain way. I want the face to sort of look a little longer so I can square it up at impact. Then there's the technical: Why they do certain things like a cavity back in the driver. It all makes sense to me now."

Enough sense to get the third major win of his career. Here's the clubs and ball McIlroy had in his bag at Royal Liverpool.

Ball: Nike RZN Black
Driver: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70X), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Nike VRS Covert, 15 degrees
Irons (2): Nike MM Proto (3-9): Nike VR Pro Blade; (PW): Nike VR Forged
Wedges: Nike VR Forged (54, 59 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 006

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News & Tours

Here are the lessons Rickie Fowler can use from past majors to try pulling off a Sunday upset at Hoylake

By Ryan Herrington

loop-rickie-fowler-putting-518.jpgHOYLAKE, England -- Game over? It would seem so given Rory McIlroy’s six-stroke lead entering the final round at Royal Liverpool. Even the man who will join him in the final pairing Sunday -- the second straight major he'll be in the last twosome -- knows the task is a tall one.

“He’s definitely in control of the golf tournament right now,” said Rickie Fowler.

Despite the long odds Fowler faces in trying to overtake McIlroy, there are actually legitimate reasons for the 25-year-old Californian to carry some optimism with him. Most notably, Fowler trailed McIlroy by the same six strokes entering Saturday’s third round but erased that entire deficit by the time he got to the 13th hole thanks to carding seven birdies to just one bogey.

OK, OK ... I know. Fowler then stumbled home, going two over par in his last five holes while McIlroy was four under. Still, the notion that half-dozen stroke lead is insurmountable is not entirely true.

More importantly, perhaps, Fowler takes with him the experience of being in the thick of contention in the final round of three prior major championships, including two in the last four months. Each resulted in another man holding the title, but all offer secrets for Fowler on what he must do as he puts together a game plan for this Sunday.

2011 British Open, Royal St. George’s
Started Sunday:
Fowler entered the final round T-3, three strokes back of 54-hole leader Darren Clarke.
What happened: He plodded along with 13 straight pars to start the round while, Clarke stretched his lead to five strokes after just seven holes. A bogey on the par-5 14th and another on the par-3 16th ended any of Fowler's claret-jug dreams.
Finish: Two-over 72, T-5, five behind Clarke
Lesson learned: You can’t ease your way into a round if you’re trying to put pressure on the leader. You’ve got to be aggressive early to have any real hope.

2014 Masters, Augusta National
Started Sunday:
Fowler entered the final round T-5, two strokes back of co-leaders Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth
What happened: After birdieing the difficult first hole, Fowler made a momentum-crushing bogey on the par-5 second that short-circuited a final-round charge. By the time he made bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes, he already was essentially out of the hunt. His place on the leader board didn't by day’s end, and it was his best ever showing at Augusta, but it was a bit hollow.
Finish: One-over 73, T-5, six behind Watson
Lesson learned: Perfect starts aren’t always going to happen, but you can't let an early stumble keep you from staying aggressive.

2014 U.S. Open, Pinehurst No. 2
Started Sunday:
Fowler entered the final round T-2, five strokes back of leader Martin Kaymer.
What happened: For the first time in the final pairing at a major, Fowler bounced back from a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 fourth hole with a birdie on the par-5 fifth. Again though, he couldn't put down the gas and force his competitor to sweat.
Finish: Two-over 72, T-2, eight behind Kaymer.
Lesson learned: Flawless golf is difficult to pull off, but you must avoid a big number at all cost, particularly when you're facing a large deficit.

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News & Tours

Since you can't clone Ivor Robson, the R&A had to find another announcer for the 10th tee

By E. Michael Johnson

HOYLAKE, England -- One of the side stories of the R&A deciding to go to a weather-induced two-tee start for Saturday's third round of the British Open at Royal Liverpool is the fact that omnipresent tee announcer Ivor Robson can't be in two places at the same time. That begged the question as to whom would assume the duties on the 10th tee while Robson was holding down the fort on No. 1?

Now on the tee ... Mike Stewart.

loop-mike-stewart-official-2-518.jpgStewart is the senior tournament director of the European Tour who among other assignments oversees the tour's Qualifying School tournament. Catching up with him after the final group of Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rhein Gibson teed off, Stewart said he was having dinner with his family in Yorkshire -- some 100 miles away -- when he received a call last night around 9 p.m. informing him that his services would be needed. 

Unlike Robson, whose sing-song lilt has made him a favorite with players and fans alike, Stewart played it straight, announcing the names in a monotone, professional manner.

"I've done this a few times before," Stewart noted with a smile. 

Stewart did have one thing in common with Robson, however. He didn't leave his post for the duration of his duties. 

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News & Tours

These guys are the caddies' best friends on Saturday at Hoylake

By Ryan Herrington

HOYLAKE, England -- There is only one group of people more curious about Saturday’s forecast at Royal Liverpool than the players who made the cut at the British Open.

Their caddies.

The men carrying the golfers’ bags have no more challenging a scenario than doing it in rainy and windy conditions, much less with major championship pressure on the line.

Thankfully at the British Open they have one less responsibility than usual. With each group on the course, the R&A assigns a volunteer to accompany the players, rake in hand, with the job of tending to the bunkers as well as helping replaced player divots.


The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) is charged with organizing the volunteer pool, soliciting its members from around the U.K. to apply for the 52 posts each year. Those selected are housed in the area for the week.

“It’s a pretty prestigious thing to be chosen,” said Robert Welford, a member of the BIGGA board of directors, who was making assignments for the Saturday games. "People ask through out the year about getting the chance to do this."  

There’s some work being done -- the volunteers are also on call to help with Royal Liverpool’s course greenkeeper in the event the bad weather causes issues on the course -- but the appeal of being so close to the action makes the job particularly attractive.

"It's fun to chat up the players and caddies. They're very friendly to us," said Harvey Brooke, who went off with the threesome of George Coetzee, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen Saturday.

BIGGA has some fun with the bunker responsibility, even tracking how many bunkers their members rake; Thursday’s total was 335, down from 352 in the first round at Hoylake in 2006, and Friday's was 344 compared to 353.

When the R&A decided to change to a two-tee start on Saturday, it meant that almost two dozen of Welford’s charges would actually have the day off. Welford says those volunteers will be guaranteed a group on Sunday.

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News & Tours

R&A says bring your cell phones on the course, please

By Geoff Shackelford

HOYLAKE, England -- Cutting edge and the R&A? Don't be daft!

Only a couple of years removed from banning phones at the British Open, the R&A has embraced a more comprehensive strategy to encourage fan use of smartphones. For the first time at a professional golf tournament, free (and working) Wifi is available throughout the course to power The Open's artfully designed app. Even with huge galleries at Hoylake, the combination of a sensible design and a working Wifi system has raised the bar in offering fan interactivity for all of professional sport.

loop-open-app-screen-leader-518.jpgFuture Workshops of London's app design offers a customizable leader board, options to watch or listen to BBC coverage and a bulletin stream emphasizing replays of key shots, great photos or breaking news. The ad-free video feed loads quickly and, so far, has worked remarkably well. And if there are Wifi dead spots not covered by the 350 access points? Youthful ambassadors are walking the course, helping spectators who have questions while also documenting any areas where access is poor. Technicians immediately make modifications to get the areas internet access.

The slightly Orwellian use of "iBeacons" is quietly becoming of the on-site experience, though never to sell anything. Users are asked if they are coming to the event, and those who say no have the beacon detection deactivated. The beacons detect a spectator's locale, offering a welcome entry into a drawing for free tickets to the 2015 Open. Those in the third-hole grandstands get notifications on the next group coming to their hole.

The iPhone and iPad designs differ, with the ingenious iPad layout the ideal user experience since there is almost no need to leave the homepage. Both versions include an interactive course map, where a user can click a red dot appearing on the holes to reveal which grouping is on said hole. It's a pretty handy feature for finding your favorite players.


While the Open fans have shown worse manners than their American counterparts by taking too many photos as players hit shots, a glance at the grandstands reveals many using their phone to watch or listen to action. As someone who watched golf on a Sony Watchman at the 1986 Masters, seeing fans able to pass the time between groups by keeping up with BBC's coverage, getting their fill of Peter Alliss commentary or checking out the latest updates mercifully brings golf spectating into the 21st century. And just think, it's the Royal & Ancient leading the march to technological progress.

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