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.
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.
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?
Call it first world problems. Or just golfers being golfers. At any rate, two PGA Tour golfers arguing about music on the range provided us with some entertainment on Tuesday.
It's an issue private clubs are dealing with across the U.S. Some people like music on the course or range, and some are against it. It appears Brendan Steele and Will Wilcox had a little argument that turned into a Twitter beef.
Either Steele isn't a Drake fan, or just wasn't in the hip-hop mood last week.
It's unclear where this was, and what the "tattle-tale approach" Wilcox refers to is. Maybe this was at a private club they belong to? Or at the Travelers. (Again, #firstworldproblems). But it seems like these two need to figure out their music differences.
How should they settle it? That's a good question. A long-drive contest? Trick shots? They could go WILD and play for some cash. We'll see!
Tiger Woods is headlining the field at the Greenbrier Classic this week, but a bigger star -- at least, in size -- will draw most of the attention at Wednesday's pro-am. According to PGATour.com, Shaquille O'Neal is set to play with Greenbrier owner Jim Justice, Justice's son and an undetermined pro.
The first to ever identify Tiger Woods’ golf aptitude as “genius” was Rudy Duran, his first instructor, who began working with Woods at 4.
“I felt he was like Mozart,” Duran said 20 years ago. “It was genius. He could, at four-and-a-half, make the ball go high, low or medium with that 7-iron. He could do it on command I rarely remember seeing him hit shots he couldn’t execute. Mozart composed finished music in his head. I saw that in Tiger. He was composing shots in his head.”
Thirty-five years later, does that still hold? No, Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee, among others, say.
Chamblee has said “the genius of Tiger Woods has been coached out of him,” by too much information from too many coaches, and that he “traded his genius for the ideas of others.”
“I would not agree with that,” Duran, now the director of instruction at Morro Bay (Calif.) Golf Course, said on Tuesday. “I would say that he’s just sorting things out. I have no problem believing he’ll come back and win more tournaments.
“When he gets it sorted out, he’ll be winning, and you’re not going to be surprised when, say, he shoots a 65 in the British Open.”
Duran bases his assessment in part from watching Woods on the practice tee at the U.S. Open, with Fox Sports’ shot tracer set up behind him.
“He was hitting high draws and low draws and fades and straight balls,” Duran said. “He didn’t miss a shot in 10 or 15 shots that I saw. How can his swing be going wrong when you do that?”
We’ll know more in the next seven weeks, when he’ll play four tournaments, starting with the Greenbrier Classic this week. He also will play the British Open, the Quicken Loans National and the PGA Championship.
Duran is more bullish on Woods’ future than most. He was right once. Is he right now?
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we're going to take it easy on pros choking under pressure for a while. Ben Hogan famously said, "golf and tournament golf are as different as tennis and ice hockey" -- and he was right. I found that out the hard way (again) on my annual buddies golf trip with a few bucks and a 22-year-old green jacket bought from the Salvation Army on the line. Out of nowhere I started hitting slices, skulling pitches and chunking chips in the championship match -- and I can't even use Tiger's "new release pattern" excuse. Nope, there's no other explanation other than I gagged my guts out. At least, a co-worker was nice enough to suggest I read this book before next year's tournament:
But enough about my golf. It's time for me to say what I think about everyone else's golf.
Bubba Watson: At the site of his maiden PGA Tour victory and a famous blowup at his caddie, Watson made another special memory by winning the Travelers Championship for a second time, beating Paul Casey on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. Bubba now has eight career tour wins, five of which have come in extra holes. Maybe I should talk to him about playing under pressure for green jackets.
Jeff Maggert: After a long career that produced just three PGA Tour titles, Maggert has won two senior majors in 2015, including topping Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer at the U.S. Senior Open over the weekend. Isn't the Champions Tour great? Maggert was so in control with a two-shot lead that he could be heard helping USGA president Tom O'Toole find his family in the crowd as he walked up the 18th hole. What a boss move.
Na Yeon Choi's 8-iron: Trailing Stacy Lewis by a shot with three holes to play, Choi holed out an 8-iron for eagle on 16 and then hit her tee shot to a foot on 17 with the same club to set up a birdie in her come-from-behind win in Arkansas. Lewis, meanwhile, has become the Jim Furyk of the LPGA with seven top threes, but no wins in her past 27 starts.
"Mr. 57": Do you believe in miracles? A Virginia golfer shot a 57 in the second round of a 54-hole, one-day tournament at Laurel Hill Golf Club last week. Yep, 54 holes in one day. Hard to believe, right? Oh, yeah, and a 57? With three holes-in-one, two of which came on par 4s? Hmm. We're giving Patrick Willis (not the recently retired San Francisco 49ers linebacker), 59, the benefit of the doubt because he's a plus-4 handicap who happens to be a retired Marine. "People are allowed to believe what they want to believe -- I fought for that freedom," Willis said. "But I know what I shot, my playing partners know what I shot and the people at the tournament do as well."
Phil Mickelson: A year after his name was linked to a federal insider-trading investigation (he was cleared), Lefty reportedly has been tied to more shady dealings. This time, a man has pleaded guilty to laundering nearly $3 million and it appears that money was transferred from Mickelson's account to an off-shore gambling operation. According to ESPN's report, Mickelson hasn't been charged with anything and isn't under investigation. Still, it's not a good look for one of golf's biggest stars.
Donald Trump: We appreciate Trump's contributions to the golf industry, but running for President? Of the United States? Imagine how much better he could make his golf courses with all the money he'll burn during his ill-fated campaign? What a waste.
Keegan's pre-shot routine: Taking nearly a minute to hit a golf shot is not good. Even if you wind up hitting a good shot. Bradley has always been a fidgety players, but this new routine is ridiculous. While we're young, Keegan. While we're young.
Paul Casey: How could he hit such a bad shot in a playoff?! Embarrassing. Oh. Right. Pressure. Never mind, Paul. Our apologies.
The PGA Tour heads to West Virginia for the Greenbrier Classic, aka that tournament that features plenty of commercials in which Bubba Watson talks about how awesome it is to live on the property.
Random tournament fact: Tiger Woods is playing in this event for the second time, after missing the cut in 2012. This is the first time he'll be playing in any event as the 220th-ranked player in the world.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Tiger Woods will hit every fairway this week: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
-- Tiger will have dinner at Bubba's pad: 10-to-1 odds
A frisbee golf hole-in-one usually wouldn't seem too exciting, but this one was pretty crazy. And it came at the 2015 Maple Hill Open! OK, no clue what that is, but it's a great clip with some fantastic reactions:
And then there's the guy who somehow managed to get his head stuck in a trash bin after throwing out some of his clubs on the course. True story.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Bubba Watson on pressure/playoffs: "It's just about staying calm. That's what you have to do, you just breathe and walk slower, take some deep breaths . . ." That's good stuff, Bubba. Go on. Teach me! "And focus on the fact that no matter what you still come in second place." Oh, great. Thanks a lot, Bubba.
Pablo Larrazabal topped Henrik Stenson by a stroke to win the BMW International Open in Munich. You have to mention where the tournament was because it seems BMW sponsors about 31 European Tour events. . . . Speaking of Germany, Bernhard Langer is still upset about the anchoring ban that will go into place starting next year. Tough break, Bernhard, but it's time to accept it and move on. . . . A New England golf course, Foxboro Country Club, showed support for suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by putting all No. 12 flags in the holes. New England fans are pretty sick. . . . Congrats to Josh Thomson for winning his first HGGA Championship at the fabulous Turning Stone Resort & Casino. Josh came up clutch against me in the championship match with a collection of up-and-downs that would have made Seve Ballesteros proud. And now, he'll get to wear the coveted green jacket -- just hopefully, not with that shirt again -- for the next year.
Mickelson has not been charged, nor is he under investigation, the story said.
T.R. Reinman, a spokesman for Mickelson, said that they would not be commenting on the story.
Gregory Silveira of La Quinta, Calif., “has pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering of funds from an unnamed ‘gambling client’ of his between February 2010 and February 2013,” the ESPN story said. “Sources familiar with the case said Mickelson, who was not named in court documents, is the unnamed ‘gambling client.’”
ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson, in a separate story, explained why Mickelson was not charged.
“There are many possibilities, but chief among them is that federal gambling laws are directed at gambling enterprises and not at individual bettors,” Munson wrote. “Federal prosecutors use the word ‘illegal’ in their description of Mickelson's money because gambling on sports is illegal under state laws except in Nevada.”
It is widely known that Mickelson enjoys gambling, on and off the course. Last year, Larry Dorman, a former senior vice president of Callaway Golf and a former golf writer for the New York Times, wrote for PGATour.com that before Callaway agreed to sign him to an endorsement contract in 2004, the company investigated gambling rumors involving Mickelson.
“Mickelson did like to gamble at the time, but he had no outstanding debts and his betting patterns -- a stat that Vegas casinos keep -- had him even to slightly up,” Dorman wrote.
It is the second time in 13 months that Mickelson’s name has turned up in a federal investigation. Last year, billionaire Carl Icahn and renowned gambler Billy Walters were the focus of an insider trading probe that included Mickelson, the New York Times reported.
The Times later wrote the “scope of the investigation” of Mickelson had been “overstated,” and “came from information provided to The Times by other people briefed on the matter who have since acknowledged making a mistake.”
This week, the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., is hosting golf’s best. Sixty years ago, the resort was configured to accommodate a different crowd: Congress, in the event of a nuclear attack.
For underneath the fairways and greens lies a massive underground bunker, one that was hidden to the world for more than three decades.
Codenamed “Project Greek Island,” the resort hammered out an underground workstation in 1959. To cover up the clandestine operations, The Greenbrier added an additional wing to the hotel, and hid some of the construction elements by filling in a new 9-hole golf course on the estate.
The shelter could house up to 1,000 people. Some of the bunker’s features included two auditoriums (one for Senate sessions, the other for the House of Representatives), a medical facility, kitchens, living quarters and a media/broadcast room. For safety and protection purposes, the cellar was reinforced with concrete walls.
Part of the bunker was readily available to the public during its operation. Mainly, the Exhibition Hall, which was used for by the hotel’s clientele for meetings and gatherings. This was done in order to conceal the entire confines of the hidden fortress.
A mind reader would need an interpreter to know what Bubba Watson is thinking. A thought bubble wouldn’t help, either.
The only option is to sit back and watch what he’ll do next, which isn’t always pretty, is sometimes ugly, and is never dull, in cooperation with his operating philosophy.
“Why do what everybody else does?” he said once. “That’s boring.”
Watson is never boring, even with a three-shot lead with four holes to play, and four pars to win.
So it was that Watson took the circuitous route to a victory in the Travelers Championship on Sunday, his second of the season, second in this event and the eighth of his PGA Tour career.
He needed two extra holes to defeat Paul Casey in a playoff at TPC Highlands, making it more exciting than necessary and reinforcing the need to keep your eye on the ball when it has a pink dot and Bubba is hitting it.
It won’t necessarily be a popular victory, though it should be. His behavior occasionally veers off course and into the unacceptable, which has created no shortage of animus. He’s been known to scold his caddie Ted Scott in view of television cameras, which has spawned a Twitter hashtag, #PrayForTedScott.
He always appears remorseful and vowing to improve. Judge for yourself whether it’s genuine. What is indisputable is that tolerance is required to fully appreciate him and his skill.
Yet there was a time we celebrated those in sports who were wired differently. Last week, for instance, marked the 52nd anniversary of Jimmy Piersall’s 100th career home run, a dinger memorable for how he circled the bases. He ran backwards.
How can you not appreciate that? Still, Watson isn’t that odd, thankfully. Nor is he the enfant terrible that John Daly is. Thankfully.
But golf needs those who don’t emerge from the country club mold. It needs Bubbas from Bagdad, who don’t play a game with which we are all too familiar, to twist an old Bobby Jones quote, those who have never cast a shadow on a lesson tee, who willfully avoid the shortest route, the proverbial straight line.
So, the three-stroke lead. Watson took the aggressive play by taking driver on the reachable par-4 15th and turned a fairly easy birdie hole into a difficult par. He bogeyed 17 with a wayward drive and scrambled for par just to take it to overtime.
It never comes easy.
“It never does,” Watson said, “especially with 16 and 17. I’m not very good on those holes. Casey played great. I watched him make birdie on 17 from 16 green. And I hung on. That’s what you have to do sometimes.”
It wasn't exactly the wedge shot from the towering magnolia and pines trees at Augusta National, but Bubba Watson had another recovery shot that created a buzz in the gallery at TPC River Highlands.
Perhaps in jest, a fan on the second hole suggested to Bubba that he should "hit a punch 4-iron" under a tree to the right of the fairway. Either the guy forgot who he was talking to, wasn't watching the 2012 Masters or doesn't have the wedge game of Bubba. It was a pretty straight-forward wedge shot from 100 yards out for someone like Bubba.
But Bubba still wanted to thank the fan for the suggestion, after he hit his wedge shot to 4 feet to set up a second straight birdie, which set up for a funny exchange.
A photo posted by Jordan Spieth (@jordanspieth) on
Spieth will play next in the John Deere Classic July 9-12, then head overseas to St. Andrews in an attempt to win the British Open, adding the Claret Jug to his green jacket and the U.S. Open trophy. (And wouldn’t that be something.)