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The Loop

MediaWatch: A 'smoking, drinking counterblast'

July 16, 2011

Summer stepped aside for a few hours on Saturday to let winter play through at Royal St. George's. Finally.

"If I'm at home on the couch watching this right now," ESPN's Terry Gannon said, "I'm loving it."

Our thoughts exactly. Even Rickie Fowler concurred. Asked about fans on hand to watch the third round of the British Open on Saturday, he said, "I would have been home watching on TV."

Then there was Phil Mickelson, contrarian or liar. "I heard him say earlier today that he's going to enjoy himself today," Peter Allis said during his stint in the ESPN booth. "I think he's telling fibs."

The media roundup from Saturday:

-- Why do we love Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke? Brian Viner of the Independent summed it up nicely:

"He is a walking, smoking, Guinness-drinking counterblast to the notion that the modern professional golfer has to be a finely-tuned athlete with a six-pack. Clarke keeps his six-packs in the fridge."

(Photo by Getty Images)

-- Alliss on the bunkers: "They really are hazards. You don't just hit a full wood out of them."

How often on the PGA Tour do we hear players rooting for a wayward shot to find the bunker? At the British Open, they're heard rooting for the ball to stay out.

-- For all the talk of the older guys -- Tom Watson and Tom Lehman -- how about some love for Andy Martinez, Lehman's caddie? He's 61 and has been on the bag of two British Open champions: Johnny Miller in 1976 and Lehman in 1996.

-- This was an odd observation from Azinger: "I never understood the no practice stroke philosophy, actually. It seems like you need to make a practice stroke or two. You don't see a lot of major champions just walking up and hitting it."

No, haven't seen a major champion do that since the U.S. Open. Rory McIlroy does not take practice strokes, a result of his work with Dave Stockton, who, incidentally won two majors (both PGA Championships), was renowned for his putting prowess, and did not take practice strokes.

A half hour later, Azinger acknowledged that McIlroy won the U.S. Open without taking practice strokes, then noted that ESPN colleague Andy North, twice a U.S. Open winner, often putted sans practice strokes.

"Why?" Azinger asked.

"I thought if I could mentally go through the process beforehand, why waste the physical part," North said. "It was more important to me to understand the putt mentally and the stroke mentally than to go up there and make a half-hearted practice stroke."

-- Nice piece from ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski on McIlroy and his hometown of Holywood, including this from McIlroy on his childhood hero: "I used to call myself Rory Nick Faldo McIlroy."

-- Still don't get ESPN's Putt Zone. On the fourth hole, Pablo Larrazabal hit it straight down the line that ESPN had on the screen, and did so with pace. The ball nonetheless veered right of the hole.

-- Gannon, quoting a London tabloid on Bubba Watson: "The French don't like him so we love him."

-- Peter Kostis on Twitter: "If T Watson shoots anywhere near par or better today, it cements his place as world's greatest ever bad weather player. In fact he wins 9&8"

T. Watson indeed shot near par, a two-over 72 in the worst of the weather.

-- Mike Tirico noted that six Americans were in the top 10 and their ages were in the 20s (Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler), the 30s (Lucas Glover, Chad Campbell), the 40s (Davis Love III) and even the 50s (Tom Lehman). Too bad that Tom Watson couldn't have added the 60s.

-- Azinger on the bearded one, Glover: "Just waiting to see him pull some of that beard hair out and throw it up to test the wind. But he went for the grass, the less painful rout there."

-- Dan Jenkins on Twitter: "Somebody must have told Anthony Kim that mullets look good. Somebody was wrong."

-- John Strege