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#pounditSunday, September 25, 2022

Golf

Cam Smith has big beer celebration planned with the Claret Jug

Cam Smith talks

Cam Smith on Sunday won his first major by finishing 20-under to capture The Open Championship at St. Andrews.

The 28-year-old now gets his name engraved on the Claret Jug, and he has some big plans for how he will celebrate.

Smith said in a post-victory interview with BBC that he plans to find out how many beers fit inside the trophy.

“I’m definitely going to find out how many beers fit in this thing, that’s for sure.”

Smith certainly earned the right to celebrate with some beers.

The Australian shot his second 64 of the event and put together the impressive score Sunday with excellent putting. His putting helped him go on a streak where he birdied five straight holes from 10-14.

Smith won The Players Championship in March and followed up with his first ever major four months later.

Cam Smith rides smoking-hot putter to win at The Open

Cameron Smith picks up his ball

January 14, 2022; Honolulu, Hawaii, USA; Cameron Smith acknowledges the crowd after making his putt on the 10th hole during the second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland entered Sunday as the 54-hole co-leaders at The Open Championship, but it was Cameron Smith who went out and took the Claret Jug from them. He did so with one of the best putting performances you will ever see in a major.

Smith shot an 8-under 64 in the final round to win his first major with a total score of 20-under. He struck the ball well, but his putting is what won him the tournament. The Australian birdied holes 10 through 14. Three of those birdies came from a distance too (18 feet, 16 feet and 11 feet).

McIlroy did not play poorly. He just couldn’t get anything to roll in, and the opposite was true for Smith. In addition to all of the lengthy birdies, Smith also saved an extremely important par with a 10-foot put on 17. He went on to birdie 18 to give him six birdies in his last nine holes.

Smith has broken out in a huge way this year. He won The Players Championship in March and seems to be in contention in every big tournament. His putting is a big reason for that. The 28-year-old rarely gets rattled no matter how important the moment. That was the case once again at St. Andrews.

Oftentimes in a major championship, you will see someone at the top of the leaderboard open the door for those behind him by making mistakes. In this instance, Smith just putted better. He had 12 putts total on the back nine. That was basically what the 2022 Open Championship came down to.

Radio call of Rory McIlroy’s eagle is awesome

Rory McIlroy bunker shot

Rory McIlroy was responsible for one of the shots of the tournament on Saturday at The Open Championship, and the shot was made even better by one of the broadcast calls.

McIlroy managed to chip in from a bunker on the 10th hole at St. Andrews during third round play Saturday. The unlikely shot pushed McIlroy into a tie for the lead at -15 for the tournament.

Perhaps the best depiction of the shot came from The Open’s in-house radio broadcast, where commentator Matt Southgate, a European Tour pro in his own right, went absolutely nuts.

The shot tied McIlroy for the lead with Viktor Hovland, who eagled with an unlikely shot of his own during play Friday. As long as the standards remain this high, both players should be near the top of the field all the way to the finish.

Video: Viktor Hovland hits shot of the day at Open Championship

Viktor Hovland raises his hand

Viktor Hovland hit the shot of the day during the second round of The Open Championship at St. Andrews on Friday.

Hovland shot a 6-under 66 to move up the leaderboard to 10-under for the event, which ties him with Rory McIlroy for third.

On the 431-yard par-4 15th, Hovland holed his approach shot from the long rough for eagle. Take a look:

What a shot. Hovland was so far away from the hole he didn’t even see it go in.

Hovland had three birdies on the front nine and three more on the back nine. He also had two bogeys on the back nine, which were wiped out by the eagle on 15.

Hovland had one of the best rounds of the day. The best round belonged to Cameron Smith, who shot 8-under to move into first, two shots ahead of Cameron Young.

Tiger Woods gets emotional on possible final walk at St. Andrews

Tiger Woods cries at the British Open

Tiger Woods has rarely worn his heart on his sleeve during his legendary golf career, but the 15-time major champion could not conceal his emotions at The Open Championship on Friday.

Woods failed to make the cut at St. Andrews, which means it is entirely possible that he will never play in a major tournament at the famed Old Course again. As he made his way up the 18th fairway, Tiger received an incredible ovation from the gallery. He tipped his cap and appeared to wipe away tears.

Tiger told NBC Sports after the round that he was overcome by the reception he got from the fans and his peers.

“The warmth and the ovation at 18, it got to me,” Woods admitted. “I felt the guys stop there off the tee at 18, and it was just incredible. The amount of understanding and respect from all the people involved that have come out and supported, the players, the nods I was getting as players were going out … I looked over there and Rory (McIlroy) gave me a tip of the cap. (Justin Thomas) did the same. There’s just something to it that’s just different.”

Woods finished with a score of 9-over. It is hardly a surprise that he played poorly. Though two of his Open Championship victories came at the Old Course, those seemed like ages ago. The 46-year-old has said he will never be back to full strength after his serious car accident in February 2021. He had numerous back surgeries before that, too.

We got an idea of the physical ailments Woods has been battling at the PGA Championship back in May. Tiger was then unable to play in the US Open last month.

The Open will not return to St. Andrews for several more years. While Tiger will always be eligible to play as a past winner, there is no guarantee he will be healthy enough or want to play when that time comes. That is why the walk up 18 on Friday meant so much to him.

Phil Mickelson reacts to Tiger Woods’ criticism of LIV Golf

Phil Mickelson in golf gear

May 22, 2021; Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA; Phil Mickelson reacts on the first green during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods took a strong stance against LIV Golf defectors ahead of this week’s 150th British Open, and Phil Mickelson had an interesting response.

Woods criticized the Saudi-backed league for disincentivizing golfers to practice hard by offering them massive guaranteed amounts of money to play in fewer events than they would on the PGA Tour. He also said that players who left the Tour for LIV turned their backs on the Tour itself.

Mickelson, who was among the first players to leave the Tour for LIV, told reporters on Thursday that he had nothing but respect for Woods’ opinion on the matter.

“I certainly respect his opinion,” Mickelson said via ESPN’s Tom Hamilton. “I have a lot of respect for him. I respect his opinion. I think everybody’s going to have strong emotions and opinions about it, and I certainly respect his.”

The rivalry between the two golf leagues has spilled into this week at St. Andrews. Two-time Open champion and LIV CEO Greg Norman was disinvited from Monday’s Celebration of Champions event. Norman also was not invited to the Champions’ Dinner at St. Andrews. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews said that Norman’s attendance, due to his LIV ties, would be a distraction. Mickelson, a 2013 Open champion, decided not to participate in the festivities.

After Thursday’s first round, Mickelson is tied for 55th place at even par. Woods had a disastrous round, shooting 6-over par and finishing in a tie for 146th place. He will likely need to shoot a very low score on Friday to make the cut.

Charles Barkley to meet with LIV Golf about broadcasting role

Charles Barkley holds a microphone

November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

LIV Golf has lured away some of the biggest stars on the PGA Tour. They may have a legitimate chance to land Charles Barkley.

Barkley joined “The Next Round” on Thursday and was asked to address rumors of his potential involvement with the league in some broadcasting capacity. Barkley confirmed that he is going to meet with the Saudi-backed league about a role.

“I’m gonna meet with LIV,” Barkley said. “To be always transparent and honest, they called me and asked me would I meet with them. I said yes. Nothing is imminent. I actually don’t know everything they want from me or what they technically want me to do. But you have got to always look at every opportunity that’s available.

“So, to answer your question, yes, I’m gonna 100 percent meet with LIV.”

While Barkley’s golf game could use some work, he is well known for being a great and outspoken entertainer on a broadcast. He has been a part of some Turner golf broadcasts and could draw in more eyeballs for LIV events. The Basketball Hall of Fame member is most recognized for his NBA coverage on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” But Barkley did show some versatility while briefly appearing on ESPN ahead of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

LIV has no shortage of money to offer Barkley. Sir Charles had a hilarious take about the lengths he would be willing to go to in order to make the kind of money that LIV defectors are earning. While Barkley might not get the payday that some of the players are getting, LIV certainly has the financial backing to make him a tough offer to refuse.

H/T New York Post

Many golfers at The Open Championship had the same complaint

Matthew Fitzpatrick finishes a swing

May 21, 2022; Tulsa, OK, USA; Matthew Fitzpatrick hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Southern Hills Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of The Open Championship at St. Andrews was played on Thursday, but it did not go of without a hitch. In fact, golfers were complaining about several hitches.

Numerous golfers complained about how long it took to play their round. Golf Magazine’s Dylan Dethier said players were speechless coming off the course over the length of their rounds.

Max Homa apparently estimated it took an hour just to play one single hole.

Golf Digest’s Dan Rapoport quoted Matthew Fitzpatrick complaining about playing a 6:09 round.

“It’s sad, really. Should never happen in golf,” Fitzpatrick said.

St. Andrews is a legendary golf course, but there are some shared fairways, double greens and tough conditions that result in lengthy rounds. Another problem is the size of the field.

156 golfers are competing in the event. That’s 52 trios. The first tee time was at 6:35 a.m. The last group teed off at 4:16 p.m. Factor in everything, and it’s no wonder rounds took forever for many golfers.

Things should get better after the field is cut following the second round.

Video: LIV Golf defector booed at The Open Championship

Ian Poulter on the course

One LIV Golf defector received some boos on the first tee at The Open Championship at St. Andrews on Thursday.

When Ian Poulter was introduced just before beginning his round, the British golfer received some boos.

He actually received plenty of cheers upon being introduced, though numerous reporters in attendance noted the few boos he received.

Here is a video from a different angle.

Why was Poulter booed by some? Likely because he has left the DP World Tour — previously known as the European Tour — for LIV Golf. That decision might make him ineligible to compete in the Ryder Cup. He also has sued the DP World Tour to prevent them from blocking him from playing in the Scottish Open recently.

On the first hole, Poulter ended up hooking his tee shot, though he rallied to shoot a 3-under 69. That placed him tied for 13th after the first round.

Poulter also said he didn’t notice any boos.

“I actually thought I had a great reception on the first tee, to be honest. All I heard was clapping. I have heard not one heckle. In three weeks, I’ve heard nothing,” Poulter said.

Poulter has finished as high as second in The Open Championship in the past. He’s hoping to do even better than that this year — whether he’s booed or not.

Rory McIlroy has 1 word to describe Open Championship

Rory McIlroy on the course

May 30, 2019; Dublin, OH, USA; Rory McIlroy looks on during the first round of the 2019 Memorial golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy had one word to describe this year’s Open Championship at St. Andrews.

The four-time major champion shot a 6-under 66 to finish second after the first round of this year’s event. After his round, he described this year’s major as “fiddly.”

What’s interesting is that McIlroy says fiddly courses have always been tough for him, yet he played so well in the first round. McIlroy had seven birdies and a bogey to finish 6-under. He enters the second round two shots behind Cameron Young, who leads the field at 8-under.

McIlroy’s only win at The Open Championship came in 2014 at Royal Liverpool, which wasn’t quite as “fiddly.” He’s looking to win his fifth career major and first since 2014.