Round 4: Open Championship
July 22 2012
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Critical strokes: Over the course of four days there are dozens of shots on which a tournament can swing. Two stand out from Sunday’s play.
The 16th hole was playing the easiest on the course. It had a stroke average of 3.84 and had given up 124 birdies. Adam Scott three-putted the hole for the second of his four straight bogeys to finish the round.
A few moments later, Ernie Els made his birdie putt at the 18th. It had not been a good week on the greens for Els prior to that putt. He was ranked 75th in putting as he stood over his birdie attempt.
Divots: You can get a pretty good read on any player’s swing by looking at his divots. Starting Thursday, Adam Scott’s divots resembled the length and width of a dollar bill and were pointed straight at his targets. That’s an indication his swing was on plane and the clubface square at impact.
Long putters: There is no doubt the long putter has revived both Els’ and Scott’s career.
Els was seventh on TOUR in greens in regulation during 2011 but a woeful 181st in strokes gained-putting last season. This year, he is ranked 68th. Following his first-round victory at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, Els told me he was putting so well with his belly putter he was contemplating a return to the regulation putter. I doubt that is now a consideration.
At the 2010 Shell Houston Open, I watched as Scott looked at the cup while putting as opposed to watching the ball. That’s a drill some players practice but rarely use during actual competition.
Since switching to the long putter, Scott’s stats have gradually improved. Starting in 2008, Scott has ranked 178th-180th-186th-143rd in strokes gained-putting. In 2012, Scott is ranked 76th.
Revenge: Tiger Woods had birdied the sixth hole in each of the first three rounds. Not on Sunday. The 492-yard par 4 got its revenge when Tiger posted a triple-bogey 7. He hit a 5-iron into the greenside bunker, took two to get out and then three-putted. The mistake essentially closed out his chances to win. Woods wasn’t alone in his struggles at the sixth. The hole was the toughest in the tournament playing to a stroke average of 4.477
Distance Control: Woods has made so much improvement in his swing but there is still one area that lags behind. He is 129th on TOUR in approaches between 50-125 yards. That’s critical since it’s a player’s scoring zone. Woods averages 19 feet 9 inches when hitting a shot between 50-125 yards. There is nothing wrong with his direction, it’s the distance control that is missing. Woods tends to get vertical with his wedges, taking deep divots, which makes it difficult to control distance. He repeatedly lost scoring opportunities this week with ordinary wedge play and yet still finished in a tie for third.
Hole location: The wind never blew more than 15 miles per hour this week, so officials toughened the course with hole locations. In 72 holes of competition, there was one cup cut in the middle of the green. All the rest of the hole locations were on the edges of green complexes.
Course conditions: It was remarkable to watch golf balls not only hold the putting surfaces this week but actually spin and back up. The British Open usually features a biscuit brown golf course. We are used to seeing a puff of dust at impact and golf balls racing more than 50 yards after landing. The unusually wet year in England made for a very different British Open.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
Ernie Els shot a final-round 68 and won his second British Open title Sunday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
It’s his first win since 2010 at Bay Hill and his first major since 2002 and fourth of his career. Send your congratulations here and we’ll pass it along.
Ernie Els is a British Open champion again.
Six times a runner-up in major championships — three of those coming in the British Open — Els watched as someone else endured the heartbreak before hoisting his second Claret Jug.
Leading by four with four holes to play, Adam Scott collapsed with four bogeys over his final four holes at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
It is the fourth major championship of Els’ career and first since a decade ago at Murifield. Els has now won a major in three different decades.
With the win, Els earns 600 FedExCup points. It his first victory on the PGA TOUR since 2010 at Bay Hill.
What was a four-shot lead for Adam Scott with four holes to play is now gone.
Scott and Ernie Els are tied for the lead at 7 under after Els birdied the 18th and Scott bogeyed the 17th, where his approach to the green bounded into the rough. He wasn’t able to get up-and-down and made his third consecutive bogey.
Things went from bad to worse on 18 for Scott, who just found a fairway bunker.
Now all Ernie Els can do is wait.
Els birdied the 18th hole to cap a round of 68 to finish at 7 under. He is one shot back of Adam Scott, who is 3 over on the day and in the fairway on the 17th hole, trying to hang on for his first career major championship.
Scott once led by four with four holes to play but that lead has continued to shrink.
Els has one win (in 2002) and three career runner-up finishes in the British Open. One of those was a playoff loss to Todd Hamilton.
Depending what Scott does these last two holes, another playoff could be in store.
Should it go into extra holes, there would be a four-hole aggregate playoff.
The final games are on the back nine at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, where scores have been high but where Adam Scott also still leads by four strokes.
Now the question is can he hang on and win his first career major championship? Share your thoughts below. (Leaderboard)
Tiger Woods’ chances appeared to have been doomed after a triple-bogey 7 on the sixth hole, where his approach shot landed in a pot bunker and he was not able to escape from on his first attempt.
A chip-in for birdie on the next hole, however, put Woods back in contention — albeit at a distance after he made another bogey on the par-3 ninth, where he hit a less-than-stellar chip that left him 15 feet for par.
Woods made the turn in 37 and is five shots off the lead of Adam Scott.
Can he make a back-nine charge? Share your thoughts below.
The bad news for Adam Scott is that he’s 2 over through his first six holes.
The good news is everyone else is struggling, too.
The four players immediately behind Scott on the leaderboard are a combined 7 over with none of them under par on the day at the moment.
One of them is Tiger Woods, who appeared to be doomed after a triple bogey on the sixth hole. But even he’s not out of it after chipping in for birdie on the seventh hole.
Brandt Snedeker had moved within two of Scott, but he double bogeyed the seventh hole to fall four back and into a tie for second with Graeme McDowell, who is 2 over through six.
Only two players currently on the golf course are under par in their rounds.
Tiger Woods began the day five shots off the lead, and his chances of winning the British Open and a 15th career major championship appear to have ended after a wayward 5-iron found a pot bunker on the sixth hole.
With his ball near a steep face in the bunker, Woods tried to play out of the sand rather than play out sideways. The decision proved costly as Woods’ bunker shot didn’t come close to getting out of the trap, nearly hitting him as it bounced off the face ad back towards him.
Woods had to take an awkward stance on his next attempt from the bunker and hit it well away from the flag. Woods left his bogey putt 5 feet short, then missed again for a triple bogey to drop to 3 over on his round and seven shots back.
It’s been an up-and-down start for Adam Scott, who opened his final round birdie-bogey-birdie.
His lead is now down to three shots as a result with Brandt Snedeker in second and Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell another stroke back.
Scott’s tee shot on the opening hole rolled through the green and he chipped to 5 feet before missing the par save.
He bounced back with a birdie on the next hole but gave it right back when he was bunkered on the third hole. Scott pitched out to about 20 feet but missed the par putt.
Snedeker and Woods are both even through their first four holes, while McDowell is 1 over through his first three.
The wind is starting to freshen as well, and it’s been reflected in the scoring. The last six groups on the golf course are a combined 11 over.