Category: 2013 British Open

July 23, 2013

British Open enjoys record-setting telecasts

Posted at 2:53 PM by Coleman McDowell


Phil Mickelson won the Open Championship last week, and a record-setting amount of people watched him do it.

According to a press release, fans were undeterred by the time zone change that led to a early-afternoon finish on the east coast and set records for viewership.

According to Nielsen Fast National data, ESPN earned a record-tying 3.1 U.S. rating for the 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET live telecast of Sunday’s final round as fan favorite Phil Mickelson scored a come-from-behind win at Scotland’s Muirfield Golf Links. The telecast, which averaged 4,372,000 viewers, tied the ratings record set in last year’s final round for the highest-rated cable telecast of the event and set a cable viewership record for the event, eclipsing last year’s mark of 4,227,000.

Sunday’s telecast ranks third-highest among all golf telecasts on cable, only behind the 2008 U.S. Open playoff and the 2010 Masters first round (when Tiger Woods returned to golf).

(Photo: Getty)

July 20, 2013

'Brain dead' McIroy uses Open as 'practice'

Posted at 7:20 PM by Josh Sens

Rory_300You know times are tough for the world’s No. 2-ranked player when he uses a major to prepare for something else.

But so it goes these days for a slumping Rory McIlroy, who, after opening with a 79 on Thursday at Muirfield, said he treated Friday’s 18 as a “practice” round.

“I needed to get off to a fast start to have any chance of being here for the weekend but I was five over through seven holes, so that didn’t really happen,” McIlroy said. “After that I just decided to try and I guess practice a little bit for the next few weeks coming up. I decided that I was going to hit driver every hole that I could, because that’s going to be a big factor the next few weeks, and I actually drove the ball pretty well, and ended up playing the last 11 holes even par.”

Modest as it sounds, even-par through 11 marked a vast improvement for the 24-year-old two-time major champ, who described himself as “brain dead” and “unconscious” during Thursday’s eight-over par first round.

It was also too little, too late. McIlroy finished with a 75 on Friday and missed the cut, the first time he failed to make the weekend at the British.

On the upside, McIlroy’s next event is the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, where there is no cut. So he’s got that going for him.

He can also take small comfort in this fact: at least he beat Nick Faldo, who, earlier in the week, had ruffled Rory’s feathers by suggesting that McIlroy should work harder on his game.

The 56-year-old Faldo, a three-time Open champ, shot 79-78.

He’ll return to the broadcast booth, as McIlroy resumes the search for his game.

Photo: Rory McIlory walks off the 18th green Friday after a second-round 75 (Getty Images).

Live Coverage of Final Round of the 2013 British Open

Posted at 4:21 PM by will live blog the final round of the British Open beginning Sunday at 9:00 a.m. ET.

Leaderboard | Round 3 Photos | Tiger's Gear

Man in Tiger costume: 'I'm rooting for Westwood'

Posted at 3:42 PM by Jeff Ritter

TigerGULLANE, Scotland -- Tiger Woods is popular, but it's fair to say he isn't the people's choice this week in Scotland. Lee Westwood is chasing his first career major, and as a U.K. native, the crowds are squarely behind him.

Just ask the man in the Tiger costume.

"I'm rooting for Lee, to be honest," said Clive Kirkham, while sporting a head-to-toe Tiger outfit Saturday afternoon at Muirfield.

As Woods and Westwood played through behind him on the 16th hole, the 56-year-old (pictured) was standing near the ropes all alone, but he said that 11 of his friends were scattered around the course in full Tiger regalia. Saturday marked an annual tradition for Kirkham and his crew; they travel from around the U.K. each year to meet for a buddies' trip at the Open, and every Saturday they attend the event dressed like a player in the field.

"Last year it was Rickie Fowler. The year before it was Ian Poulter," Kirkham said.

In case you were wondering where they purchased their costumes -- and why wouldn't you? -- Kirkham said they came straight off the rack at Primark, a discount clothing store that's similar to America's Wal-Mart. The sticker price: 12 quid.

"They were cheap as chips," Kirkham said. "And there may be a rush on them after tomorrow's papers."

Kirkham said the group planned to hit the town Saturday night while still in costume, but he also promised that Sunday the group would attend the Open dressed as ordinary golf fans.

"We're just a group of guys having fun," Kirkham said. "The point is to get attention.

"And women love it, obviously."

July 18, 2013

Live Coverage of Round 2 of the 2013 British Open

Posted at 4:22 PM by will live blog the second round of the British Open beginning Friday at 4:45 a.m. ET.

Leaderboard | Round 1 Photos | Tiger's Gear

Video: Watch Charl Schwartzel snap his six-iron in half at British Open

Posted at 2:36 PM by Coleman McDowell


This will look mighty familiar to many amateur golfers out there.

After an errant shot from the rough on No. 15 at Muirfield, Charl Schwartzel tomahawked the offending six-iron into the ground where it promptly snapped in half.

The 2011 Masters champ had an up-and-down day before reaching the 15th hole: four bogeys, three birdies and a double. He took another double-bogey on the 15th and wenr on to finish with a four-over 75.

Hey, it happens to the best of us.

(GIF via SBNation)

July 16, 2013

Photos: Behind the scenes at the Muirfield Open

Posted at 1:55 PM by Coleman McDowell

If you didn't book your plane to Scotland in time to make it to the Open, is on site at Muirfield to give you a behind the scenes view of the event. Below is a sampling of the best photos taken by our staff during Tuesday's practice rounds. Follow our feeds below for more pictures and information throughout the tournament.


July 15, 2013

Video: Mickelson hits backward lob shot at Muirfield

Posted at 4:50 PM by

Phil Mickelson showed his wedge wizardry during a Muirfield practice round Monday, hitting his famous backward lob shot. Geoff Shackelford of caught it on video:

Mickelson also did a version of this shot on his instruction DVD a few years ago if you want to try it out on the course this weekend:



June 28, 2013

Citing Muirfield's all-male policies, Scottish leader says he'll steer clear of the Open

Posted at 12:42 PM by Josh Sens


The clubhouse and 18th green at Muirfield, host of this year's British Open. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty)

A decade ago, we had Martha Burk against the boys at Augusta.

This time around, we’ve got Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond against the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.

Different countries. Different characters.

Similar conflict at the core.

With the 2013 British Open on its way to Muirfield next month, Salmond announced this week that he would not attend the event, a decision linked to Muirfield’s all-male membership rules.

Unlike Burk at the Masters, Salmond, an avid golfer, insisted that he is not boycotting the event.

But you know how that goes: it depends on what your definition of “is” is.

In an interview with the Scottish news agency, Forth News, Salmond said that golf’s future in the country “must be based on equality and access for all.”

He added that the R&A should have “a good think” about staging an Open at a venue with no women in its membership ranks.

“I don’t think it helps the game to have the suggestion of a bias against women and the greatest tournament on the planet played on arguably the greatest links golf course should have the impression that ladies, women should be second-class citizens.”

In addition to Muirfield, two others clubs in the British Open rota----Royal Troon and Royal St. George’s---have no women members (the R&A itself, which makes its home in St. Andrews, is also an all-male organization).

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson has gone on record saying that British golf’s governing body would never issue an ultimatum requiring an Open venue to change its membership rules.

“There is nothing wrong under UK legistlation with a single-sex club as long as they behave under the equality act as far as guest access is concerned, which Muirfield certainly does,” Dawson said. He said that forcing a club to change its membership polices would amount to “bullying” and that the R&A would have no part in that.

The Salmond administration has adopted a different stance.

In a recent letter to Muirfield, Salmond and his First Sports Minister, Shona Robinson, objected to the club’s ban on female members.

The letter reportedly pointed to the example of Augusta National, which admitted its first female members last year, and asked why Muirfield couldn’t follow suit.

Like Burk in the midst of her Augusta protests, Salmond has taken heat for speaking out.

Jackson Carlaw, deputy of the opposition Tory party, is among those to criticize the First Minister, claiming that Salmond’s actions are driven by politics, not principles.

“We know Alex Salmond polls badly with women and if this is an alarmingly naked grab for female approval I’m sure it will be spurned.”

Pushing the naked imagery an unflattering step further, Carlaw added: “At least we will all be spared more photographs of him sprawled like a beached whale beside the Muirfield greens.”

Well, at least it’s not getting personal.

Feisty broadsides notwithstanding, it will be interesting to see how the conversation plays out.

Former Masters chairman Hootie Johnson always insisted that Augusta would make changes on its own time frame, and not “at the point of a bayonet.” That time frame turned out to be about a decade. In the interim, Augusta lost two members to resignation over its male-only policy: then-U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee John Snow, and former CBS chief executive Thomas Wyman.

Augusta may not have responded to a bayonet, but it seems clear that the club was prodded along.

Will the same eventually apply to Muirfield?

For all the traits they share (prestigious reputations; rich histories of exclusion), Augusta and Muirfield are different animals, inhabitants of different sporting cultures. Augusta finds itself in the spotlight every year, while Muirfield takes its turn roughly once a decade, a tweedy time capsule left largely by the public to its own throwback ways until its turn in the Open rota rolls around.

Whoever hoists the claret jug in 2013 will do so at a club that admits no female members.

What’s your wager? Will that be the case the next time the Open comes to Muirfield’s gated grounds?

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