13:21 - Tiger Woods taps in for par and is the Champion Golfer of the Year for 2006. His margin of victory? A holed 4-iron from the fairway on the 14th hole Friday: two shots. One month after missing the cut at Winged Foot, Tiger claims a win on a course he'd never even seen a picture of before early July. He cries, hugs Stevie, and and gives Elin a big hug. Earl is not here to see Tiger win a major for the first time in his life.
13:18 - Tirico gives us a lesson on Nicklaus' 20 vs. 18 majors (counting U.S. Amateurs) and Tiger's soon-to-be 14 and compares them to the records of Hogan and Jones. Tiger putts to about eight feet. It seems I may have exactly predicted the winner and the score, unless he rolls this one in.
13:16 - They show the engraver, and Tirico says "I swear he started to carve Jean van de Velde's name in there. There's a little smudge where Paul Lawrie's name is. I look at it every time."
13:12 - Demonstrators have thrown purple paint on the 18th green, causing a delay (and multitudes of boos). Azinger calls it "stupid" and says "I hope nobody will write about that."
13:10 - Azinger: "Andy North was all over it, as usual." He's talking about North quoting Jack Nicklaus about being unable to be beat from the fairway, and speculates that perhaps Tiger will rein it back in and strive to be more accurate with the driver from here on out. My bet? Not likely. Not outside of events and courses like this.
12:57 - Tiger, from the fairway on the 17th, safely finds the left fringe 50 feet or so away from the pin. The Wachovia Shots of the Day are the approach and birdie putt at 14. Azinger: "It was starting to look like a dog fight and Tiger just clamps down again."
12:54 - The ABC crew is talking about all-time scoring records in relation to par in the majors. Tiger, currently at -18, has an outside chance. I think he may be playing the 18th hole rather conservatively, however, given the fact that he'll have a one-shot lead or so.
12:48 - DiMarco's birdie attempt at 17 just slides by the right side. Barring something Phil-like from Tiger (which will never happen), this tournament is all but over. Tiger taps in for birdie to take a three-shot lead with two to play. [CB]
12:38 - Tiger appears to put away the 2006 Open Championship with back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15, but Chris DiMarco gets to -15, two back, making the 15-footer for birdie at 16. Still, Tiger has two par 4½s remaining. [CB]
12:35 - Adam Scott hits one out of bounds on 18 with his second shot. He's marking a second ball and will fall well back. X-Mo shows us how the club reacts when it travels through grasses of different lengths.
12:23 - Tiger rolls it to eight feet from 195 yards on the 14th. No eagle this time. Tirico tells us that North tells us the group is off the clock (despite still being a hole behind). Tiger had backed off his shot from the fairway.
12:18 - Unless Ernie can get two eagles, he's out of it at -12. Tiger's at -15 and DiMarco is at -14. I'll give DiMarco credit - he's hanging in there. But one group back and one shot ahead, this is Tiger's tournament to win or lose. My prediction of a Tiger win at -18 is looking pretty solid.
12:13 - DiMarco, left of 14 green and in horrible stuff, only manages to get to 40 feet or so. Adam Scott will likely birdie 16 to get to -12. Tiger taps in after a 60-foot lag to a foot. Ian B-F: "Sergio searches for touch, Tiger trusts his touch." DiMarco slams home his 45-footer for par! [CB]
12:05 - Tiger bogeys the 12th. Ian Baker-Finch talks about the Claret Jug and Young Tom Morris, but fails to mention that they weren't playing for the Claret Jug back then, but the Championship Belt. After winning the belt three consecutive years (1868-1870), he kept the belt and the Jug was bought for the 1872 Open, which Young Tom also won. [CB]
12:00 - Faldo, following a Tiger agitation (the camera phones again), says "that's unusual for Tiger." It is. Expect a new policy at next year's Open Championship. Tiger misses the green long and left just as DiMarco holes a birdie at the 13th to get to within two.
11:41 - Andy North tells us that Woods and The Human Lemon are on the clock. I doubt, despite the thread of a one-shot penalty with a second warning, that Woods cares. He rolls his eagle putt to tap-in range. The birdie will give him a three-shot lead. Els is basically out of it at this point at -11. Tiger is at -16.
11:40 - Garcia, from the bunker, hits the ball 20 feet past the hole after Faldo and Azinger speculate on whether he'll even get the ball to the hole. Ernie bogeys 11. DiMarco rolls in a long one to save par at 11.
11:36 - I said Tiger's lead would soon be three. I meant four. DiMarco is making a mess of the 11th, hitting well short from the right rough and duffing his chip shot. Ernie is not in a great spot either.
11:29 - Faldo on Garcia: "He's feeling as comfortable as a canary in a coal mine." That's what I've been saying! The leaderboard comes up and DiMarco is at -13, having birdied the par-5 tenth. Did we get to see that? Did I miss it or did ABC not show it? Tiger's lead, standing on the tee, is now two. It will be three again soon… but not before he backs off due to more camera phones. [CB]
11:27 - "Unbelievable." Azinger's reaction to hearing that finishing second at the British Open earns less points than winning the B.C. Open. A camera phone goes off and Tiger backs off his putt. Faldo wonders why a marshall doesn't request everyone turn off their phones as the players approach greens and tees, because the spectators are "blatantly holding them up."
11:25 - Ernie plays the Titleist Pro V1x marked with the number zero. He blasts to four feet. The Lemon chips to eight or ten feet, which he'll likely miss to fall further back. Mickelson may beat him at this point. [CB]
11:21 - Nine tee, yet another admonishment for wielding a camera phone. Tiger's 8-iron flies 190 yards and leaves 30 feet for birdie. Azinger (it's his hole now) says Tiger is putting on a clinic. Els, three back, is bunkered at ten.
11:19 - The Pineapple Prince is wearing yellow because he's a lemon! Get a refund now! He bogeys the eighth after failing to get up and down from the bunker short of the green. Tiger manages yet another easy two putt for par. X-Mo is used to show us how fine the sand is at Hoylake. [CB]
11:07 - Canary Man's caddy requests that someone turn off a phone. Azinger tells us that phones are allowed on the course (you're not searched). Some guy in a black shirt is shown on ABC. If he wasn't the offending phone talker, he's certainly been painted as such. [CB]
11:02 - Tiger easily two-putts on six from 50+ feet. His touch seems to be much improved since yesterday. Ernie's stance in the bunker at seven is one of the one-foot-in, one-foot-out variety, yet Ernie nearly holes it. He has 12 feet for a par he just about needs. Sergio comes up well short with his first putt yet again and has three to four feet for par.
10:59 - Ernie finds the bunker on the seventh. Mellow Yellow, soon to be known as "that guy playing with Tiger," finds the green. Adam Scott gets to -11. Azinger tells us he was 100:1 to win today despite starting only 4 shots back. He remains four back.
10:47 - Given the choice between "people_ready" and Bobby Clampett, I'll take Bobby Clampett… but not by much. This time we see two to three shots before we go to commercial again. I said I was done, but we're not even seeing half a dozen shots between commercial breaks. Look at the times: 10:43 to 10:47? And several of the minutes between the "3" and the "7" were ads. Anyway, I'm serious this time: no more talk of commercials. But if I suddenly stop live blogging, you'll know it's because I threw the remote through the TV.
10:43 - Talk of Tiger's "intimidation" leads us into yet another commercial break. One would think that the guy would know that orientation is on the seventh floor and that you flip that switch to work the coffee maker by now. Fuggit - I'm done blogging about commercials (but that doesn't mean my blood pressure isn't going to rise every time Tirico says "we'll be right back" the rest of this morning and afternoon).
10:40 - The fairways, Tirico reminds us again, are stimping at 8½. They were faster last year at St. Andrews, and Tiger was getting 100+ yards of roll, yet people were still whining about equipment and the ball yielding 300-yard drives.
10:32 - Ten minutes, about 10 golf shots, and back to commercial. This time, only six. At this rate, we'll see 60 commercials per hour (or, rather, the same 10 commercials six times each. I should send ABC a bill, because they're certainly paying 'em today!
10:29 - After backing away from a shot, and following Stevie's admonishment of someone's camera, Tiger stings his 3W down the middle of the fifth. He'll likely birdie to take the lead alone again. Will this be the Tiger and Ernie show? They've had a number of duels in the past: Presidents Cups, Tavistock Cups, U.S. Opens, etc.
10:26 - In a startling run, ABC shows us six, SIX, golf shots in a row without commercial interruption! Tiger displays beautiful touch and leaves only a tap-in from 30 yards back of the fourth pin. DiMarco misses birdie at the fifth and Els first putt for eagle runs by six feet. Ernie makes it to tie Tiger, two ahead of DiMarco and Romero.
10:18 - I wonder how much those souped up, jacked up Segways cost. They've got massive tires and ride pretty smoothly (having a flat linksland course makes that possible). Sergio takes a drop and then blows the ball 50 yards over the fourth green. But I'm back on the Segways: I wonder how many camera operators accidentally rolled into a pot bunker this week.
10:06 - How many birdies did Nicklaus have at the Open? Oh yes, 457. ABC, out of golf next year, will still likely cover the Open Championship as long as possible. Given the number of ads they show per hour and the fact that Tiger Woods is in the lead, they've got to be making pretty good bank on this one.
10:03 - ABC shows Furyk's putt from a pot bunker on Friday. X-Mo is employed to show a putter being used from a bunker. X-Mo has won an Emmy, and it's always fun to see. ABC glitches and cuts over to DiMarco in the middle of Tiger's swing on the third, where he finds the green.
09:55 - A shout out to BogeyLounge for linking to us today. Tiger lips out his birdie putt at the second, leaving a tap-in par. Thinking the ball was in, he raised his arm. The Canary Child three-putts for bogey after blowing his first six feet past. At this point, nobody is mounting a challenge: Tiger leads Els by one (who just made a good par saving putt at the third).
09:50 - The question answered by "The NIN9" is "How many former TV actors are desperate enough for a paycheck that they'll agree to do a show with other former TV actors in need of a paycheck?" In the time it took me to type that, Tiger, from 100 yards behind Sergio, finds the second green 20 feet from the pin. BananaMan, from a good lie in the rough, fails to get inside of Woods.
09:43 - Garcia leaves his 45-footer eight feet short. Tiger comes up three feet short. The Human Banana and Tiger both manage to save par. Mickelson putts out on 18 for par just as Tiger starts his round.
09:37 - To answer the question, Tiger had "about 190 yards" and, unlike most people playing the first, was able to find the green, albeit 40 feet from the cup. His putting will be tested from the start.
09:30 - What is that brown headcover Tiger has on his 3-wood? Sergio, who has played the front well (to Tiger's -10 on the back), finds the fairway with the driver off the first. So does Tiger (who has decided against leaving 250 into the wind with his 2-iron).
09:21 - Ivor Robson introduces Ernie Els, and I'm left to wonder if he does "that voice" on purpose or if that's simply how he talks. When he orders dinner, does he say "I think I'll have the stuffed shells" in that same voice?
09:00 - Phil misses yet another par putt. I picked Phil as my biggest disappointment, and he hasn't, uhhh… disappointed?
08:48 - Adam Scott finds a bunker off the first tee. When speaking of players who haven't lived up to their potential, this Open is full of them. Sergio may top the list, but Chris DiMarco is not as far behind as you might suspect, and Scott is right there too.
08:14 - Paul Azinger hesitates to touch the Claret Jug in the booth as Nick Faldo raps on it with his pencil. I don't know if Azinger has ever touched it, but I suspect he hasn't. I wouldn't if I were him.
07:30 - Only two hours until Tiger tees off! Jerry Kelly is being interviewed? He's five back. The odds of him winning are about as good as the odds of that employee in the MS people_ready ads feeling like anything but a "human resource."
07:19 - Bobby Clampett basically says "Phil is phoning it in." And he's right, too. People wonder why I dislike Phil Mickelson, particularly compared to Tiger Woods, and this is it. I've never seen Tiger give anything less than 100% to a shot. Phil mentally packs it in every other tournament.
06:30 - My wife has been dropped off at the airport, and I've returned to watch the British Open. I catch a replay of Phil Mickelson talking a Segway camera operator into doing a 360, then TNT cuts to a live shot of Phil using driver on the short par-4 fourth. I never believed Phil had much of a chance here, and I was right.
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