Ernie Els

2013 Open Championship

The 2013 Open Championship begins tomorrow, medical Thursday, July 18 at Muirfield Golf Links in Gullane, Scotland on the northeast coast of the United Kingdom. As golf’s oldest and toughest major with a pool of global competitors competing for the iconic Claret Jug, the Open is definitely one worth keeping up with this weekend.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: 

Dating back to 1860, the Open Championship (commonly known as the British Open to differentiate from the US Open in the states) tests the best in the world with links style golf.  Some have said the trick to this style is not just getting your ball on the green, but keeping it there.

The firm, fast golf course will be the first challenge. The second will be the unpredictable weather of the United Kingdom coast. Within the course of a few hours there can be sideways rain, howling winds, and clear skies with sunshine.  As is the case with the US Open, this is not only a test of tremendous skill, but also of mental fortitude.

Muirfield has hosted the Championship 15 previous times. South African Ernie Els is the defending Champion in two regards.

Els won the Open Championship last year and also won in 2002 the last time the Championship was hosted at Muirfield.

WHO TO WATCH: 

I sound like a broken record, but of course, Tiger Woods. Even though Woods was tremendously disappointing at the US Open with a t-32 finish, and has recently nursed a left-elbow injury, he still has the most wins on the PGA Tour and is still the #1 ranked golfer in the world. Woods tees off at 9:45 AM EST on Thursday with Graeme McDowell (2010 US Open Champion) and Louis Oosthuzien (2010 British Open Champion).  The last time Woods has won an Open Championship were his back to back wins in 2005 and 2006.

Phil Mickelson has normally never faired well at these Championships.  His best finishes in the last 12 years are only two top 10s.  For one of the modern masters of short game this is surprising.  This year Mickelson decided to get over to the UK early to get accustomed to conditions.  He competed in the Scottish Open last weekend and pulled off a dramatic playoff victory. He is bringing the most confidence he’s ever had into an Open Championship.

Phil Mickelson celebrating Scottish Open win with his family. Photo: guardian.co.uk

Justin Rose and Adam Scott who have both won their first majors this year at the US Open and Masters respectively will be fan favorites.  Rose became the first British US Open Champion in 17 years, he would love to continue that streak to win in his home country.

The dark horse for this year is Sir Nick Faldo.  He won an Open Championship at Muirfield in 1992.  The last time he won an major was in 1996. He is pictured to the right putting on Tiger Woods’ first green jacket in 1997 as is the tradition at the Masters.

Sir Nick Faldo helps Tiger into his first green jacket after his victory at the 1997 Masters

The last time he competed in the Open Championship was 2008.  Faldo has since taken a post in the announcers’ booth and covers the PGA Tour and Major Championships.  He is 55 years old, but will be familiar at Muirfield.  The past two years we have seen winners over 40, maybe this year we will witness one over 50.

 

WHEN TO WATCH:

ESPN has exclusive coverage of the Championship. To catch the first golfers you can pull an all-nighter or wake before the crack of dawn. You can always grab a cup of tee (in the British fashion) after to keep your day going after the broadcast. Unlike the other Championships, you can watch all the coverage in the morning on the weekends and then go out and play a round of golf afterwards. Perfection!

Thursday July 18: 3 AM – 2 PM (CDT)

Friday July 19: 3 AM – 2 PM (CDT)

Saturday July 20: 6 AM – 1:30 PM (CDT)

Sunday July 21: 5 AM – 12:30 PM (CDT)

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The PGA Championship Trophy with Kiaway in the Background

The PGA Championship, here the final major of the golf season, thumb begins Thursday.  Hosted at the stunning and challenging Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, just 20 miles south of Charleston, SC, the PGA Championship is different from the other majors as it is only open to PGA professionals, and not amateurs.   Nicknamed “Glory’s Last Shot” for the final chance it presents players to win a major this season, the pressure is on for Tour professionals.  Who will stand up to the challenge, and etch their name in history at the golf season’s final Major Championship?

What You Need to Know:

  • Sixty-five people from 9 different countries have won the PGA Championship in the past.   Of this years pros entering the tourney, 8 have multiple Major wins.
  • The PGA Championship boasts the strongest field of all the Major Championships as only professional golfers can enter.  The top players in the world will work to overcome the challenges of The Ocean Course, known as “the toughest golf course in America.”

The Ocean Course

  • Kiawah Island, home of the Ocean Course, is a gorgeous backdrop for the Tournament but definitely presents its challenges this time of year.  The Ocean Course is a stunning lay out on a 2 mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean but has no protection from the wind, or weather elements.  Not only is it sweltering hot, but it is also prime hurricane season which could alter the weather drastically.  This week’s forecast calls for lightning and thunder storms which could disrupt play over the weekend.

 

Fans at The Ocean Course on Monday watching players make their final preparations for the tournament that starts on Thursday.

 

South Carolina has a proud golf tradition.  It was the first place in America to introduce golf to the New World.  As early as 1743 Charleston received shipments of golf balls and clubs from Scotland.  In 1786 a year before the Constitution was adopted, SC hosted the first organized golf event.  Considering all of these historic moments, it was a great surprise to learn that the 2012 PGA Championship is the first major in the Palmetto state.

Players to Watch:

I know I sound like a broken record… but, all eyes will be on Tiger Woods to see if he can snap his win-less streak in Majors at a Championship he has won four previous times.

Dustin Johnson is a South Carolina native golf star.

Dustin Johnson is the hometown favorite.  He even went to the local College of Charleston.  A young gun on the PGA Tour, he has come in the top ten in two of the three PGA Championships he’s played.  In 2010 a rules violation cost him a spot in a playoff at this Major.  With six PGA Tour victories, he’d love nothing more than to break through in a “Major” way.

 

Keegan Bradley is one of three players in golf’s history to win a Major in their first try.  He won in remarkable fashion at last year’s PGA Championships in Atlanta.  He is on a hot streak and coming off his first PGA Tour win last week since the 2011 PGA with a blistering final round of 64.

Keegan Bradley after winning the 2011 PGA Championship

Ernie Els:  After his come-from-behind with at The (British) Open in July at 42-years old, all eyes will be on this South African vet to see if he can repeat his fantastic performance with his re-vamped game.

Ernie Els

A  teaser…. If you can’t get enough of the Olympics, don’t worry.  An international golf competition is just around the corner.  You will hear a lot of talk about the Ryder Cup during the broadcast this weekend.  The Ryder Cup is a bi-annual competition contested between the United States and Europe, and ironically, was also held at The Ocean Course in 1991.  It  is arguably one of the most incredible golf tournaments, where patriotism and country spirit overwhelm golf.  The Ryder Cup will be played Septemeber 28-30 at Medinah Country Club right outside of Chicago.  At the end of the 2012 PGA Championship, 8 Americans will automatically qualify for team USA.

What’s Next:

Tune in to watch the world’s best try to capture Glory’s Last Shot.

Thursday August 9th 12 PM — 6 PM TNT

Friday August 10th 12 PM — 6 PM TNT

Saturday August 11th 10 AM — 1 PM TNT 1 PM — 6 PM CBS

Sunday August 12th 10 AM — 1 PM TNT 1 PM — 6 PM CBS

All times are CST.

 

 

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