|U.S. Bank Championship, British Open - July 14, 2008
Royal Birkdale Golf Club
Southport, Merseyside, England
Par: 35-35—70Yards: 7,180
FedExCup Points: 27,500Winner: 4,950
Purse: $8,600,000*Winner: $1,548,000*
2007 Champion: Padraig Harrington (277, -7)
British Open Notes
Since its inception in 1889, Royal Birkdale Golf Club has hosted eight previous British Opens, the last coming in 1998. In addition, the club has hosted the Ryder Cup in 1965 and 1969, as well as the Curtis and Walker Cup competitions.
Previous winners of the British Open at Royal Birkdale are Mark O’Meara (1998), Ian Baker Finch (1991), Tom Watson (1983). Johnny Miller (1976), Lee Trevino (1971), Arnold Palmer (1961) and Peter Thomson (1954 and 1965).
Mark O’Meara won the last British Open hosted by Royal Birkdale in 1998, defeating Brian Watts in a four-hole aggregate playoff—one of seven four-hole playoffs in tournament history.
Sergio Garcia has finished inside the top 10 at this tournament in six of the last seven tournaments, dating to 2001. His only blemish was a missed cut in 2004.
A total of 14 players gained entry into the tournament through qualifying sites in the United States. The list includes Davis Love III, Rich Beem, Jeff Overton, Tom Gillis, John Rollins, Tim Petrovic, Matt Kuchar, Alex Cejka, Scott McCarron, Paul Goydos, Michael Letzig, Doug LaBelle II, Kevin Stadler and Craig Barlow.
Tiger Woods’ recent season-ending knee surgery will keep him from pursuing a fourth British Open title this week. The winner in 2000, 2005 and 2006 made his only appearance at Royal Birkdale in 1998, finishing third after firing a final-round 66 to miss a Mark O’Meara-Brian Watts playoff by a stroke.
Padraig Harrington is looking to win for the first time since his victory over Sergio Garcia at the 2007 tournament. In nine PGA TOUR starts this season, Harrington has four top-five finishes, including a fourth-place effort at the Masters Tournament. Most recently he tied for 36th at the U.S. Open.
The British Open 18-hole scoring record is 63. The most recent of the seven players to perform the feat was Payne Stewart in 1993 (Royal St. Georges). Royal Birkdale was the site of one of those rounds when Jodie Mudd posted the score in the final round of the 1991 event on his way to a tie for fifth.
The top player at the John Deere Classic not already eligible for the British Open who finished among the top-five and ties became eligible for a British Open invitation. Jay Williamson was awarded and accepted the spot. Williamson and Brad Adamonis tied for second, but the spot went to Williamson as the tie was settled via the better of the two final-round scores Williamson shot a 69 to Adamonis' 70.
U.S. BANK CHAMPIONSHIP IN MILWAUKEE
Brown Deer Park Golf Course
Par: 34-36—70Yards: 6,759
FedExCup Points: 12,500Winner: 2,250
Purse: $4,000,000Winner: $720,000
2007 Champion: Joe Ogilvie (266, -14)
U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee Notes
Joe Ogilvie became the 10th consecutive U.S. Bank Championship winner to post four scores in the 60s. Ogilvie carded rounds of 67-63-69-67 to finish at 14-under-par 266. The last winner with a round in the 70s was Scott Hoch in 1997 (70 in the first round).
The come-from-behind win (after 54 holes) for Joe Ogilvie in 2007 was the first at the U.S. Bank Championship since 2001, when Shigeki Maruyama overcame the one-stroke lead held by Jeff Sluman to defeat Charles Howell III in a playoff. Since the tournament moved to Brown Deer Park in 1994, there have been six come-from-behind winners in 14 years. Ogilvie and Tim Clark trailed 54-hole leader Tim Herron by one stroke entering the final round last year.
Steve Flesch’s tie for fifth at the 2007 U.S. Bank Championship marked the highest finish by a left-handed player in the 40-year history of the U.S. Bank Championship. Russ Cochran’s tie for seventh in 2000 was the previous best by a lefty.
Jeff Sluman (tied for ninth a year ago) and Kenny Perry (tied for fifth in 2007) remain first and second on the U.S. Bank Championship all-time money list. Sluman earned $104,000 a year ago, while Perry picked up $140,500 to his total. Sluman has earned $1,660,363 in Milwaukee, while Perry has pocketed $1,422,857. Sluman, a Champions Tour member, is playing this week in Minnesota at the 3M Championship.
Nine players have earned their first PGA TOUR titles at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. They are Dave Eichelberger (1971), Calvin Peete (1979), Mark O’Meara (1984), Jim Thorpe (1985), Jim Gallagher, Jr. (1990), Richard Zokol (1992), Billy Mayfair (1993), Shigeki Maruyama (2001) and Joe Ogilvie (2007).
Jeff Brehaut set a tournament record in 2007. Brehaut made four eagles—on four different holes.
A group of Wisconsin natives will be looking to win this tournament for the first time. Jerry Kelly, a Madison native, is making his 16th start. Kelly has four top-10s in the event, with runner-up finishes to Loren Roberts (1996) and Corey Pavin (2006). Mark Wilson (Menomonee Falls), J.P. Hayes (Appleton) and Skip Kendall (Milwaukee) are also in the field.
E NOTES FROM THE PGA TOUR
With his victory last week at the John Deere Classic, Kenny Perry became the oldest player (47 years, 11 months and 3 days) in TOUR history to win three events in the same season. Julius Boros won three times in 1967, twice after turning 47. His final win that year came at age 47-3-8.
Long hitters have not enjoyed a lot of success in the 14 years the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee has been played at Brown Deer Park. Only three of the 14 winners ranked among the Top 50 in Driving Distance in the season that they won while five of the winners ranked 161st or worse. In fact, Corey Pavin won the 2006 tournament and was the shortest hitter on TOUR that year.
In the 14 years the tournament has been played at Brown Deer Park, four players have won twice—Loren Roberts, Jeff Sluman, Carlos Franco and Scott Hoch.
Jay Williamson and Brad Adamonis finished in a T2 last week at the John Deere Classic. Williamson not only earned a spot in this week’s British Open, he also climbed into 88th place in FedExCup standings after leaping up 70 spots. Adamonis, who will be at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee this week, rose to 75th on the FedExCup points list after gaining 60 spots.
Tim Herron has had an interesting career at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. In seven career starts at the event, Herron has finished second twice (2002, 2007) and third once (2001). In the other four starts he’s finished T71, T50 and missed the cut twice.
Five-time PGA TOUR winner Dan Forsman will make his Champions Tour debut this week at the 3M Championship. He warmed up for this appearance by finishing T72 last week at the John Deere Classic on the PGA TOUR.
Bob Charles, who was recently elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, has an amazing record this year. The 72-year old from New Zealand has shot his age at least one time in every event he’s played this year. He has two starts on the Champions Tour, five starts on the European Senior Tour and one on the European Tour.
The Champions Tour is in Minnesota this week but don’t blame a number of players for thinking about the PGA TOUR stop in Milwaukee. No less than eight participants in this week’s 3M Championship are former winners in Milwaukee—Dave Eichelberger, Jeff Sluman and Dave Stockton each won twice while Jim Colbert, Jay Haas, Gary Hallberg, Morris Hatalsky and Jim Thorpe each won once.
This week’s Price Cutter Charity Championship in Springfield, MO, is one of four original events remaining on the Nationwide Tour schedule from the inaugural season of 1990. Tournaments in Knoxville, Wichita and Boise are the other original stops still on the schedule.
The Nationwide Tour will be well represented at this week’s British Open with 36 former or current players in the field. Four alums have won the world’s oldest golf tournament—John Daly (1995), Tom Lehman (1996), David Duval (2001) and Ernie Els (2002).