ST. ANDREWS – Already a two-time winner at St. Andrews, Tiger Woods picked up another honor before he even struck a shot in the 150th edition of the British Open.
He's now an honorary member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
The R&A used the occasion of its big celebration this week to confer honorary membership to Open champions Woods, Rory McIlroy and Paul Lawrie.
It's not like Woods needs any help getting a tee time on the Old Course, or even gaining entry into the famous clubhouse. But it's a nice honor.
“It is not only the home of golf but a place in this world that I hold near my heart,” Woods said in a statement. "I am humbled to accept this invitation alongside these outstanding players today, as well as those who came before us.”
Woods won in 2000 and 2005 at St. Andrews, and then at Royal Liverpool in 2006. The next time at Royal Liverpool, in 2014, was McIlroy's turn, winning wire-to-wire for the third leg of the career Grand Slam. Lawrie won in historic and memorable fashion at Carnoustie in 1999, a 10-shot comeback against Jean Van de Velde and winning in a playoff.
“It’s a privilege to represent a club that has done so much for golf over so many years and I’m proud to play my part in promoting golf around the world,” McIlroy said.
Bryson DeChambeau no longer has a golf ball sponsorship with Bridgestone, the latest example of sponsors breaking with players who signed with Saudi-funded LIV Golf.
Golf.com reported DeChambeau will be using the Bridgestone ball. He just won't get paid for it.
“The PGA Tour is an extremely important part of professional golf, and Bridgestone has a sports marketing relationship with this highly visible series of tournaments,” Bridgestone said in a statement to the website. “In considering that Bryson DeChambeau will no longer be participating in these events, Bridgestone and Bryson have agreed to end their brand ambassador partnership.”
DeChambeau had been with Bridgestone since 2016 and signed an extension in 2020. The idea was to take a bigger role in developing new golf balls.
DeChambeau is the first player to lose an equipment deal in the LIV Golf era. Callaway said it was pausing its relationship with Phil Mickelson.
Hometown hopes at St. Andrews are resting on the burly shoulders of Robert MacIntyre, one of three Scots in the field this week.
And the locals will hope MacIntrye can back up top-10 finishes in his first two appearances in the British Open with another strong run at the claret jug. Those came in Northern Ireland (Royal Portrush) and England (Royal St. George’s) and playing in his native Scotland — at the home of golf, no less — gives it a different feel.
“When I was driving in on Sunday, that’s the first time I’ve ever had goosebumps coming to St. Andrews,” the 25-year-old MacIntyre said. “I always drove into town and it’s like, ‘Oh, we’re in St. Andrews.’
“But when I came in from above the town and I had the music on, I actually had goosebumps.”
Scotland’s last Open champion was Paul Lawrie in 1999 at Carnoustie. He will hit the opening tee shot Thursday.
SPIETH AGAINST SPIETH
There are some parts of Jordan Spieth's game that he thinks are better now than when he first played at St. Andrews in 2015. But then again, he was winning more seven years ago.
So who wins between Spieth at St. Andrews in 2015 and Spieth at St. Andrews in 2022?
Spieth leaned toward 2015 because of his momentum. He had won the previous week at the John Deere Classic, and his tournament before that he won the U.S. Open for the second leg of the calendar Grand Slam.
“I would say if I played against myself then, if I beat myself then this week, then I would be holding a trophy,” Spieth said.
That would be simple math. Spieth finished one shot out of the three-man playoff.
“I don’t necessarily know that I could answer that because I feel I hit it further, I feel that my knowledge of seeing a lot more majors and a lot more tournaments can mentally ... maybe I have some advantage on a shot that I wouldn’t have thought about then,” he said.
“But I was also canning everything that I looked at then, and I can’t say that’s going to happen every week. But it certainly can happen in four days.”
Scottie Scheffler comes to the British Open as the No. 1 player in the world. For him, that doesn't mean he's the player to beat. He's not sure anyone thinks that.
“I guess I am No. 1 in the rankings. I’m not sure if I’m necessarily perceived that way by you all or whoever it is, but that’s not stuff that I really ever think about,” he said. “For me I’m just trying to go out and play good golf.”
He can be easy to overlook. Scheffler had not won on the PGA Tour until the Phoenix Open in February. And then he couldn't lose. He won Bay Hill and Match Play to reach No. 1, and then he won the Masters.
He missed the cut at the PGA Championship, but then he was right there was a chance to win the U.S. Open. He finished one shot behind.
Scheffler isn't complaining.
“I don’t feel like there’s any extra attention on me. I haven’t read much, but I would assume not everybody’s picking me to win this week,” he said. "I don't think I was the favorite maybe going into the Masters. I’m not sure if I’ve been the favorite maybe going into any tournaments.
“That may not be the true perception. That’s just mine, but I don’t read a ton of stuff,” he said. “So for me I don’t really feel like whatever being No. 1 would be.”
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