Jul 22

British Open ratings down despite a lot of young names being involved

While the new generation in golf might be great at pumping their own brands and wearing flashy outfits, it isn't translating in viewership, at least not this past weekend at Royal Liverpool.

The final round of the 2014 British Open was the lowest since ESPN took over broadcasting the championship in 2009 and was down 26 percent from last year's incredible finish by Phil Mickelson to claim his only Claret Jug.

Despite Rory McIlroy making history at Royal Liverpool and both Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia making charges in that final round, the numbers showed what has continued to be a trend this year in the major championships.

The Masters struggled because of a fireworks-free back nine, while the U.S. Open was an 18-hole coronation for Martin Kaymer, who was never really pushed as he entered Sunday at Pinehurst with a five-shot lead.

If the U.S. Open had the excuse of a blowout combined with other options including the World Cup, the British Open was practically alone on Sunday in terms of big sporting events yet couldn't even beat out Louis Oosthuizen blowing out the field at St. Andrews or Darren Clarke shocking the world with his win in 2011.

So what is the issue?

The Saturday finish by Rory McIlroy didn't help, making two eagles over his final three holes to extend his lead to six shots heading into the final round. It also didn't help that the return of Tiger Woods produced very little over the final 54 holes.

Woods might have started off hot with that opening round 69, but he played his final three rounds 9-over, beating just three players who made the cut at Hoylake.

The surprising dip in ratings compared to some of the other Opens is the names heading into the final round. McIlroy, Garcia, and Fowler finished at the top, but stars like Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott had chances to make a run before the last 18 holes kicked off.

If nothing else, all this tells us is that we really, really need a great PGA Championship to end this major championship season, because viewership has been abysmal this year considering the snoozers we've seen on Sunday, and if we get another blowout at Valhalla we have to wait a long time until we get to Augusta National in 2015, and who knows how healthy the big names will be, and who will be at the top of their game when casual sports fans turn away from golf for eight months.

Jul 21

Charles Barkley is now just whacking golf balls with one hand

Every few months, a video surfaces of one of the most recognizable athletes in the world and his golf swing. Charles Barkley, a Hall of Fame basketball player turned entertaining analyst, loves the game of golf, but the two have never been able to work things out.

That was clear once again this weekend at the Lake Tahoe American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, where Barkley finished dead last and this video popped up of his "new" move.

Barkley stops his hitched golf swing in the middle of it to start over, a pretty admirable move considering he obviously wasn't ready to hit it, but then just whacked the ball with one hand and went about his round.

We've had some fun with his golf swing before, and we will continue to marvel at what happens between the ears of one of the greatest basketball players ever when he stands over a golf ball.

If nothing else, Barkley's dedication to the game of golf should be something we should all strive to achieve, but I know if I had those demons on the course like he does, I would have locked my clubs in the back of a closet long ago, never to be seen again.

h/t Deadspin

Jul 21

Here are your 2014 PGA Championship odds

We are a day removed from a thrilling British Open, with Rory McIlroy claiming his third major title of his career and moves just one step away from the career Grand Slam.

McIlory already has a PGA Championship under his belt, and next month he will be looking to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy again at Valhalla. Rory is the favorite at 7-to-1, according to Golf Odds, with Adam Scott coming in right behind him at 12-to-1 and Tiger Woods at 15-to-1.

Check out the rest of the odds below, and let us know which value you see as we prepare for the final major of the season, and the last chance for a lot of guys to not only make their years, but completely change their careers.

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
VALHALLA GOLF CLUB - LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
AUGUST 7-10, 2014
 
ODDS TO WIN:
RORY McILROY                    7/1
ADAM SCOTT                     12/1
TIGER WOODS                    15/1
PHIL MICKELSON                 20/1
JUSTIN ROSE                    25/1
HENRIK STENSON                 25/1
MARTIN KAYMER                  25/1
SERGIO GARCIA                  25/1
RICKIE FOWLER                  25/1
JORDAN SPIETH                  25/1
DUSTIN JOHNSON                 25/1
MATT KUCHAR                    25/1
JASON DAY                      25/1
BUBBA WATSON                   30/1
JASON DUFNER                   30/1
JIM FURYK                      30/1
GRAEME McDOWELL                40/1
KEEGAN BRADLEY                 40/1
ZACH JOHNSON                   40/1
CHARL SCHWARTZEL               40/1
BRANDT SNEDEKER                40/1
LEE WESTWOOD                   50/1
JIMMY WALKER                   50/1
LUKE DONALD                    50/1
HUNTER MAHAN                   50/1
WEBB SIMPSON                   60/1
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA               60/1
STEVE STRICKER                 60/1
IAN POULTER                    60/1
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN               80/1
RYAN MOORE                     80/1
GARY WOODLAND                  80/1
BRENDON TODD                   80/1
BILL HAAS                      80/1
ANGEL CABRERA                  80/1
VICTOR DUBUISSON               80/1
PATRICK REED                  100/1
HARRIS ENGLISH                100/1
GRAHAM DeLAET                 100/1
MARC LEISHMAN                 100/1
ERNIE ELS                     100/1
FRANCESCO MOLINARI            100/1
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ          100/1
JONAS BLIXT                   100/1
SHANE LOWRY                   100/1
PAUL CASEY                    100/1
J.B. HOLMES                   100/1
MATTEO MANASSERO              125/1
BILLY HORSCHEL                125/1
JAMIE DONALDSON               125/1
NICK WATNEY                   125/1
JOHN SENDEN                   125/1
CHRIS KIRK                    150/1
THOMAS BJORN                  150/1
RYO ISHIKAWA                  150/1
SEUNG-YUL NOH                 150/1
BROOKS KOEPKA                 150/1
MIKKO ILONEN                  150/1
STEPHEN GALLACHER             150/1
THORBJORN OLESEN              150/1
JOOST LUITEN                  150/1
CHARLES HOWELL III            150/1
FREDDIE JACOBSON              150/1
KEVIN NA                      150/1
CHARLEY HOFFMAN               150/1
RYAN PALMER                   150/1
BRENDON DE JONGE              150/1
PADRAIG HARRINGTON            150/1
MATT EVERY                    150/1
KEVIN STREELMAN               150/1
BO VAN PELT                   150/1
RUSSELL HENLEY                200/1
CHESSON HADLEY                200/1
KEVIN STADLER                 200/1
MATT JONES                    200/1
BEN CRANE                     200/1
K.J. CHOI                     200/1
BRANDEN GRACE                 200/1
GEORGE COETZEE                200/1
PABLO LARRAZABAL              200/1
RICHARD STERNE                200/1
BERND WIESBERGER              200/1
THONGCHAI JAIDEE              200/1
BRIAN HARMAN                  200/1
BOO WEEKLEY                   200/1
KENNY PERRY                   200/1
DAVID TOMS                    250/1
SCOTT PIERCY                  250/1
DAVIS LOVE III                250/1
VIJAY SINGH                   250/1
SCOTT STALLINGS               250/1
GONZALO FERNANDEZ-CASTANO     250/1
STEVEN BOWDITCH               250/1
MARC WARREN                   300/1
ROBERTO CASTRO                300/1
Y.E. YANG                     300/1
DARREN CLARKE                 300/1
COLIN MONTGOMERIE             300/1
JOHN DALY                     500/1
FIELD (all others)             18/1
Jul 21

Winners and losers from the British Open

This past weekend saw a lot of great storylines and we are here to give you the good and the bad of it. Here are our winners and losers from the past week in golf.

Winners

Rory McIlroy — What can you say about this kid? He’s incredible, he’s living up to the hype, and he played a golf tournament from start to finish just like You Know Who used to. Rory is the standard bearer in professional golf right now, and it isn’t even close. Three major wins at 25? That’s more than the No. 1, 3 and 4 ranked players in the world have in their careers ... combined.

Rickie Fowler — It has been an impressive major championship season for Rickie Fowler, who was once again in a final group on Sunday at a major. Fowler is the real deal, and as McIlroy said in his presentation speech at Royal Liverpool, he will be winning a major very, very soon. We can swoon all we want on the brilliance of Jordan Spieth, but Fowler’s swing changes have made him the best young American in the game right now.

Tom Watson — He shot 68 on Sunday at the age of 64. Will this guy be competing at the British Open at 70? I wouldn’t bet against him.

Sergio Garcia — We have all had a good chuckle at the expense of Sergio Garcia, but his resurgence in the golf world feels a little bit like what Steve Stricker has done. Garcia played a brilliant round of golf on Sunday, and even with the chunked bunker shot on 15, held it together and pushed Rory as much as anyone. Garcia might win a major after all, especially if that putter stays as steady as it did at Hoylake.

Tiger Woods — You can call him a loser all you want for his play this week, but Tiger had a must-make birdie putt on Friday to make the cut and nailed it. The guy didn’t play competitive golf for four months and made the cut in a major championship. That’s a step in the right direction and an improvement from what happened at Congressional. I’m calling it a win for Tiger, and his return is definitely a win for golf.

Losers

Dustin Johnson — Johnson gave us hope of another run like Royal St. George’s, but his weekend was weak considering the conditions. Johnson has the talent to be an equal to the Rory-Adam-Justin-Henrik group, but he continues to struggle in the majors when things get tight. Firing 71-72 on the weekend at a wind-less Hoylake isn’t going to get it done, and his struggles on the par-5 had most golf writers scratching their heads (or manicured beards, in this case).

Catching Jack talk — Rory wins his third major and everyone is now pointing to Jack’s 18? Can’t we just enjoy something for a second before completing ruining it with future predictions?

Tom Watson’s Ryder Cup decisions — Whatever happens with Watson's captain's picks, it will be a tough one. I’m not sure I’ve ever said this, but I don’t think I want to be Tom Watson when the time comes for him to submit those picks, and if he goes with Tiger people will be up in arms about the decision, but if you leave him off the the tournament takes a huge dip in interest. What to do, what to do ...

Martin Kaymer — The U.S. Open champion could do no wrong at Pinehurst. Since that performance he has missed the cut at the BMW International, shot 77 in the final round of the French Open and fired a Sunday 79 at Hoylake.

Jul 21

Open Championship, Day 4: Rory McIlroy wins at Hoylake

While most thought Sunday would be a walk in the park for Rory McIlroy, a man leading by six shots with just 18 to play, it was anything but at Royal Liverpool.

McIlroy's birdie on the opening hole extended his lead to seven, but Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia wouldn't let down.

Garcia made three birdies over his first five holes to put some pressure on McIlroy, while Fowler started off slow but fired a back nine 33 to make the conclusion a bit dramatic.

McIlroy made a big par putt on the 17th hole, gave a subtle fist pump as he knew it was all but wrapped up, and two-putted for a safe par on the final hole to win by two shots and claim his third major championship.

 

With all due respect to Jim Furyk, Marc Leishman and Shane Lowry, who all posted 7-under 65s to jump in the top-10, the round of the day belonged to Sergio Garcia.

Garcia shot a 66 that included a big eagle on the 10th hole, and despite a bad bunker shot on the 15th that killed his momentum, was solid all afternoon as he chased a man that wasn't going to be beat, and despite coming up two short, showed a lot of guts and a top-10 in a major championship that was his best finish since 2008.

 

Rory McIlroy joins Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win three of the four majors at the age of 25.

 

McIlroy went for the green on the 18th, and despite a comfortable lead on a par-5, found a pot bunker near the green that could have been disastrous if it went another foot.

Rory hit an incredible bunker shot out of it, landing pin high and rolling just a few feet past, giving him three putts for the tournament and a near hole-out for an eagle and a part of the Open scoring record.

 

 
Rory McIlroy smiles with the Royal Liverpool membership — Getty Images

Jul 20

With Open Championship win, Rory McIlroy now joins golf’s immortals

Rory McIlroy is now one of golf's giants. We can't believe it either, but here we are. This 25-year-old kid, who arrived in this world right about the same time as the third Indiana Jones movie, is officially, certifiably, indisputably a legend.

McIlroy won the Open Championship on Sunday with only the briefest of hiccups. He was paired with Rickie Fowler, playing one pairing behind Sergio Garcia, and both of them veered within two strokes of McIlroy at two points in the afternoon. But McIlroy responded to the challenge with smooth drives straight enough to fire through a keyhole.

Rory McIlroy celebrates with his mother Rosie on the 18th green. (AFP)When he's playing well, as he did on Saturday afternoon, McIlroy struts. It's more king-of-the-playground than king-of-the-world, really, because of everything that Rory can do on a golf course, scaring you isn't one of them. He's not a Tiger Woods circa 2000, chasing you down, running you over, and then reversing gears a couple times to make sure those tire tracks are embedded. No, McIlroy's game has only two settings: inconsistency and perfection.

When McIlroy is on, as he has been in each of his three major wins, he's as good as anyone who's ever played the game. That's not hyperbole, that's fact. He holds the record for lowest score to par at a U.S. Open, and now he's won the British at 17-under – just two strokes off Tiger Woods' record at an Open.

Consider where the kid stands now in golf history. He's won three of the four jewels of the Grand Slam faster than anyone in the Masters era save Woods and Jack Nicklaus. You don't luck your way into three very different majors. That's skill, grace, and once-in-a-generation talent.

He's now got the rest of his career to do something that only five players — Nicklaus, Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen — have done: complete the career grand slam. Arnold Palmer never completed the career Slam. Neither did Sam Snead, or Tom Watson, or Phil Mickelson (yet). But here's McIlroy with a good quarter-century to win just once at Augusta ... a place, don't forget, where he very nearly won in 2011 were it not for one excruciatingly bad hole.

When we look back and write Rory's history — which, I guess, we're doing right now — that hole, the 10th at Augusta, will likely stand as the most critical in his career. That triple bogey, which cost him a green jacket, could have destroyed the kid, snuffed out his career, turned him into one of those what-ever-happened-tos that shows up for a couple majors a year and leaves before the weekend.

It didn't work out that way. McIlroy rebounded from that by winning the very next major, the U.S. Open at Congressional, by eight strokes. He owned the next year's PGA Championship at Kiawah, also by eight strokes. And now he's gone wire-to-wire at the Open Championship (just the seventh ever to do so), giving his pursuers only the illusion of hope, not real hope itself.

McIlroy isn't the most reliable of golfers. It's entirely possible he'll miss the cut at Valhalla next month. But when he's on, there's nobody better playing today. From here on out, his competition isn't the guys playing alongside him. It's the guys who've played golf in the decades before, and the decades after. This is going to be a fun career to watch.

The superlatives just go on and on.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.