Mickelson: Carnoustie 'nice,' not nasty

Mickelson: Carnoustie ‘nice,’ not nasty

(AP) — Carnoustie was such a brutal test in the 1999 British Open that tabloids referred to it as “Car-Nasty” and there were far more complaints than birdies. Sergio Garcia cried in his mother’s arms after an 89 in the first round, while Fred Funk withdrew after an 83 in the first round because he was fed up with narrow fairways and knee-high rough.

Those who return next week might be in for a treat.

Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said the weather has conspired to give the Scottish links an odd combination of soft conditions and moderate rough.

“This has been the driest April we’ve had for a long time, followed by the wettest period in late May or June,” Dawson said. “Whilst the ground is wetter than we like to see, it hasn’t resulted in quite as much grass. Very unusual conditions.”

The British Open usually allows weather and wind to dictate how difficult it plays. Dawson said the ideal condition is brown, meaning the fairways are hard and fast and the rough is wispy. If it rains, the soft fairways are neutralized by thick rough.

“We have softer conditions and the rough has not yet sprung up,” he said. “It’s going to be a fair bit more generous than last time.”

The winning score was 290 at Carnoustie eight years ago, the highest winning score at a major since Jack Nicklaus shot 290 at Pebble Beach in the 1972 U.S. Open, and the highest winning score at the British Open since Fred Daly shot 293 in 1947.

The R&A doesn’t concern itself with par as much as other golf organizations, and Dawson hardly sounded bothered.

“Carnoustie is in super condition,” he said.

It certainly surprised one player. Phil Mickelson played a practice round Monday, and while he declined comment until after his pro-am round Wednesday at the Scottish Open, he told PA Sport, “It’s a nice course. I never really knew that.”

BACK IN ACTION: The busiest man in golf is about to return to the links.

Nick Faldo, an analyst for CBS Sports and The Golf Channel, returns to competition for the first time in eight months when he plays the British Open at Carnoustie, followed by his Champions Tour debut at the Senior British Open.

Faldo turns 50 on July 18, and his senior debut will take place at Muirfield, where he won the first of his six majors in 1987. Faldo made 18 pars in the final round to hold off Paul Azinger by one shot.

“I’m hoping I can do that again,” Faldo said Tuesday.

His last tournament was the Merrill Lynch Shootout last November, where he teamed with tournament host Greg Norman. Faldo said his left shoulder is a little tight, but that he has been doing biomechanic exercises to get in shape.

His son, Matthew, will be his caddie.

“I’m looking forward to getting to Scotland, testing the golfing muscles for a change,” he said.

Faldo and Azinger will be back together one last time, both working for ABC Sports during the British Open. They also will be opposing Ryder Cup captains at Valhalla next year.

PRESIDENTIAL UPDATE: This is the time of year when every shot means something because of the Cup.

Not the FedEx Cup, the Presidents Cup.

Mike Weir was in serious contention at the AT&T National until playing his final six holes in 5 over par, including a double bogey on the 18th. The Canadian wound up tied for eighth, but it cost him precious world ranking points, and he moved up only one spot to No. 18 in the International team standings.

The Presidents Cup, to be held Sept. 27-30 at Royal Montreal, figures to be a sellout, but having Canada’s biggest golf star would give the matches an even bigger buzz. Weir at least showed progress while retooling his swing, and his next start at the British Open will offer the highest world ranking points.

Lucas Glover also struggled on the back nine. That kept him from breaking into the top 10 in U.S. standings, which are based on PGA Tour earnings. Steve Stricker was runner-up, earning enough to climb to No. 8. Stricker has not played in the Presidents Cup since 1996.

INJURY PRONE: Even though golfers are more fit these days, Jesper Parnevik believes the repetitive motion of the swing puts stress on the body and injuries will always be part of the game.

Then again, his injuries have always been a little outside the norm.

Earlier this year, Parnevik was in a hotel room when one of his children had a nightmare. He ran to check on her, fell on a suitcase and broke the middle finger on his right hand.

Then came a toe injury in May when he was on his boat in the Bahamas.

“I was docking and I had to run into the boat, and I ran very fast into a case of beer and broke my little toe on the left side,” he said.

The lesson in all of this?

“Stay away from kids and alcohol and you’re doing OK,” he said.

DIVOTS: Jim Furyk was the only player to finish in the top 10 at the 1997 U.S. Open and the AT&T National, both held at Congressional. … Scott Simmons has been named executive director of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, replacing Stephen Ross. “I am serious about making progressive steps for golf in Canada,” Simmons said. … Despite getting a title sponsor in the 11th hour and having only four months between tournaments because of the schedule change, the PODS Championship generated $1.2 million for charities in the Tampa Bay area. … Ron Cross will take over as executive director of The Players Championship, replacing Brian Goin. … Pete Bevacqua, managing director of the U.S. Open the last four years, has been named chief business officer for the USGA and will oversee its revenue-producing activities. … The International Federation of PGA Tours meet at the British Open, and expect some acrimony between the European Tour and Asian Tour. Not long after Europe announced a new tournament in Korea, Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han issued a statement claiming the European Tour “continues to proceed on its expansion program to colonize Asia.” The European Tour previously announced a new event in India for next year.

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