Golf: Jordan Spieth’s adventuresome comeback wasn’t the only big news coming out of Royal Birkdale, accompanied by the first 62 recorded in a major and a spike in U.S. TV ratings.
By Jeff Shain, PSN managing editor
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- Though it ultimately got rather lost in Jordan Spieth’s heroics at Royal Birkdale, Branden Grace brought down a barrier when he fired the first 62 seen at a major championship. And the South African didn’t even need to finish with a birdie, converting a casual two-putt at No.18 on Saturday to wipe 31 previous 63s out of the record book. A front-side 29 set the tone for Grace, aided by ideal weather and a shorter setup in which R&A officials took more than 100 yards off the original Saturday blueprint.
- NBC’s telecast of the Open Championship earned the event’s highest rating in eight years, going back to 59-year-old Tom Watson’s 2009 quest at Turnberry that ended in a playoff loss to Stewart Cink. The telecast drew an average of 4.97 million viewers on Sunday, plus a network record of more than 100 million minutes of live streaming.
- U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster sounded warnings that mainstays Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer could both be left off the squad for next month’s showdown in Iowa. Creamer is 20th in the latest standings, Pressel 23rd. Neither have qualified for next week’s Women’s British Open, so this week’s stop in Scotland is their last chance to impress the captain. Creamer has been on every U.S. team since 2005; Pressel began her streak in 2007.
- The Evian Championship has increased its purse to $3.65 million this year, making the LPGA’s final major the second-richest behind the U.S. Women’s Open. The event begins Sept. 14 at the Evian Resort outside Paris.
PGA TOUR: RBC Canadian Open
Site: Glen Abbey GC, Oakville, Ontario
- Defending champion: Jhonattan Vegas overcame a five-shot deficit, blitzing Glen Abbey with a closing 8-under-par 64 that produced his second PGA Tour victory. The Venezuelan pro birdied five of his first six holes, then strung together three more at the end for a one-stroke triumph over a trio of pursuers.
- Last week: Jordan Spieth authored a recovery for the ages at the Open Championship, shrugging off a detour onto the practice range for bogey Royal Birkdale’s 13th with a birdie/eagle/birdie/birdie run that left Matt Kuchar in his wake. He joins Jack Nicklaus as the only men with three majors before age 24. … Grayson Murray won the Barbasol Championship in Alabama, coming from behind with a 3-under-par 68 in the finale. Chad Collins birdied four of his last six holes, but fell one stroke shy.
- Tour talk: Canadians Adam Hadwin and Mackenzie Hughes, both PGA Tour winners this season, join world No.1 Dustin Johnson in a field expected to boast just three of the top 30 in the world rankings. … Though no Canadian has won his national Open since 1954, this week’s lineup may be Canada’s deepest in years. David Hearn was third in 2015, and Nick Taylor is a recent Tour winner.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET, Saturday-Sunday 1-2:30 p.m.) and CBS (Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).
- Etc.: First Look from PGATour.com; RBC Canadian Open primer from Pro Golf Weekly.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Senior Open Championship
Site: Royal Porthcawl GC, Bridgend, Wales
- Defending champion: England’s Paul Broadhurst won his Senior Open debut, playing Carnoustie’s daunting final four holes in 1-under par to finish two shots clear of Scott McCarron. After an opening 75, Broadhurst played his last 45 holes in 14-under on the way to a closing 68. McCarron, Magnus Atlevi and Miguel Angel Jimenez all played the closing stretch in 2-over.
- Last week: No tournament.
- Tour talk: Bernhard Langer, with two senior majors already in his trophy case this year, returns to a venue where he cruised by 13 shots just three years ago. A victory would make him the first to double digits in senior majors. … Six entrants arrive straight from Royal Birkdale, though none made the cut last week. Broadhurst came closest, posting a two-day score of 7-over-par 147.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 7-9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-noon) and NBC (Saturday-Sunday, noon-2 p.m.).
Site: Dundonald Links, Troon, Scotland
- Defending champion: France’s Isabelle Boineau captured her first Ladies European Tour victory, taking advantage of a two-shot swing at the 71st hole to overtake Linda Wessberg. Boineau rolled home a 10-foot birdie at No.17 while Wessberg three-putted, and a closing par was enough to seal the triumph.
- Last week: I.K. Kim became just the LPGA’s second multiple winner this season, capturing the Marathon Classic with a scorching final-day 63 that vaulted her past American teen Nelly Korda. Kim carded six birdies in a front-nine 28, forging a three-shot lead by the turn. Lexi Thompson placed second.
- Tour talk: The LPGA has co-sanctioned the event for the first time, as world No.1 So Yeon Ryu and No.2 Ariya Jutanugarn top the field. … Jutanugarn hopes to flip a recent slide of two missed cuts and a WD. … Nanna Koerstz Madsen makes her first LPGA start after earning a three-win “battlefield promotion” from the Symetra Tour. She’s also in the hunt to make Europe’s Solheim Cup team.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 9:30-11:30 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).
EUROPEAN TOUR: Porsche European Open
Site: Green Eagle GC, Hamburg, Germany
- Defending champion: France’s Alexander Levy saw a four-shot lead vanish on the final day, but prevailed at the finish with a playoff win over Ross Fisher. With the event cut to 54 holes by weather, Levy bogeyed away a chance to win in regulation but came back to drain an 18-foot birdie on the second extra hole.
- Tour talk: U.S. Ryder Cup sparkplug Patrick Reed tees it up in Germany for the first time, joined by fellow Americans Jimmy Walker and Pat Perez. … Last year’s European Open ended a six-year hiatus from the schedule. Previous champions have included two-time winners Nick Faldo and Lee Westwood, along with Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 5-7 a.m.; Sunday-Monday, 2-6 a.m.).
WEB.COM TOUR: Digital Ally Open
Site: Nicklaus GC at LionsGate, Overland Park, Kan.
- 2016 champion: Wesley Bryan notched his third victory of the season, beating Grayson Murray and J.T. Poston in a playoff to earn an immediate “battlefield promotion” to the PGA Tour. Murray and Poston caught Bryan with closing 66s, but Bryan birdied the second extra hole with a 6-iron approach to 3 feet.
- Last week: Sam Ryder blitzed the field at the inaugural Pinnacle Bank Championship, shooting 21-under-par 263 over four days for an eight-shot romp over a foursome of runners-up. Ryder posted nothing worse than a 67 at Indian Creek Club, taking charge with a 9-under-par 62 on Saturday.
- Tour talk: Andrew Landry moved to the top of the money list with his share of runner-up honors in Omaha, knocking Stephan Jaeger from the top spot. Ryder also passed Jaeger into the No.2 position. … Michael Johnson’s share of second was his third straight top-20 finish, reversing a run of six missed cuts in seven starts.
- TV: None.