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Jul 21, 2013 | 10:27 AM

Ribbons in the Sky

One of the best things about ESPN’s coverage of The Open Championship is its enhanced use of “Flight Tracker,” the blue line that follows the live flight of the ball. It’s so cool to see how much the ball curves at Muirfield, whether due to the wind or the player’s swing. It's also very practical since the ball seems especially hard to follow in flight at The Open against the treeless Scottish sky. The graphic is possible through the technology of German firm Trackman and its briefcase-size Doppler radar unit that many of the best teachers and club fitters use these days. (It doesn’t come cheap, with units costing about $30,000.) ESPN only had it set up on a few holes at this year’s Open, but hopefully it will be able to use more and more in years to come as the graphic really improves the telecast. Just imagine how cool it would have been in the era of balata balls when golfers could really curve it?

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Jul 20, 2013 | 08:51 AM

He's Smokin'!

Seems some golf purists are worried what a British Open win by 49-year-old Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez would do for the game. Why? Because he isn’t a flat belly, he smokes cigars, drinks good amounts of red wine (Spanish, of course), his warm-up routine is little more than some funky looking stretching, and even when he has the lead, he has no routine at night, choosing to go to bed when he wants to—after another cigar and more wine. But at least when round three started today, he had the lead, and that’s seven months after breaking his leg skiing plus presently dealing with tennis elbow. His take? “I feel relaxed. I love what I’m doing. I play golf.” Whether or not his training regimen catches on (personally, we like it), his attitude is worth adopting.

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Jul 19, 2013 | 07:35 AM

Nick Knock

Back in May, when Nick Faldo announced plans to compete in the British Open at Muirfield—where he won in both 1987 and 1992—he said, “I’ll probably never [again] get a chance to walk at Muirfield.” Maybe, maybe not, but he shouldn’t count on an invite from Rory McIlroy. Sir Nick, now a TV pundit, has taken to the role of elder statesman by not concealing his thoughts about other players (which is what the TV networks want, after all), and this week got in a bit of a scrap with McIlroy about good work habits, dedication to practicing and playing, and the mistake of changing clubs and ball all at once. Agree or disagree, but at the end of the first round, the 56-year-old was 8-over-par (and yesterday was his birthday), while the 24-year-old McIlroy was… 8-over-par. It’s likely neither will make the cut at the end of today, but whose life—and psyche—will be more affected?

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Jul 18, 2013 | 09:06 AM

Muirfield Marches On

So much for the claim by some media wags that the changes made to Muirfield by third-generation architect and Open advance man Martin Hawtree were so extensive that the design of the links should be attributed to him, not H.S. Colt, who devised the clever double-loop routing in 1925 from an earlier plan by Old Tom Morris. Despite tweaks to 15 holes, notably the addition of eight new back tees, eight relocated or enlarged greenside bunkers, and several greens expanded to Colt’s original perimeters, the storied links, universally praised by the pros for its fairness, looks not much different from the place where Ernie Els captured the 2002 Open Championship. According to R & A chief executive Peter Dawson, a fund was created to bring the nine courses on the Open rota into the modern era. He said an average of about $800,000 had been spent on each course, adding that while “quite a few changes” were made at Muirfield, “they are very subtle.” Preservationists can rest easy: the game’s top players are navigating a classic links built by Colt and touched up by Hawtree.

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