Added offensive punch
Canada prepares for Jamaica at Gold Cup with Larin in the lineup
Rich Beem was scouting Royal Birkdale this week in his role for Sky Sports when someone jokingly asked if he planned on working for more than nine holes this week at the British Open.
Beem chuckled at a decadeold memory, even if it was no laughing matter at the time.
The last time at Royal Birkdale, he was in the Thursday morning side of the draw. That tends to be advantageous on most courses because it takes time for the stronger wind to show up. Links golf operates on its own schedule, however, and the opening round in 2008 began in 30 mph wind and rain that fell sideways.
Beem was given a one-shot penalty when his ball moved on the second green (giving him an 8). He made the turn in 46 shots. And that was enough. Beem packed it in and withdrew, saying later he didn’t think he would break 90.
Hardly anyone noticed Beem leaving, because the British press was chasing after Sandy Lyle, who quit after 10 holes at 11-over par.
“It could take three weeks to recover from this,” Lyle said that day.
Even the best players in the world with their game in great shape for the British Open still have to rely on luck at golf’s oldest championship.
It sometimes comes down to the luck of the draw.
“When you feel like you’re playing well and you get the wrong side of the draw and you feel like the best you can finish is 10th, it’s a bitter pill to swallow,” Rory McIlroy said Wednesday. “But you have to realize in a 25- or 30-year career, you’re going to get some years that you’re on the good side of the draw.”
McIlroy was on the good side at Hoylake three years ago and won the claret jug.
Louis Oosthuizen was on the right end of the draw in 2010 when he finished up his second round at St. Andrews with a 67, right about the time McIlroy was headed out into the high wind. McIlroy, who opened with a 63, shot an 80.
Rain began pounding Royal Birkdale on Wednesday afternoon, closing the course because of the lightning that accompanied the storm.
How long will it last? How bad will it be? When will it return? These are questions that players won’t know until they’re in them.
And if they’re in the worst of the weather, that becomes a greater challenge than any of the pot bunkers dotting the fairways.
It doesn’t seem fair, not that golf was ever meant to be that.
And for all the complaining that accompanies being on the wrong side of the draw, Padraig Harrington stands as the example to keep the head down and play on. He also played that Thursday morning at Birkdale in 2008, about 45 minutes behind Lyle and an hour ahead of Beem.
His name was on the claret jug by the end of the week.
“Padraig won the thing from the bad side of the draw, so it can be done,” McIlroy said. “You just have to stick in there and make the most of whatever the weather presents you and go with that.”
One of the more famous incidents was at Muirfield in 2002, when Tiger Woods was going after the third leg of the Grand Slam, two shots behind going into the third round. The storms arrived about the time he teed off – 40 mph wind, rain and a severe drop in temperatures – and Woods shot 81.
McIlroy went through it again last year at Royal Troon. Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson each finished about the time the nasty weather arrived Friday, and instead of trying to catch up to the leaders, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Justin Rose found themselves effectively out of the tournament.
“If it’s an afternoon round and the other side has already played the morning, that’s when it’s tough,” Spieth said. “Because you’re like: ‘I can’t shoot those scores. It’s not possible.’ And that’s the frustrating thing when you think you can play your best and it doesn’t happen.”
McIlroy was asked if he had ever seen a player who gave up after realizing he was on the wrong side of the draw. He thought back to 2011 at Royal St. George’s, where McIlroy went 74-73 on the weekend. He complained that week about the conditions and said he would rather play when it’s 80, sunny and not windy.
“I was on the wrong side of it at St. George’s and wasn’t very happy about it,” McIlroy said. “Made some comments that I probably shouldn’t have made. So, yeah, have I been around someone that’s done that?”
He broke into a broad smile and pointed his thumb at his chest.
“Yeah, I have.”
After making headlines for all the wrong reasons, Canadian soccer star Cyle Larin is hoping his return to the Canadian national soccer team will lead to some positive news.
Larin trained for the first time with Canada on Monday after being added to the Canadian roster in advance of today’s Gold Cup quarter-final against Jamaica at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Canada could make up to six roster changes after finishing second in Group A behind Costa Rica but only brought in Larin to the 23-man squad, sending Raheem Edwards back to Toronto FC.
“Obviously, I want to play,” Larin said. “My goal is to play and it’s to score goals and help the team win. I just have to come in here and work hard to get that position and to go on the field and score. I think the guys have done very well together. I just think I can bring a different piece and help the team by scoring goals.”
Larin played for Canada in a friendly against Curacao last month but got into trouble upon his return to Orlando, where he plays for the city’s Major League Soccer club. Larin was arrested after driving the wrong way on an Orlando street and was given a misdemeanour DUI alcohol or drugs charge after he failed a sobriety test.
Larin was left off the Canadian roster for the group stage and also missed some time with Orlando City SC to undergo MLS’ substance abuse and behavioural health program.
The legal matters are still to be sorted out. But for now the focus is the Gold Cup, and Larin adds to a team, which advanced from a group including Costa Rica, Honduras and Gold Cup newcomers French Guiana.
“Everything that needed to be said has been said,” said head coach Octavio Zambrano. “I’ve had my conversations with him when this thing happened. I think all of that doesn’t factor in anymore, for us. Life goes on and we need to show him that he is very much a part of this team and hopefully he can help us.”
Canada takes on Jamaica, which finished in second place in Group B.
The Jamaicans played powerhouse Mexico to a scoreless draw in group play. But Jamaica is also a team that needed penalties to beat French Guiana and then lost to Curacao in the Caribbean Cup a few months ago.
“You just have to stick in there and make the most of whatever the weather presents you and go with that.” Rory McIlroy