British blog: Whirlwind 24 hours for Stanley

Kyle Stanley during the John Deere Classic

6:35 p.m.: A whirlwind 24 hours for Stanley

SANDWICH, England — Kyle Stanley was feeling better Monday. He might have been denied his first PGA Tour victory, but he got quite a consolation prize.

Stanley arrived at Royal St. George's after an overnight flight from the United States, eager to play in his first major championship as a professional.

He earned the British Open spot with a runner-up finish Sunday in the John Deere Championship, making up for the disappointment of squandering a two-stroke lead over the final two holes.

"I'm feeling good," Stanley said after getting in 11 holes of practice, followed by a session on the putting and chipping greens. "There's a lot of positives that came out of the last four days."

The biggest one of all was getting to play in the British Open. Stanley didn't learn he was in until he had signed his scorecard.

"I thought I had to win," Stanley said. "But it's a nice consolation. Any time you earn your way into a major, that's a good thing."

Steve Stricker won the Deere for the third year in a row with an amazing finish on No. 18. From the lip of a greenside bunker, he pulled off a shot that landed about 25 feet from the flag, just off the green. Then he made the birdie putt to beat Stanley, who took a bogey at the final hole.

The 23-year-old Stanley qualified twice for the U.S. Open as an amateur, but this feels different. He's a pro now, a guy who has shown he can be a contender even though he has limited experience at links golf.

"I've played it a little bit," he said. "It's a lot of instinct, a lot of feel."

- Associated Press

•••

6:35 p.m.: Just happy to be here

Anthony Kim missed the cut in the AT&T National and set aside the next two weeks to work on his game in what has been the worst season of his young career. His plan was to go to Michigan this week to spend time with his swing coach, Adam Schriber.

Instead, he spent Monday playing a practice round at Royal St. George's. Kim got into the field as an alternate when Tim Clark withdrew, and he hopes to make the most of it.

"I wasn't sure I would be here after the stretch I've had," said Kim, who has only one top 10 this year and has missed the cut a career-high eight times. "I've just had one or two bad swings that prohibits me from going forward. I was going to Michigan this week, but any time you get a chance in a major, you want to be there."

Kim said he is tired of getting the same questions — "What's wrong with your game?" — and giving the same answers.

"I know I've said this before, but I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "To put it mildly, it's been a frustrating year. I finished sixth at Torrey Pines, and that was a joke. I putted that week like it was a video game — I made everything. And I played OK in Houston. I was like 13th, but at that point, any time I played on Saturday and Sunday, that was good for me."

The biggest change for Kim is his hair. He hasn't cut it since January, and he's hard to recognize.

"I'm going to let it grow long enough where I can do something crazy," he said. "You'll just have to wait."

- Associated Press

•••

6:35 p.m.: Follow the red dot

When Louis Oosthuizen blew away the field in last year's British Open, he gave credit to a small red dot on his glove.

He might break it out again at Royal St. George's.

Oosthuizen used the dot to improve his focus, and it sure worked on the way to a dominating victory at St. Andrews. He's employed the technique off-and-on since then.

"Some weeks I feel like I'm wandering out there again and I do use it," he said. "I haven't lately, but you get in a few days where you're struggling just getting into the moment, and you might see it back on the glove."

- Associated Press

•••

11:15 a.m.: Curtis' old caddie will be in same pairing ... with Baddeley

SANDWICH, England–Eight years ago, a European Tour caddie named Andy Sutton was looking for a job at the British Open at Royal St. George’s. So he called the management firm IMG the week before and asked if it could hook him with a player.

IMG mentioned Ben Curtis. Sutton, a resident of nearby Maidstone, had never heard of him, and with good reason. Curtis, a PGA Tour rookie, was ranked No. 396 in the world, had never played in a major championship before and had never finished better than 13th in a Tour event.

As it happened, the two teamed up for one of the greatest upsets in golf history. And they would stay together for seven years, parting ways after last year’s Open at St. Andrews.

Curtis this week returned to scene of the first of his three Tour victories in poor form, having missed eight cuts in 15 starts this year, with no top-10 finishes. He’s 133th in FedEx Cup points.

Yet he said Monday, “(Coming back) gives you confidence knowing you’ve done it before and there’s no reason you can’t do it again.”

What’s more, although he and his friend Sutton are no longer working together, the lucky charm of a caddie will be nearby. Curtis learned Sunday night that Sutton will be caddying in the same Thursday-Friday pairing, for Aaron Baddeley.

- Jeff Rude

•••

10:45 a.m.: British Open proves that love hurts

SANDWICH, England – I love the British Open. My heart always says yes. My head and elbows sometimes say no.

In my first 24 hours here, I bumped my head twice–once on a typically low ceiling, once on the glass of yet another shower the size of a telephone booth.

You might say this is, in the golf parlance, par for the course. I stand 6 feet 3. That is not a good match for the low ceilings, low doorways and phone-booth showers of the United Kingdom.

At the current rate, I will return home bandaged after having bumped my head 20 times. The good news is that it wouldn’t be a personal record. Three years ago, I believe, the count might have been twice that high because our rented house apparently was built by someone Ian Woosnam’s height. You had to duck every step, or else.

Upon arriving here Sunday, I walked into the men’s room at a restaurant and was almost beheaded. The ceiling was about 5 feet, 7 inches off the ground. The doorway that nicked my forehead was even lower.

When I walked back out, a smiling waitress asked, “How did you do in there?”

I thought, “You could have warned me?” But I didn’t say anything. Instead I just hunched over about a foot, just as I had in the men’s room.

The shower poses different problems. My eyeballing of our shower this week says it has about 20 inches on each side. You might say it’s like bathing in a straitjacket.

My biggest fear this week is not writer’s block. It is the possibility of bloodying my elbows as they break the glass they are constantly touching.

Today I made the mistake of putting the shampoo on the shower floor. It took me about a minute to pick it up. That was a victory because, well, there’s not exactly room to bend over in a 20”x20” box. Several times during the process I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off.

The saving grace is that the shower head has a hand-held option and can be removed from its high perch. Without that feature, it would be difficult for anyone to wash soap off his lower body. That is, if you were able get the soap on in the first place.

- Jeff Rude

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