July 19, 2016

TROON, Scotland (AP) — Even during a week when the USGA didn’t have a championship, it still came under scrutiny by way of comparisons. British Open Golf

With a forecast of gusts topping 30 mph for the third round Saturday, the R&A finished its morning preparation of Royal Troon and decided not to cut or roll the putting surfaces in case the wind got out of hand. The greens were slower, though links putting surfaces typically are not fast.

The result was low scoring and quick pace of play. Henrik Stenson, who has a recent history of being put on the clock, and Phil Mickelson finished the final round in just under four hours. The threesomes during the opening two rounds were finishing well under five hours.

Mickelson, the runner-up a record six times in the U.S. Open, was asked to explain the difference between how the USGA and R&A sets up the golf course.

“I think that R&A sets the golf course up to be as fair as possible and to try to kind of identify who the best player is regardless of what the score is given the conditions and so forth,” Mickelson said. “Sometimes it’s 20 under. Sometimes people don’t want that many under par. But the fact is if somebody plays some incredible golf, that’s what it should do. You shouldn’t have to mess with the course too much to try to control the score.”

John Daly won at St. Andrews in a playoff at 282 in windy conditions. Tiger Woods won at St. Andrews in dry and relatively calm conditions at 269.

The message was the same on the large scoreboard over the 18th green: Well done, see you next year.

Stenson set a major championship record at 264, three shots better than Mickelson. Take away those incredible performances and the winning score would have been 278 by J.B. Holmes.

“The USGA has it in their mind that the score needs to be par, so no matter what lines they have to cross to get there, that’s got to be the standard, and it kind of disregards and doesn’t take into account the difference in talent level and abilities that the players of today now have,” Mickelson said.

He believes the British Open is more fair. He also conceded he was biased.

“I’ve won this one and I haven’t won the other one,” Mickelson said. “So I’ve got that working against me.”

THE GLOBAL GAME: More than being the first Swede to win a major, Henrik Stenson remembers those days when just about every European player was asked about ending the drought. Paul Lawrie of Scotland won the British Open at Carnoustie in 1999, it was another eight years and 31 majors before Padraig Harrington won his first major, also in the British Open at Carnoustie.

Golf goes in cycles, and that’s where the game is now.

Starting with Harrington’s first major in the British Open, there have been 37 majors won by players from all six continents on which golf is played.

The Americans have won 15: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth each with two, followed by Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson and Dustin Johnson.

Europeans have won 14: Rory McIlroy has four, Harrington has three, Martin Kaymer has two and the rest are Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, Justin Rose, Danny Willett and Henrik Stenson.

Africa has won four: Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els.

Australian has won two: Adam Scott and Jason Day.

South America has Angel Cabrera.

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD: Steve Stricker and Andrew Johnston played their way into the PGA Championship with high finishes in the British Open that pushed them into the top 100 in the world ranking.

The PGA Championship tries to get the top 100 in the world ranking, even though that is not a specific category. This year, it went all the way down to Nicolas Colsaerts at No. 120. Others just outside the top 100 include Gregory Bourdy of France (No. 115), James Morrison of England (No. 106), Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden (No. 110), Shingo Katayama of Japan (No. 112) and Younghan Song of South Korea (No. 111).

Another category is 2014 Ryder Cup members provided they’re among the top 100 in the world. Hunter Mahan (No. 186) and Stephen Gallacher (No. 311) did not qualify and were not offered exemptions.

To fill the 156-man, the PGA of America goes back to its PGA Points list, which is a PGA Tour money list that starts at the 2015 Bridgestone Invitational and ended last week with the British Open and Barbasol Championship. Two players got in that way – Freddie Jacobson and Cameron Tringale.

By going beyond the top 100, the PGA of America opted not to go to its points list. The first alternate is Zac Blair, Harold Varner III, Jonas Blixt, Alex Cejka, Scott Brown and Brian Harman. One spot remained open for the Canadian Open winner if he is not already eligible.

Still listed as part of the field is Tiger Woods, who has not played since last August and has not left many indications he is ready to return.

OLYMPIC FORTUNE: David Lingmerth of Sweden is going to the Olympics, and he has Victor Dubuisson to thank for that.

Henrik Stenson secured the first spot for the Swedish team long before his record-breaking performance at Royal Troon. The other spot came down to Lingmerth and Alex Noren going into the final week of qualifying. Both were at the Scottish Open.

Noren was coming off an eighth-place finish in the French Open to reach No. 99. Lingmerth was at No. 47. Going into the final week, it appeared the only way Noren could pass him was to win the Scottish Open and for Lingmerth to miss the cut.

Noren won. Lingmerth missed the cut.

One problem.

Dubuisson decided to pull out of the Scottish Open on Wednesday, and it affected the strength-of-field just enough that the winner (Noren) received 46 points instead of 48. If the Frenchman had played, Noren would have gone past Lingmerth by the narrowest of margins and headed for Rio.

DIVOTS: Zach Johnson’s tie for 12th in the British Open made him the 11th player to surpass $40 million on the PGA Tour’s career money list. … A year ago, five of the top 10 players in the world had never won a major. Now only Rickie Fowler (7) and Sergio Garcia (10) from the top 10 have not won a major. … Jason Day has not missed the cut in a major since the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, the longest active streak. … No one had a lower score than Henrik Stenson over the final three rounds at Royal Troon. The last time that happened was the 1900 British Open at St. Andrews, when J.H. Taylor had the low score all four rounds. … The world ranking of the players who won opposite-field events this season was No. 350 (Peter Malnati), No. 103 (Tony Finau), No. 490 (Greg Chalmers) and No. 245 (Aaron Baddeley). … Jordan Spieth is a collective 9-over par going into the final major. A year ago, he was 37-under par.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Phil Mickelson completed a Grand Slam of runner-up finishes in the last four years – second at the U.S. Open in 2013, second at the PGA Championship in 2014, second at the Masters in 2015, second at the British Open in 2016.