Scott, Day teammates and foes at World Cup

By Associated PressNovember 20, 2013, 3:24 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia – On current form and on a very familiar golf course, the two top-ranked players in the World Cup – Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar – are heavy favorites for individual honors when play begins Thursday at Royal Melbourne.

The second-ranked Scott has won two tournaments in a row – the Australian PGA and the Australian Masters, which was held last week at Royal Melbourne.

Seventh-ranked Kuchar led by two strokes late in the final round of the Masters before a double bogey on 18 enabled Scott to successfully defend his title. Kuchar finished second.

''He has been in such good form,'' Kuchar said of Scott on Wednesday. ''To at least give him a run, it was awfully good. I stood five back going into Sunday. Unfortunately I got a bad break on 18 and that's part of golf.''

The Australians, with Scott's teammate Jason Day at No. 18, are the highest-ranked team this week and will have the benefit of local crowds.

''It's an interesting week,'' Scott said Wednesday. ''We’re playing together as a team but we still want to beat each other.''

Added Day: ''I don't know whether to love him or not if he beats me.''

Kuchar and his teammate, Kevin Streelman, will attempt to successfully defend for the Americans the title that Kuchar and Gary Woodland won in 2011.

The differences between the tournament, format-wise, that Kuchar and Woodland won in 2011 is about as far as the distance between Royal Melbourne and Haiku, China, where the Americans won.

Then, it was a team event in keeping with the near 60-year history of the tournament. Two days of four-ball competition, two days of foursomes. This time, to prepare for golf's return to the Olympics and the format that will be used in Rio, it's basically an individual stroke-play event.

The financial emphasis is on the individual portion of the tournament – $7 million in prize money to be divided among the 60-man field, including $1.2 million to the winner. And just $1 million allocated for the team event, with money only going to the top three teams.

Kuchar said the change doesn't bother him.

''I know the format is different but the golf is the same,'' Kuchar said. ''It's much more of an individual event ... but there is a team component and I think we have got as good a shot as anybody.''

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem defended the move away from the team-only concept at a media conference Wednesday at Royal Melbourne.

''I think it is way too soon to conclude that the team portion of the Cup is lost,'' Finchem said. ''We haven't played yet so let's see how that plays out and then we will see. We feel like the tournament is more marketable. We think that it has a better chance of fulfilling its mission which is to create more interest in the game in unique ways.'

''But we will see. If we go down this road and it doesn't work, we will adjust, but we are going to give this every chance to work.''

The system being used to determine the entries at the Word Cup – rankings and number of players eligible from each country based on those rankings, will be used at Rio in 2016. The other difference is that there will be no team competition at the Olympics, and there, golfers from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who are playing as separate countries at the World Cup will play as Britain.

Also, at the World Cup, Ireland and Northern Ireland play as one team. So this week, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Ireland's Shane Lowry will play together.

McDowell says Scott is unquestionably the favorite this week.

''From Scotty's point of view, he is just one of those guys you play with and you think to yourself 'Why does this guy not win every week?’'' McDowell said Wednesday. ''He's that impressive.''

There are 26 teams taking part and eight individual golfers, including Fiji's Vijay Singh, who finished third at the Australian Masters and will also have course familiarity in his favor.

Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

5/2: Rory McIlroy

7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

9/2: Justin Rose

5/1: Brooks Koepka

15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

10/1: Adam Scott

12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.