Ranking the U.S. Open field no small task

By Jason SobelJune 12, 2012, 9:55 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That could be Luke Donald’s mantra, as the game’s No. 1-ranked player also deals with the Catch-22 that labels him as its current best to never win a major championship.

It might as well be mine, too. Just two months ago, in a similar list ranking the field prior to the Masters Tournament, I placed Donald atop that one – only to see him finish in a share of 32nd place.

That doesn’t change my overall feeling that Donald is primed and ready to win a big one. And so in advance of this week’s 112th U.S. Open Championship, he once again tops the list of 156 competitors.

Where does everyone else rank below him? Here are your answers, complete with a few surprises. Just remember: If this one isn’t completely correct, I’ll just try, try again.

 

1. Luke Donald Keys to contending at any major: Keep the ball in play, eliminate mistakes and be deadly from 100 yards and in. That’s pretty much an analysis of Donald’s game.
2. Martin Laird Trending in the right direction with a T-2 at The Players Championship and a solid weekend in Memphis, Laird fits the mold of a Charl Schwartzel or Geoff Ogilvy major champion.
3. Tiger Woods He will contend that he enjoys playing tournaments in which the winning score is closer to par, but history shows tough conditions only level Woods with the playing field.
4. Jonathan Byrd Looking for a hot hand? Byrd has finished 12th or better in each of his last four events. Ironically, this Ben Hogan fan could be this week’s Jack Fleck.
5. Bubba Watson Everyone maintains players will have to work the ball both ways at The Olympic Club, and nobody in the game does that better than the reigning Masters champion.
6. Lee Westwood One of the world’s best tee-to-green players, it will all come down to how he’s rolling the rock. A win last weekend in Sweden should give Westwood some confidence.
7. Davis Love III Don’t scoff. The current United States Ryder Cup captain is peaking at the right time, reaching the field through sectionals before a T-3 finish in Memphis.
8. Adam Scott In a season where seemingly every big-name player has enjoyed his week in the sun, Scott is still waiting to see his name atop a leaderboard on a Sunday afternoon.
9. Nicolas Colsaerts Length may not be that much of an advantage on this course, but Colsearts is about more than just bombing the ball. He’s got a pretty solid short game, too.
10. Dustin Johnson Oozing with confidence coming off his victory in Memphis, Johnson will try to break a streak that has never seen a previous week’s winner also take the U.S. Open.
11. Nick Watney
12. Rory McIlroy
13. Steve Stricker
14. Justin Rose
15. Phil Mickelson
16. Bo Van Pelt
17. Zach Johnson
18. Louis Oosthuizen
19. Aaron Baddeley
20. Rickie Fowler
21. Matt Kuchar
22. Jason Dufner By holding a weekend lead during each of the last two major championships, Dufner is quickly establishing himself as a big-time player in big-time events.
23. Bill Haas
24. Geoff Ogilvy
25. Hunter Mahan
26. Kevin Streelman
27. Miguel Angel Jimenez
28. Spencer Levin
29. Sergio Garcia
30. Mark Wilson
31. Jim Furyk
32. Padraig Harrington
33. Keegan Bradley Hard to believe that one year ago Bradley was sitting at home, still two months shy of winning the PGA Championship. His first U.S. Open comes on a course that should suit him well.
34. John Senden
35. Ernie Els
36. Charlie Wi
37. Peter Hanson
38. Ian Poulter
39. K.J. Choi
40. Francesco Molinari
41. John Peterson
42. Graeme McDowell
43. Michael Allen If home course knowledge was everything, this Champions Tour regular and Olympic Club member would be your runaway winner. No one knows this place better.
44. Charl Schwartzel
45. Martin Kaymer
46. Branden Grace
47. Kevin Chappell
48. Kevin Na
49. Vijay Singh
50. Blake Adams
51. Mikko Ilonen
52. Ben Crane
53. Scott Langley
54. Michael Thompson
55. Rafael Cabrera Bello
56. David Mathis
57. Robert Rock
58. David Toms
59. George Coetzee
60. Colt Knost
The answer to a trivia question, Knost has won three USGA events (U.S. PubLinks, U.S. Amateur and Walker Cup) before competing in his first U.S. Open.
61. Y.E. Yang
62. Jason Day
63. Fredrik Jacobson
64. James Hahn
65. Carl Pettersson
66. Charles Howell III
67. Robert Castro
68. Sang-moon Bae
69. Ryo Ishikawa
70. D.A. Points
71. Joe Durant
72. Lucas Glover
73. Thomas Bjorn
74. Matteo Manassero
75. Brian Harman
76. Hiroyuki Fujita
77. Retief Goosen
Once considered the preeminent U.S. Open-type player, Goosen hasn’t finished inside the top-10 at this event since his second of two wins in 2004.
78. Webb Simpson
79. Alvaro Quiros
80. Peter Lawrie
81. Rod Pampling
82. Stewart Cink
83. Soren Kjeldsen
84. Angel Cabrera
85. Robert Karlsson
86. Tim Clark
87. Jason Bohn
88. Shane Bertsch
89. Stephen Ames
90. Trevor Immelman
91. Robert Garrigus In this week’s field based on his T-3 at Congressional one year ago, Garrigus has leveled off lately with sub-70 scores in only three of his last 15 rounds.
92. K.T. Kim
93. Scott Piercy
94. Bob Estes
95. Simon Dyson
96. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
97. Steve Marino
98. Brendan Jones
99. Raphael Jacquelin
100. Joe Ogilvie
101. a-Patrick Cantlay
This week’s contingent of nine amateurs is paced by Cantlay, a UCLA junior who recently won the Ben Hogan Award despite not claiming an individual title this year.
102. Hunter Haas
103. Anders Hansen
104. a-Jordan Spieth
105. Gary Woodland
106. Lee Slattery
107. Chez Reavie
108. Kyle Stanley
109. Toru Taniguchi
110. Kyle Thompson
111. Morgan Hoffmann
112. Alex Cejka
113. Matt Bettencourt
114. Marc Warren
115. Casey Wittenberg
116. Alistair Presnell
117. Edward Loar
118. Justin Hicks
119. Martin Flores
120. Alex Noren
121. Gregory Bourdy
122. Tim Herron
123. Michael Campbell
There aren’t many sadder stories in the game than that of Campbell, who was on top of the golfing world seven years ago, but has seen a major dropoff ever since.
124. Tommy Biershenk
125. Jim Herman
126. Will Claxton
127. Darron Stiles
128. Tadahiro Takayama
129. Nicholas Thompson
130. Jeff Curl
131. Brice Garnett
132. Bill Lunde
133. a-Cameron Wilson
134. Olin Browne
135. Aaron Watkins
136. a-Hunter Hamrick
137. Steve Lebrun
138. Jesse Mueller
139. Casey Martin The best story to come out of sectional qualifying, Martin overcame a degenerative leg condition and will be riding around Olympic Club in a cart this week.
140. a-Beau Hossler
141. Scott Smith
142. Matthew Baldwin
143. J.B. Park
144. Anthony Summers
145. Dong-Hwan Lee
146. a-Brooks Koepka
147. Brian Gaffney
148. a-Nick Sherwood
149. Cole Howard
150. Samuel Osborne
151. Brian Rowell
152. a-Alberto Sanchez
153. Tim Weinhart
154. Mark McCormick
155. Dennis Miller
156. a-Andy Zhang The last man in the field on Monday, this 14-year-old also finished in last place when all competitors were ranked by age and alphabetically.

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Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.

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Gustafson shares stuttering success video

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 8:31 pm

Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.

Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.

She did so without stuttering.

And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.

“I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”

For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.

Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.

Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.

Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.

“If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.” 

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J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

Make way for Jin Young Ko.

The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.


Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

“I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

Ko finished at 14 under overall.

It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.


Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.