Odds are: U.S. Open favorites

By John HawkinsJune 12, 2012, 5:56 pm

When I asked my editor who he liked at this week’s U.S. Open, he quickly replied that he could feel a first-time winner looming on the not-so-distant horizon. As much as I like to disagree with those who get to put their hands on my copy, I had a hard time finding fault with his reasoning.

One veteran PGA Tour player told me years ago that The Olympic Club rewards mediocrity. Loosely translated, that makes it a hard golf course to score on – some monster venues chew up the average players but reserve a few 66s for those who earn them. With showers in the forecast for the first two rounds and clear skies/relatively light breezes on the weekend, we could see a kinder, gentler Olympic, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

However much this U.S. Open seems geared toward crowning an unlikely champion, my list of a dozen pre-tournament favorites has no room for a Steve Jones-type mystery guest. Until further notice, I’m counting on greatness rising. Then again, what goes up must come down. It’s all a matter of when. And how far.

Luke Donald – A terrific hard-course player and the world’s best putter, it’s something of a mystery as to why Donald hasn’t performed to his usual standards at the majors. Preparation? Nerves? At some point, the guy will figure it out. This tournament has a right-place, right-time kind of feel to it. Odds: 12-1.

Tiger Woods – The Memorial victory reminded us who wears the pants in this household, but Tiger’s return to premium form has been stunted by a lack of consistency. There’s no substitute for big-game savvy. That said, nobody will win at Olympic from the right rough. Odds: 15-1.

Hunter Mahan – He still flies under most radars, but with a pair of wins in 2012 and some awesome ball-striking stats – 12th in driving accuracy, fifth in greens in regulation – I find it very hard to look past the guy. As always, Mahan’s short game will determine his level of success. Odds: 18-1.

Matt Kuchar – He hits fairways, hits greens and avoids bogeys, which won him The Players and could make him a serious factor here. Kuchar has the perfect temperament for this championship: even keel with an accent on smiling. Don’t think that doesn’t matter in this grindfest. Odds: 18-1.

Phil Mickelson – A career full of U.S. Open heartbreak isn’t likely to get a kind bounce from Olympic, which has killed the popular storyline at each of its four previous turns hosting this event. History does have a way of surprising us, however, and Mickelson obviously has all the tools. Again, he can’t play from the high stuff. Odds: 20-1.

Dustin Johnson – Heaven forbid you should win the week before the U.S. Open, but the St. Jude triumph certainly doesn’t hurt Johnson’s chances this week. Is he trending north in a hurry or did he merely conquer a mediocre field in Memphis? My guess is, a little of both. Odds: 25-1.

Lee Westwood – They play golf on grass, not a computer screen, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Westwood finally picks up his first major title. His much-maligned short game will become too big a detriment at Olympic, where hitting two-thirds of the greens may prove too much a task for anyone. Odds: 25-1.

Rory McIlroy – A strong showing in Memphis (T-7) bodes well, but the Irish Lad still doesn’t look quite right to me. According to my untrained eye, McIlroy is swinging harder than before, costing him the rhythm and fluidity that made him so good. Just can’t see him defending his title. Odds: 28-1.

Justin Rose – The British version of Kuchar, a player who avoids mistakes and grabs opportunity when it arrives. What bothers me about Rose is his putting – 123rd on the PGA Tour this year. If the lead stays around even par and he doesn’t have to hole 20-footers to stay alive, this guy could factor deep into Sunday. Odds: 30-1.

Bubba Watson – The tree-removal project that occurred shortly after Olympic hosted the ’98 U.S. Open could help Watson, figuring that more breeze will increase the value of length off the tee. Distance didn’t matter at all 14 years ago – David Duval was the only long hitter in the picture. Gotta make those 8-footers, Bubba. Odds: 40-1.

Jason Dufner – His recent binge of superb play earns him a spot on this list, but for all the high finishes, which include a pair of victories, Dufner still ranks 95th in putting. Maybe we’re splitting hairs, but when a round of even par can move you 10 spots up a leaderboard, you’ll have to save par, sometimes outside your comfort zone. Odds: 40-1.

Sergio Garcia – Go ahead and laugh, but Sergio is quietly having a decent year and comes off a T-3 in Europe. His U.S. Open history is pretty strong, albeit a winless one, and through thick and thin, he has continued to drive the ball exceptionally well. Of course, if he’s standing over a 5-footer to win his first major, I might have to look the other way. Perhaps this one time, fate won’t. Odds: 45-1.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: