Dufner chips in at 18 to take one-shot lead

By Associated PressMay 19, 2012, 12:10 am

IRVING, Texas – Standing over his ball in a swale behind the 18th green, Jason Dufner would have been content with a par and a spot in the big group tied for the lead in the Byron Nelson Championship.

Instead, Dufner had the lead to himself Friday. He finished by chipping in from 37 feet, his fourth birdie in five holes, after driving wide right and having his approach roll over the green.

''No, that wasn't in the thought process,'' Dufner said. ''Pretty lucky for it to go in, but that's part of golf. Sometimes you get those breaks.''

His second long chip-in wrapped up a 4-under 66 for a two-round total of 7-under 133. That put Dufner a stroke ahead of a group of six players that included Matt Kuchar, the world's fifth-ranked player who won The Players Championship last week.

Dufner got married the week after his first PGA Tour victory at New Orleans last month, and returned to play last week.

He has the 36-hole lead for the fourth time this season, including the Masters, and the seventh time in his career. The experience of having a victory can provide a different mindset while leading at the halfway point again.

''Maybe a little bit,'' he said. ''I'm confident with my game and happy with where my game is right now.''

Kuchar shot a 68 to join first-round leader Ryan Palmer (70), Chad Campbell (66), Pat Perez (67), Dickey Pride (68) and Marc Leishman (69) at 6 under.

Defending champion Keegan Bradley (68), who last summer won the PGA Championship three months after becoming a first-time winner in a Nelson playoff against Palmer, was two strokes behind the leaders along with Ryuji Imada (68) and Charley Hoffman (69).

Kuchar recovered from a miserable early stretch when he had two bogeys and a double bogey in a four-hole span.

After a birdie at No. 10 to start his second round, Kuchar had a bogey at the 455-yard 12th when his approach from the rough landed in a bunker. His approach at No. 14 went in the water, leading to a double bogey before he again wasn't able to get up-and-down out of a greenside bunker at the par-4 15th.

''I got on the wrong side of things,'' Kuchar said. ''Par 5, took advantage of that. So I was pleased that I was able to hang in there and bounce back.''

His approach at the 546-yard 16th was inside of 5 feet. That was the first of his five birdies without another bogey over his final 12 holes.

Kuchar still has chance to become the first PGA Tour player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win in consecutive weeks. Woods also was the last player to win in his next start after winning The Players Championship. That was in 2001, two years after David Duval pulled off that feat.

The only other top 10 player in the field is Phil Mickelson, who had a fitting finish in a round of 69 with a double bogey after his tee shot at No. 18 went in the water and his approach after the drop went over the green.

''I hit it terrible today, there was no other way around it,'' Mickelson said. ''I've just got some mechanical issues where I was not striking the ball very solid. I was able to hit decent shots on the backside to make birdies and make a run, but that last hole stunk.''

Dufner was 4 under when he caught a glimpse of a scoreboard early in his back nine and noticed the crowd near the top with little movement on a day with steady winds.

''I was kind of around par for the day, trying to stay patient a little bit, maybe get a birdie or two,'' Dufner said.

Even after a bogey at No. 12, when his approach landed in a greenside bunker, Dufner did much more than he hoped for down the stretch.

That started with three birdies in a row. There was a 21-foot putt at No. 14 before he holed a 35-foot chip at No. 15, then made a 21-foot birdie putt at No. 16.

''Ended up getting birdie on four of the last five, couple of chip-ins, which you don't expect, especially the one on 18,'' Dufner said. ''It was a nice way to finish.''

Before his last hole, which he preceded with consecutive birdies, Mickelson had only one bogey despite being in trouble several times.

There was the par save at No. 8 after he missed the fairway but knocked his second shot from the rough to inside 4 feet. His tee shot at No. 9 landed under a tree and he used a 5-wood to punch the ball under branches. It rolled up onto the green and he made a 17-foot birdie putt.

The consolation for Mickelson is that he is within six strokes of the lead with two rounds to play.

''There will be a bunching on the leaderboard,'' he said. ''If I give myself some more chances (Saturday), I 'm starting to feel a little bit better with the putter, and I should be able to make some.''

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”