Even without Woods, plenty at stake at Wyndham

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2016, 9:21 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. - There's still plenty at stake at the Wyndham Championship this year - even if some of the big names from last year aren't playing.

Tiger Woods didn't return, sidelined by a back injury. And Davis Love III - a local favorite and three-time winner who had hip surgery last month - is only watching.

When play begins Thursday at Sedgefield Country Club, the field once again will be littered with players trying to force their way off the PGA Tour's bubble in the final week of golf's regular season and earn spots in the first round of the playoffs.

Others are trying to make one last impression on Love, who's scouting as the captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Woods made his only appearance in Greensboro a year ago in a last-ditch effort to make the postseason. He finished four strokes behind Love and fell short of the top 125 on the points list.


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But his presence had Sedgefield abuzz all week and helped the tournament set its modern-day attendance record of about 143,000 for the four rounds, including about 35,000 on the final day. It was the last tournament Woods played on the Tour because of a back surgery.

This is the next-to-last chance to earn Ryder Cup points, with the top eight players determined after the first playoff event at The Barclays next week at Bethpage Black.

Love will make his first three captain's picks Sept. 11 after the BMW Championship in Carmel, Indiana. The final pick comes two weeks later after the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Among Love's possibilities here this week: Jim Furyk plays his first round since shooting the first 58 in PGA Tour history during the final round of the Travelers Championship, Rickie Fowler is one of seven Olympians here and 2007 Wyndham winner Brandt Snedeker also is back.

The Wyndham has long relished its spot as the last chance for The tour's bubble players to force their way into the FedEx Cup playoffs, which are open to the top 125 players on the points list, and secure their spots on the tour for next season.

''The playoffs, obviously that's where you can do the most damage,'' said Harold Varner III, who grew up in Gastonia and played college golf at East Carolina. ''Right now, I feel good. I just want to seal my card. That's the biggest thing because sometimes you don't get into all the events your rookie year.

''I did a pretty good job of that, got into two majors. A lot of positives, but there's still some big tournaments coming up, like this one this week.''

Varner sure seems safe at No. 79 on the points list in his first year on tour. Others aren't nearly so secure.

Every player ranked from No. 121 to No. 135 has entered. Some, like No. 121 David Toms and No. 124 Matt Jones, want to play well enough to hold on to their spots. Others, like No. 126 Scott Stallings and No. 129 Steve Marino, need to earn enough points to move up a few spots.

Perhaps they'll draw inspiration from Love, who last year made the biggest jump in the tournament's history. His victory propelled him from No. 186 to No. 76.

But in 2014, only one player outside the top 125 - Sang-Moon Bae - earned enough points here to move into the playoffs. The year before, nobody did it.

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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.”