Johnson knocks it outta the park ... literally

By Associated PressJune 14, 2012, 2:46 am

SAN FRANCISCO - As golfer Dustin Johnson crushed drives from home plate over the right-field wall and into San FranciscoBay, pitcher Matt Cain and manager Bruce Bochy glanced at each other before looking into the stands for approval from Giants general manager Brian Sabean.

Then, the San Francisco ace grabbed a club and smacked one of his own - splashing the ball into McCovey Cove 310 yards away. That was it considering he had to pitch against the Houston Astros three hours later. Cain dazzled with his swing with a 342-yard drive during the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am back in February, yet Sabean hollered that he would turn his head when the pitcher took his drive - and the GM did just that for a moment.

Sabean's apprehension is understandable. In early April, Cain signed a $127.5 million, six-year contract, the largest deal for a right-handed pitcher in baseball history.

''I knew he was a good golfer,'' Johnson said about Cain. ''(Sabean) didn't want him (to hit). He said he was going inside.''

Reliever Clay Hensley also hit drives from the tee on home plate, and former first baseman J.T. Snow nearly drilled a spotter with a low drive on his second attempt before adjusting his swing and hitting a couple of pretty drives. A few Astros who came outside to watch the fanfare were offered a chance but declined.

''That was pretty cool,'' Johnson said ahead of his opening round at the U.S. Open on Thursday. ''This is the first time I've been to the stadium, gorgeous stadium. To hit drivers off of home plate is pretty fun, especially out into McCovey Cove. It's probably the coolest place I've hit balls, maybe besides Augusta.''

Hensley took his first round of swings - ''Let's get him his PGA Tour card!'' hollered teammate Aubrey Huff - and later stepped in for a few more, drawing an ''Ooooh, wow!'' from slugger Pablo Sandoval on a 292-yard shot. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey watched from nearby as balls splashed into his cove. Each drive was tracked for distance and speed on the main scoreboard in center field. Pitching coach Dave Righetti shot a video of the hitting show, saying, ''Let's watch the rips,'' as Hensley took his turn.

''Isn't that amazing?'' McCovey said, smiling. ''They used to do these kind of things in the minor leagues to draw crowds. It's fun to get the golfers out. This is a big week in San Francisco with the U.S. Open, a lot going on.''

Johnson, the St. Jude Classic winner Sunday in Memphis, Tenn., in his second event following a back injury that sidelined him for nearly three months, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and hoped to outdo Rory McIlroy, who did so Tuesday ahead of the Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Johnson bounced his fastball to stand-in catcher and relief pitcher Sergio Romo, drawing cheers from the crowd.

''I saw video. It was all right,'' Johnson said about McIlroy's pitch. ''It was over the plate. I'm going to go from the mound, I've got to. All my buddies said they were going to make fun of me if I stood in the grass.''

If he weren't about to play a major, Johnson said he might consider jumping into the cage for some live batting practice.

Johnson typically takes the Wednesday before a major as an ''easy day,'' so this relaxing outing to the ballpark took some of the edge off. He also has a late tee time Thursday.

''If it was a baseball, I'd be a little bit nervous but hitting a golf ball out here, I can handle that,'' Johnson said. ''I can hit. If I wasn't playing the U.S. Open tomorrow I'd probably do it. I played up until high school, so I haven't swung a bat in a long time. I'll hit in a batting cage every once in a while, but I'm not doing it before I go out and play golf tomorrow.''

Bochy opted against hitting a couple of drives.

''I was not going to put myself in a compromising position with my golf game,'' he quipped.

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”

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Kisner not expecting awkward night with Spieth

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:33 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It might get awkward in that star-studded rental house Saturday night.

Two of the three Open co-leaders, Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner, are sharing a house this week near Carnoustie. Though it’ll be late by the time they both get back to the house Saturday night, they’ll have plenty of time to kill Sunday morning, with their tee times not until nearly 3 p.m. local time.

“Everybody is probably going to get treatment and eating and trying to find a bed,” Kisner said. “I’m sure there’ll be some conversations. There always are. Everybody has a few horror stories or good laughs over something that happened out there. That will probably be the end of it.”

One thing they’re almost certain to discuss is the weather.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


After three days of mostly benign conditions, Sunday’s forecast calls for warm temperatures and wind gusts up to 25 mph.

“When you watch any TV, that’s all they talk about – how Sunday’s coming,” Kisner said. “It’s going to be a true test, and we’ll get to see really who’s hitting it the best and playing the best.”

Zach Johnson is also in the house – along with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner – and he rode to the course Saturday with Kisner, with whom he played in the final group, at 4 p.m. It’s unclear whether the co-leaders Sunday will have a similar arrangement.

This is the third year that Spieth and Co. have shared a house at The Open, though Kisner is a new addition to the group.

“It’s the end of the week,” Kisner said. “Everybody’s got a lot of stuff going on. Everybody’s going their separate ways tomorrow. Tomorrow morning we’ll all sit around and laugh on the couch and talk about why that guy’s making so many birdies.”