Lee leads Fowler, Lefty in front of record WMPO crowd

By Associated PressFebruary 6, 2016, 11:58 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Danny Lee knew there was a huge crowd Saturday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He still was amazed when told just how many people packed TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course.

''Two-hundred thousand?'' Lee asked, making sure he heard right.

Actually, an estimated 201,003 - the largest crowd in golf history.

''Wow! This is crazy,'' Lee said.

Lee had some pretty good numbers of his own on a sunny, warm afternoon at golf's biggest party, shooting a 4-under 67 to move three strokes ahead of friend Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama with one round left.

''Taking slow breath out there really helps,'' Lee said about the wild atmosphere.

The previous largest crowd at the Stadium Course was 189,722 in 2014. The event also set a day record Friday at 160,415, and has drawn 535,035 for the first six days - close to the weekly mark of 564,368 set last year.

''I'm just trying to enjoy myself and I am,'' Lee said. ''It's so much fun out there, so many people just cheering for Rickie instead of me, unfortunately. But I'm having fun.''

Lee had six birdies and two bogeys to reach 13-under 200. The 25-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander won the Greenbrier Classic last year for his first PGA Tour title.

''Winning at the Greenbrier Classic gave me a lot of confidence,'' Lee said. ''It kind of taught me how to be on the top and what I need to work on and what it takes to win a golf tournament.''

He's making his fourth appearance in the event after missing the cuts the last three years.

''I always struggled with my tee-shot game out here,'' Lee said. ''This week, I have been driving it really nicely.''


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Fowler parred the final five holes for a 70. Matsuyama had a 68.

''I just didn't get much out of the round,'' said Fowler, at No. 4 the top-ranked player in the field. ''Just kind of managed it well and played with what I had to get around.''

Second-round leader James Hahn had a 74 to fall into a tie for seventh at 7 under. Tied with Lee for the lead at 12 under after the 11th hole, he dropped five strokes on the next three holes.

Hahn bogeyed the par-3 12th and made double bogeys on par-5 13th and par-4 14th. He drove left into the desert on 13, then hit his tee shot out-of-bounds to the right on the long, uphill 14th after a fan distracted him at the top of his swing.

Lee birdied Nos. 2-4, making a 21-footer on the par-4 fourth, and holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-4 eighth.

After a three-putt bogey on the par-4 11th left him tied with Hahn, Lee got up-and-down for par from the greenside bunker on 12 to pull ahead. Hahn and Fowler bogeyed the hole from the same bunker.

Lee birdied 13, but gave back the stroke with a bogey on the par-5 15th after driving left into the water. The 2008 U.S. Amateur champion got back to 13 under with a 9-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 17th.

Fowler got a break on the 15th when his hybrid from the right rough ballooned short and right and stopped a foot short of the water.

''It came out soft and floated on me,'' Fowler said. ''Got a little lucky there.''

He won two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi for his fourth worldwide victory in nine months.

Matsuyama chipped in for birdie on the par-4 14th and two-putted for birdie on 15. The 23-year-old Japanese player tied for second last year, a stroke behind Brooks Koepka.

''I didn't putt very well today,'' Matsuyama said through a translator. ''I didn't drive the ball very well, but I did get it around. I'm happy with that.''

Bryce Molder and Boo Weekley were 9 under. Molder closed with an 18-foot putt on the par-4 ninth for a 64, the best round of the week. Weekley birdied three of the last four holes for a 65.

Phil Mickelson was 8 under after 65. The 45-year-old former Arizona State player made an unlikely birdie on 15 when his hybrid from 255 yards went so far right that it crossed the lake and ended up in the 11th fairway. He hit a wedge to 15 feet and made the putt.

''It was the worst shot of the year and I ended up making a birdie,'' said Mickelson, the tournament winner in 1996, 2005 and 2013.

Bubba Watson had his first over-par round ever at TPC Scottsdale, shooting a 73 to drop to 2 under. He shot par or better in his first 36 rounds in the tournament.

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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.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”