McIlroy three back of Horschel on Day 2 in Texas

By Associated PressApril 6, 2013, 1:10 am

SAN ANTONIO – Rory McIlroy didn't anticipate an encounter with the native plant life when he signed up for the Texas Open.

Despite just such a happening on Friday, the world's No. 2 golfer matched the low round of the day with a 5-under-par 67 and moved within three shots of leader Billy Horschel, continuing his last-minute preparations for next week's Masters.

McIlroy, who decided to play in the tournament late last week, had seven birdies – including his final three holes – and overcame a bogey on No. 9 after driving into the rough and catching his left shin on a nearby cactus.

The misstep dropped McIlroy to 1 under, but he rebounded with key putts on the final three holes for birdies and pulled well within reach of the leaders entering the weekend.

''It was a good way to finish,'' McIlroy said. ''It will definitely make dinner taste a little nicer tonight and give me a couple of more hours in bed tomorrow morning.''


Highlights: McIlroy makes run on Day 2

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The 23-year-old two-time major winner is three shots back of Horschel, who birdied his last two holes to post his second straight 4-under 68.

Three players – Daniel Summerhays, Charley Hoffman and Steven Bowditch – are two shots back at 6 under, while McIlroy is tied with six others at 5 under.

Thursday's co-leaders, Matt Bettencourt and Peter Tomasulo, each shot a 1-over 73 and fell four shots off the lead.

Bettencourt went as low as 8 under in the surprisingly calm Texas weather on Friday morning before falling back after a stretch of three bogeys in four holes once the wind picked up ever so slightly.

Summerhays also reached as low as 7 under before falling back with a bogey on No. 9, but it was Horschel who separated himself with his late flurry.

Horschel jumped from 60th to 24th on the money list after a second-place finish at last week's Houston Open. He closed out Thursday's round with a birdie, and he one-upped that on Friday – closing with a pair of 11-foot birdie putts on No. 17 and 18 to vault into first.

''Today, I knew there was not going to be very much wind, so you had to take advantage of this golf course,'' Horschel said. ''I warmed up really well, probably hit the best I have on the range in a month and a half before a round.''

He needed 28 putts on Friday after taking only 25 a day earlier, but Horschel hit 11 of 14 fairways after hitting only seven a day earlier.

Horschel has made the cut in all nine of the events he's entered this year, extending his Tour-best streak to 21 made cuts in a row, but he has yet to win a PGA Tour event.

Now he faces a leaderboard filled with winning experienced players behind him, including four players – McIlroy, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen and Lee Janzen – who have combined to win seven majors.

''I couldn't care less if they've won majors or not, honestly,'' Horschel said. ''I know they're good players and what they've done, but I feel I'm a good player in my own right.

''I think you have that mindset. You can't think that these guys have won majors, and then you start worrying about what they're doing and you forget about yourself.''

McIlroy is the most recent major winner of the pursuers, having won the PGA Championship last August. However, he's struggled for much of this year following an equipment change and recently lost his No. 1 ranking to Tiger Woods.

McIlroy has just one top-10 finish this year, and he decided late last week to add the San Antonio stop to his schedule to add competitive rounds prior to next week's opening major of the year.

It's a move that appeared questionable after an up-and-down even-par 72 on Thursday, but not anymore after Friday's scoring binge.

McIlroy still had fits with his driving, hitting only 9 of 14 fairways, but he made lengthy birdie putts on each of his final three holes – including a 26-foot strike on the par-3 16th. He narrowly missed a 24-foot eagle putt in front of a surging gallery on the 18th after reaching the par 5 in two shots.

It was after his run-in with the cactus on No. 9 that McIlroy made his move, shooting a 4-under 32 on the back nine.

On the ninth, he drove into the left trees and scraped his left shin on the prickly pear while searching for his ball. McIlroy rubbed his leg afterward and his approach went to the right of the green on the par 4, leading to his final bogey of the round.

''I shouldn't have been where I was at nine anyway, so I guess it was deserved,'' McIlroy said.

McIlroy's 5 under matched Hoffman and K.J. Choi for the best round of the day, with the Texas weather expected to warm considerably on Saturday and the wind to pick up – making the 7,435-yard layout even more challenging.

''I just like giving myself a chance coming in on Sunday,'' Hoffman said. ''I think I'm a pretty good competitor. If I have a chance with a few holes to play, that's all I can ask for.''

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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.”