Notes Augusta Adds Kayatama to Field
It was the second straight year Augusta has given a special invitation, which it reserves for foreign-born players. Zhang Lian-Wei last year became the first player from China to compete in the Masters.
Katayama, who finished first on the Japan Golf Tour money list and won twice, will be playing the Masters for the fourth time.
The cutoff to qualify for the Masters is after The Players Championship at the end of March.
When he won outside Boston two years ago for his first PGA Tour victory, Adam Scott said he would continue to focus on the European tour and establish himself there.
But thats no longer the case.
Im playing a little bit more here, Scott said. After winning The Players Championship and cementing my place over here (with a five-year exemption), I have to take advantage. Im still playing enough to keep the card in Europe. Thats where I started, and I set some goals to win some stuff over there. And like to do that still.
But only playing a few is going to make it tough to win a lot.
With the majors and World Golf Championships counting on both tours, Scott only needs to play four times in Europe to keep his membership, freeing him up to play more in the United Sates.
But that wont include a big schedule on the West Coast, where venues like Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Riviera can be cool and wet.
For a tour that tries to follow the sun, it seems we play under water a lot of the time, Scott said.
CADDIE ON CALL
Lance Ten Broeck almost had to pull double duty last week in the Sony Open.
He caddied for Robert Allenby early in the first round, then found out he was next alternate to play. Tour officials awoke Michael Long from a nap, and he made it to Waialae in time to tee off.
Ten Broeck once played on tour and made more than 150 cuts in his career. That still makes him exempt, although he is at the bottom of the list in eligibility. But only a dozen or so alternates ever show up, especially in Hawaii, so there are times when the tour has to reach deep to find alternates.
To be eligible, Ten Broeck has to enter the tournament. He commits to every event, just in case the unlikely happens and more players drop out than there are alternates at the course. His last tour event was the 98 Texas Open, where Ten Broeck missed the cut.
The call never came at Waialae, and its probably a good thing.
Ill have to get some clubs, Ten Broeck said. And maybe some long pants, too. And then Id have to steal some range balls.
The MCI Heritage at Hilton Head is raising its purse to $5.2 million, with $936,000 going to the winner. Its the 14th consecutive year the tournaments has increased its prize money. ... The Madeira Island Open is moving to April 7-10, the first time in years the European tour has held an event opposite the Masters. ... Golfweek magazine reports that 18-year-old Paula Creamer has signed with IMG and hired Colin Cann to be her caddie. Cann previously worked for Se Ri Pak. ... Michelle Wie will be joined by two Curtis Cup teammates, Jane Park and Brittany Lang, at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. The LPGAs first major gave amateur exemptions to U.S. Junior Girls champion Julieta Granada, Florida whiz Morgan Pressel and Karin Sjodin of Sweden, a junior at Oklahoma State.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Bart Bryant was the only player to shoot par or better all eight rounds in Hawaii.
When I stood on the first tee at Oakland Hills, I saw most of the American officials dressed like players. We realized a long time ago that we werent players. Thats why we step back and let the players have center stage.'Sandy Jones, chief executive of the PGA of Europe.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
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
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
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.
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.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
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.
“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.”
Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06
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?
“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.”