Notes McDowell Suffers Meltdown at the 18th

By Associated PressOctober 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- Graeme McDowell got the best and worst of Harding Park. For 17 holes in the third round, he had no bogeys on his card and had shot himself into contention. He was 6 under for the day, easily the best score Saturday, until he got to the 18th hole.
His tee shot caught the trees, and he failed to back to the fairway with his second. Then he pulled his shot into more trees and into the hazard. After taking his penalty drop, he went just off the green, chipped to 30 inches and missed the putt to take a quadruple-bogey 8.
``Yeah, 18 kind of kicked me in the butt a little bit,'' McDowell said. ``I'm feeling pretty bad right now, but there's obviously tomorrow.''
The 18th hole has gotten most of the attention all week, with few kind words. The tee shot must carry Lake Merced, and the landing area is blocked by cypress trees, with bunkers beyond the fairway.
``I wouldn't say it's unfair, but I would say it's out of character with the rest of the golf course,'' McDowell said. ``The rest of the golf course is straightforward. It's all laid out in front of you. But 18 is just a brutal hole.''
Colin Montgomerie noticed the plight of his fellow European.
``You've got to think your way around that hole,'' he said. ``It's a card-wrecker.''
The players are among the best in the world, and the $7.5 million purse at the American Express Championship signals a marquee tournament. But there signs of municipal golf Saturday at the public course on the western fringe of San Francisco.
For one thing, the rounds lasted about five hours.
Players were waiting in the first fairway, and the pace slowed to that of the weekend regulars at the par-3 third hole when two groups wound up on the tee box.
Tiger Woods stretched and twisted to stay limber as he chatted with Sean O'Hair. Before long, they were joined by Fred Funk, Mark Calcavecchia and Jim Furyk, and the final threesome was on the second green.
Why the backup?
``The wind,'' Woods said as he waited.
When he finally got a chance to hit, Woods stuck his approach to 18 feet for his first birdie. Angel Cabrera went long and left, then promptly chipped in for birdie.
San Francisco is a city that embraces diversity, so the spiked hair and loud fashions worn by several of the European contingent was a pleaser for the weekend gallery.
Ian Poulter's high hair peeking out of his white visor elicited some chuckles among fans.
``I like him. He dresses funny,'' said Carl Uyeda, of San Jose, as he watched Poulter pound his opening drive off the first tee.
Poulter's head cover celebrated his different look -- a small tuft of white faux hair with a miniature version of his visor resting atop it.
Colin Montgomerie's solid play for the second consecutive day won him a few more stateside fans, but there remained a few who took the opportunity to rib him about his rare miscues.
He took exception to one spectator who blurted out ``Noonan'' as he missed a birdie chance -- a popular reference from the movie ``Caddyshack.''
Still, the Scot who once was routinely heckled in these parts was hardly bothered.
``That's just part of the game,'' Montgomerie said. ``If this was in Scotland, it might be different.''
Told that Harding Park was used to park cars during the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic Club across from Lake Merced, John Daly had a solution. ``They need to park cars at Olympic Club and play the U.S. Open here,'' he said. Daly tied for 53rd at Olympic. ... Phil Mickelson was 6 over after his first six holes, shooting 41 on the back nine. He rallied with four birdies on the front nine for a 73. ... Tom Lehman had a hole-in-one on the 11th hole, the second ace this week at Harding Park. ... The best round of the day belonged to Fred Couples, who had a 66 despite taking a double bogey on the sixth hole.
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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.

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    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.

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    “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?

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    “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.”