Opening 62 gives Haas lead at Greater Hickory

By Associated PressSeptember 19, 2009, 2:52 am
Champions Tour

CONOVER, N.C. – Jay Haas shot a 10-under 62 during the first round of the rain-delayed Greater Hickory Classic on Friday, taking a three-shot lead into the weekend.

Haas is the 2005 tournament champion and tied for second two years ago. He played a bogey-free round at Rock Barn Golf and Spa’s Robert Trent Jones course.

“It was one of those days,” said the 55-year-old Haas, who is winless on the Champions Tour this season. “I got off to a good start … and it felt comfortable. I drove the ball well, and I made a few extra putts I hadn’t been making. I was in the zone, as they say.”

Haas’ was one shot shy of tying the tournament record, set last year by two-time and defending champion R.W. Eaks. It also matched the Champions Tour’s low round of the season, set by Brad Bryant in the first round of the Jen-Weld Tradition on Aug. 17 in Sunriver, Ore.

Gil Morgan was second after his 65, with Tom Jenkins, Jerry Pate and three-time major champion Nick Price another stroke back. Nine other players, among them former PGA Championship winners Jeff Sluman and Hal Sutton, were tied for fourth after rounds of 67.

Eaks and Fred Funk – who leads Loren Roberts by 57 points in the Charles Schwab Cup standings – were among those who shot 69.

Haas, last year’s Charles Schwab Cup winner, had missed the last two events because of tendinitis in his left elbow. A cortisone shot he received two weeks ago left him feeling able to play a competitive round at Rock Barn.

He didn’t disappoint, with birdies on four straight holes to open his round. He tacked on two more on the front nine, then made four more birdies on the back nine to beat his previous career best round in Champions Tour events by one stroke.

“I was anxious to play, for sure,” Haas said. “I was kind of chomping at the bit. I had been swinging well and feeling like I was doing the right things, then I came up with the tendinitis. … But I’m in no pain right now. Hopefully that will continue.”

The 62-year-old Morgan said called his round “pretty routine.”

“I hit it close a couple times, and I made a couple of 10- to 12-foot putts,” Morgan said. “It was pretty unspectacular. On most of the shots, I wasn’t in any real danger out there today … but I had a few opportunities out there that I missed.”

Persistent showers Friday morning delayed the start of the opening round by nearly three hours. In order to complete the round before nightfall, tournament officials sent the pairings off from the first and 10th tees.

Nearly half an inch of rain had fallen in the days before the 50-and-over tour event, and nearly half an inch fell late Thursday night and early Friday morning. Tournament officials said that more rain is forecast for the area through Monday.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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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.”