Rice a 'hit' in spotlight at Pebble Beach

By Associated PressFebruary 8, 2013, 12:59 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The first thing Condoleezza Rice told playing partner Jason Bohn when she walked onto the practice green at picturesque Pebble Beach eased any tension in the group.

''Roll Tide,'' she said.

A smart move for the fellow Alabama fan.

Also maybe the lightest – and least nerve-racking – moment of her opening round Thursday, when the former Secretary of State made her most public outing on the course since becoming the first of two female members at Augusta National.

Rice started strong but was clearly rattled after she hit a woman in the head on an errant approach shot on the sixth hole. She faded before the turn and combined with Bohn for a 2-under 70 in the pro-am portion of the tournament.

''Somebody asked me, 'How did it compare to diplomacy?''' Rice said while walking off the 18th green. ''And I said, 'Well, I know how to do diplomacy, I'm not so sure about the golf course.'''


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Rice's round started with a flurry and collapsed with a thud.

She chipped within 4 feet on the first and outdrove everybody on the second while hitting from the ladies' tee. Then she rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt, pumping her left arm in celebration. She kept almost everything in the fairway for another three holes.

The shot everybody in the gallery will remember most is the one Rice would rather forget.

Standing on the steep hill for a blind approach shot on the sixth, Rice hit a hybrid that sent the ball into the left side of the gallery about 50 feet away – and nowhere near the green more than 150 feet to the right.

The ball struck a spectator on her forehead, which gushed with blood and sent her to the ground to recover.

The woman wept in pain while her daughter applied towels and medical personnel hustled over. Rice apologized to the woman and had an assistant get her phone number.

The woman was later walking in the gallery when Rice finished on No. 18. She declined to give her name but told The Associated Press she was treated for a bruise and given pain medication. No stitches were needed.

''We didn't talk about it. We tried not to,'' said Rice's caddie, Kathryn Imrie, the assistant women's golf coach at Stanford, where Rice teaches and often mentors and helps recruit student-athletes. ''Obviously, she was really concerned. And for it not to bother her probably would be tough.''

Clearly, it was.

Rice, 58, struggled to find a rhythm the rest of the way. She sprayed shots all over the course and even yelled out ''fore left!'' when the other amateur in the foursome, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson, hit a wayward drive on the 12th.

''If I were playing with Condi, I'd be thinking right,'' Stephenson quipped, referring to the Republican side of the political spectrum.

Others in the group, which also included Joe Ogilvie, seemed more relaxed on one of golf's most famous courses than the competitive former Secretary of State who served during the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Bohn said he was thrilled when the PGA Tour asked if he wanted to be Rice's partner after Davis Love III dropped out with a neck injury. Bohn said his family and friends were so excited they spent one night writing out a list of questions.

''My next-door neighbors were all involved. And I was like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa. I can't give you some of the questions,''' he recalled. ''I said, ''I've got to see how it goes. I've got to see how deep we can go into it.'''

The two pros said Rice seemed more interested in talking golf than politics, and she spent most of the 5 1/2-hour round asking questions and looking for advice – maybe even more so once her game spiraled out of control.

''She got a little quick. I told her, 'Your backswing is a lot like diplomacy. They take awhile to get to where you want to go. So just slow it down,''' Ogilvie said.

Imrie said Rice, who began playing golf about 10 years ago and also trains under Eric Eshleman at the Birmingham Country Club, can sometimes play ''too quick.'' She has coached Rice for about 18 months and called her the ''perfect student'' because of her constant dedication to get better.

''She's serious, yeah,'' said Imrie, who was heading to the practice range with Rice after the round. ''That's why she is who she is.''

Rice, wearing a gray Stanford sweater that also had a Pac-12 Conference emblem, rarely took more than 20 seconds to hit after she reached for a club. She has club covers for Stanford (where she teaches), Notre Dame (where she earned her master's degree), Alabama (where she was born) and for Augusta (where she's a member).

''She's had to make quick decisions her whole life,'' said Janice Gistinelli, a friend who walked the course following Rice, whom she met doing interior design work on her home on the Monterey Peninsula.

Besides her political career, Bohn and Ogilvie seemed most interested in Rice's new golf membership.

In a historic change at one of the world's most exclusive golf clubs, Augusta National invited Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore in August to become the first female members since the club was founded in 1932.

Rice, also a member at Shoal Creek and Cypress Point, called the invitation an ''honor'' but said she doesn't view her Augusta membership as any kind of barrier-breaking achievement.

''I'm just trying to play golf, just trying to play golf,'' Rice said. ''They're great places. I'm honored to be a member of all of 'em.''

With at least two more rounds to play in the pro-am, those in her group still have plenty of other questions in mind.

Bohn said he only crossed ''a few'' questions off his list, which he didn't bring with him. He's still interested in her love of sports and her Augusta jacket – right down to where the emblem is placed. Whether Rice answers them before the Masters in two months is another matter.

''Maybe,'' he said, ''She's going to hold it up and say, 'You'll see in April.'''

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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.


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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.”