Rory, Rickie among Abu Dhabi co-leaders when Rd. 3 suspended

By Associated PressJanuary 23, 2016, 3:13 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler were part of a five-way tie for the lead at the Abu Dhabi Championship after Andy Sullivan made a triple-bogey in fading light to relinquish a two-shot advantage late in a fog-affected third round on Saturday.

Sullivan drove into a bush, couldn't find his ball, returned to the tee and eventually made a 7 at No. 9 in a dramatic finish to the day's play, which ended with most of the field yet to finish their third rounds.

Sullivan dropped to 9 under and was a shot behind McIlroy, Fowler, Branden Grace, Ian Poulter, and Joost Luiten, who all have holes to play early Sunday before starting the final round.

''It's a really bunched leaderboard,'' said McIlroy, who ended his second round on Saturday morning with a birdie-eagle finish to be tied for second. ''It will be a bit of a sprint to the finish.''

There are 21 players within three shots of the lead – and Jordan Spieth is among them.

The top-ranked American started the third round seven shots back and finished it in the gathering gloom and in a six-ball – a career-first – after barely beating the horn on the 9th tee. Indeed, the claxon sounded at the top of his backswing as he rushed to avoid an early morning return on Sunday.

Sullivan is one of five players a shot behind – with 2012 champion Robert Rock, Henrik Stenson, Thomas Pieters, and Rafael Cabrera-Bello – after his nightmare on his ninth hole, when he went way right off the tee. He searched for his ball in two separate bushes – McIlroy even came to help him – but had to reload.

Sullivan's second drive found the rough on the right, his approach was short, his chip onto the green poor, and he two-putted from 10 feet.

''It wasn't great to see,'' McIlroy said. ''I was hoping he would have made that putt just to give him a little bit of momentum going into tomorrow.''

McIlroy chased down Sullivan in the final round of the season-ending World Tour Championship in November, to clinch the Race to Dubai title. This time, it has happened earlier – and it was Sullivan who imploded.

The other member of the final group was Bryson DeChambeau, the American amateur with the self-styled nickname of ''The Golf Scientist,'' who plays with a set of home-made clubs that are all the same length. He started the third round tied on 8-under par with McIlroy, but dropped back to 7 under by the time play was suspended. The group still had nine holes to play.

DeChambeau removed his earphones, took off his flat cap, and approached McIlroy on the practice green ahead of his first round with the four-time major winner.

''I'm Bryson, nice to meet you,'' DeChambeau said. And in another display of reverence, the U.S. Amateur and NCAA champion applauded when McIlroy's name was announced on the first tee.

DeChambeau was about to learn just how much pressure is involved in contending in a top-class field at a high-profile professional event. He drove into the bunker on No. 1, then drove into the tree on the right on No. 2 to make bogey.

Fowler shot 68 in the second round and continued that form by picking up three birdies in the 10 holes he managed in the third round. Poulter, playing with a taped-up thumb that he ''took a chunk out of'' on Thursday, made four birdies in five holes around the turn and was 5-under after 13 holes of his third round.

Play started nearly three hours late – for the second straight day – because of thick morning fog.

Resuming on No. 14, McIlroy made three straight pars, to take his number for the round to 15, before landing approach shots inside two feet on Nos. 17 and 18. He nearly holed a wedge shot on No. 17, before hitting a 5-wood from 268 yards to 18 inches on the last. He tapped in his eagle putt for a 70.

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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.”