Sharp leads, Wie one shot back in Arkansas

By Associated PressJune 28, 2014, 12:39 am

ROGERS, Ark. – Michelle Wie didn't let a little thing like a hectic national media tour slow the momentum following her U.S. Women's Open victory last week at Pinehurst.

The former prodigy continued her resurgence on the LPGA Tour on Friday, shooting a 5-under 66 to finish a stroke behind leader Alena Sharp after the first round of the NW Arkansas Championship.

Wie spent much of her week leading into the tournament busy on the national morning television circuit, only arriving at Pinnacle Country Club on Thursday.

Following a practice round and 12 hours of much-needed sleep, the most recognizable name on the LPGA Tour shot a bogey-free 66 on the 6,375 yard layout - closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th and upstaging local favorite Stacy Lewis.

''Definitely running on fumes right now,'' Wie said. ''... I think it definitely struck me on the back nine, a little bit tired, but I just was really excited to get out here and start playing again. New York was fun, but it's just fun to get back to playing golf.''



Sharp, the Canadian ranked 234th in the world, had only 27 putts in her opening 65, while Mexico's Alejandra Llaneza matched Wie with a bogey-free 66.

The top-ranked Stacy Lewis, who played at the nearby University of Arkansas, was 2 over after four holes before recovering to finish with a 70.

Ten players, including major champions So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng, shot 67.

Sharp entered this week having missed the cut in six of her 11 LPGA Tour events this year, though she did win the Symetra Tour's season-opening event in Arizona in February.

The Canadian entered the week 137th on the LPGA Tour with an average of 31.34 putts per round, but she credited a recently putting lesson for Friday's improvement.

''I'm trusting it more and just trying to relax,'' Sharp said. ''It's been a part of my game that hasn't been the greatest this year. I've hit a lot of greens and not making a lot of birdies, so today was definitely a step in the right direction.''

While Sharp controlled the leaderboard following the morning group, Wie overcame windy conditions to post the best round of the afternoon - closing with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

She closed with a birdie on the par-5 18th and needed only 28 putts in her first round since earning her first major championship at Pinehurst.

Wie, who was 64th on the LPGA Tour money list in 2012 and 41st last year, has yet to miss a cut this year and leads the money list with nearly $1.6 million.

''I just feel comfortable out there, and I'm trying to keep improving a little bit every day and still working on a lot of things,'' Wie said.

Lewis earned an unofficial win in the rain-shortened event as an amateur in 2007, but the Texas native, who finished second to Wie in the Women's Open, struggled early on Friday - much to the dismay of her large pro-Razorbacks gallery.

She was 2 over after four holes, thanks to a missed 4-foot par putt on No. 2 and a bogey from the greenside bunker on No. 4.

Lewis recovered with three birdies to finish 1 under, but she needed 31 putts on her way to settling for a tie for 43rd.

''It's always hard playing here,'' Lewis said. ''People, I don't think they realize how hard it is. There's a lot of pressure, and it's hard to not put too much pressure on yourself.''

European Solheim Cup star Caroline Hedwall also was in the group at 67 along with Jennifer Rosales, Moriya Jutanugarn, Emma Jandel, Gerina Piller, Ji Young Oh, Pornanong Phatlum and Paz Echeverria.

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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.”