Getty Images

United States wins back Walker Cup from GB&I

By Associated PressSeptember 11, 2017, 12:41 am


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The United States won back the Walker Cup from Britain and Ireland in an unprecedented runaway that atoned for a big loss two years ago.

Collin Morikawa, Doug Ghim and Maverick McNealy each went 4-0 - a first for a team in Walker Cup history - to lead the United States to a 19-7 victory Sunday in the biennial amateur matches at the super exclusive Los Angeles Country Club's North Course.

Norman Xiong, at 18 the youngest player in the competition, came painfully close to also going 4-0 before halving his match with Scott Gregory. Xiong, one of three Southern Californians who had huge performances this weekend, had been up 2 with two holes to play before Gregory caught him.

It was a big turnaround from two years ago, when Britain and Ireland won 16 1/2-9 1/2 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. The 19 points for the Americans matched the most ever in Walker Cup history. That came in 1993 when the United States won 19-5 at Interlachen.

It was special for Morikawa in helping the United States extend its lead to 36-9-1 in a series that dates to 1922.

Morikawa, who's from La Canada Flintridge and plays at California, beat British Amateur champion Harry Ellis 2 and 1 to cap his perfect weekend.

''It's something special and you can't really explain what it is,'' Morikawa said. ''I wasn't really nervous on the first tee, in the first shot for the U.S. on Saturday morning, but you just kind of are excited and thrilled that you can get out there and hit a tee ball for your country.''

Morikawa teamed with Xiong, who's from Canyon Lake, to win foursomes matches Saturday and Sunday mornings. Both won their singles matches Saturday afternoon.

Morikawa was 2 down after three holes before winning four straight holes to take control. It helped, too, when Ellis bogeyed the par-3 11th.

''I've never really gone undefeated in one of these team events, and just to have some momentum to know that I can do it against these guys, these guys are the best players around the country and the entire world, really,'' he said.

Morikawa and Xiong got the rout going Saturday morning when they beat Ellis and Plant 8 and 7 in a foursomes match, the largest margin for an 18-hole match at the Walker Cup.

Ghim, of Arlington Heights, Illinois, beat Matthew Jordan 3 and 1 in Sunday's singles. McNealy, of Portola Vallley in Northern California, topped Alfie Plant 4 and 2. Ghim and McNealy teamed up to beat Jordan and Robert MacIntyre in a morning foursome match. They also paired up to win a foursomes match Saturday as well as their singles matches.

The United States went into the afternoon singles matches needing only 2 1/2 points to win the amateur biennial event. It got them quickly.

Braden Thornberry of Ole Miss, the 2017 NCAA individual champion, rolled past Paul McBride, 6 and 5. With Xiong assured of halving his match, Stewart Hagestad, a junior member at LACC who played at Southern California, won 2 and 1 against Jack Singh Brar to clinch the competition.

The rest of the matches contributed to the huge victory margin. The Americans won seven of 10 singles matches Sunday, with two being halved.

McNealy was on the losing side two years ago.

He said winning back the trophy was bigger than going undefeated.

''I think it starts with the U.S. team getting that big trophy and that was our goal at the beginning of the week and I'm so excited to be part of the 2017 winning Walker Cup team,'' said McNealy, who played at Stanford. ''That's what's most important to me. I'm so glad we could win this for our team, win this for Captain (Spider) Miller and win this for the country.

''It's been unbelievable,'' he said. ''I'll never forget this week. It's the end of my amateur career, but it means so much more than that to me,'' he added.

Ghim was runner-up to Doc Redman at the U.S. Amateur last month at Riviera.

''It feels great to be able to play it the way I wanted to,'' Ghim said. ''I wasn't really sure how nervous I would be, but, I don't know, I felt really comfortable from the first tee shot on and just kind of rode the wave. I've been playing really well all summer and to end the summer with a week like this is so much fun.''

Britain and Ireland coach Andrew Ingram said the Americans were ''superb all week.''

As for the rout, he said, ''Today's been an, I guess back home we call it a bit of a hedgehog day. We couldn't get going. We couldn't get anything moving forward.''

LACC North, which sits between Beverly Hills and Westwood, with the high-rises of Wilshire Boulevard in the background, will host the U.S. Open in 2023.

Getty Images

Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

Getty Images

Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

@kharms27 on Instagram

Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

Getty Images

McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.