Watson shoots 62 to surge into Bob Hope lead

By Associated PressJanuary 23, 2010, 5:58 am

bob hope classic logoLA QUINTA, Calif. – Bubba Watson loves a little rain on his game. With his mammoth drives sticking to fairways instead of bounding across them, he had the best round of his pro career to take the Bob Hope Classic lead.

Watson shot a course-record 10-under 62 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead over Alex Prugh after the second round, which began and ended in the driving storm that washed out Thursday’s play and pushed the final round to Monday.

But there were just enough hours in between squalls for a SilverRock course record by Watson, who’s trying to show there’s more to his game than his jaw-dropping work off the tee.

“I didn’t expect it to be that wet,” Watson said. “I didn’t come out of my house yesterday, so I didn’t know what it was. It was really wet.”

The Palm Springs area, which typically gets about 5 inches of rain a year, has been pounded by 3.3 inches already this week. Although it’s expected to clear on the weekend before returning Monday, the storm has wreaked havoc on the PGA Tour’s only five-round, four-course tournament – but some players handle it better than others.

Prugh, no stranger to rain from his college career at the University of Washington, followed his opening 64 with a bogey-free 66 on the Palmer Course at PGA West. First-round leader Shane Bertsch (69) was at 13 under with Joe Ogilvie (66), Chad Collins (64) and Martin Flores (65).

Watson passed off his Thursday by filming videos for Twitter of himself hitting balls out the door of his rental house – but the prolific tweeter had no trouble getting back to business.

Watson still hasn’t won on the PGA Tour, but he showed off an improved putting stroke and capitalized on wet fairways at the four-course tournament’s longest venue for a 29 on the front nine, including an eagle on the fifth hole when he drove the green from 335 yards and made a 7-foot putt.

Watson, who led the tour in eagles and was second in driving distance last year, was at 16-under 128 after taking on the tournament’s two toughest courses in his first two rounds.

“My length is definitely going to play a part on that golf course, because it’s got wide fairways,” Watson said. “I can rip it if I want to. The par 5s are reachable, unless you get a day like today. … It’s different (in the rain). It’s going to be hard for everybody, but I putted well today. That was my key. I hit a lot of good shots, but I putted well.”

After a morning delay to avoid the worst of Friday’s storm, the early starters played through the rain before it largely stopped an hour later. Their iron shots still produced large sprays of water from the fairways throughout the round.

In such marshy conditions, the rest of the players could see reasons for Watson’s success.

“The wet weather just totally plays into his favor, because his ball’s not going to get out of control when it hits the ground,” Bertsch said. “He can just fly it his 330 (yards), and plug it and lift it, clean it, and hit wedges into every hole. It doesn’t surprise me one bit.”

The rain hasn’t been quite so kind to Watson’s wife, Angie. Her Friday round with actor Kevin Nealon in the pro-am portion of the Hope Classic was canceled when the amateurs were scratched in an effort to get the round in between the raindrops.

“She would rather her play and not me,” said Watson, who got his wife into the field as a fifth-anniversary present of sorts.

Angie Watson is a former Georgia basketball player who’s even taller than her 6-foot-3 husband. She’s a 4 handicap after six years of serious play.

Bubba Watson finished fifth at the 2007 U.S. Open in Oakmont, but he’s best known for his freakishly long drives and his even more prodigious tweeting abilities. Watson attempts to answer every tweet sent to him, and he posts links to videos of everything from his swing to his rendition of “Happy Birthday” to talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres.

In the morning hours before Friday’s round, he tweeted 112 responses to fans  – albeit most of the one-word variety.

While Watson played indoor golf Thursday, Prugh waited out the rain by going to see “The Book of Eli” with another pro.

“I think the biggest factor was having to control your wedge shots,” Prugh said. “Water-wise, there wasn’t any trouble, no casual water that I found. There might be (Friday night), with all this downpour that we’re getting.”

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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.”