Woods the favorite for Masters with British bookies
Barely an hour after the announcement Tuesday that Woods will make his return at Augusta National next month, the British bookmaker William Hill installed him the 4-1 favorite. Phil Mickelson is second at 6-1, followed by Padraig Harrington at 16-1.
Hill also lists Woods as 1-20 to make the cut at the Masters. He is 25-1 to win all four majors this year.
“All the major courses are Tiger’s favorites, so despite a terrible beginning we think that 2010 will end up being terrific for Tiger,” William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said in a statement.
Woods has not played competitively since crashing his car into a tree outside his Florida home, setting off revelations he had been cheating on his wife.
“We’re pleased to hear that Tiger is to return to golf,” Royal & Ancient Golf Club spokesman Malcolm Booth said. “Golf needs the world No. 1 to be playing.”
The Royal & Ancient, golf’s governing body sport outside the United States, hopes Woods will play at the British Open in July.
Woods has not yet entered to play at the British Open at St. Andrews, but has until May 27 to send his entry form. Booth said it’s “normal” that he hasn’t entered yet.
“Typically, we would receive entries within a few weeks of that deadline,” Booth said, noting several players from the “exempt field” of former champions have already sent their forms.
The Masters begins April 8.
Woods has won 14 majors, including four Masters titles and three British Opens – two of them at St. Andrews, Scotland. The British Open is July 15-18.
“We’d always want the world No. 1 to return to the Open championship,” Booth said. “He could be the first to win three times at St. Andrews, and it would be back-to-back. No one’s ever won three at St. Andrews.”
English golfer Ross Fisher was driving to this week’s Transitions Championship in Florida when he heard the news of Woods’ plan to return at the Masters.
“It’s going to be very interesting now to see what happens at Augusta,” Fisher said. “But I thought he might have come back a bit earlier at either the Tavistock Cup or Bay Hill to get some golf in. Still it’s going to be very exciting.”
Fisher said the atmosphere had not been the same at the recent Accenture and CA Championship without Woods in the field for the first two big-money tournaments of 2010.
“There is always an extra element when you have the best golfer in the world taking part,” Fisher said. “But the best news now is that he is coming back.”
Kaymer in six-way tie for BMW International lead
PULHEIM, Germany - Danish golfer Lucas Bjerregaard shot a 5-under 67 to equal the week's lowest round for a six-way share of the lead after the third round of the BMW International Open on Saturday.
Bjerregaard had eight birdies, a double bogey and a bogey to finish on 5-under 211 - jumping 23 places and joining local favorites Martin Kaymer and Maximilian Kieffer, England's Chris Paisley and Aaron Rai, and Australia's Scott Hend at the top of the leaderboard.
Bjerregaard was fortunate to play before the wind picked up again later in the afternoon.
Kaymer, the 2008 champion, delighted the home supporters with two birdies in his last three holes for a 71.
Finland's Mikko Korhonen and Chile's Nico Geyger were one shot off the lead after rounds of 69 and 73, respectively.
Defending champion Andres Romero equaled the week's best round (67) to be among a large group two shots off the lead going into Sunday, including three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.
Romero is bidding to be the first player to retain the title.
Watch: You have to see this golf swing to believe it
Ho-sung Choi is a 44-year-old South Korean touring pro who plays primarily on the Japan Golf Tour. This week he's competing in the Asian Tour's Kolon Korea Open, where he is in second place, two shots off the lead, after three rounds. This is especially significant because the Korea Open is an Open Qualiffying event, meaning he could qualify for this year's Open Championship.
That, however, is not why we're writing about Mr. Choi. The video above is why:
We're with Charlie here: We can't wait for Brandel's take on this swing.
Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas
ROGERS, Ark. – Since its first year on the LPGA Tour in 2007, the crowds at the NW Arkansas Championship have belonged to Stacy Lewis.
Another former University of Arkansas star staked her claim as the hometown favorite Friday when Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 to take the first-round lead at Pinnacle Country Club.
Like Lewis, the two-time winner of the tournament, Lopez starred as a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks before joining the LPGA Tour in 2016. Despite flashes of potential, Lopez had yet to join Lewis among the ranks of the world's best - missing the cut in her last two tournaments and entering this week ranked 136th in the world.
For a day, at least, the Mexican standout felt right at home atop the leaderboard in her adopted home state.
''I feel like home,'' Lopez said. ''I feel so, so comfortable out here, because I feel that everyone and every single person out here is just rooting for us.''
Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok. Six others finished at 6 under on a day when only 26 of the 144 players finished over par, thanks to some mid-week rain that softened the greens and calm skies throughout the day.
Jutanugarn finished second at the tournament last year and is trying to win for the second time on the LPGA Tour this year. Her younger sister, Ariya, is already a two-time winner this year and shot an opening-round 66.
Lewis, the former world No. 1 who won the event in 2007 in 2014, finished with a 66. She's expecting her first child in early November
Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.
Friday was Lopez's long-awaited day to standout, though, much to the delight of the pro-Arkansas crowd.
After missing the cut her last two times out, Lopez took some time off and returned home to Mexico City to rest her mind and work on her game. The work paid off with two straight birdies to open her round and a 6-under 30 on her front nine.
Lopez needed only 25 putts and finished two shots off the course record of 61, and she overcame a poor drive on the par-5 18th to finish with a par and keep her place at the top of the leaderboard. Her previous low score was a 64 last year, and she matched her career best by finishing at 8 under.
''(Rest) is a key that no one really truly understands until you're out here,'' Lopez said. ''... Sometimes resting is actually the part you've got to work on.''
Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead
CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.
Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.
“Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”
Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.
Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.
“The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”