Bordering on the Delightful

By Brian HewittSeptember 8, 2003, 4:00 pm
What a breath of fresh air. The Bell Canadian Open, won by Bob Tway in a three-hole, sudden death playoff late Sunday, offered lots to like. For lots of reasons.
 
For starters there was the 18th hole, a 446-yard crucible of a par-4 with a hazard in the landing area that took driver out of the players hand and, in many cases, forced them to hit a long-iron off a downhill lie up to a small, elevated green on their second shots. How, we wonder, could architect H.S. Colt have known all those years ago that he was building a finishing hole that would stand the test of time?
 
The idea that par on the 72nd hole is a meaningful score is a notion we don't see enough of at golf's top levels these days. If Tom Pernice, for example, had made four on the 72nd hole, he would have joined Tway and Brad Faxon in the playoff.
 
Colt's 18th at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club also went a long way towards producing the kind of winning score - 8-under par - that is just about correct. Anytime the big boys get to 20-under or better for 72 holes, the eyes tend to glaze. The word 'birdiefest' creeps into the lexicon. These guys are good. But maybe we don't want them to be THAT good. Conversely, on those rare occasions when even par or worse wins a tournament, it is usually because somebody has tricked up the layout.
 
Hamilton Golf & Country Club was neither tricked up or tricked down. It was a fair test with turn-of-the-century aesthetics. And the players, almost to a man, loved it. How often, by the way, does that happen?
 
I also liked the Bell Canadian Open because it had, in its field, a matinee idol, whose name wasn't Tiger Woods. Surely if Jesse Ventura can get himself elected governor of Minnesota, Canadian lefty Mike Weir can get himself voted in as his country's Prime Minister one day. Weir fulfilled all his obligations, on and off the golf course, every step of the way last week. And the adoring crowds loved every moment of it. The Masters champion birdied the 16th and 17th holes Sunday and almost made one of the best scrambling pars you will ever see on 18 en route to a 10th-place finish.
 
Then there was Hidemichi Tanaka. This diminutive Japanese player (132 pounds, size 28 waist) was the 54-hole leader. He told the Canadian media how much he loves their country and how he has been carrying a Canadian two dollar piece--a 'Toonie'--to mark his golf ball for years now. Tanaka, in his second full year on the PGA Tour, has won nine times in Japan. He almost got it done three years ago at Valderrama in the WGC-American Express Championship. Alas, he shot a final round 77 to leave the door open for...you guessed it...Mike Weir.
 
Tanaka grew up in Hiroshima and his boyhood idol was Tom Watson. He finished tied for 15th at this year's U.S. Open at Olympia Fields. We haven't heard the last of him yet. One of his nicknames in Japan is 'The Ant.' Figuratively, Tanaka can carry many times his own weight. At Hamilton, Tanaka, too, bogeyed the last hole and wound up tied for fourth with K.J. Choi.
 
Meanwhile, the principal focus of golf this week will shift to the women's side for the Solheim Cup matches that will begin Friday in Sweden.
 
These matches, too, are always a breath of fresh air, although it won't seem the same without Dottie Pepper playing for the Americans. This is the second straight time injuries have kept the voluble Pepper from competing. She is the heart and soul of the American team. Let's hope, at the relatively young age of 38, Pepper's Solheim Cup run has not ended.
 
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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.”