Sandbagger Cleared

By Brian HewittFebruary 27, 2008, 5:00 pm
In the wake of the flap surrounding the team portion of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, amateur Billy Walters has been cleared by tournament officials amid questions that his 11 handicap was inflated.
 
Walters, is the erstwhile Las Vegas golf hustler, who won the event with pro partner Fredrik Jacobson by a record 10 shots. When Jacobson finished 4-under on his ball, many people assumed Walters accounted for the other 34 of the teams 38 under total. In actuality, Jacobson made 15 birdies and two eagles over 72 holes. And Walters, who didnt break 80 on his own ball in any of the four rounds, played well on the holes Jacobson faltered.
 
It was classic ham and egg as Walters described it.
 
Meanwhile a former USGA official told GOLF CHANNEL the pros are the ones that need to be investigated in the handicap department.
 
The pros are grossly over-handicapped, said the official. If the pros had a handicap, they would come in at +5 to +7. Put Vijay Singh on a high slope rated course with a +7.1 Handicap Index and his Course Handicap would be +9. He plays as a scratch so he gets nine free shots every round. Thats 36 freebies over four days.
 
The pros, said the official, are the real but silent handicap crooks here.
 
FREDDIE A RYDER CUP CAPTAIN?:
Any hopes Freddie Couples harbored of one day being a Ryder Cup captain died Tuesday when the TOUR announced he would captain the 2009 U.S. Presidents Cup team..Or did they?
 
Couples will be almost 53 in 2012, the next available opportunity for him to captain the U.S. Ryder Cup squad. The last U.S. captain anywhere near that old was Jackie Burke, 50 years of age, way back in 1973.
 
Nicklaus, Palmer, Watson, Trevino, Kite, Crenshaw, Strange'they were all still in their 40s when they held the job.
 
PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka declined to comment on the candidacies of Couples or any other potential future captains late Tuesday. But, he told me, his organization looks for captains with, among other things, recent Ryder Cup experience and peers on the team. Couples, it must be noted, hasnt played on a Ryder Cup team in 11 years.
 
But maybe he will be the exception that proves the rule. We do, after all, call seniors Champions these days. Maybe the wildly-popular Couples could turn out to be the right man for the Ryder Cup job four years from now. Given the Americans' poor record in recent Ryder Cups, perhaps they need a captain a little longer in the tooth.
 
Meanwhile Steranka said we can expect to learn the name of the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain some time between the end of this years matches in Louisville and the beginning of the points qualifying period for the next team.
 
Corey Pavin, who will be 50 at the time of the 2010 matches, is the early favorite for that captaincy. Dont be surprised if Davis Love III gets the nod for 2012. He will be 48 during those matches scheduled for Medinah near Chicago.
 

NOTHING FLIES LIKE A:
The road to Royal Birkdale is paved withtractor tracks?
 
Officials at the John Deere Classic are thinking outside the box in the ultra-competitive arena of recruiting players to come to their event. And it isnt easy when your July dates are the week before the Open Championship (to be played this year at Royal Birkdale in England) and your venue is Silvis, Ill.
 
The tournament has chartered the same 767 jet used by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and his team. It is configured with 102 seats, all of them first class.
 
Tournament director Clair Peterson has been visiting TOUR stops this year and handing players a mock one-way boarding pass, which promises, among other things, hassle-free security and customs screening, no risk of lost luggage and two full meals served in flight.
 
The cost: A player must commit to play in the John Deere Classic. Once that player does, Peterson will reserve up to three seats per player. There is a requested minimum donation of $1,000 per seat which will go towards the tournaments charity fund.
 
That $1,000 number, by the way, is significantly cheaper than any first class seats available through the airlines. A Monday spot check with United Airlines priced out a Chicago-Manchester first class round trip (on the British Open dates) at 6,759.90. One way was a whopping $5,271.40.
 
Better yet, the flight, which will leave at 8 p.m. Sunday after final round play concludes at the John Deere, leaves from Moline and lands in Manchester (close to Birkdale) at 8:30 a.m. Monday. Moline is just minutes from the TPC Deere Run. Normally players heading over to the U.K. from the John Deere Classic Sunday have to hustle the two hours over to Chicago and hop a commercial jet there.
 
The non-stop 767 gives them the most hassle-free way to get to the U.K., plus allows them to pick up Ryder Cup and FedExCup points in a full-status event the week before, said John Deere tournament director Clair Peterson. It has changed the way they view us. Now, if youre playing in the British Open, you have a great reason to also play in the John Deere Classic as well.
 
Peterson added the response from TOUR players has been very positive. Tom Lehman, for example, already has requested the full allotment of three seats and will take six (three more for family members) if extra seats become available.
 

AND FINALLY:
Heres an unsolicited suggestion to the good folks who run the LG Skins Game in late November: Suspend the qualifying requirements for one year and bring together the captains.
 
Thats right, make it Faldo, Azinger, Norman and Couples.
 
Id pay to watch that.
 

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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.”