Who Wouldve Guessed

By Brian HewittJuly 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
So now golf has another American story.
 
A little-known Ohioan is the 'Champion Golfer of the Year.'
 
Ben Curtis of Kent State and the Mill Creek Golf Club in Ostrander, Ohio, made a 12-foot putt on the 72nd hole of the Open Championship Sunday. And it turned out to win him the tournament. It was his first major. In his first major.
 
Curtis' maternal grandfather built the course on which he grew up and learned the game. His father, Bob Curtis, is Mill Creek's superintendent.
 
Last month Jim Furyk, the son of a Pennsylvania teaching professional, won his first major at Olympia Fields near Chicago. It was his first victory in a major championship. It was the U.S. Open. In fact all four current major championship title holders--Curtis, Furyk, Texan Rich Beem and Canadian Mike Weir--own just one of these grails.
 
Somewhere Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia, among others, are scratching their heads and trying to figure out what they are doing wrong. They are on a short list of best players never to have won a major.
 
Montgomerie's case is a particularly peculiar one. He withdrew from this Open Championship at Royal St. George's before completing nine holes. Said he slipped on wet pavement before his round and hurt his wrist breaking the fall. No good reason to disbelieve him. But lots of people were wondering why he was so chipper during interviews after his tournament had ended so abruptly. He actually looked relieved.
 
It was almost as if he were glad he didn't have to spend another few days taking on the quirky monster St. George's had quietly become. Montgomerie remains an enigma. He has been an absolute warrior in the Ryder Cup for the Euros for a long time now. But too often he seems to shrink from the challenge of the majors.
 
Mickelson has now played in 11 British Opens without even a top-10 finish. He shot an indifferent 78 Sunday. Only nine of the 73 players to make the cut posted a worse 72-hole score.
 
Garcia was poised to make a move Sunday. And he had a short-iron in his hand on the first hole after rifling his drive into perfect position. Alas, the shot sailed long and left. Three putts later Garcia had bogey. He drifted to a final round 74 and a disappointing tie for 10th.
 
Tiger Woods has won eight major championships. And he was in even better position than Garcia after birdieing three of the first seven holes Sunday. But he bogeyed three of the next eight. Curtis beat him by two.
 
Woods has not triumphed in any of his last five majors. That is not a slump. But it is a drought, by his lofty standards. Meanwhile, Woods still hasn't won a major coming from behind on Sunday. Much will be made of this in the days leading up to next month's PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.
 
My best guess is Woods will take all of this palaver and use it as fuel to drive himself even harder. That, by the way, is a scary thought.
 
If Ben Curtis was the Cinderella story of the British Open, Thomas Bjorn is the guy who appeared to turn into a pumpkin. He bogeyed the 15th, doubled the 16th and bogeyed the 17th to lose by one.
 
But then he proceeded to comport himself in a fashion that was positively heroic.
 
The balding Dane stood in front of the cameras and the microphones and the notepads after his round and took on all comers. He offered not one excuse. He surrendered not one shred of dignity. The loss, he said, would hurt in the coming days and weeks and months. You couldn't help but respect him.
 
Somebody once said, 'Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.' The corollary you never hear is, 'Show me a bad loser and I'll show you a loser.'
 
Fact is, if you retain your grace, your dignity, your honesty and your perspective, you are never a loser.
 
Ben Curtis' victory is another American golf story. And it is a wonderful one.
 
Thomas Bjorn's acceptance of what happened to him at Royal St. George's is several levels above and beyond what Curtis attained.
 
Bjorn's is a universal example. And it is a shining one.
 

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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.”