2014 U.S. Open: 5 things to know

By Doug FergusonJune 6, 2014, 5:43 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. -- Phil Mickelson always wanted to win a U.S. Open. With his victory last summer in the British Open, the U.S. Open is the only major keeping him from capturing the career Grand Slam.

Only five other players have done that. But he has not won in 11 months. And his only headlines lately have been links to an insider trading investigation involving investor Carl Icahn and gambler Billy Walters.

With all the attention on Mickelson, Masters champion Bubba Watson is the only player capable of a calendar Grand Slam. He is not to be dismissed lightly. Watson already has two wins this year, along with runner-up finishes in Phoenix, Doral and the Memorial.

Mickelson's fate will be one of the major stories at this year's U.S. Open. Here are five other things to watch for when play begins Thursday.


1. Nature trip
The quality of Pinehurst No. 2 is best stated by the fact it is hosting the U.S. Open for the third time since 1999. Not since Chicago Golf Club (1897-1911) has the U.S. Open gone back to a golf course so frequently. It is considered the masterpiece of architect Donald Ross, famous for turtleback greens that repels shots away from the middle of the putting surface.

Pinehurst Resort owners signed off on a plan to have Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw restore the original, rustic look of No. 2. That means rough has been replaced by sandy areas dotted with small wiregrass bushes and covered in natural vegetation. It required the removal of 35 acres of sod, and only 450 sprinkler heads (down from 1,150) remain.


2. Let's play two
In what amounts to golf's version of a doubleheader, the USGA is making history by staging the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open in consecutive weeks on the same golf course. Pinehurst will play at 7,562 yards (par 70) for the men, and 6,649 yards (par 70) for the women.


3. The other Woods

There at least will be one player named Woods competing for a U.S. Open trophy. Cheyenne Woods qualified for her first U.S. Women's Open on the same day her uncle, Tiger Woods, told the USGA he could not play the U.S. Open as he recovers from March 31 back surgery.


4. End of an era

This will be the last time Johnny Miller calls the shots. In a surprise move last year, the USGA accepted a 12-year offer worth about $1 billion from Fox Sports, which has never televised golf. This will be the final U.S. Open telecast by NBC Sports, ending a 20-year run with Miller as the lead analyst.


5. Toughest test
The USGA tries to convince fans that it is not trying to protect par at the U.S. Open. The evidence tends to suggest otherwise. The winning scores at Pinehurst No. 2 have been 1-under 279 (Payne Stewart in 1999) and even-par 280 (Michael Campbell in 2005). The last two U.S. Opens were won with a score over par. If it happens at Pinehurst, it would be the first time in 45 years (1957-59) that three straight U.S. Open champions were over par.

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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.”