Furyk, Rose share 54-hole Bridgestone lead

By Doug FergusonAugust 8, 2015, 10:15 pm

AKRON, Ohio - Justin Rose went 30 straight holes without making a birdie. He made up for it in a big way Saturday at the Bridgestone Invitational with a 7-under 63 that gave him a share of the lead with Jim Furyk going into the final round.

The last bunch of birdies made for a quick change on the leaderboard. Rose was four shots behind with four holes to play when he made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 15th, hit wedge into 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 16th and closed out his best round ever at Firestone with a 40-foot birdie on the 18th.

Furyk finished with six straight pars, and he had to work for the last one. His tee shot landed in a sand-filled divot, and he punched it short of the green in the rough and then chipped long onto the fringe behind the flag. But he rolled in that 12-foot putt for par and a 69 to join Rose at 9-under 201.

They were two shots ahead of Shane Lowry of Ireland, who had a 67.

Steve Bowditch also had a 63 and was in a group four shots behind that included Ian Poulter (65), Henrik Stenson (68) and Bubba Watson (69). Watson had a chance to get closer to the lead until he missed a short birdie putt on the 16th and dropped a shot on the next hole.

Still, what Rose did Saturday was enough evidence for any number of players to have a chance.

That most likely does not include Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth, whose putting kept his 72 from being worse. Spieth finished with a double bogey to fall nine shots behind, all but assuring that Rory McIlroy will remain No. 1 going into the PGA Championship next week at Whistling Straits.


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Rose had no such problems.

He made a pair of key par saves on the front nine that kept the momentum from his birdie-birdie start, and he didn't come seriously close to a bogey the rest of the way. As for the birdies? They were overdue.

Rose made birdie on the sixth hole of the opening round, went the last 12 holes without another, and then made 17 pars and one bogey on Friday. He started fast Saturday, and finished even better.

"I guess that shows it just evens out, really, if you can stay the course and stay patient, kind of believe that you're going to get your run eventually," Rose said. "Yesterday, I actually played really well. ... It just didn't happen yesterday. But came into today with a belief that I was still playing well."

He also decided he was showing Firestone too much respect with all the talk about firm conditions. Rose had been playing short of the flag and expected a bounce toward the hole. On Saturday, he decided to attack more often and was rewarded.

Now he's in position to capture his second World Golf Championship - Rose also won the WGC at Doral.

Furyk remains in position for his first, and it could happen at no better place than Firestone, the course where he was denied victory in 2001 after a seven-hole playoff with Tiger Woods and in 2012 when Furyk made double bogey on the last hole.

The slight pump of the fist when he made par on the last - a lot of emotion for Furyk - had nothing to do with staying tied for the lead. Furyk simply knows that every little shot can make a difference, and he had made bogey on his final hole the previous two days.

It wasn't easy. Furyk played out of the rough for so much of the back nine that when he finally piped one down the middle on the 18th, he was eager to get a short iron in his hand for a shot at birdie. Instead, he saw his ball sitting in so much sand in the divot that he had no choice but to punch an 8-iron.

It worked out, and now he faces one more round to finally try to get a win at Firestone.

DIVOTS: Dustin Johnson made only one birdie in his round of 75 and went from the fringe of contention to 10 shots out of the lead. ... Jason Day was four shots out of the lead when he hit two balls into the water on the par-5 16th and had to make a 20-foot putt just to escape with a triple bogey. He wound up with a 70 and was seven shots behind.

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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.


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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.


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“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.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


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“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”