Granada leads CME LPGA by 2; Lewis 3 back

By Doug FergusonNovember 20, 2014, 9:58 pm

NAPLES, Fla. - Stacy Lewis was three shots out of the lead Thursday and one step closer to the largest payoff in women's golf at the CME Group Tour Championship.

Lewis overcame the kind of tension she typically feels on the weekend at majors. She held it together with her short game, made a 25-foot eagle putt late in her opening round and wound up with a 3-under 69 to trail Julieta Granada by three shots.

"It's going to be a long week if we're feeling that on Thursday," Lewis said.

There are two tournaments in one at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.

Granada played bogey-free in a tough wind on the Tiburon Course for a 66 that gave her a two-shot lead over Sandra Gal in the LPGA Tour's final tournament.

The other event is the Race to CME Globe, which pays a $1 million bonus to the winner. Only the top nine players in the standings can win it, and Granada isn't one of them. She still hopes to close out the season with her first victory in eight years.

The top three players - Lewis, Inbee Park and 17-year-old Lydia Ko - need only to win the tournament for the $1 million bonus. Lewis is atop the standings, so finishing ahead of the other two is a good spot to be. Park and Ko each shot 71.

"I think everybody is thinking about the $1 million," Park said.

It certainly showed at the start, especially when Lewis sent her opening tee shot well to the right. She recovered well and nearly holed a bunker shot for birdie.

Conditions were tough enough that only five players broke 70, and 19 of the 69 in the field broke par.

Lewis surged ahead with a hybrid from 217 yards that finished pin-high at the back of the green on the par-5 17th, and she lightly pumped her fist when it fell for eagle.

All week long, the chatter has been about everything at stake at the Tour Championship. Along with the $1 million bonus, Lewis or Park could take home all the significant awards on the LPGA Tour - player of the year, Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average and the money title.

"It's one good round," Lewis said. "We've got a long, long way to go."

Granada knows what it's like to be an instant millionaire. She was a 20-year-old rookie in 2006 when she captured the ADT Championship, which at the time was turned into a winner-take-all extravaganza. That remains her only LPGA victory.

Granada is No. 24 in the standings, though there is plenty on the line at a tournament that still pays $500,000.


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"I think all the girls that have a chance, they know what they're doing out there," Granada said. "They're tough and they're good players, so they will just keep playing their game. This course is a good finish, especially with 17 being a reachable par 5."

Of the top nine in the standings who have a mathematical shot at the $1 million, only three failed to break par. Defending champion Shanshan Feng (No. 6) and Karrie Webb (No. 9) each had a 74, while Anna Nordqvist (No. 7) shot 77.

So Yeon Ryu (No. 5) had a 70. U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie, who is fourth in the standings, opened with two early birdies and was in good shape until a double bogey from a bunker on No. 16 and a bogey on the 17th, which felt like giving up two shots to the field. She was at 72.

Lewis thought she easily could have been 3 over through three holes, so toiling for pars at least calmed her down for a challenging day.

"Those first three or four holes, my swing was fine. I just wasn't trusting what I was doing," Lewis said. "You're worried about making a mistake or a big number. That was the hardest part. ... I don't know if Lydia quite understands all that's going on, but you could see it in Inbee and probably in me, too. We both played some tentative golf today, and hopefully, we can both free it up as we go throughout the week."

Park made 15 pars in what she called a "boring round" with plenty of birdie chances and very few marked on her card. Just like Lewis, though, the five-time major champion didn't shoot herself out of the tournament.

"Just happy that I still have a chance to win everything," Park said. "I'm going to play very hard the next three days."

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Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.