Horschel builds two-shot lead at East Lake

By Doug FergusonSeptember 12, 2014, 7:26 pm

ATLANTA – Billy Horschel showed why he might be the hottest player in golf at the moment with another 4-under 66 on Friday in the Tour Championship. It was his 10th straight round in the 60s. He already has a victory and a runner-up finish in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

And now he gets to take on the best player in golf.

Rory McIlroy rode three big putts and one bizarre break - a tee shot landed in a spectator's pocket - on his way to a 65 that left him two shots behind and put him in the final group at East Lake going into the homestretch of the FedEx Cup.

At stake for both of them - along with Chris Kirk - is a shot at the $10 million bonus.

''I'm a guy that when I feel good about my game, I've got some confidence that I'm going to figure out some way to play well and post a number,'' Horschel said.

That he has done.


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Horschel is 35 under par in his last 10 rounds. He was runner-up at the Deutsche Bank Championship two weeks ago, when he squandered a shot to at least get into a playoff by chunking a 6-iron into a hazard. And he followed that with a victory in the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills.

And now he has a pair of 66s, putting him at 8-under 132 at East Lake.

McIlroy made his only bogey with a buried lie at the face of a bunker on No. 4, causing him to blast out sideways. He bounced back with birdies, and poured it on at the end of his round with a 12-foot par save, a 20-foot birdie and a 25-foot birdie.

And then there was his par on the 14th, which looked ordinary only on paper. His tee shot drifted right into the pine trees, clattered around and dropped straight down. No one knew where it went until a fan realized it had fallen into the front pocket of his shorts.

PGA Tour rules official Robby Ware made sure the fan had not moved, and McIlroy was given a free drop under Rule 19-1-a.

Retrieving the ball? McIlroy wasn't going there.

''I know how sweaty my pockets are. I'm not going into anyone else's,'' McIlroy said. ''I need to stop hitting it off line. Things happen there.''

McIlroy was joined by Jason Day, who made bogey on his last hole for a 67; and Kirk, who made two bogeys on the back nine that offset a run of four straight birdies around the turn for a 68.

Kirk, Horschel and McIlroy are among the top five seeds in the FedEx Cup, meaning a victory would guarantee the $10 million bonus.

McIlroy seized the No. 1 ranking by winning the British Open, a World Golf Championship and the PGA Championship in successive starts. He was the top seed going into the FedEx Cup, though because the points are reset for East Lake, the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland always knew it would come down to the Tour Championship.

As much as he wants to end a great year on a high note, McIlroy appears to be playing with no concerns.

''Before coming into these FedEx Cup playoffs ... it was going to be a great season, anyway,'' he said. ''I wanted to cap it off in style, and I've given myself a chance to do that over the next two days. I'm going into this week with nothing to lose. I'm the one that's got the two majors this year. I'm the one that's had the great season. Those are the guys that are trying to cap off a great season for themselves.

''No matter what happens over the weekend, it's going to be OK,'' he said. ''But I still want to win this thing.''

McIlroy and Horschel first mixed it up seven years ago when they were amateurs at the Walker Cup. Horschel beat him in singles on the 18th hole, and the next morning teamed with Rickie Fowler in a foursomes win over McIlroy and Jonny Caldwell. Horschel was shouting and pumping fists, as he always does, and it rubbed McIlroy the wrong way. In the final singles session, McIlroy beat him 4 and 2.

That was a long time ago. Neither harbors a grudge.

McIlroy has gone on to win four majors at age 25 - only Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones have done that - while Horschel picked up his second career win last week. They last played together as pros at the Honda Classic this year, where McIlroy had rounds of 66-63 and Horschel missed the cut.

''He's a good buddy,'' Horschel said. ''If I happen to come out on top and we're battling out these next two rounds, that means a lot. The guy won three straight events in a row, and two of them happened to be majors. I think that's pretty impressive. He's at that stage where when you're able to go toe to toe with one of the best players and the No. 1 ranked player in the world and you're able to come out on top, that gives me a lot of confidence.''

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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.


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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.”