Lowry leads U.S. Open with big names lurking

By Doug FergusonJune 19, 2016, 2:07 am

OAKMONT, Pa. – Shane Lowry kept his cool after a careless penalty and walked off Oakmont after a marathon Saturday with a two-shot lead in the U.S. Open.

Stalled by rain in the first round, the U.S. Open is nearly back on schedule and poised for a big finish.

Lowry, looking to give Irish golf its 10th major in the last 10 years, came within inches of his sixth birdie of the round on No. 14. He tapped in for par and headed back in when play was suspended by darkness.

He was at 5-under par and had to return Sunday morning to play the final four holes.

Two shots behind was 28-year-old Andrew Landry, in his first U.S. Open and playing like he knows how to cope with the toughest test in golf. Landry hasn't flinched, even after tumbling down the leaderboard in his second round, and playing alongside Dustin Johnson in the third round. He had five holes left.

Right behind was a trio of players who feel overdue to win their first major.


U.S. Open: Full-field scores | Live daily blog | Photo gallery


That starts with Johnson, who had the 36-hole lead and started out like he wanted to run away from the field when he stuffed his approach to 5 feet below the hole for a birdie. But a chip that came back to his feet on No. 3 and led to double bogey stalled him, and Johnson started dropping shots.

He was at 2 under through 13 holes, still very much a factor as he tries to atone for his gaffe on the 18th hole at Chambers Bay last year in the U.S. Open. Also three shots back were Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, who between them have played 142 majors without winning.

After two of the longest days, Sunday becomes somewhat of a sprint.

Jason Day began his big run early. The world's No. 1 player opened with a 76 and first had to worry about making the cut. He did, with one shot to spare, and then went on a tear of four birdies in five holes to start his third round. Day posted a 69 in the morning and a 66 in the afternoon and at one point was within in four shots of the lead.

He was at 1-over 211 and left the course six shots behind.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth looked as though he might join him when he ran off three straight birdies. But the 22-year-old Texan fell back with a double bogey on No. 2 (his 11th hole) and had to settle for a 70 and was nine shots behind Lowry.

''Come out tomorrow and try to pull a Johnny Miller,'' Spieth said.

Miller famously closed with a 63 at Oakmont to win the 1973 U.S. Open, which remains the greatest final round by a major champion. But the course was drenched that Sunday, and that won't be the case now.

Even though Oakmont absorbed nearly 3 inches of rain on the opening day and remain soft enough for shots to spin ever so slightly, it was clear the hot sun began to bake it out and it likely will be fierce as usual for the final round.

The leader in the clubhouse when the day ended was Branden Grace, who last year at Chambers Bay was tied for the lead until he hit 3-wood onto the train track and out-of-bounds for a double bogey that cost him. Good news for the South African: A train can be heard from Oakmont, but not hit.

Grace pieced together a 66 to reach 1-under 209, four shots behind Lowry.

Lowry picked up his biggest win last summer a few hours away at Firestone when he won the Bridgestone Invitational. Now he's primed for more Irish success. The run began with Padraig Harrington claiming three majors in 2007 and 2008, and has been carried by the Northern Ireland trio of Rory McIlroy (four majors), Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.

''We all know that this course can jump up and bite you in a split second,'' Lowry said. ''So year, I'm two ahead with 22 holes left. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. These are the best golfers in the world behind me. I have to go out there and do what I've been doing all week. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. This is exactly where you want to be. I've been beating myself up over the last six months trying to get in this position.

''I'm here now. I might as well enjoy it while I'm here.''

It wasn't so enjoyable earlier in the day when he was lining up a 30-foot birdie putt and nudged the ball with his putter. It moved ever so slightly, enough for Lowry to see, and he turned in disgust to call over an official, then held the putter behind his neck as if he wanted to snap it.

He took the one-shot penalty and then saved his mood with an 8-foot bogey putt.

''To hole that second putt was massive for me and massive for my whole day,'' Lowry said.

Some of the best players weren't around for the afternoon. McIlroy needed a par on the final hole to make the cut and took double bogey. Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose also missed the cut.

Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”