Notes: Reed's cyberspace use; Malnati's love for baseball

By Doug FergusonJanuary 22, 2014, 12:52 am

HIGH-TECH ANALYSIS: Ben Hogan looked for answers in the dirt. Humana Challenge winner Patrick Reed has turned to cyberspace.

Reed uses ShotsToHole.com, a computer program co-founded by Australian teaching pro Stuart Leong, to help identify weaknesses and ways to save strokes. It was hard to argue with the results last week in La Quinta after Reed shot 9-under 63 in each of the first three rounds and held on for his second victory in his last nine tournaments.

''It tells you really what you need to work on and what will help you save the most shots,'' Reed said. ''That's key to us on being able to dial down our distances. Not only that, but also dial down what we need to work on to be successful.''

Reed takes notes during rounds and uses information from the PGA Tour's ShotLink database.

''We'll get home this afternoon and I'll type in this round and see what it is I need to work on,'' Reed said.

''You enter your stats and it kind of takes it to the next level. It's, 'OK, how far is the hole? What club did you hit?' You might hit the fairway, but did you feel like you hit your target? Did you hit left of your target? Right of your target? How far are you hitting into the green and what's your lie? Did you hit it past the hole, short of the hole, left of the hole, right? And putts, same thing. ... It gets very detailed.''


MALNATI AND MLB: As a PGA Tour rookie, Peter Malnati is taking a close look at the schedule.

The Major League Baseball schedule.

Malnati is part of a recent crop of players who have deals with MLB.com, one of the premier websites in sports. He has the logo on his golf bag, and one of the perks really caught his attention. Malnati says he gets two tickets to any game all year.

''I'm going to catch a lot of Kansas City Royals games,'' said Malnati, who wore Royals colors when he won a Web.com Tour event last year.

The Royals?

''That's exactly why I'm a fan,'' said Malnati, who grew up in Tennessee and played golf at Missouri. ''I was dating a girl from Kansas City and we got to a game and I thought, 'This is pathetic.' It's a great ballpark. This team needs fans and no one is here. So I'm a die-hard Kansas City fan.''

MLB.com spokesman Matt Gould said it also has deals with Shawn Stefani, former NCAA champion Max Homa and Zack Fisher, who was medalist at Q-school last month to earn his Web.com Tour card.

''The general thinking is twofold,'' Gould said. ''First and foremost, we're big fans of the PGA Tour in a general sense. Secondly, we think there is a great, smart crossover opportunity with a like-minded fan base for young and upcoming players. And a lot of these guys have friends who are baseball players.''

Prior to these limited endorsement deals, MLB.com had a strong golf presence that not many knew about - it powers Tiger Woods' website. In a deal that dates to 2006 and was expanded five years ago, MLB Advanced Media works with Woods' staff to produce the website, host it on their servers and update the content.


WESTWOOD ON BOARD: Lee Westwood feels he is settled in to his new life living in Florida and playing a majority of his events in America.

And on Tuesday, he had his first meeting as a member of the PGA Tour's Player Advisory Council. Westwood was among four players who were selected by the players serving on the policy board.

''I don't know what they're expecting,'' he said. ''I don't know what to expect. I think I'll just sit there for a while and listen. Obviously, 20 years on the tour, I've seen a few things, so I might be able to comment a little bit.''

Westwood, with 38 wins worldwide and a No. 1 ranking, never served on the tournament committee in all his years on the European Tour. He said he would have served on the committee, but he was never asked.

''I don't think I'm controversial or anything like that, but occasionally sensible,'' he said. ''Occasionally, I have a good idea.''


DIVOTS: Zach Johnson is taking a four-week break before the Match Play Championship. ''I know it's a necessity, I know it's good for me, it's good for my family, but I'm also hesitant because I'm playing well,'' Johnson said. ... The Senior British Open will be played at Sunningdale in 2015 and Carnoustie the following year. ... Maj. Dan Rooney, founder of the Folds of Honor Foundation and Patriot Golf Day, and majority owner of The Patriot Golf Club in Tulsa, Okla., has been selected by the American Society of Golf Course Architects as the 2014 Donald Ross Award recipient. ... Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand has received an exemption into the Phoenix Open next week.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods is the only FedEx Cup champion whose season earnings were more than the $10 million bonus. He won the money title with $10.5 million in 2009 and with $10.8 million in 2007.


FINAL WORD: ''I don't like not playing in big tournaments.'' – Jimmy Walker, on going 11 years without qualifying for the U.S. Open.

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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.