A quiet day before the U.S. Open storm

By Doug FergusonJune 10, 2012, 11:49 pm

SAN FRANCISCO - Rod Pampling actually used the words ''very enjoyable'' and ''U.S. Open'' in the same sentence.

Then again, it was Sunday before the toughest test in golf gets under way at The Olympic Club.

Pampling was among a few dozen players who took advantage of abundant sunshine and little stress at Olympic on the final day before the gates open to the second major championship of the year.

''At this stage, on a calm day, it is enjoyable,'' Pampling said.

Behind him on the course were Luke Donald and Keegan Bradley, who played a match that went to the 18th hole. Donald is No. 1 in the world and trying to win his first major, while Bradley has won 50 percent of the majors he has played - OK, this is only the third major for the PGA champion, and his first U.S. Open.

Donald finally pulled away by blasting out of a bunker to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th, then getting up-and-down from a far more difficult spot in the bunker right of the 18th green. Bradley had a chance to halve the match, but missed an 8-foot birdie putt.

Also on the course was Graeme McDowell, who won the last time this U.S. Open came to northern California at Pebble Beach two years ago.

The Olympic Club is hosting the U.S. Open for the fifth time, and it has delivered one surprise after another - Jack Fleck rallying to catch Ben Hogan and beating him in a playoff; Arnold Palmer losing a seven-shot lead on the back nine and falling to Billy Casper in a playoff; Scott Simpson running off three straight birdies late in the final round to beat Tom Watson; and Lee Janzen rallying from five shots behind to beat Payne Stewart.

From what some of the players have seen, there might not be any surprises on the golf course.

They expect it to be hard.

''It's a typical U.S. Open - small greens, tight fairways,'' Hunter Mahan said. ''You're going to have to put the ball in play. You can't just hit it anywhere and score. This is going to be more about where your misses are than where your good shots are.''

One difference between Olympic now and in 1998, the last year it held the U.S. Open, is the par.

The 520-yard opening hole is now a par 4, while the 522-yard 17th hole has been converted to a par 5. The low score still wins, though this change could creep into a player's psyche. The change makes the opening six holes one of the toughest stretches anywhere in golf.

''What's unique about this year is that you've got the first six holes that are beyond brutal,'' USGA executive director Mike Davis said. ''They're going to walk to the seventh tee and be 2 or 3 over and think, 'I've got to catch up,' when in reality, they don't.''

Donald played them a couple over par on Sunday, which might actually be par for the course.

''That start of this golf course ... you could be 5 over in five holes and not be that far off,'' Kevin Chappell said.

The finish can be on the softer side.

The players don't see a par 5 until No. 16, and it's the longest hole (670 yards) in U.S. Open history. It is followed by another par 5 that can be reached in two, and then ends with a 344-yard 18th with a fairway that looks not much wider than a country road in Ireland. Even so, players could hit wedges into the green on the last five holes depending on the pin placements and conditions.

''It's not the most intimidating U.S. Open finish ever,'' McDowell said. ''I'd give my left arm for a one-shot lead playing the 17th. You'd fancy your chances. It's not like trying to close it out at Oakmont or Winged Foot, where you're really trying to get the job done.''

But he was not suggesting it would be easy, either.

The green on the par-5 17th is the most severe at Olympic Club. Pampling's caddie, Kevin Fasbender, tossed a ball toward the right one-third of the green and watched it trickle to the right until it ran down the slope and some 15 yards away in a collection area. As for the 18th, McDowell was on the right side of the fairway and hit his wedge slightly to the right of the flag. It caught a cypress tree and dropped down into some of the nastiest rough on the course.

''Someone will make a real mess of 18. I'm predicting that right now,'' McDowell said.

Bradley was able to experience the rough on the par 5s, which was a lesson to keep the ball in the fairway, but not to lose hope when it finds the thick grass. Even in the rough, some shots might not be bad off. The PGA champion found the right rough on the 16th hole and did well to advance it some 80 yards up the fairway. That left him 300 yards for his third shot, and he opted to play well short of the green to give himself a chance.

''I've never played a hole that long in my life,'' Bradley said.

On the next hole, which slopes severely to the right, Bradley went into the right rough. It sat up just enough that he hammered a 3-wood to just short of the green.

And the hardest part of this U.S. Open?

Walking up a steep, massive hill toward the clubhouse. As if Olympic were not hard enough already.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1