Snedeker in the hunt for third week in a row

By Doug FergusonFebruary 9, 2013, 1:20 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Brandt Snedeker goes into the weekend at Pebble Beach with another chance to win, this time without golf's biggest stars in his way.

Snedeker played bogey-free at tough Spyglass Hill on Friday for a 4-under 68, giving him a share of the lead with Ted Potter Jr. in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Potter three-putted his final hole at Monterey Peninsula for a 67.

Hunter Mahan was among those one shot behind. With one more round before everyone has played all three courses in the rotation, the leaderboard was a big traffic jam. Three dozen players were within five shots of the lead.

Snedeker, who was at 8-under 134, felt he was at an advantage because he goes to Pebble Beach for the final two rounds.


AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Articles, videos and photos


And there's one other edge for his psyche – Tiger Woods isn't playing, and defending champion Phil Mickelson is six shots behind.

Snedeker has played so well this year that he is leading the FedEx Cup standings without having won. He was runner-up the last two weeks – four shots behind Woods at Torrey Pines, and then four shots behind Mickelson in the Phoenix Open.

''Keep running into guys who are or who are going to be in the Hall of Fame,'' Snedeker said at the start of the week.

Mickelson, going after a record-tying fifth win in the event, was easing his way into contention until he made three bogeys in a four-hole stretch along the ocean at Spyglass Hill for a 71.

Snedeker made it look easy at Spyglass, even though the day began in rugged conditions with a light rain and temperatures in the low 40s. He hit a towering 8-iron on the downhill, par-3 12th hole that plopped 3 feet next to the cup for his first birdie. He added a pair of simple up-and-down birdies on the par 5s and then closed out a solid day with an 8-iron to 5 feet on the eighth hole.

Snedeker sees the upside of his two second-place finishes: At least he's giving himself a chance.

''That's how you win out here,'' he said. ''You keep putting yourself in position, and the more times you do, the more success you're going to have. ... I'm doing a better job this week of making my way around the golf courses and not putting myself in bad spots and getting out of tough situations very quickly.''

His goal for the last two days?

''Not do anything stupid,'' he said. ''Unfortunately, I don't do it very often.''

Potter remains somewhat of a mystery. He won last year in his rookie season at The Greenbrier Classic to claim a peculiar footnote in history – the only player to win a PGA Tour event in which Woods and Mickelson missed the cut. Still, his performance has been spotty. Potter missed nine out of the 12 cuts going into The Greenbrier, and then missed four out of nine cuts after his win.

''It's just a funny game like that,'' Potter said. ''Some weeks you play really well and you get the right kicks and everything goes well. And then there are weeks you can still hit the ball well and get the bad kicks.''

It's been good so far on the Monterey Peninsula, which has been graced with surprisingly good weather. Even though the cold rain finally arrived, it didn't last long. The sun broke through about three hours into the round, and by late afternoon, the Pacific was gleaming.

Fredrik Jacobson had the low round of the day, a 66 at Pebble Beach that put him in the group at 7 under with Mahan, John Merrick and Patrick Reed.

Saturday's forecast is for more sunshine, giving those in the Northeast who are snowed in some pretty pictures on television. Snedeker is part of the celebrity rotation, meaning he will join the circus – Bill Murray, Ray Romano and the rest of their Hollywood crew, along with star power from other sports such as Tony Romo, Matt Cain and even San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

Five days after a Super Bowl loss, Harbaugh had reason to smile. He was leading the pro-am portion of the tournament. Harbaugh is playing with Jason Day of Australia, who made a late string of birdies for a 68 at Spyglass Hill and was two shots behind.

Mahan lost a stroke on the spongy greens. He went to knock in a short bogey putt on the par-3 seventh hole when the ball moved on him.

''It just rolled over in like a heel print or something,'' Mahan said. ''I didn't feel like I moved it. I didn't feel like I had anything much to do with it moving. It's just a rub of the green, so had to go back and take a penalty. That was frustrating, because I was hitting it so good.''

Mickelson was equally frustrated by throwing away some careless shots. While he was tied for 39th, Mickelson didn't feel out of contention.

''I love Pebble Beach. I've played well there and I'm only one good round away,'' he said. ''If I can shoot something in the mid-60s, I'll be right there for Sunday's round, which is what I care about.''

Mickelson was six shots behind going into the final round last year when he won.

At the top now is Snedeker, the second-highest ranked American behind Woods who is averaging 66.5 in his last eight rounds.

DIVOTS: Geoff Ogilvy's hopes of qualifying for the Match Play Championship took a big hit when he twice missed par putts inside 2 1/2 feet and three-putted for par from 25 feet on the sixth hole at Pebble. He had a 74 and was tied for 108th. He likely needs to finish fifth to move into the top 64. ... Lee Westwood, in his Pebble Beach National Pro-Am debut playing with his father, had a 70 at Monterey Peninsula and was four shots behind.

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.”

Getty Images

Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”