Spieth: 'A bit too soon' to judge any new era

By Doug FergusonNovember 3, 2015, 8:31 pm

SHANGHAI - Jordan Spieth wore a black tunic with red trim around the collar to take part in a Chinese drum ceremony late Tuesday afternoon just as the Shanghai skyline began to glow with lights behind him and three other top players.

This was the traditional photo opportunity to kick off the HSBC Champions. One observer noted that Spieth had not dressed like that since graduation, which for him was only four years ago - from high school.

The landscape in golf is changing quicker than the rapid beat of those Chinese drums.

One year ago, Spieth wasn't even in the top 10 in the world and had only one win as a pro. Since then, the 22-year-old Texan has won seven times around the world, including the Masters and the U.S. Open, along with a Tour Championship that capped a record $22 million year. He is looked upon as the future of American golf.

At least for now.

Also on the stage with Spieth was 26-year-old Rickie Fowler, who is coming off a big year of his own. Fowler won three times, the biggest at The Players Championship where he delivered perhaps the greatest finish of the season when he made three birdies on the island-green 17th to win a tension-filled playoff.

Jason Day couldn't make it to China. The 27-year-old Australian is home awaiting the birth of his second child. And the drum beat had to go on without 26-year-old Rory McIlroy, who was coping with a stomach ailment.

Not to be overlooked are the three winners of the new PGA Tour season - Emiliano Grillo (23), Smylie Kaufman (23) and Justin Thomas (22).

That explains why PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem sounded at ease when asked Monday about golf moving along without Tiger Woods.


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Click here for photos from the WGC-HSBC Champions


''We are headed for a long period of parity with a lot of stars being developed,'' Finchem said at the HSBC Golf Business Forum. ''And in today's world, you can become a star in a hurry. It's a great thing. The professional game is in exceptionally good shape. But I think the next 10 years are the most exciting we'll ever see to this point.''

It sure seems that way.

The top three players - Day, Spieth and McIlroy - are all in their 20s and hail from three continents. Players in their 20s won three majors for the second straight year. That had occurred only twice in the previous four decades, and one of those years was 2000 when a 24-year-old Woods won three majors.

Woods had another back procedure last week - that's three in the last 20 months - for another clear sign that his time is about up, if it isn't already.

But leave it to Spieth, with his wise head on such young shoulders, to preach patience and perspective.

A new era in golf?

''I think it's a bit soon,'' Spieth said. ''For Rory, it's different because it's been consistent for years now. Jason and I, we've played solid golf the last few years. In order to create an era, you almost need a decade of years like this. Sure, we have the potential to do it. But this was the first year of it. But unless we keep our heads down ... unless we're aware of it, and it drives us, and we get the right breaks, there's a lot of factors. So maybe it's a big premature to say that.

''But,'' he added, ''I believe there was a step needed in the right direction, and it took place this year. If we can ride with that, it will be significant.''

Spieth looks at this as a new year, and the World Golf Championship that starts Thursday at Sheshan International is his first event of a new PGA Tour season. McIlroy, still catching up from the two months he missed this summer from an ankle injury, is wrapping up another Race to Dubai title the rest of the month.

The beauty of having a cast of stars so young, as Fowler noted, is that they can battle each other for the next 10 or 15 years.

Then again, maybe the conversation might include a different list - or a longer list - of players at this time next year.

That seems improbable now, but consider where golf was a year ago. McIlroy was No. 1 and the only debate was which player was best suited to challenge him. McIlroy now is No. 3, and the list is growing.

''The top five in the world ranking, we've seen now in the last two years how much that changed,'' Spieth said.

At the end of 2013, the top five included Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson. Spieth suspects things will stay in motion.

''I believe we'll all battle it out,'' he said. ''But to battle it out on highest stages and to stay up in the ranking and all that ... it can happen. But it's going to take more than just this year.''

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.