Spieth to play Aussie dream courses; eyes Long Island

By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2015, 5:22 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Jordan Spieth knows how to mix business with pleasure. His business is playing great golf. His pleasure is playing great golf courses.

Spieth leaves this week for Down Under, where he defends his title Nov. 26-29 in Sydney at the Australian Open. The first stop is Melbourne and a chance to play the fabled sand belt courses. He has games lined up at Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath.

''I've heard Kingston Heath is unbelievable,'' Spieth said. ''And then Royal Melbourne, I hear you get on the first tee and think, 'Piece of cake,' and then watch your tee shot bounce in the air. There and then Long Island, the courses there, are on my bucket lists of courses I haven't played yet.''

Spieth surely has a long list. He's only 22 and just completed his third year as a pro.

What intrigues him about Melbourne's sand belt and Long Island (Shinnecock, National Golf Links) is ''that style of golf was meant for that area.''

He missed his chance at Long Island in August during The Barclays, although that was never the plan even before he missed the cut. He was supposed to play with Justin Thomas at Pine Valley the Monday after the tournament. When he missed the cut and had an extra day on his hand, Spieth chose to play Baltusrol with Rickie Fowler (who also missed the cut) to see it ahead of next year's PGA Championship, and then headed to Boston to work on his game.

Not to worry. That's an easy trip to plan.

After that?

''I've done pretty much everything I want to do,'' Spieth said. ''I still haven't played Oakmont (next year's U.S. Open). We have Royal Troon coming up. I haven't played Carnoustie. But sought after? Sand Hills in Nebraska, the Coore-Crenshaw. I've heard it's supposed to be that good, from Crenshaw and everyone down there.''

One area he failed to mention was Chicago Golf Club, one of the five founding courses of the USGA.

''Chicago Golf and Butler, I don't have as much of a desire. I heard they're great, and it will happen at some point,'' Spieth said. ''But for a style of golf that is so unique to the area, that's what I'm looking for.''

And that's what he's about to get in Melbourne.



SPRINT TO DUBAI: Danny Willett needed to finish alone in 28th at the BMW Masters to lead the Race to Dubai, but a bogey on the 17th hole at Lake Malaren meant a three-way tie for 28th. Rory McIlroy is still in the lead, but just barely.

McIlroy, who has been atop the European Tour ranking since his tie for fourth in the Masters, leads by 1,613 points. That's not much considering the winner of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai this week gets 1,333,330 points.

And it's not just a two-man race.

Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace could win the Race to Dubai with a victory. Byeong Hun An, who tied for third at the BMW Masters, also has a mathematical chance.


HOME BOY: Kevin Kisner is happy at home, living in a 1950s era house off the 17th fairway at Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, S.C.

He'll be living at Sea Island through at least the end of the year as the house gets expanded. They haven't had a garage, and now they have a family with an 18-month-old daughter.

''I told (wife) Brittany, 'Either find us a new place or find somewhere you want to move, a new house.' And she wanted to stay there,'' Kisner said.

Sea Island is a popular spot with several PGA Tour players, along with a sister-in-law who can help when Kisner is traveling. Kisner wouldn't rule out moving there at some point in his career, though he can see some disadvantages that have nothing to do with golf.

''My off-course activities are not good for that area, like hunting, being in the woods, getting away with people who don't play golf,'' he said. ''It's all golf down there. All my buddies at home don't play golf professionally. They play recreationally, and they don't ask me about golf all day, which I like.''


OPEN TICKETS: The R&A will start selling a ''twilight ticket'' for the British Open at Royal Troon next year.

Along with reducing the price of tickets bought in advance, the R&A will offer a ticket for 25 pounds that allow fans onto the course after 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. That might not sound like much time in America, but not in Scotland. The last time it was held at Royal Troon, the last tee time was 4:21 p.m.

''We recognize that many people have work commitments during the week, and the new twilight tickets will give them an attractive option to attend the Open,'' R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said.

The R&A also will reduce the price of daily tickets to 60 pounds if purchased before May 31. Daily tickets are 80 pounds after that. Weekly tickets (Sunday to Sunday) will be 230 pounds if bought before May 31, which is 10 pounds less than 2015. Those tickets are 260 pounds if bought after that date.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Americans have won only six of 30 official events on the LPGA schedule this year going into the CME Group Tour Championship.


FINAL WORD: ''I think that's why golf is the ultimate mental sport because you have all the time in the world to ask yourself all the crazy questions.'' – Graeme McDowell.

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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

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Perez (T-3) looks to remedy 'terrible' major record

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 7:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez’s major record is infinitely forgettable. In 24 Grand Slam starts he has exactly one top-10 finish, more than a decade ago at the PGA Championship.

“Terrible,” Perez said when asked to sum up his major career. “I won sixth [place]. Didn't even break top 5.”

It’s strange, however, that his status atop The Open leaderboard through two rounds doesn’t seem out of character. The 42-year-old admits he doesn’t hit it long enough to contend at most major stops and also concedes he doesn’t exactly have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the game’s biggest events, but something about The Open works for him.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I didn't like it the first time I came over. When I went to St. Andrews in '05, I didn't like it because it was cold and terrible and this and that,” he said. “Over the years, I've really learned to like to come over here. Plus the fans are so awesome here. They know a good shot. They don't laugh at you if you hit a bad shot.”

Perez gave the fans plenty to cheer on Friday at Carnoustie, playing 17 flawless holes to move into a share of the lead before a closing bogey dropped him into a tie for third place after a second-round 68.

For Perez, links golf is the great equalizer that mitigates the advantages some of the younger, more powerful players have and it brings out the best in him.

“It's hard enough that I don't feel like I have to hit perfect shots. That's the best,” he said. “Greens, you can kind of miss a shot, and it won't run off and go off the green 40 yards. You're still kind of on the green. You can have a 60-footer and actually think about making it because of the speed.”