Watson leads by 3 at Doral

By Doug FergusonMarch 10, 2012, 11:26 pm

DORAL, Fla. — Bubba Watson hit one shot over the green and off the tower. Another shot hit a fan in the gallery. As wild as it looked at times, he never lost control of his game and he never lost the lead Saturday in the Cadillac Championship.

Watson raced off to an eagle-birdie start, then survived a few errant shots coming home on the Blue Monster for a 5-under 67, giving him a three-shot lead and putting him on the verge of his first World Golf Championship.

“All in all, it was a great day,” he said.

His optimism was tempered not so much by the few guys chasing him, rather a golf course that for Watson remains an acquired taste.

“The challenge is the Blue Monster,” Watson said.

It was more of a pushover in moderate wind, with Rory McIlroy thinking about a 59 with six holes to play, Tiger Woods making an early charge up the leaderboard and a dozen players signing for a 67 or better.

Watson was at 17-under 199.

He will play in the final group Sunday with PGA champion Keegan Bradley, who had a bogey-free 66 and was at 14-under 202. Justin Rose was tied for the lead through 11 holes until Watson found his groove and Rose made too many mistakes. Rose three-putted from long range on the 18th for a 69, leaving him tied with Bradley but no longer in the final group.

“Three back, it’s a lot to Bubba on this golf course,” Rose said. “But at least there’s not a lot of guys ahead of you. There’s only one guy at 17 under, and the rest of the pack is right there, so it doesn’t take much.”

Indeed, only one other player was within five shots of the lead. Peter Hanson of Sweden nearly holed a bunker shot on the 18th hole and shot 69, leaving him at 12-under 204.

Matt Kuchar (66) and Zach Johnson (67) were another shot behind. Adam Scott looked as though he might give Watson a run until the Australian started missing short putts, then pulled his tee shot into the water on the 18th and made double bogey. Scott dropped four shots over the last three holes.

McIlroy played the last six holes in 2 over and still shot 65, while Woods failed to do much after his birdie-birdie-birdie start. He twice made bogey on the par 5s and shot 68. They were eight shots behind.

The wind has been decreasing since the opening round, and so have the scores.

McIlroy hit two fluffy wedges at the start of his round, but he atoned for the second one by chipping in for birdie, and away he went. McIlroy shot 30 on the front nine without making birdie on the two par 5s, then made up for that with a fairway metal into about 18 feet for an eagle on No. 10. That put him 10 under for the tournament, only two off the lead.

Watson was still on the practice range, though, and this was a day when just about everyone went low.

Still, for a short time it looked as though McIlroy and Woods were going to resume their golf from last week at the Honda Classic. McIlroy was walking down the 12th fairway when he could hear a big cheer next to him as Woods, who opened with three straight birdies, made another one at No. 6. That put him at 9 under.

Neither of them could keep it going the rest of the round.

McIlroy hit a good chip from short of the par-5 12th, with his right foot deep in the sand and his left foot on the hill, and converted that into a birdie that put him one shot behind. He was 9 under for the day through 12 holes, and the kid couldn’t help but think of a 59.

“You’re thinking four (birdies) of the last six and here we go,” McIlroy said. “But obviously, it didn’t happen like that.”

McIlroy made bogey from a poor lie in the bunker on the 14th, and then turned a birdie hole into a bad bogey on the par-4 16th then his lob wedge from the rough barely reached the green. He had to remind himself that 65 wasn’t awful.

Graeme McDowell played with McIlroy and got swept up in some great golf. McDowell did OK, too, with a 67.

Woods, meanwhile, made a bad bogey on the par-5 eighth when he pulled a 2-iron over the green, dumped his third shot in the bunker and couldn’t get up and down. He also took a penalty shot on the par-5 12 and made bogey, and his momentum was gone.

Doral is the only course left on his regular PGA Tour schedule where he has never finished out of the top 10. That streak remains in play, though he is too far back from the leaders to be considered a serious threat.

“The scores being as low as they are, the winning score is probably going to be in the 20s,” he said. “So you’re going to have to take care of those par 5s.”

Even though both flirted with contention, neither was a factor late in the day.

Watson had a four-shot lead over Rose going to the par-3 ninth, and Rose showed how quickly things could change. He made birdie as Watson three-putted, a two-shot swing. Watson misjudged a chip and had to settle for par on the 10th, while Rose got up and down from a bunker for birdie. Rose made his fourth straight birdie on the 11th and was tied for the lead.

Watson hit a man with his tee shot on the 12th, but wound up making a 15-foot birdie to regain the lead, and he stretched it from there. His one nervous moment came on the 16th, when he caught too much ball out of the sand and it was flew well over the green, headed for a pond Watson didn’t even know was there. The ball hit a tower, and he escaped with bogey.

DIVOTS: Thomas Bjorn went 49 holes without a bogey until a double bogey on the 14th. He then made bogey two of the next four holes for a 75, falling from contention. … McIlroy is among those happy to see Donald Trump has purchased Doral. Given the low scoring, McIlroy said it was a resort course and needs work. “It was a tough test 15 years ago, but now it’s just outdated,” he said. “They definitely need to do something with it, and it’s great to see that Trump is taking over the place.”

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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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

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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.

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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.

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“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.”