Wie trails Ciganda, Granada by 2 at Tour Champ.

By Doug FergusonNovember 21, 2014, 9:41 pm

NAPLES, Fla. - Michelle Wie suddenly is in a position to consider a million ways how a great year can get even better.

On a tough day that only rewarded the best shots, Wie holed out for eagle with a pitching wedge on her way to a 5-under 67 that moved her up high enough on the leaderboard Friday at the CME Group Tour Championship to get into position for a $1 million bonus.

Carlota Ciganda of Spain took advantage of a putting lesson from Spanish great Jose Maria Olazabal to make five birdies for a 67 that gave her a share of the lead with Julieta Granada of Paraguay, who scrambled for a 71. They were at 7-under 137 going into the weekend at the Tiburon Golf Club.

Morgan Pressel, who rallied on the back nine Thursday to overcome a rugged start, shot a 66 and was one shot out of the lead.

All of them would love to win the LPGA Tour season finale because it's a big title with a $500,000 check for first place. None has a mathematical chance at the $1 million bonus for winning the points-based Race to CME Globe.

And that's where Wie comes in.

Wie, who captured her first major this year at Pinehurst No. 2 in the U.S. Women's Open, is No. 4 in the Race to CME Globe. Only the top three players - Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park and 17-year-old Lydia Ko - can win the $1 million bonus simply by winning the tournament.

Wie needs a little bit of help, only she did most of the heavy lifting.

Even though she made bogey on the par-5 opening hole that irritated her, the 25-year-old from Hawaii bounced back with her eagle on No. 7, birdies on the par 5s and a score that put her only two shots out of the lead.

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"All I want is an opportunity, a chance," Wie said. "I'm really proud of myself for giving myself that today. I just want to go out there tomorrow and put myself in a great position for Sunday. That's all I want, and that's all I'm asking for. Whatever happens, happens."

She did get some help from the top three.

Lewis, who opened with a 69 and was only three shots out of the lead, struggled with distance control in the blustery conditions and had to chip in for birdie and make a tough par putt on the 18th to salvage a 74. He was six shots out of the lead.

Park couldn't get a putt to drop. She also had a 74. Ko had another 71 and was five shots behind.

"Six back is not a horrible position," Lewis said. "I don't think anybody is running away with this thing. I think it's going to end up being pretty bunched up at the end and probably a playoff on Sunday. I'm right where I need to be. I'm trying not to think about player of the year and all that stuff. It's up there, but trying not to think about it."

Lewis can sweep all the significant awards at this LPGA Tour finale provided she finishes ahead of Park, and so far she is three shots ahead. Not to be forgotten is that $1 million packaged in $100 in a glass case that they posed with on the eve of the tournament.

Along with prize money, the winner of the Race to CME Globe will receive the largest single-day payoff in the history of women's golf.

The first step is to try to catch the leaders.

Ciganda was home in Spain last week when she called Olazabal and asked him for a lesson.

"We stay there like three hours on the putting green, just hitting putts," Ciganda said. "He told me a few things and it seems like it's working, so I'm pretty happy. I have to thank him. Then we played last Friday before coming here, so it was really nice to play. He's so passionate about golf. It just his life."

And how did that match turn out? Ciganda teamed with a Challenge Tour player in Europe, their best ball against Olazabal.

"We won on the last hole," she said. "But it was tough."

Pressel was 3 over through 10 holes in the opening round when she battled back for a 72. She was headed for another slow start Friday until knocking in a 15-foot par putt on the third hole, and then she was on her way to the best round of the day.

Granada spent most her time swapping birdies with bogeys, though she stayed atop the leaderboard.

Sarah Jane Smith (69) and Sandra Gal (71) joined Wie at 5-under 139, while So Yeon Ryu had another 70 and was three shots out of the lead. Ryu is at No. 5 in the Race to CME Globe and is on the fringe on contending for the big bonus.

The weekend is important for Wie to keep moving forward, and for Lewis, Park and Ko to start making up ground.

"You can make up a lot of ground quickly," Granada said. "But your game has to be on. The toughness of the course will show it."

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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.”