Power Rankings: 2014 U.S. Open

By Will GrayJune 10, 2014, 6:46 pm

This week marks the 31st event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to Pinehurst No. 2 for the U.S. Open. A field of 156 players will tee it up this week in the "cradle of golf," where turtleback greens and sandy waste areas will test the game's best as only the USGA can envision.

Be sure to join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to test yourself against our panel of experts, including defending champion Charlie Rymer. Click here for full fantasy assistance, including stats and picks.

Justin Rose returns to defend the title he won here a year ago by two shots over Phil Mickelson and Jason Day. Here are 10 players to watch this week in North Carolina:

1. Rory McIlroy: Quite simply, his best is better than that of nearly anyone else in the field. A winner of this event three years ago, McIlroy won earlier this month at Wentworth and has an array of top-10 finishes to his credit this year. His high ball flight will help when trying to land approach shots on turtleback greens, and while his second-round struggles have been well-documented, everyone will make bogeys this week. McIlroy's ability to reel off birdies in bunches - he leads the Tour in birdie average - will separate him.

2. Matt Kuchar: His U.S. Open resume isn't stellar - just one top-10 finish in 11 starts - but he hasn't finished worse than T-28 in this event since 2010 and he has been incredibly consistent this year, with a win and nine top 10s in 15 starts. Kuchar missed the cut here in 2005, ballooning to a second-round 84, but he's a different player now and the result will be similarly different this week.

3. Bubba Watson: Watson's stellar year continues as we head into June, having nearly notched his third win of the season at the Memorial. Questions remain about whether Watson has the temperament to withstand the pressures of a U.S. Open, but he is clearly playing with confidence this year and if it comes down to which players can scramble the most successfully - or creatively - from the sandy areas, his name has to be near the top of the list.

4. Lee Westwood: His window to win a major may be closing, but Westwood has been surprisingly consistent in this event since 2008, with a pair of third-place finishes and no result worse than T-23. Back in 2005 he was in the mix after each of the first three rounds at Pinehurst before a Sunday 79 dropped him back into a tie for 33rd, but the Englishman played well this year at both the Masters and the Players, so there's reason to think he'll contend again.

5. Adam Scott: Surprisingly, Scott still does not have a top-10 finish in the U.S. Open, but that may change this week. The Aussie won last month at Colonial and nearly pulled off a repeat performance at Muirfield Village, showing no signs of pressure in his first weeks as the world No. 1. Scott has been inside the top 25 in all but one start this year on the PGA Tour, and if he can get that long putter to cooperate on the greens at No. 2, he'll add to that trend.

6. Jordan Spieth: Age continues to be just a number for Spieth, who defied all expectations with a runner-up finish at Augusta National and then did it again with a T-4 showing at TPC Sawgrass. Spieth has seven top-20 finishes in nine starts since March, and he is currently seventh on Tour in scoring average and 11th in scrambling. Underestimate him at your own peril.

7. Jim Furyk: Perhaps not the name that comes to mind when you conjure a short-game wizard, but Furyk leads the Tour in the scrambling stat for the 2013-14 season and has a pair of runner-up finishes to his credit, notably last month on the Stadium Course. Furyk is one of only five players in the field this week who made the cut at Pinehurst in both 1999 and 2005, and since winning the U.S. Open in 2003 he has finished inside the top five an additional three times (2006, 2007, 2012).

8. Webb Simpson: A winner of this event in 2012, Simpson will have the crowds behind him at Pinehurst, having played college golf at Wake Forest after growing up in nearby Raleigh. Simpson tied for third last week in Memphis after a Sunday 66, his sixth top-10 finish of the season. He is seventh on Tour in the all-around ranking and his two Open appearances outside of his win at Olympic were pretty solid: T-14 in 2011 at Congressional and T-32 last year at Merion.

9. Phil Mickelson: Without question the biggest storyline this week as he chases the career grand slam, but hardly the lead-up that he would have liked: still without a top-10 this season, he's currently outside the top 100 on Tour in fairways hit, strokes gained putting, total driving and final-round scoring average. When it comes to Phil and this event, sometimes the results defy expectation - but there are definitely some warning signs as he looks for major No. 6.

10. Chris Kirk: Perhaps the opposite of Mickelson, Kirk is a player that has gone under the radar while playing some really good golf this season. A winner at Sea Island in November, Kirk has yet to miss a cut in 18 starts this season and has played well at some tough courses: top-25 finishes at Augusta National, TPC Sawgrass, Colonial and Memorial in the last two months. Currently sixth on the FedEx Cup points list and 19th on Tour in scrambling.

Getty Images

How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Getty Images

The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

Getty Images

Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.