Power Rankings: Frys.com Open

By Will GrayOctober 8, 2013, 6:53 pm

This week marks the first week of the PGA Tour's new 2013-14 wraparound season, as a field of 132 players head to Northern California for the Frys.com Open. CordeValle Golf Club plays host to the event for the fourth consecutive year, though the tournament will move to Silverado Resort in 2014.

Be sure to join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to test yourself against our panel of experts, including defending champion Charlie Rymer.

Jonas Blixt returns to defend the title he won last year by one shot over Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak. Here are 10 players to watch this week in San Martin:

1. Billy Horschel: After a breakthrough spring, Horschel struggled somewhat during the homestretch of the 2013 season but bounced back during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Horschel finished the season ranked eighth on Tour in both birdie average and the all-around ranking and has played well in two career starts at CordeValle, tying for seventh in 2011 and posting a T-29 finish last year.

2. John Peterson: After bursting onto the scene at last year's U.S. Open, Peterson tore through the Web.com Tour Finals last month, winning the four-event money list. As a result, the former LSU standout enters this week with serious momentum, having ended his 2013 campaign with five straight top-five finishes.

3. Hideki Matsuyama: Fresh off his appearance at the Presidents Cup, Matsuyama is the highest-ranked player in this weeks field according to the OWGR (30th). The Japanese sensation notched top-10 finishes at both the U.S. Open and British Open this summer, recording six top-25 finishes in seven starts overall last season on the PGA Tour. Now a full-time Tour member, the 21-year-old appears poised for a strong start to his season in California.

4. Gary Woodland: A winner two months ago in Reno, Woodland also tied for second at The Barclays and recorded a T-18 finish at the BMW Championship in his most recent start. Perenially one of the longer hitters on Tour, he appears to have put recent injury issues in the rear-view mirror and now returns to CordeValle, where he tied for ninth a year ago.

5. Jonas Blixt: The defending champ followed up his maiden win with another triumph at The Greenbrier Classic in July, then very nearly claimed the PGA Championship the following month. The Swede struggled somewhat during the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but returning to CordeValle should help Blixt rekindle his old form.

6. Rory Sabbatini: The South African quietly finished the year on a bit of a tear, recording seven top-20 finishes across his final nine starts to the PGA Tour season. Sabbatini finished the season ranked third on Tour in birdie average and fourth in par breakers, which should bode well for his return to a course where the winner has averaged 67 strokes per round across the last three years.

7. Charles Howell III: After narrowly missing out on a spot at the Tour Championship, Howell heads to a course where he tied for 11th in 2012. The Georgia native cooled off significantly after his hot start to the season, but still finished 2013 ranked 17th in strokes gained putting and should make his fair share of putts this week at CordeValle.

8. Marc Leishman: Like Matsuyama, Leishman heads to California after an unsuccessful bid to help the International Team claim the Presidents Cup. The Aussie, who had four top-10s and eight top-25s last season on the PGA Tour, tied for 36th in this event in 2011, his only appearance at CordeValle.

9. Bryce Molder: A winner here in 2011, Molder followed up that victory with a T-11 finish last year. Statistically one of the best putters on Tour, the former Georgia Tech product finished the 2013 season ranked 10th in strokes gained putting and has made the cut in eight of his last nine starts overall, with three top-25 finishes during that stretch.

10. Jimmy Walker: With a tie for 11th at Conway Farms, Walker capped another consistent campaign, one that included five top-10 finishes and 10 top-25 finishes in 24 starts. The Texan finished 22nd in the all-around and 27th in birdie average in 2013, cracking $2 million in earnings in the process, and now tees it up at CordeValle where he tied for fourth a year ago.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 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.