Keep Your Eye On These Big Six In 2001
Mike Weir will fill most of them. The 30-year-old Canadian started the year strong, finishing in the top 10 at Mercedes, Phoenix, Pebble Beach and Bay Hill. He finished fourth at Memorial, then slumped the second half until the Tour reached the Michelob Championship. A second there started him again and, going against the best in the game at the WGC-American Express Championship, he put it all together for a win.
Weir is a left-hander, joining Phil Mickelson and Steve Flesch as top-30 golfers who swing from the left side. His per-tournament average payday was $90,933, allowing him to finish No. 6 on the money list with $2,547,829. The 5-foot-9, 155-pounder is known as a dangerous putter who finished eighth on the list in that category.
Stewart Cink appears ready for a big season after three years of knocking on the door. He's a big, 6-foot-4 inch belter who averages 278 yards per drive, and this year he averaged $80,363 per tourney, $2.1 million in his 27 starts.
Cink, a Georgia Tech grad, won three times on the Nike Tour (now Buy.Com) in 1996 and appears ready to become a consistent winner on the PGA Tour. His final-round scoring average of 69.29, as well as his par-3 scoring which ranked second on Tour, make him a promising star of the future. He won the MCI Classic against a good field, shooting a 65 the last day to outduel Ernie Els, Davis Love, Tom Lehman and Vijay Singh. He birdied three of the last four holes to win going away and kept up the good final-round scoring the rest of the year.
Notah Begay III was known primarily as Tiger Woods' college teammate before 1999, but he has shown himself ready for the next level of competition. It's a little difficult to see how he does it - his highest statistic is 75th in fairways hit - but he averaged $75,805 for his 24 events this year, $1.8 total. He slumped the first half of the year before hitting his stride the week after the U.S. Open. He won the FedEx St. Jude Classic, repeated the following week at the Canon Greater Hartford Open, and finished out of the top 20 only twice from there until the end of the year.
Sergio Garcia - enough said. Only 20 years old, a Spaniard in the best Seve Ballesteros tradition, Garcia belongs to both the European and U.S. Tours. He averaged almost $66,000 every time he went out in America in 2000, and that was without a
single win. His biggest victory, against Woods in a televised event late in the season, was not official money.
But Garcia was long - 278 yards per drive; accurate - 26th on Tour in fairways hit; and an outstanding putter - fourth among Tour regulars. Add another category - winner - as soon as the next year rolls around.
David Toms has been around a long time, since 1992. However, at the age of 33, he's becoming statistically one of the best in the game. He finished 10th on the money list last year, dropped to 15th this year, but his $2 million won included $64,582 every time he entered a tournament.
Toms is a solid player, all the way through every club. His 11th place finish in putting is particularly noteworthy. While he failed to win a tournament in 2000, he finished in the top 10 13 times, the top 20 21 times. He will win for the fourth time in the near future, everyone believes.
And then there's Flesch, another left-hander who finished 13th in the money. Flesch played in a lot of tournaments (32), but made a lot on money ($2 million). That's an average of $63,305 for every tournament he played.
Flesch is also an exceptional putter, seventh best on the Tour, and a much better-than-average driver (279 yards). He was second this year on par-4 birdies, but his final-round scoring average let him down. He was 53rd in that category.
One thing that was impressive was the manner in which Flesch improved at the end of the season. He finished tied for 61st in the SEI Pennsylvania tournament, but then tied for 27th at the Buick Challenge, tied for 12th at the Michelob, tied for ninth at Las Vegas and placed second at Disney. Flesch finished with a 15th-place finish in the Tour Championship.
Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self
Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.
Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.
Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.
"I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"
Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.
But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.
"What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."
Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'
Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.
And now, Greg Norman.
Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.
He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.
DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open
With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.
Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.
Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.
Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy
16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas
20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama
40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman
50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton
60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick
80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry
100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker
Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open
Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy
Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.
“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”
“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”
The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.
(All Times Local)
Monday, June 18 Austin, Texas (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, June 19 Houston (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)
Wednesday, June 20 Jacksonville, Fla. (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)
Monday, June 25 Orlando, Fla. (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)
Wednesday, July 4 Washington D.C. (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)
Monday, July 9 Edison, N.J. (Topgolf, Time TBA)
Wednesday, July 11 Lake Tahoe, Nev. American Century Championship (On Course)
Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.
NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.