Tiger No Certainty to Win This British Open
So instead of saying he wont win, lets just say that a victory at the British Open is a little less likely than, say, your average everyday Memorial.
The reason? He has been a non-factor in his last three events. He finished tied for 12th in the first, the U.S. Open. He went to the Buick and finished in a tie for 16th. And then he tied for 20th in the Advil Western. Does that sound like someone you would pick to go to Royal Lytham and win?
Well, no. He has just about made heretics out of those who saw 10-win season after 10-win season piling upon each other. Tiger himself never hinted that such was his destiny, even though Tigers father would have you believe that. But then, I guess my father would get a bit carried away by me if I possessed such awesome ability. So you must forgive Mister Woods the Senior. Hes understandably a proud pappa.
Woods, it appears, is not immortal. Hes just very, very good. He really can lose occasionally. On paper at least, this week would seem to be one such time. On paper a win seems unlikely. In reality, its quite possible that the unlikely will happen. You really look stupid if you pick someone else and then Eldrick wins ' who else do you choose but a man who has won four times already on the U.S. tour, including Bay Hill, the Players Championship, the Masters and the Memorial? And he won in Europe at the Deutsche Bank Open to give him five wins in six tries.
But if not Tiger, then who? Well, it looks like a European, perhaps Sergio Garcia, perhaps Darren Clarke or Thomas Bjorn. Perhaps it will be South African Retief Goosen, the unlikely U.S. Open winner. Perhaps an American will win ' is this old-timer Scott Hochs turn? Perhaps Phil Mickelsen?
Lytham will not be overpowered as Woods did at St. Andrews at last years British. However, Woods has won at finesse courses - quite often, in fact. But it makes it a little more difficult when you absolutely, positively must keep it in the fairway. Lytham has had a great deal of rain this year and the rough is, well, lush.
No one is hitting it as far off the tee or as straight as Garcia. Hes been avoiding the roughs quite well of late. The only question is if he has had the experience to win a major. If he learned anything at the U.S. Open where he was in position to win the final day, then the questions are moot.
Woods is more likely to win than Clarke or Bjorn, but Clarke won the Smurfit European Open two weeks ago and Bjorn has played well all year. Neither would be a great surprise if they won. And neither would Goosen, who won again last week after capturing the U.S. Open in a playoff.
Which brings us to Mickelson and Hoch. If this course were in America, Hoch would certainly be one of the favorites. Its just what the golfing gods ordered, tailor-made for a short, straight, accurate hitter, and Hoch has been such a hot golfer the last month or so.
Unfortunately, Royal Lytham and St. Annes is not in America. Hoch has only played the British three times in the 90s. He thinks there are much better things to do than travel 3,000 miles for one week of golf. But the first round this week is crucial for him. If he has a couple of bad holes, forget it. If the weather is cold and rainy, forget it. But if he scores well in the first round and becomes convinced he can play over there for one week ' watch out!
Mickelson? Who can tell? He will figure somewhere on the final day for the championship. He has everything it takes to win. But he also has the one thing it takes to lose ' a putter than misfires on short putts at the most crucial of times. As such, he is so difficult to predict. Is this Phils week? Or the week of Phils evil twin who blows the short ones?
Its likely on a course as difficult as Lytham that the eventual winner will be someone who hasnt been named. Another European, perhaps, one whom no one ever thought of as major championship material? Possibly.
Of course, theres our old buddy Tiger. Hes been in the country a week already. Hes proven he can win in Europe ' several times, in fact. And hes proven he can jump up from a string of mediocre play and win ' several times, in fact.
Its just not so certain that this is the time.
Who do you like for the British Open, and Why?
Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie
While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.
There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.
According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)
Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.
McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1
They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.
McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.
On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.
Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:
10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm
12/1: Tony Finau
14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler
20/1: Francesco Molinari
25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner
30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka
40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day
50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar
60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate
80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na
100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman
Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience
Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.
It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.
Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.
A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.
“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.
“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”
Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.
At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.
Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.
“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.
“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”
Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.
“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”
After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.
“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”
Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.
“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.
“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”
On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.
Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.
“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”
Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.
At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.
At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.
Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.
“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”
Her overall assessment of her day?
“It was a great experience,” she said.
Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.