After Further Review: 96th PGA Championship

By Rex HoggardAugust 11, 2014, 3:38 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the greatness of Rory McIlroy and the 96th PGA Championship, decisions made by PGA of America officials, Rickie Fowler's continuing improvement and why golf can be better on TV than in person.

Rory McIlroy may, in fact, be the transcendent player many believed he was when he won the 2011 U.S. Open by eight strokes. All along, McIlroy has dismissed comparisons to Tiger Woods, figuring after that breakthrough victory at Congressional that the last 13 majors would be the hardest to win. But his gritty performance on Sunday at the PGA Championship was his fourth major victory in his last 14 Grand Slam starts and makes him the third-youngest, behind Woods and Jack Nicklaus, to reach that total. “It’s always hard to compare players,” said Henrik Stenson, who tied for third at Valhalla. “But if he’s not the same, he’s not far behind.”  Rex Hoggard

The laminated listing of TV channels in my room at the media hotel in downtown Louisville this week showed a curiously intriguing entry:


To my chagrin (and yes, I checked), there is no network which continuously plays classic golf tournaments on a loop, giving us unending entertainment to while away the hours. If there was, though, the 96th PGA Championship would be immediately added to the rotation.

After a year that included three majors of varying forms of lack of drama, the golf gods finally paid us back with a final round for the ages. Big names, juicy plot lines and spectacular shotmaking created a Sunday afternoon frenzy that transitioned into Sunday evening.

It will forever be remembered as a classic. – Jason Sobel

People who complain that poor decisions were made before seeing the final outcome drive me bonkers. After the 1-hour, 51-minute weather delay Sunday at the PGA Championship you couldn’t swing a dead cat without running into someone fussing at the PGA of America for not moving up tee times. A Monday finish looked likely. If a playoff was necessary we absolutely would’ve seen action on Monday. I get it. In the end it all worked out, we crowned a worthy champion and no travel plans were altered. Doesn’t necessarily mean the PGA did the correct thing but the point is things like this are not worth worrying over an ounce. Find something else to fuss about. – Jay Coffin

Back in January, Rickie Fowler made the innocent remark that he wanted to be known more for his big game than his garish clothes. He linked up with the best swing coach in the game. He lopped off his famous locks. He stopped wearing the Crayola costume every Sunday. And after yet another top-5 finish in a major, it’s clear that the transformation is complete. When Fowler wins a major next season, it’ll be because of what he experienced on the back nine Sunday at Valhalla. For the first time in his career he felt the sting of a major lost, and it will provide all the motivation he needs in the offseason to take the next (and final) step. – Ryan Lavner

Maybe this was common sense and I just had to experience it first hand to actually get it. But golf on TV is way better than attempting to watch it in person. Don’t get me wrong, the experience is pretty cool; no other major sport allows you to get so close to your favorite athletes. I could’ve reached out and given Rory a pat on the back today (and subsequently got arrested) on the third hole. But I didn't, nor did anyone in the crowd around me, have any idea of what was going on. I was lucky enough that I could go back to the media center and watch one of the best final rounds of a major that I can remember in some time. The spectators had to stick it out, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever they happened to be following and just guessing about everyone else. I’m not saying you shouldn’t experience live golf ever, I’m just saying golf, as with almost anything these days, is better with a remote in your left hand, a frosty refreshment in your right, your butt on a couch and your eyes on the 60-inch screen in front of you. – Jason Crook

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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.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“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.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”