After Further Review: Closer look at fatigue, RC picks

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the timing of Ryder Cup captain's picks in the wake of Billy Horschel's two-stroke win at the BMW Championship and the fatigue that comes with playing in four straight weeks of FedEx Cup playoffs.

Four consecutive weeks of playoff golf, particularly postseason play that is just two week’s removed from a World Golf Championship and a major, is too much. First Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose who bypassed the second postseason stop at TPC Boston for various reasons, then Phil Mickelson opted for rest over a late-season attempt to qualify for the Tour Championship on Saturday at the BMW Championship. Although the traditional post-Deutsche Bank Championship “off” week returns next year, that doesn’t change the growing perception among players that four consecutive weeks, or even four of five weeks, is not conducive to good golf. – Rex Hoggard


There is a major procedural problem with the timing of the Ryder Cup captain's picks.

While I understand the rationale behind the PGA Championship as the automatic qualifier list cutoff point (offering an additional plotline to the PGA of America's other crown jewel), there's no rhyme or reason to picks being announced after just two FedEx Cup events.

This might sound like Monday morning quarterbacking, but on a week where Billy Horschel won and players like Ryan Palmer, Morgan Hoffmann and Brooks Koepka contended for titles, it only exacerbated Tom Watson's claim that he wanted hot hands on his roster.

How should it be fixed? Two suggestions: Either move back the captain's picks to after the Tour Championship or release one name each week for three weeks in a row – a move which would certainly maximize fan interest and heighten the impending drama.  Jason Sobel


FedEx Cup fatigue has set in. Rory McIlroy four-putted two days in a row. Sergio Garcia bladed a chip into a pond. Ryan Palmer shanked a wedge into a hazard. Hey, at least they were still in Denver on Sunday – Phil Mickelson bailed after two rounds. Multimillionaires won’t get much sympathy for being forced to play four events in a row with tens of millions of dollars at stake, but it’s clear that the quality of play in these playoffs has been sacrificed with the nonstop schedule. When trying to handicap the field for this week’s Tour Championship, don’t just consider who is playing well or has a strong history at East Lake. Also ask: At this point, who still cares? – Ryan Lavner


We’re seeing evidence of something akin to postseason traumatic stress disorder in these FedEx Cup playoffs. Phil Mickelson talked a couple weeks ago about keeping his “sanity” in his long, frustrating season, and then he withdrew this week from the BMW Championship, citing the need to get himself ready for the Ryder Cup. He looked like he was out of gas. There was a heated exchange between Adam Scott and his caddie, Steve Williams, in full view of media behind the clubhouse after Saturday’s round. We can’t be sure that the fatigue of a hard late-season push had anything to do with that, but we wouldn’t be surprised. We heard Martin Kaymer talk this week about how all the time he’s spending in hotel rooms in his long run takes a toll. And we heard Sergio Garcia explain Sunday that he might have avoided the triple-bogey 8 he made late in the round if he were more rested and mentally sharp. I imagine golf fans aren’t getting tired of seeing the best players going this hard at each other, but I suspect they're going to get real tired hearing these players talk about how tired they are becoming in pursuit of a $10 million jackpot. - Randall Mell

 

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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.”