Burke wins second Long Drive title in three years

By Jason CrookOctober 22, 2015, 4:37 am

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – Under the bright lights of the World Long Drive Championship, one of the circuit’s biggest stars shined the brightest.

Tim Burke of Orlando, Fla., blasted a 394-yard piercing drive through an Oklahoma crosswind to top Jeremy Easterly and take home his second World Long Drive title belt in three years as his personal cheering section roared from the stands.

“I just wanted to make sure I put a good golf swing on it … and I hit it pretty good,” Burke said shortly after claiming his $150,000 first-place prize. “I got dedicated this year, got a little better golf swing, learned how to handle the pressure a little better and everything came together tonight.”

Burke, 29, wasted no time getting to the championship round, bombing drives of 401 and 403 yards on his first attempts in the quarterfinals and semis to roll past Justin Young and Will Hogue, respectively. Each time he asked his fans for help before, during and after his turn. And each time, they delivered.

“It’s awesome; they were at the first one, too. It’s the best, just having a little section, it makes me feel comfortable and able to let go,” Burke added.

Easterly, for his part, said he was “speechless” just making it to the final. The 38-year-old beat out the only other two-time winner of this event in the field, superstar Jamie Sadlowski, in the semifinals.

After registering a 380-yard drive, Easterly watched as Sadlowski couldn’t manage to find the grid, hitting ball after ball out of bounds, even switching drivers halfway through his turn and frantically jumping off the stage to find a tee to hit his final ball before time ran out.

“It hurts a little bit when you beat yourself and not hit a good shot in, but that’s life,” Sadlowski said. “It’s hard. Maybe I took those first two world championships for granted, maybe I didn’t enjoy them enough to realize how hard this is. Falling short, it hurts.”

But in the end, Burke put an end to Easterly’s Cinderella run. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound fan favorite proved to be too much.

“He’s a great competitor, you’ve got to give him everything you got and it still may not be enough," said Easterly, who came up eight yards short in the final. “I hit a good ball, not a great ball, but he’s got a lot of horsepower and he can put a good number up.”

That number Easterly refers to may be something long drivers are chasing for a long time to come, because Burke is already looking ahead.

“I was definitely hungry to get No. 2 after last year. I just worked really hard this year. I feel blessed and I’m just going to keep it rolling,” Burke said while surrounded by friends and family on stage. “I’m in an elite club and I’d like to get Nos. 3, 4 and 5.”

So, rest of the long-drive world, consider this your official notice - this may only be the beginning of the Tim Burke Era.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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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.”