Crane shoots 63, leads by 2 in Memphis

By Will GrayJune 6, 2014, 1:20 am

Storms forced a stoppage of play Thursday in Memphis, but when play got back on track Ben Crane moved to the top of the standings. Here's how things look after the first day of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where Crane leads by two with several players still yet to complete their first round:

Leaderboard: Ben Crane (-7), Peter Malnati (-5), Billy Horschel (-5 through 16 holes), Retief Goosen (-4), Joe Durant (-4), Zach Johnson (-4 through 15), Stuart Appleby (-4 through 17)

What it means: A large storm moved across TPC Southwind midway through the day, knocking first-round play behind schedule. Goosen was among the early leaders, finishing before the rains came, but the players in the afternoon wave benefited from a lack of wind. Crane capitalized more than anyone else, as he looks for his first win in nearly three years.

Round of the day: Crane began on the back nine and made the turn in 2 under, then caught fire with three straight birdies on holes 1-3. He added two more circles on Nos. 8 and 9 to close out his round, which marked his lowest score on Tour since a 63 during the second round of the 2012 Humana Challenge.

Best of the rest: Malnati has missed his last four cuts, but appears likely to play the weekend in Memphis after an opening-round 65. Malnati, who will turn 27 next week, made six birdies against just one bogey while hitting 11 of 18 greens in regulation. He looks to improve upon his T-14 finish at the Puerto Rico Open in March, which serves as his best result this season.

Biggest disappointment: Harris English notched his first career PGA Tour win at TPC Southwind a year ago, but his title defense is officially on the ropes after a 3-over 73 in the opening round. English made a double bogey at both No. 16 and No. 18, more than erasing the three birdies he made on the day. He now faces an uphill battle simply to make it past the 36-hole cut.

Main storyline heading into Friday: While Crane certainly has what it takes to win, the main story right now is Phil Mickelson, who rallied to shoot a 3-under 67 in the first round and sits four shots off the pace. Still in search of his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season, Mickelson will look for some consistency with Friday's round - something that has been sorely lacking for him so far in 2014.

Shot of the day: Appleby ended his day in style, making a hole-in-one on No. 8 from 157 yards with a 7-iron. After the ace, play was called for the day because of darkness, so Appleby will return to play the ninth hole - his 18th - Friday morning.

Quote of the day: "Finishing the round the way I did, that’s exactly what I need to do and some momentum that I need heading into the U.S. Open." - Mickelson, who birdied four of his final seven holes in the opening round.

Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”