Day leads Players by four through 54 holes

By Nick MentaMay 14, 2016, 10:17 pm

Jason Day started the third round with a four-shot lead and will take that same advantage into the final-round of The Players Championship after a 1-over 73. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at a suddenly much tougher TPC Sawgrass:

Leaderboard: Day (-14), Hideki Matsuyama (-10), Ken Duke (-10), Alex Cejka (-10), Francesco Molinari (-9)

What it means: After two rounds of unusually favorable scoring conditions, Sawgrass showed its teeth Saturday as the greens quickened and scores ballooned to an average over 75. After a front-nine 39 cut his lead to just two, Day played a bogey-free back nine in 34 to post 1-over 73. He'll be chased on Sunday by Matsuyama, who has already won this year, and two journeymen in Cejka and Duke.  The 18-, 36-, and 54-hole leader, Day already went wire-to-wire earlier this year at Bay Hill. If he closes tomorrow, he'll be only the fourth player since 1970 to twice win wire-to-wire with no ties in the same season, joining Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller. A win tomorrow would give him his third win this season and his seventh victory in his last 17 starts.

Round of the day: On a day when only six players broke par, Duke started on the back nine, went out in 35, and then birdied six of his final seven holes to shoot 7-under 65, the day's low score by two. Given the conditions and the speed of the greens, it was a score more impressive than either of the course-record-tying 63s posted by Day and Colt Knost earlier in the week. 

Best of the rest: Matsuyama was one of only two other playes to break 70 in Round 3. He raced up the board to tie Duke for second with a score of 5-under 67. The Phoenix Open champion didn't make a par until the seventh hole (four birdies, two bogeys) and played the rest of the golf course 3 under with nine pars and three straight birdies on Nos. 10-12.

Biggest disappointments: Shane Lowry ended the second round as Day's closest challenger and started the third just four back. He didn't stay there for long. Lowry got off to a disastrous start, playing the first four holes bogey-bogey-double bogey-bogey. He played the remainder of his round 1 over to shoot 78 and fall nine back.

Disaster of the day at 17: Russell Knox was 8 under for the week when he put his first tee shot at the par-3 17th in the water. He proceeded to re-tee and shank his second ball in the water. He played from the tee again and put his third ball (and fifth shot) once again in the water. Finally, mercifully, he moved to the drop zone, found the green and saluted the cheering crowd. He went on to two-putt for a nine. Thanks to a closing bogey at 18, Knox dropped seven shots over his final two holes to shoot 8-over 80.

Shot of the day: After finding trouble off the tee at  the par-4 15th, Day kept his round together and his momentum going with this chip-in for par from in front of the green.

Quote of the day: "Somehow, overnight, [these greens] got two or three feet faster." - Duke

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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.”