Looks can be deceiving: Whistling a links course?

By Mercer BaggsAugust 11, 2015, 9:09 pm

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – It’s been said that Whistling Straits is the third consecutive links-style golf course to host a men’s major championship. At least that’s what one questioner keeps declaring in his offerings to players during PGA Championship news conferences.

The players, however, have a different assessment.

“The only thing that's linksy is the fact that you see water and there's some fescue grasses out there. But it's really target golf right now; the ball is not running,” Justin Rose said. “So the mindset –  the visual is links, but the mindset is target golf.”

That mindset is heightened with softer conditions. Thunderstorms led to several suspensions of play during Monday’s practice round at Whistling Straits, taking a bite out of the course.

“It’s a little soft with the rain we had yesterday,” Tiger Woods said. “But, I think it’s playing great. The greens are absolutely perfect. They’re such a great speed and so smooth. I know they’ll probably get a little bit quicker come Thursday, but overall this golf course is in perfect shape right now.”

It’s just not a traditional links layout.

The U.S. Open was contested at a crusty Chambers Bay. The Open Championship was held on the Old Course at St. Andrews. As Rickie Fowler said, Whistling Straits “definitely has the look of a links golf course, but doesn't play completely firm and fast like a links golf course.”



Zach Johnson, winner of the claret jug four weeks ago, took it a step further.

“I think this golf course is the furthest thing from links,” he said. “Links golf is using the land, using trajectory control, running things on the green, using the bounces and the rolls. This course is all aerial. You have to hit it here to hit it there. It may look like links standing from the clubhouse looking down, but it does not play like a true links course.

“In my opinion, outside of maybe the sand traps and the way they look, it's not a links golf course.”

 Speaking of the bunkers …

That has been a major topic of conversation early this week, given the Dustin Johnson incident five years ago. The PGA of America issued a rules statement declaring just about everything on the property with sand a hazard. Players have taken notice.

“There was a lot of paperwork last time, but there is more this time. Everybody has it on their mind, as much as the media is talking about it,” said Bubba Watson, who lost in a playoff at Whistling Straits in 2010. “We have it on our mind, but the goal is to hit the fairway.”

“I believe that this year everything is a bunker,” Woods said. “But this golf course is what it is. We’ve got to put the ball in play. If you stay away from (those) areas you’ll be fine.”

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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.”