Dufner: DJ the 'type of guy the Tour needs'

By Will GrayAugust 1, 2014, 12:23 am

AKRON, Ohio – Word of Dustin Johnson’s leave of absence spread quickly at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Johnson has a win and two runner-up finishes this season, but released a statement Thursday saying he will take an immediate and indefinite leave from the PGA Tour to “seek professional help for personal challenges.”

While players had either completed their opening round or were in the midst of play at Firestone Country Club when Johnson made his announcement, many weighed in on what his absence will mean as the Tour’s season draws to a close.

“Dustin and I are close, it’s tough to hear,” Jason Dufner said. “He’s the type of guy the Tour needs. He’s a guy’s guy. A lot of the guys love him out here.

“Hopefully he’ll get it together and do what he needs to do to get back out here and be successful.”

Rickie Fowler echoed Dufner’s sentiments, adding that he considers Johnson one of his “best friends” on Tour.

“I’m just hoping for all the best for him. I haven’t been in touch with him,” Fowler said. “We’ll miss him out here but hopefully get him back soon.”

While the reasons for Johnson’s absence remain unknown, one certainty is that the 30-year-old will now miss the Ryder Cup despite occupying one of the nine automatic qualifying spots in the U.S. standings.

Johnson was a part of the American Ryder Cup squad in 2010 and 2012, and he was the only American to go undefeated two years ago at Medinah, compiling a 3-0-0 record.

The news that Johnson won’t be among the contingent traveling to Gleneagles came as a shock to Jim Furyk, who clinched his spot on the team earlier this month.

“Is that right? Oh, wow. That’s a quick slap in the face,” Furyk said after an opening-round 69. “Yeah, that’s a big loss. He’s one of our horses, one of our best players, and a guy that’s having a really good year. He’s been solid on that team for a long time.”

Johnson’s absence means that the 10th-place finisher will now qualify automatically for the U.S. squad when the points race ends after next week’s PGA Championship. That’s a welcome development for Zach Johnson, who entered this week on the bubble in the No. 9 spot. But the former Masters champ was only able to focus on the negatives associated with Johnson’s departure from the team.

“It stinks. It really, really stinks,” he said. “When he’s playing good, he’s got the game that it frankly doesn’t matter what kind of golf course it is, he can do well. I also think he has – I don’t want to say he has an intimidation factor, but to some individuals he might in the sense that he can overpower courses.”

Reigning Masters champ Bubba Watson currently tops the U.S. points list, and offered a succinct assessment of the situation after his opening round.

“You know, it’s sad,” Watson said. “It’s sad when you lose a talent like that.”

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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.”