Former No. 1 junior Paolucci earns 1st college win

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 26, 2014, 5:10 pm

To fully appreciate Jordan Spieth’s meteoric rise, consider this:

His chief rival in junior golf just won his first college event.

Spieth, 20, is a PGA Tour winner, a U.S. Presidents Cup member, a top-12 player in the Official World Ranking. 

Just 2 ½ years ago, though, he was merely part of a heralded 2011 high-school class that included Patrick Rodgers, Justin Thomas, Michael Kim, Ollie Schniederjans and Anthony Paolucci.

They’ve all charged ahead with varying degrees of success.

Rodgers is a junior at Stanford, a seven-time winner who is one title away from becoming the second-most prolific winner in school history, behind only that Tiger guy (11).

Thomas, the 2012 NCAA Player of the Year, and Kim, the 2013 POY, have since turned pro and will compete this year primarily on the circuit.  

Pan is still at Washington, and he drew national attention last year when he made the cut at the U.S. Open. Schniederjans, in his third year at Georgia Tech, is a top-10 player in the nation.  

And then there is Paolucci, the 2010 Junior Player of Year who so frequently battled Spieth in AJGA events across the country, teamed up with him at the Junior Ryder Cup, competed for PGA Tour sponsor exemptions and jostled for junior golf’s No. 1 ranking. Paolucci and Spieth were even frequent combatants in the Dallas area, before Paolucci and his family moved to Del Mar, Calif.

On Tuesday, after two and a half years at USC, Paolucci finally won his first college event, making birdie on the final hole to win the Jones Invitational. It was the 21-year-old’s fourth top 10 of the season and fifth in the top 12. He is No. 33 in Golfstat’s individual rankings

“Obviously I’m very happy for picking up my first win,” he said in a school release. “I’m glad I could finally break through.” 

Paolucci had just one top 10 in his first season with the Trojans but improved slightly in Year 2, tying for second in a tournament at PGA West and tacking on a pair of other top 10s.

Last fall he tried his luck at Tour Q-School. He earned medalist honors at second stage, but then finished T-95 in the finals – not good enough to lock up significant status – and returned to L.A. 

A setback, perhaps, but this season Paolucci is beginning to show the kind of promise that made him one of the can’t-miss prospects coming out of high school. 

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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.”