Hull stays aggressive, fires 66 at Birkdale

By Ryan LavnerJuly 12, 2014, 1:10 pm

SOUTHPORT, England – Eleven shots behind at the halfway point, Charley Hull went to sleep Friday night with the belief that she still had a chance at this Women’s British Open.

A bogey-bogey start Saturday didn’t derail her optimism either, and when she emerged from the scorer’s tent after making nine birdies during a best-of-the-week 6-under 66, well, it turns out the 18-year-old was right.

She could still win this Open.

Outside the top 50 when she began her third round here at Royal Birkdale, Hull, at 1-under 215, was inside the top 10, and climbing, by the time the leaders headed to the first tee. It remains to be seen where the teen phenom will stand by nightfall, but this round was reminiscent of her Saturday 66 at the Kraft, when she pulled within two shots of the 54-hole lead (closed with 76 to finish seventh).

“I’d say this was good,” she said with a smile afterward, the type of understated response you’d expect from a player whose motto is “hit it, find it, and hit it again.”

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Like anyone in the zone on the greens, Hull said her 66 could have been even better. She grumbled after the round about her “annoying” three-putt on the par-5 17th, when she was too aggressive with her first effort from 17 feet and then lipped out the 6-foot comebacker.

And then came 18, a 473-yard par 5 that has given Hull fits during the early part of this tournament. In the opening round she pumped her tee ball out-of-bounds right, then did well just to make bogey. On Day 2, she sent another one O.B., hit her provisional within a few inches from the stakes, took an unplayable, hacked out and carded “the best 7 I’ve ever had.”

So, yeah, there was a bit of trepidation as she stood over her final tee shot of the day. Her caddie wanted her to hit 3-wood, for safety.

“I thought, 'Well, at the end of the day, that out of bounds is 60 yards right, and I’m ripping it out there,'” she said. Hull aimed left, visualized a tree-lined hole like so many at her home club at Woburn, and hit a left-to-right “slider” that set up one final birdie.

Hull admittedly is still grappling with the concept of dialing back. She plays aggressively without even realizing it. She took aim at all four of the shortish par 3s Saturday at Birkdale and birdied each one, something she didn’t discover until reviewing her scorecard in the media center. During her closing, career-best 62 in Morocco, she bashed driver “everywhere,” even into some of the tightest and most unforgiving spaces, and emerged a first-time winner.

Full throttle is often the way Lexi Thompson plays golf, yet that formula hasn’t worked here at Birkdale. Playing in the same group as Hull, the 19-year-old made five 6s – all double bogeys – during a third-round 78 and was 12 shots worse than her fellow playing competitor. She is now T-67 among the 70 players who made the cut.

Right now, Lexi is the more accomplished player – she’s No. 5 in the Rolex Rankings, compared to Hull at No. 32 – but it’s easy to envision these two studs anchoring the women’s tour for another, oh, two decades.

Lexi won her major back in April at the Kraft. Now, after the round of the tournament, Hull has positioned herself for another crack at her maiden major.

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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.

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“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.”