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Korda smiling again, closing in on world top 10

By Randall MellFebruary 28, 2018, 5:28 pm

Jessica Korda says she had to learn to smile all over again with 27 screws in her skull holding together the reconstruction doctors did in a complex offseason surgery on her jaw.

She’s getting a lot of practice smiling this week in Singapore, where she will be trying to follow up last week’s remarkable victory in Thailand with another at the HSBC Women’s World Championship.

Korda, 24, leaped 14 spots in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings claiming her fifth LPGA title, moving her close to cracking the top 10 for the first time in her career. She’s No. 12 now, the highest she has ever ranked.

It’s a testament to more than her skill that she won in her first start coming back from surgery, a procedure that has alleviated headaches caused by the misalignment of her jaw.

Korda shared in an interview Wednesday on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” how there were so many challenges in her return, beyond hitting a ball. There were personal issues that made her question herself beyond the game.

Full-field scores from the HSBC Women’s World Championship

“I think the biggest shock of all was looking in the mirror,” Korda said. “You don’t know who you are looking at. That brings a lot of doubts and a lot of mixed emotions.

“It was a total shock to me, just trying to learn how to smile again, trying to learn how to move my top lip and bottom lip. Just being myself again is difficult.”

Korda missed the season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas and the year’s second event at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open while recuperating from the December surgery. The difficulty in that was exasperated by the fact that she has won both of those events.

“It was really motivating to me to get my butt back out there,” Korda said. “I’m really glad just to miss two tournaments after that big of a surgery.”

Korda’s jump to No. 12 in the world is important in her bid to win one of the four spots on the U.S. International Crown team that will tee it up in South Korea in October.

Before the victory, she was sixth on the American rankings list. She’s third now. If the American team were finalized today, she would be on the team.

Korda shattered tournament scoring records in Thailand, shooting a 62 in the second round on her way to a tournament record 25-under total.

With the intense heat in Thailand, Korda is spending the week in Singapore re-energizing the best she can. She’ll be looking to take advantage of her momentum.

“I’ll just be trying to do the same things,” Korda said. “It’s obviously a totally different golf course. I played today, and it’s very, very firm and fast.”

Korda showed there may not be much she cannot adapt to inside and outside the ropes.

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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.”