LPGA pushes back International Crown qualifying dates

By Randall MellAugust 31, 2015, 5:49 pm

Michelle Wie began riding a hot streak at the wrong time in 2014.

Well, for the purposes of playing in the inaugural International Crown, her run of stellar play came at the wrong time. It came too late. Wie didn’t make the American team that played in that first biennial international team event because the countries and players were named months before the competition was staged, before Wie got hot and won twice.

The LPGA is hoping its new deadlines for qualifying for the 2016 UL International Crown will better accommodate players who get hot leading into the competition. On Monday, the tour announced it is moving team and player qualifying deadlines much closer to the staging of the event.

“The dates for both the countries and players to qualify for the 2016 UL International Crown were moved closer to the event in an effort to deliver the top countries and to allow the players who are playing the best golf closest to tournament time to take part,” LPGA commissioner Michael Whan said in a statement.

The second International Crown will be played July 21-24 of next year at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago. The eight countries that qualify based on the world-rankings formula will be determined on April 4, after the completion of the LPGA’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. The four players who qualify from each country will be determined by the world rankings on June 13, after the completion of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The teams for next year’s UL International Crown will be named five months later than they were for the inaugural event, and the players will be named two-and-a-half months later than last year.

The teams for the inaugural International Crown were named at the end of the 2013 season. The players were named three days before the Kraft Nabisco, the year’s first major.

The LPGA had reasons for seeking to name countries and players so much in advance. With so many international players involved, the tour sought to secure the advance scheduling of top players who were eligible. Also, early deadlines allowed more lead time to market an event with no history.

Spain won the inaugural International Crown at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. Carlota Ciganda, Belen Mozo, Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari teamed for the victory. Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United States and Thailand also competed.

The top eight countries that qualify are determined by the combined world rankings of a country’s top four players. Once the teams are set, individual qualifying continues within the ranks of qualifying countries.

In 2014, Wie was No. 37 in the Rolex rankings when the American International Crown team was determined. She was the 10th highest ranked American at that time. Six days after the team was named, she finished runner up at the Kraft Nabisco. Two weeks after that, she won the Lotte Championship. She won the U.S. Women’s Open a month after that. Based on the new qualifying dates, Wie would have made the American team, even if the cutoff was the week before she won the U.S. Women’s Open.

The LPGA made its new qualifying dates public during a news conference Monday at Rich Harvest Farms. The tour also announced that Constellation is joining Rolex and Calamos Investments as the third ambassador-level sponsor of the event.

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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.”