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Men's regionals: Who's in, out for NCAAs?

By Ryan LavnerMay 14, 2018, 7:18 pm

The NCAA Division I men’s regionals got underway Monday at six sites around the country. The top five teams and low individual on a non-advancing team will advance to the May 25-30 NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.

Here are the first-round results from the Raleigh (N.C.), Kissimmee (Fla.), Columbus (Ohio), Bryan (Texas), Norman (Okla.) and Stockton (Calif.) regionals:

Raleigh regional, at Lonnie Poole Golf Course:

Leader (click here for full team scores): Texas (-13)

Second place: Georgia Tech (-10)

Also in position: N.C. State (-9), Arizona State (-8), Santa Clara (-8)

Work to do: Augusta (-6), Middle Tennessee State (-4), Liberty (-4), Missouri (-4), Duke (-3), California (E)

Individual leaders (click here for full individual scores): Doug Ghim, Texas; Justin Burkhamer, Iona College (both at -7)

Skinny: Led by Hogan Award finalist Doug Ghim’s 7-under 64, Texas took the lead over both the top seed (Georgia Tech) and the host school (N.C. State). All four counting scores for the Longhorns were in the 60s. Playing on their home course, N.C. State’s Stephen Franken, a Freshman of the Year contender, and Benjamin Shipp shot 65 and 67, respectively, to keep the Wolfpack in the mix. They haven't been to an NCAAs as a team since 2011. Ninth-seeded Santa Clara is in position early, but the biggest surprise was Cal, the 2 seed that had to fly all the way across the country to play this regional. Player of the Year contender Collin Morikawa made four late birdies to salvage a 68, but only one of his teammates broke par on Day 1. The Golden Bears are already eight shots off the cut line at a regional that should have low scoring the rest of the way.

Kissimmee regional, at Reunion Resort:

Leaders (click here for full team scores): Florida and UCF (-12)

Third place: Kent State (-8)

Also in position: South Florida (-6), Vanderbilt (-5), North Carolina (-5)

Work to do: Arizona (-4), Jacksonville State (-2), Purdue (E)

Individual leaders (click here for full individual scores): George Cunningham, Arizona; Chase Johnson, Kent State; UCF’s Juuso Kahlos and Bobby Bai (all at -5)

Skinny: Delayed by more than an hour because of heavy rain in the area, two Florida-based schools got off to a hot start at another low-scoring regional. The Gators, who shockingly failed to advance past regionals last year despite being the 1 seed, counted three scores of 69 or better on Day 1. UCF is the 10 seed in the regional, but the Knights are also the de facto host school, even though this isn’t their home track. Top-seeded Vanderbilt got off to a solid but unspectacular start, still inside the top-5 cut line, despite a poor opening round by top player Theo Humphrey, whose 75 was dropped.

Columbus regional, at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course:

Leader (click here for full team scores): Oklahoma State (-3)

Second place: UNLV (E)

Also in position: Illinois (E), Northwestern (+8), Penn State (+9)

Work to do: Texas Tech (+13), Wake Forest (+15), Louisville (+16)

Individual leader (click here for full individual scores): Michael Feagles, Illinois (-3)

Skinny: No surprise to already see some separation between the legitimate contenders and pretenders in this regional, played on the most difficult course. All four of top-ranked Oklahoma State’s four counters shot par or better on the difficult track, while UNLV has three players inside the top 8 individually. Illinois seems to be peaking at the right time of year, with Michael Feagles leading the way with a 68 on Day 1 and their two senior leaders, Nick Hardy and Dylan Meyer both shooting even par. The most interesting team to watch is Texas Tech, the 3 seed in the regional. The Red Raiders held out their best player, senior Fredrik Nilehn, for three events because of a back injury, and he returned to the lineup with a 78 that had to count. If not for Hurly Long’s 1-under 70, this team would already be toast.

Bryan regional, at Traditions Club:

Leader (click here for full team scores): Texas A&M (-9)

Second place: Baylor (-6)

Also in position: Clemson (-5), UCLA (E), South Carolina (+5)

Work to do: Ole Miss (+6), Bradley (+9), Kentucky (+10), Georgia (+15)

Individual leaders (click here for full individual scores): Chandler Phillips and Brandon Smith, Texas A&M; Cooper Dossey, Baylor (all at -4)

Skinny: Each of the three top seeds in the regional came to play Monday, as they sit 1-2-3 on the leaderboard. The Aggies, playing on their home track, got 68s from both Phillips and Smith and only dropped a 1-over 73. Baylor, which reached match play a year ago, also is off to a strong start thanks to Dossey’s 68 and two other players who broke par. Both of those teams are already double digits ahead of the top-5 cut line. For fourth-seeded Kentucky, Chip McDaniel’s 69 was the lone bright spot – the Wildcats also counted scores of 77 and 79. Keep an eye on Ole Miss. The Rebels are one shot off the cut line after Day 1, but their star player, Braden Thornberry, opened with 69 and would be in the mix to advance as the low individual if the team can’t grab one of the available spots.

Norman regional, at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club:

Leader (click here for full team scores): Oklahoma (-5)

Second place: Auburn (E), Arkansas (E), North Florida (E)

Also in position: San Diego State (+2)

Work to do: Florida State (+5), Missouri-Kansas City (+5), Nevada (+6), Pepperdine (+7), Virginia (+9)

Individual leader (click here for full individual scores): Blaine Hale, Oklahoma (-5)

Skinny: Defending national champion Oklahoma got off to a strong start at its home regional, with Blaine Hale and Quade Cummins leading the way for the Sooners with scores of 67 and 69, respectively. Surprisingly, the team had to drop a 75 from senior leader Grant Hirschman. A pair of SEC teams put together a solid even par round, while Missouri-Kansas City, the 12 seed in the regional, is lurking just a few shots off the cut line after Day 1. Only 15 players broke par on what proved to be a touch day for scoring.   

Stockton regional, at The Reserve at Spanos Park

Leader (click here for full team scores): Iowa State (-10)

Second place: Kansas (-7)

Also in position: Alabama (-6), TCU (-5), Stanford (-3)

Work to do: Oregon (+1), Colorado (+2), LSU (+5), Southern Cal (+7)

Individual leaders (click here for full individual scores): Daniel Sutton, Kansas; Brandon Wu, Stanford; Ryan Han, UC Davis (all at -5)

Skinny: This was by far the most surprising regional after 18 holes. Iowa State is a 10 seed, while Kansas is an 8 seed. There’s a lot of golf left to play, but those two teams outpacing Alabama, LSU and Co. is a stunner so far. Speaking of the Tigers, the top seed in the regional, they’re already eight shots off the cut line after a day in which only two of their five players broke par. Two shots worse than LSU, however, is Pac-12 champion Southern Cal. Despite having a huge advantage of playing in their home state, no Trojans player broke par, and that includes Haskins Award favorite Justin Suh. Oregon’s Norman Xiong appears primed to take advantage of Suh’s early missteps, opening with 68. The only team with a worse first-round score than USC was North Dakota State.

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”