Punch Shot: Better season - Spieth, Day or McIlroy

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 6, 2016, 6:00 pm

Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy are the top-three players in the world. All had multiple wins last year. So who will have a better season in 2016? Our writers weigh in.


Rory McIlroy. That’s not a knock on the other two players. Spieth is coming off one of the best major seasons of all time, but recent history suggests that he’ll have trouble backing up a two-major campaign with another big year. Just look at what happened to McIlroy as he tries to follow up his 2012 and ’14 seasons. And Day has more than enough talent to post another five-win year in 2016, but it remains to be seen whether 2015 was a turning point in his career or an aberration simply because he avoided injury.

The hope here is that all three have monster seasons and, with a little help from Rickie Fowler, combine for 20 wins in 2016. But the more likely scenario is that McIlroy, tired of playing second fiddle to the Spieth-Day show, reasserts his dominance and returns to No. 1. If he isn’t motivated by what transpired in 2015, then it’s fair to wonder if anything else will provide a spark.


It will be another great year in golf if Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day continue to thrive together.

But when the year ends, look for McIlroy to be back atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

He could own the year if he starts off the majors winning the Masters to claim the career Grand Slam. At his best, he’s a better version of Jason Day, powerful but an even more consistently good driver. At his best, he puts pressure on Spieth to be perfect. At his best, McIlroy can dominate and run away against the best fields in golf. He has already proven that. It sets him apart, not just from today’s best players, but historically.


Considering the collective accomplishments of golf’s new Big 3 in recent years it’s possible to imagine the trio of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day trading titles and the world’s top ranking with regularity over the next 12 months.

Spieth holds down the top spot in the world now and Day made a cameo at No. 1 in the fall, but it is McIlroy who holds the edge in consistency over the top three the last few years and why the Northern Irishman will emerge as 2016’s MVP.

All three players have the ability to win any time they’re on a tee sheet, but when McIlroy’s game is aligned properly he has the skills to win by a cool eight strokes, like he did at the 2011 U.S. Open and ’12 PGA Championship.

In 2015, McIlroy appeared headed for one of those epic seasons but was sidetracked by a mid-summer ankle injury that forced him to miss the Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and made him a non-story at the PGA Championship.

In a few weeks, however, he will begin 2016 healthy, happy and hungry, which is a good combination for a player who, when he’s properly motivated, can dominate the game in a way the others have not.


While he was derailed by injury last summer, I still contend that Rory McIlroy will have a better 2016 season than either Jordan Spieth or Jason Day.

The factors involved are two-fold. First, both Spieth and Day ascended to the top of the golfing landscape at warp speed last year, and now must face pressures – and expectations – with which they are both somewhat unfamiliar. Are they up to the task? Probably, but it’s still a consideration when forecasting the next 10 months or so.

Secondly, I still cling to the notion that when all three are playing at their absolute best, McIlroy would win. His ceiling, the one we saw at Congressional and Kiawah, is just a shade higher than the one Spieth showed at Augusta National or Day’s at Whistling Straits. McIlroy’s ability to dominate elite fields, and his comfort level and experience playing with or near the lead, trumps that of the other two.

If you’ve been tracking these little predictions, you’ll recall that earlier this week I said that McIlroy would win a major this year while both Spieth and Day would not. If that math pans out, it’ll be the Ulsterman who has the best season – and likely tops the world rankings a year from now.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”