Punch Shot: Ranking the top 5 under 25

By Jason Sobel, Randall Mell, Rex HoggardApril 29, 2014, 12:30 pm

The kids are taking over both the PGA and LPGA tours, so it got our writers thinking about who are the top players (male or female) under 25 with the brightest futures. GolfChannel.com's writers ranked their top 5 below.

By JASON SOBEL

5. Harris English: It was a toss-up between English and Hideki Matsuyama, but I’m going with the guy who’s more of a sure thing. The UGA product will enjoy a Jay Haas - or David Toms-like career – consistent and productive.

4. Lydia Ko: Two days after watching her win a third LPGA title, it’s tough to rate her this low, but there have been plenty of cautionary tales from teenagers seemingly just as talented.

3. Jordan Spieth: What else can we say about him? He nearly won the Masters not only before the legal drinking age, but while still living in the same bedroom of his parents’ house in which he grew up.

2. Lexi Thompson: Even though they’re only separated by two years, Lexi seems a bit more mature than Lydia. I feel like what we’re seeing right now is more of the finished product than what we’ll eventually see from Ko.

1. Rory McIlroy: Oh, I love a good technicality. The two-time major champion won’t turn 25 until Sunday, so I’ll take him here while he’s eligible. Ask me this question again next week, though, and he’ll have to settle for the biggest upside of any player 25-and-over.


By REX HOGGARD

On the cosmic leaderboard, the intersection of life and competition is not always an easily foreseen outcome. Marriage, children, injury, interest all dictate how far one will take natural talent and dedication, but given current track records here are the top 5 players under 25:

5. Michelle Wie: Given the hype that surrounded her career, perhaps Wie has underachieved, but as her victory earlier this month demonstrated, the 24-year-old still has plenty of potential. 

4. Jordan Spieth: Although he came up just short at the Masters, Spieth, 20, has continued to crush the learning curve since he earned his way onto the Tour last year.

3. Lexi Thompson: At 19, Thompson already has four LPGA victories including her first major earlier this month. We are no longer talking about how good she could be.

2. Lydia Ko: It’s not that Ko won her third LPGA event on Sunday so much as it is who she beat. Ko went toe-to-toe with Stacy Lewis, a former world No. 1, on Sunday in California. It was an impressive win for anyone, particularly a 17-year-old.

1. Rory McIlroy: At 24, McIlroy must top the list based on his current résumé alone. Two major championships by a combined 16 strokes is an indication of what the Ulsterman is capable of and despite his current winless streak on the PGA Tour - the 2012 BMW Championship was his last PGA Tour victory - his potential is undeniable.


By RANDALL MELL

5. Ariya Jutanugarn: If not for the shoulder injury last year, the big-hitting 18-year-old might already be ranked among the top five in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

4. Jordan Spieth: All-around game sets the 20-year-old Spieth apart. So do internal dynamics. There’s manageable fury driving him to the top.

3. Lexi Thompson: When she’s firing on all cylinders, nobody in the women’s game will touch her, but the 19-year-old might not be as consistently excellent as Ko.

2. Rory McIlroy: His two runaway routs in majors never stray far from the memory. The 24-year-old will dominate big stages again.

1. Lydia Ko: While Lexi Thompson may be more explosive, capable of more spectacular performances, the 17-year-old Ko has the game to consistently give herself chances in the biggest events.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 146th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Royal Birkdale, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”

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Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:43 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.

According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.

Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:

Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).

Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).

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Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.

Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.

Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.

“I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”

Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.

“Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”

Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.

On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.

“These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”

Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.

More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.

Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.

Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.

“He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”

Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.

He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.