Punch Shot: Which player's success most benefits LPGA?

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 10, 2014, 9:00 pm

Cheyenne Woods won her first professional tournament this past week at the Australian Ladies Masters. It wasn't an LPGA event and she's not an LPGA member, but her victory raises the profile of women's golf. With that in mind, which player's success would most benefit the LPGA? Our writers weigh in


Cheyenne Woods.

This isn’t a prediction that we’re going to see the emergence of a Cheyenne “Tigress” Woods in the women’s game. It’s simply an answer to the question proposed here: Which player’s success would most benefit the LPGA?

It’s a tossup between Woods and Michelle Wie.

The LPGA has a lot of bonafide stars, but it takes a player with some special intangibles to cross golf’s niche boundaries and seize the attention of the world beyond golf, beyond even sports. Those are the rare game changers for a sport.

Woods and Wie have that quality we really can’t define, that “je ne sais quoi” that fascinates us beyond their shot making. For Woods, it’s her name, of course, but it’s more than that. It’s her ethnic makeup, her cover-girl looks and smile, her dynamic presence. Wie is another glamour girl with a dynamic presence. Yes, she’s a lightning rod, both beloved and despised, a powerful chemical equation that makes her irresistible.

The dream scenario for women’s golf would be Woods and Wie emerging as winners and rivals. A final pairing of these two with a championship on the line would do ratings the likes of which women’s golf has never seen.


From the time she first teed it up in a PGA Tour event at the age of 14, Michelle Wie has been the most polarizing female golfer on the planet.

Though she hasn’t blossomed into the world-beater we’d all believed she would become – and maybe because she hasn’t blossomed into that player – Wie continues to be the single LPGA competitor who can pry spectators away from men’s events and even other sports.

From the early years of waiting for potential to turn into performance, to more recent years of watching her hit pull-hooks and bend over 90 degrees to hit putts, Wie is the rare player from whom we can’t look away. She was built up to the be the game’s next – and perhaps greatest – superstar. These days, fans are either rooting for her to finally fill that role more than a decade later or offering the schadenfreudistic view of rooting for her to fail. Either way, though, they’re compulsively watching.

Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson may each own more talent right now; Cheyenne Woods has the famous bloodlines. But after all these years, after so much tumult throughout her young career, Wie remains the one player whose success would mean the most to the LPGA going forward.


Lexi Thompson.

The 19-year-old has game-changing talent.

She’s tall. She’s lean. She’s powerful. And her continued success could have a huge trickle-down effect on the younger generation.

For years, taller girls have been drawn to sports like volleyball, soccer, basketball and lacrosse, but Lexi has made it cool for young girls to swing hard, hit the ball a long ways and wear colorful clothes.

The standout performer in a golfing family, Lexi possesses superstar talent, an intense competitive drive and the power to cut down courses.

She’s John Daly without all of the vices – yes, that’s something the LPGA can market.


With apologies to the rest of the LPGA’s darlings (and there are plenty of them these days), Cheyenne Woods has the potential to elevate the tour and female professional golf in ways no other woman could.

Before I hemorrhage hyperbole over the 23-year-old, let’s be clear about a few things. Woods is not an LPGA member (she’s a second-year pro on the Ladies European Tour), she’s ranked 154th in the world and her win at the Australian Ladies Masters was her first major-tour victory since turning pro in 2012. She’s not exactly a top-10 machine or a major championship connoisseur … yet.

But if and when that day comes, every other female golfer will simply be the Rory McIlroy to her Tiger Woods. Just like her uncle, Cheyenne will not only be the reason the needle moves, she’ll be the needle, and the largest draw to the LPGA.

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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.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”