Punch Shot: Who could crash the Big 4 party?

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 9, 2016, 7:20 pm

The first few months of the new years has brought discussion of a Big 4 ... and everyone else. But who among the pack could bowl over the rest and join the in-crowd? Our writers weigh in with their pick as the Big 4 party crasher:

By RYAN LAVNER

Nearly two years after his infamous declaration, Patrick Reed has all of the tools – and the most potential – to become a legitimate top-five player.

Among the 25-and-younger set, only Jordan Spieth, with eight, has more PGA Tour wins than Reed’s four. Indeed, he is the total package, a rare combination of power, precision and finesse whose all-around game has seen an uptick since reuniting with former college coach Josh Gregory.

The inclusion of Reed would be a welcome addition to the top of the golf hierarchy, as well. His head-to-head clashes with Spieth, most recently at Kapalua, are must-see events, and Reed, overlooked for much of his junior, amateur and pro career, has an edge and attitude that would add a different element to the otherwise chummy vibe that permeates the so-called Big 4.


By REX HOGGARD

He has the power of Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, a short game that has shown flashes of Jordan Spieth, the moxie of Rickie Fowler and the resume, sans the crucial presence of a major title, to be a part of any conversation about the game’s top players.

As entertaining as the conversation over golf’s Big 4 may be, Dustin Johnson certainly deserves a seat at the table based on his track record and his potential.

Johnson is, after all, on a PGA Tour winning streak that stretches back to his rookie season in 2008 and ranks inside the top 10 in two of the most crucial categories – driving distance (seventh) and birdie average (third).

There will always be an element of doubt when it comes to Johnson and his major resume, but there is no ignoring his ability to put himself in contention when it counts.

There have been dramatic near misses (the 2015 U.S. Open and 2011 Open Championship immediately come to mind), but along with those missteps has come a surprising amount of consistency (he’s finished inside the top 10 on 10 occasions at Grand Slam starts).

But those who doubt Johnson’s ability to join the game’s ultra elite assume he hasn’t learned from his mistakes, and that’s an unrealistic assumption.



By RANDALL MELL

Dustin Johnson’s the wild card in this equation.

I mean “wild” in the best possible way now, because he has the abundance of talent required to overtake players with the special skills that Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler have. Johnson’s head and heart haven’t always been in the right place, he has told us that himself. He looks like he’s all in now, and that’s making him a factor in nearly all the big events. Look at his record over the last 14 months in majors, World Golf Championships and FedEx Cup events. While he won just one of them (2015 WGC-Cadillac), he has put himself in position repeatedly against the game’s strongest fields. He just might be on the verge of something special this season.

There isn’t a lot of talk about Johnson with so much focus on the Big 4, but he has the mega talent to blow into the mix if he can break through and finally close the deal in a major. If he does that, a door could blow wide open in the same way it has for Day, who had his own issues closing majors. At 31, Johnson is still learning. He’s right at the age we used to think players were at their best in majors. 


By WILL GRAY

I picked him as an outsider to win Player of the Year last month, so I'll stick to my guns and suggest that Patrick Reed has the game - and the attitude - to crack golf's upper echelon. 

While he has been quiet in recent weeks, Reed started the year by challenging Jordan Spieth en route to a runner-up finish in Maui. And let's not lose sight of the fact that his trophy haul - four wins since August 2013 - compares favorably against many of his peers not named Spieth, Fowler, Day or McIlroy. 

Reed's greatest asset, though, may be his competitive nature. It helped him earn a spot on Tour via Monday qualifiers, it helped him become a Ryder Cup standout and it led to his infamous "top five" boast after winning two years ago at Doral.

While that claim has yet to come to fruition, he's getting closer. Reed is now up to No. 9 in the latest world rankings and his play to close out 2015 shows that another win is on the horizon. With that should come plenty of momentum, and it won't take much of a spark to get Reed speeding toward a spot among the very best in the game. 

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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.”