Punch Shot: Who at HSBC will have best 2015 campaign?

With 40 of the top 50 players in the field this week at the HSBC, we asked GolfChannel.com writers, who will have the best campaign in 2015? And they answered.


By JASON SOBEL

There’s a "South Park" episode from 2011 during which the character Stan Marsh becomes more cynical of the world around him and grows depressed. As part of an unsuccessful pep talk, his mother suggests, “As you get older, you realize the best thing to do is just stick with what you know.”

A few years ago, I might have looked at the WGC-HSBC field with less cynicism. I might have energetically predicted that the best season would come from a bright-eyed upstart like Graham DeLaet or Thorbjorn Olesen or Hideki Matsuyama. But hey, like everyone else, I’m getting older and so I’ve realized the best thing to do in this situation is just stick with what I know.

And so rather than go out on some skinny limb, I’m picking the sturdiest branch possible. I’m taking Adam Scott to have the best season of anyone in the field.

Why? Well, after minutes of careful consideration, here’s the rationale behind my decision: He’s really, really good at golf. If I need more to go on than that, then I’ll take increased rejuvenation with a new caddie on the bag to go along with a sense of urgency at 14 months and counting before he has to abandon the anchored putting stroke.

All of that should be enough to have the past Masters champion knocking on the door for a second major title, among other spoils.


By RANDALL MELL

Rickie Fowler is coming up on a year since he began working with Butch Harmon, and there’s no denying the elevation in his game. Fowler has done just about everything except win since joining Harmon last December.

With his blistering run starting last summer, Fowler looks like a player on the verge of something special, including a major championship breakthrough. His run of eight top-10 finishes in his last nine starts includes finishing T-2 at the U.S. Open, T-2 at the British Open and T-3 at the PGA Championship. It includes three top 10s in the FedEx Cup playoffs. That’s an impressive display against tough competition on tough courses.

Fowler is equipped to begin adding to his one career PGA Tour victory. At 25, he begins the new wraparound schedule with his swing and confidence soaring. While it’s tough not picking Billy Horschel here, Fowler’s putting the game together to consistently contend for big titles.


By RYAN LAVNER

Though we’ve approached his seasons with this level of optimism before, 2015 truly feels like it’ll be a breakthrough year for Sergio Garcia.

His talent has never been in question; he remains one of the game’s preeminent ball-strikers and is a vastly improved putter. Instead, it’s been whether Sergio had the mental makeup to win multiple big-time events each season.

Garcia’s finish at the Open – where he shared the lead on Sunday – was encouraging, not just for the result (T-2) but more for the way he handled defeat. Sure, it helped that his good friend Rory McIlroy cradled the claret jug, but his graciousness afterward was a sign that Garcia was maturing.

His game is as sharp as it’s ever been (six top 12s in his last eight starts), and he’s as happy off the course as he’s ever been. That last point shouldn’t be underestimated: A smiling Sergio is one capable of finally winning a major.


By REX HOGGARD

It’s going to be difficult for any golfer to unseat Rory McIlroy atop the world heap next year, but if any player appears up to the challenge it is Justin Rose.

Following a relatively quiet start to 2014 – the Englishman had just a single top-10 finish in his first six starts – Rose has become the game’s most consistent golfer not named Rory.

After winning back-to-back starts in the middle of the summer (the Quicken Loans National and Scottish Open) he finished tied for fourth place at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Tour Championship and last week’s BMW Masters on the European Tour.

Since his breakthrough major victory in 2013 at the U.S. Open, Rose has sidestepped the predictable competitive slide that so often besets many players and continued to improve at his own measured pace.

For all the criticism heaped on Sean Foley during his time with Tiger Woods it is largely overlooked how he has transformed Rose into one of the game’s best ballstrikers. In 2014, Rose ranked fourth and sixth in strokes-gained tee-to-green and strokes-gained total, respectively.

Perhaps more importantly he has steadily improved on the greens the last three seasons, which makes him the player to watch heading into 2015.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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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.”