FH: Punch Shot: Who will be the 2013 PGA Tour Player of the Year?

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 4, 2013, 4:20 pm

Tiger Woods won the PGA Tour Player of the Year award 10 times in a 13-year span, but has not done so in the last three years. Will he regain the Jack Nicklaus Trophy in 2013? Will Rory McIlroy repeat? In this Punch Shot, GolfChannel.com writers pick their '13 Player of the Year.

By JASON SOBEL

Well, I think this year we'll see a minor step back for Rory McIlroy, last year's POY. Phil Mickelson's chance of ever winning the award seems a bit of a longshot now. Same for Ernie Els. I'm bullish on Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson, but it's not over-the-moon optimism.

So, who does that leave? Just some guy named Tiger Woods.

The days of Woods' name being the only one needed on the ballot may be over; I don't think we'll see him claim another eight- or nine-win season. But if we can lower the bar just a bit, he may clear it again.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, a more realistic goal for him would be something similar to McIlroy's performance last season. In the days before Tiger's dominance, four wins including a major was good enough to take the award. It appears those days are here once again.

Woods is adjusting nicely to swing changes that he's undergone with instructor Sean Foley in recent years and he maintains that his physical health has never been better. Those should be scary propositions for other players hoping to win the award.

It may not be a landslide vote. His name may not be the only one needed on the ballot. But when the year is over and his peers vote, Woods will once again find his name on this title. 


By REX HOGGARD

Unless he decides to embark on a mixed-doubles tennis career with better-half Caroline Wozniacki or struggles with his new bag of Nike Golf equipment, the preseason 2013 Player of the Year nod goes Rory McIlroy.

In fact, given the 23-year-old’s record over the past 24 months there isn’t anything to suggest he will not continue to perform at a world-beater level. Check the scorecard, since last year’s British Open he has just two finishes outside the top 10 around the globe, four victories and a nearly perfect Ryder Cup.

Tiger Woods’ new swing and improved health would make him the most-likely candidate to wrest the award away from the Ulsterman, but even the former alpha male has been unable to find an answer for McIlroy in recent years.

By most accounts McIlroy may be better prepared for 2013, committing to a more streamlined schedule this season and his fulltime move to South Florida.

The only question mark seems to be his impending move to Nike Golf, which will likely be officially announced later this month in Abu Dhabi. But even that dramatic change will be mitigated by the fact that he’s had over a month to acclimate to his new implements (his last start was Nov. 25 in Dubai).

It all makes McIlroy the proverbial leader in the clubhouse for the 2013 POY.


BY RYAN LAVNER

With a long putter pressed against his non-existent belly, Keegan Bradley will ascend to new heights in 2013 and, if we’re lucky, rankle the governing bodies along the way.

No, Bradley won’t become the Tour’s Player of the Year in 2013 simply because he’s vindictive and seeks to torment the U.S. Golf Association and R&A for banning the anchoring stroke. But it’d be foolish to suggest he doesn’t have added motivation.

In November, when the proposed ban on anchoring was announced, a fan suggested to Bradley on Twitter that he send in his application to Burger King for 2016. (In other words, the moron was saying, You’re nothing without the belly putter.) Bradley himself even thinks that the USGA has “really put an X on our back and really shined a light on us.” Well, if the Ryder Cup was any indication, he isn’t one to back down from a challenge.

His rise to golf’s elite, however, will be fueled more by his stellar all-around game than any animosity. Consider that two years ago this week, Bradley was ranked 328th in the world. Now, the 26-year-old has won three times on Tour – including the 2011 PGA, where he became the first player to win a major with a belly putter – earned nearly $8 million and sits just outside the OWGR top 10 (currently 13th), with his best season forthcoming. Sorry, golf purists.


By: RANDALL MELL

Tiger Woods.

While it’s difficult to imagine he will ever be as dominant as he was in his prime, Woods still might be the best player in the game. If it wasn’t for Rory McIlroy, there wouldn’t be any “might” as a qualifier in that assertion. If it wasn’t for McIlroy, Woods probably would have been PGA Tour player of the year last season. McIlroy might be even better this year, but so will Woods.

With three PGA Tour titles in 2012, Woods served notice he still knows how to win. Those titles helped him climb back as high as No. 2 in the world rankings. His driver came around last year, his swing was better, and though his putting stroke is less dependable, he will still make enough big putts to win big events. That includes majors.

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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.”