Spieth becoming a commanding presence

By Randall MellMarch 16, 2015, 12:37 am

Jordan Spieth isn’t just learning how to handle the pressure that can suffocate chances at the end of tournaments.

He isn’t just learning how to close and how to win.

He’s learning how to command a stage.

Watching Spieth win the Valspar Championship Sunday, with his confident stride, his certainty of gesture, his fist pumps, and even watching the way he corralled and wrestled disappointment over mistakes, that was more than fun to watch. It was fun to listen to as he made his way around Innisbrook.

There was entertainment value listening to Spieth think out loud the way he likes to do under pressure. The way this young Texan talks to his golf ball, the way he chastises himself for bad shots, there can be danger in that with live microphones catching just about everything nowadays, but this observer didn’t detect anything objectionable. Just the opposite. There was almost something Palmer-esque in the way Spieth drew us out there on to the stage with him.


Valspar Championship: Articles, videos and photos


Yes, the shot making Sunday made Spieth’s victory compelling, with Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair adding to the drama with their own clutch plays. There was short-game wizardry of the highest order, up and downs that would have impressed Seve Ballesteros. The action was captivating, but there was more than a good script holding our attention.

Spieth was a commanding presence, and that bodes well for the entertainment value the game loses without Tiger Woods on stage. Reed was a commanding presence, too. Though he’s being painted as more anti-hero than he would like, Reed is good theater. And O’Hair was more than a character actor along for the ride. He offered the possibility of delivering us a feel-good comeback story.

With his victory Sunday, Spieth joined Woods, Sergio Garcia and Robert Gamez as the only players since 1940 to win two PGA Tour titles before turning 22. With Rory McIlroy, 25, trying to win the career Grand Slam at the Masters next month, there’s more than a load of young talent claiming the game’s big stages as their own. There are stars aplenty with stage presence stepping up.

With the quirky Bubba Watson at 36 looking to win his third green jacket in four years, the Masters offers plenty of compelling theater. At this point, Woods’ return to Augusta National would be a bonus, maybe just a sideshow if he turns up without his short game.

Spieth may have just two PGA Tour victories today, but the way he challenged Watson at the Masters last year, taking the lead on the front nine of the final round, he will tee it up on that stage as one of the leading men.

Augusta National is the ultimate stage in golf, and it looms as the ultimate test of what kind of stage presence Spieth can really command.

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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.”