Spieth, DJ: Over par and frustrated by putting

By Will GrayJune 15, 2017, 8:47 pm

ERIN, Wis. – Amid a sea of red figures on the early U.S. Open leaderboard, it’s clear that putts are falling at Erin Hills. It just so happens that the makes were few and far between for the two players who last hoisted the trophy.

Playing together during the opening round, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson were both left shaking their heads in frustration after solid tee-to-green performances that yielded only one birdie apiece.

Accuracy is usually the name of the game in this event, and Spieth passed that test with flying colors. He missed only one fairway in what he described as “the best driving round that I’ve had maybe in my life.” But his birdie on No. 11, his second hole of the day, proved his only make as he carded a 1-over 73 that left him eight shots behind Rickie Fowler.

“They were high, low, short and long. They were just all around it,” Spieth said. “By the end of the round, once you get through six or seven of those, six or seven misses, the hole starts to look smaller and smaller until you get one to go.”


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Johnson’s lone birdie came on No. 15, one hole after he ballooned to a double bogey on the par-5 14th following a layup shot into some thick fescue. He was less accurate than Spieth, finding only 9 of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens in regulation, but still cited the putter as the chief issue during his round of 3-over 75 that made him the sixth straight defending champ to open his title defense with an over-par effort.

“I just didn’t putt very well. I missed a lot of really good opportunities,” Johnson said. “That was the big key for me. If I don’t three-putt, I shoot even. But if I just make one or two of the good looks I have, it’s a couple under. I didn’t hit it great, but I hit it good enough to shoot a good score.”

Spieth joked after the round that he and Johnson may hold a “pillow fight putting contest” on the practice green to see if they can spark a turnaround after combining for 65 putts. But the fact remains that there is work to be done simply to make it past the 36-hole cut that will trim the field to top 60 and ties, let alone catch up to Fowler and the other leaders.

“I’m going to need something 3, 4 under just to get back in the tournament tomorrow,” Spieth said. “I know that. It doesn’t change the way I approach the course. Ideally I play the exact same, I just get those (putts) to go.”

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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery

 


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.