Spieth fires 64, leads Masters by three strokes

By Ryan Reiterman April 9, 2015, 11:20 pm

Jordan Spieth was a popular pick to win the Masters, and he didn't disappoint Thursday, but there are plenty of heavy hitters chasing him after Round 1 at Augusta National.

Leaderboard: Jordan Spieth (-8), Jason Day (-5), Ernie Els (-5), Justin Rose (-5), Charley Hoffman (-5)

What it means: Spieth has been on fire this season. In his last three starts he won the Valspar, finished second in San Antonio and lost in a playoff in Houston. He continued that good play in Round 1 with nine birdies and one bogey to open a three-shot lead. But don't hand Spieth his first major title yet. Only three players since 1980 – Trevor Immelman (2008), Ben Crenshaw (1984) and Seve Ballesteros (1980) – have gone on to win after holding the lead or co-leading after the first round.

Round of the day: Spieth got hot early and never looked back. He birdied Nos. 2 and 4 and made the turn with three more on Nos. 8, 9 and 10. After a par on 11, the 21-year-old Texan made plenty of noise in Amen Corner with circles on 12 and 13, and then on the par-4 14th he hit a ridiculous recovery shot from the trees that ricocheted off the flagstick for another. His only blemish came on the par-5 15th, but Spieth closed with a birdie on 18. Despite a T-2 finish last year, Thursday's 64 was his first round in the 60s at Augusta.

Best of the rest: Take your pick of big names and chances are they're in contention. Major champions Els and Rose are three back, along with Day, who won earlier this year at Torrey Pines and has seven top-10s in the majors. Sergio Garcia is at 4 under par. Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson lead a large group at 2 under. And world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, in search of his third consecutive major and the career Grand Slam, rallied for a 1-under 71. He has plenty of company, including defending champion Bubba Watson, 65-year-old Tom Watson, Graeme McDowell, Hideki Matsuyama and Keegan Bradley.

Biggest disappointment: J.B. Holmes has two second-place finishes and a win in Houston this season, but he likely won't be adding a green jacket to his closet after shooting a 4-over 76. Reigning U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer also shot 76 to continue his poor record at Augusta.

Main storyline heading into Round 2: McIlroy fought hard to stay in the mix and will be looking to move into contention heading into the weekend, but Tiger Woods will again be under the microscope. The current world No. 111 shot a 1-over 73, a respectable score considering the last time he played in public he shot an embarrassing 82 in Phoenix and then withdrew the following week from Torrey Pines with a back injury. But Woods finds himself in need of a low round to have any chance of winning his first green jacket in 10 years.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.