Spieth, Koepka and Kuchar share Open lead

By Jay CoffinJuly 20, 2017, 7:20 pm

SOUTHPORT, England – It is bunched at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the 146th Open and some of those names are ones you’d expect to be there. Here’s a closer look at how it all went down Thursday at Royal Birkdale:

Leaderboard: Jordan Spieth (-5), Brooks Koepka (-5), Matt Kuchar (-5), Paul Casey (-4), Charl Schwartzel (-4), Ian Poulter (-3), Justin Thomas (-3), Richard Bland (-3), Austin Connelly (-3), Charley Hoffman (-3), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-3).

What it means: Spieth shot his 65 early, Koepka matched it a couple hours later, then Kuchar did the same later in the afternoon. All three were equally impressive and weather was fair for everyone most of the day, something that doesn’t often happen at The Open. While it’s great to jump out to such a great start for these three, and anyone else within striking distance, everyone in the field knows that the weather in Round 2 is going to be utterly putrid. So don’t let the Day 1 scores fool you, it’s going to get ugly quick and the next three days are going to be extremely trying.


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Round of the day: On this day all 65s were created equal but Spieth’s was the most memorable. He only hit five fairways, but his iron-play and putting both were spectacular. Midway through the round (at 3 under after nine holes) Spieth started to have that strut that you may remember from his two-win major championship season of two years ago. He may not win, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he won’t be in the hunt on Sunday.

Best of the rest: Keep in mind that this was Koepka’s first competitive round in a month, since he hoisted the U.S. Open trophy at Erin Hills. He made par on the first seven holes but got hot with birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 13, then eagled the par-5 17th. Kuchar was 5 under on the front nine (shot 29) and then parred each of the last nine holes.

Biggest disappointment: It was going to be Rory McIlroy, until he birdied three of his last four holes to shoot 71. Instead, the (dis)honor goes to Masters champion Sergio Garcia. He was just 2 over late in the round with two par 5s left but he bogeyed the par-5 15th and then made double bogey on the par-4 16th. Birdies on the final two holes softened the blow a little but still, an opening 73 for one of The Open favorites was just not good enough in decent conditions.

Shot of the day: Charley Hoffman blew his opening tee shot right, then holed it for an eagle on the par-4 first hole. It was the first eagle on the first hole at Royal Birkdale since stats first were recorded in 1983. He made late bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17, but still shot 3-under 67.

Quote of the day: “I’d call it a top-five probably, major round that I’ve played. Maybe fifth or sixth, something like that. There are scores that I’ve shot that were closer to par that were better given what I needed to do. But I couldn’t have done much better today.” ­– Spieth

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Watch: Dechambeau simulates dew on East Lake range

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 18, 2018, 11:02 pm

Bryson DeChambeau has certainly lived up to his nickname of "Mad Scientist" since joining the PGA Tour, using his eccentric style to win four events, including the first two tournaments of this year's FedExCup Playoffs.

And he's staying on brand at the season-ending Tour Championship, where he enters as the favorite to capture the FedExCup title.

The 24-year-old was spotted on the East Lake range Tuesday, preparing for potential morning dew on the golf ball this week - by having a member of his team spray each golf ball between practice shots:

While this type of preparation might come off as a little excessive to the average golfer, it's rather mild for DeChambeau, considering that in the last two weeks alone he has discussed undergoing muscle activation tests and measuring his brain waves.

DeChambeau goes off with Justin Rose on Thursday at 2 p.m. He could finish as low as T-29 and still have a mathematical chance of winning the season-long FedExCup.

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Fewer goals but more consistency for Thomas in 2018

By Rex HoggardSeptember 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

ATLANTA – After winning last year’s FedExCup, Justin Thomas was asked about his goals for the season and he quickly went to his phone.

A list of 13 “goals” had been typed in, a rundown that ranged from qualifying for the Tour Championship to finishing in the top 10 in half of the circuit’s statistical categories. Nearly every goal had a “Y” next to it to denote he’d accomplished what he wanted.

Thomas was asked on Tuesday at East Lake how his goals are shaping up this season.

“I haven't looked in a while. I really haven't. I'm sure if I had to guess, I'm probably around 50 to 60, 70 percent [have been completed],” he said. “I definitely haven't achieved near as many as I did the previous year. But we still have one week left to knock a big goal off.”


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Thomas pointed out that although he didn’t add to his major total this season or win as many times as he did last year, he still feels like he’s been more consistent this year.

He has more top-25 finishes (19) than he did last year (14), missed fewer cuts (two compared to six last season) and has improved in nearly every major statistical category.

“It's been a really consistent year, and I take a lot of pride in that,” Thomas said. “That's a big goal of mine is to improve every year and get better every year, so if I can continue in this direction, I feel like I can do some pretty great things the rest of my career.”

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Woods' probation for reckless driving ends one month early

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 18, 2018, 9:00 pm

Tiger Woods' year-long probation stemming from last year's DUI arrest has been terminated a month early.

According to Sam Smink of WPTV, Woods, 42, was let off probation early for successfully completing all regular and special conditions of his probation after pleading guilty to reckless driving and entering a diversion program last October.

Under the conditions of the program, Woods was required to pay a $250 fine and court costs, attend a DUI school and undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program. He was also subject to random drug and alcohol testing under the program.

The 14-time major champ was arrested on charges of DUI in May of 2017 after he was found unconscious behind the wheel of his parked Mercedes-Benz in Jupiter, Fla.

Although tests showed Woods was not under the influence of alcohol at the time, he admitted to taking several pain and sleep medications to cope with his fourth back surgery which was performed in April.

Since his arrest, Woods has returned to competition, rising to 21st in the Official World Golf Ranking after a pain-free campaign in 2018.

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Players wrapping their heads around FedEx changes

By Rex HoggardSeptember 18, 2018, 8:01 pm

ATLANTA – Even players who have known the details of the PGA Tour’s plan to dramatically change the way it crowns a FedExCup champion were still digesting the details on Tuesday at the Tour Championship.

“I think it’s maybe easier to follow for people at home. Kind of definitely strange and very different to be on 10 under par starting on the first tee,” said Justin Rose, who begins this week’s finale second on the points list.

Next year when a new strokes-based system will decide the season-long race, Rose would begin his week at East Lake 8 under, two strokes behind front-runner Bryson DeChambeau and eight shots ahead of Nos. 26-30 on the points list.

Most players said the new format will be an improvement over the current model, which is based on a complicated points structure. That’s not to say the new plan has been given universal support.


Current FedExCup standings

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Under the current format, the 30th-ranked player has a .4 percent chance of winning the cup, while the first player on the points list has a 27 percent chance. Those odds remain virtually identical under next year’s strokes-based format.

“I’m not saying the 30th guy should have the same shot as the fifth guy, but just make the odds a little bit better. Give them a 5 percent chance,” Billy Horschel said. “The strokes could be distributed differently. Maybe put the leader at 6 under [instead of 10 under] and then you go down to even par. Five or six shots back, over four days, you still have a chance.”

There will no doubt be a period of adjustment, but after more than three years of planning, most players were pleased with the general elements of the new plan if not all of the details.

“It's never going to be perfect,” said Justin Thomas, last year’s FedExCup champion and a member of the player advisory council. “No system in any sport is ever going to be perfect, and the Tour has done such a great job of talking to us and trying to get it as good as possible. But it's just hard to understand the fact that you could be starting behind somebody else and still somehow win a golf tournament or an official win.”