Spieth-McIlroy duel a dud as Rory crashes

By Jay CoffinApril 10, 2016, 12:24 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – “Just one of those days,” Rory McIlroy said.

Yes, yes it was, Rory. And it came at one of the worst possible moments.

McIlroy was paired with Jordan Spieth in Saturday’s final pairing at the Masters. The hype was big. The second- and third-ranked players in the world going head-to-head was just too juicy. McIlroy, 26, looking to complete the career Grand Slam; Spieth, 22 looking to collect his second consecutive green jacket.

It never materialized.

McIlroy was off almost from the beginning of the round. He made three bogeys, a double bogey and shot 77 to end tied for 11th place. McIlroy didn’t make birdie in a round for only the second time at Augusta National and his round snaps a streak of 80 consecutive major rounds with at lead one birdie.

“I didn’t feel like anything was off, but it was just, I was sort of trying to sort of playing upstream,” McIlroy said. “I was always trying to get something going and I just couldn’t. I felt like I righted the ship the last seven holes. I made seven pars coming in and had a lot of chances coming in, but I didn’t take any opportunities.”

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McIlroy bogeyed the third hole and bogeyed the seventh when he tried to get too aggressive with a downhill, sliding birdie putt. He rolled that 7 feet by the hole and missed the par attempt. A big hook into the left trees off the tee was the culprit on the 10th hole (remember him here in 2011?) and he made bogey there, too. He hit a wayward drive on the 11th tee, as well, and tried to hook an approach into the green. But he hooked it too much and the ball found water. The result was double bogey.

Truth be told, though, Spieth bailed McIlroy out a bit. The Texan outplayed the Northern Irishman all day. Spieth grinded over every shot and was amazingly efficient for the first 16 holes. McIlroy seemed to record bogey at just the wrong times and never gained momentum.

Spieth led McIlroy by eight shots (eight!) standing on the 16th tee. McIlroy was so far off the grid that television cameras stopped showing him for close to an hour. But Spieth closed with a bogey and a double bogey and McIlroy is only five shots behind.

“I’m only five off the lead and even though I can’t take many positives from today, I have to stay positive that I am only five back and I know what can happen on this golf course on a Sunday,” McIlroy said. “I think anyone within five or six of the lead feels like they still have a good shot.”

That may be true. But McIlroy cost himself a better shot on Saturday.

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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.

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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.

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“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.”