Streb becomes latest, and unlikely, member of 63 club

By Will GrayJuly 30, 2016, 1:17 am

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – When it comes to PGA Tour professionals, Robert Streb is about as mild-mannered as they come.

Slimly built and hailing from Chickasha, Okla., he carries himself with a quiet comportment. Heck, he doesn’t even bother with a golf glove and still relies on a 10-finger grip.

So it’s not surprising, then, that Streb described the final stroke of his record-tying 63 during the second round of the PGA Championship with an understated sense of humility.

“I was just trying to give it a chance,” Streb said. “If it went in, great. If not, it was still a good round.”

The putt in question, a 21-footer on No. 9 at Baltusrol Golf Club, did find the target, and now Streb becomes an unlikely addition to the list of 28 players who have each carded the lowest score ever in a men’s major.

“Happy to join the club that seems to be ever-growing,” he said with a grin.

Streb’s 63 is the third such score in a major in the last 16 days, dating back to Phil Mickelson’s opener at Royal Troon and including Henrik Stenson’s closer that earned him the claret jug. While both of those players showed signs that a low round could be on the horizon, Streb’s round would qualify as unexpected.

After a career season that included his first victory and a trip to the Tour Championship, Streb hasn’t finished better than T-18 in 23 starts this season. While his win at the 2014 RSM Classic gave him some job security, he entered the year’s final major at No. 112 in the FedEx Cup standings and in jeopardy of missing the postseason for the first time since 2013.

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“I just struggled with my expectations a bit. Kind of thought I would keep it going, and it’s been tough,” he said. “Probably learned the hard way, you’ve got to start over again.”

Streb is making up for lost time this week in the Garden State, and at 9-under 131 he now shares the 36-hole lead with Jimmy Walker. It’s a rather surprising position for Streb, whose T-10 finish at last year’s PGA serves as both his best career finish in a major and his most recent top-10 result.

“I’m sure it will be busy, Saturday at a PGA,” Streb said. “But just try to stick to what I’m doing. Try to do the same things we’ve been doing the last couple days, and hopefully it’s good enough.”

Streb knows that with names like Jason Day and Henrik Stenson lurking just off the pace, the 36 holes lying ahead of him won’t be easy. But he felt he turned a corner last week at the RBC Canadian Open, where he played his last four holes in 4 under to make the cut and followed with a Saturday 66.

It led to a T-32 finish and perhaps served as a catalyst for Saturday’s performance, which included eight birdies against just one bogey.

It sets up a tantalizing opportunity this weekend, and Friday’s effort gave the 29-year-old a piece of major history – even if the crowd surrounding the ninth green wasn’t quite at capacity at the time.

“It was pretty noisy for the 15 people that were out there,” he said. “They obviously knew what was going on. They made a little racket when the putt went in.” 

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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.”