NCAA match play seeds set after uneventful Monday

By Ryan LavnerJune 2, 2015, 1:58 am

BRADENTON, Fla. – The Race to the Eight was more like a procession Monday. On the most stressful day on the college golf calendar, no team played its way inside the top-8 bubble.

The top seven seeds la-di-da’d their way through the final round of stroke play at the NCAA Championship. The only semblance of drama – if you can even call it that – was with UCLA and Georgia Tech, the two teams vying for the all-important eighth spot.

The Bruins, who shot a championship-best 8 under in the third round to make the initial cut, edged the Yellow Jackets by three shots. They will face top-seeded Illinois in Tuesday’s morning quarterfinals.

“This was a stepping stone for our bigger goals,” UCLA coach Derek Freeman said, “but it was a really hard step.”

Georgia Tech’s two seniors were in shock afterward.

Ollie Schniederjans, who began this season as the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, shot 78 Monday and didn’t count toward the team total. All he would have needed was a 74 to send the Yellow Jackets on to match play.

Anders Albertson, the ACC champion, thought he had birdied the last two holes of his college career, but he was assessed the only slow-play penalty of the day after officials deemed that he didn’t make a concerted effort to speed up. It wound up being a moot point anyway, as Tech finished three shots back.

“Just in shock with how my final college day went down,” Schniederjans said. “It couldn’t have been more of a disaster, really.”

It was business as usual for the other top teams, though.

Illinois didn’t count worse than a bogey for the second time this week as it locked up the No. 1 overall seed. The Illini will look to break a recent trend, because the top seed has never gone on to win the national title since the switch to match play in 2009.

“Guess we’ll have to try and disprove that,” coach Mike Small said.

Georgia was the lone team outside the top 20 that advanced. The Bulldogs, even with a pedestrian effort from four-time winner Lee McCoy (T-33), earned the No. 3 seed and will face host South Florida in the quarterfinals.

Among those missing out were No. 1-ranked Florida State, which was nine shots off the cut line, and No. 6 South Carolina, another six behind.

Though there wasn’t the usual volatility during the final day of stroke-play qualifying, that didn’t make the round any less stressful.

“Every coach was grinding his way around this golf course,” Texas coach John Fields said. “Anything can happen out there. There are just catastrophic mistakes out there.”

But all of those big numbers will result in merely a lost hole beginning Tuesday morning. It’s on to match play at the NCAA Championship.

“You can throw the seeds out the window,” Small said. “All eight teams are dead equal now.”

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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.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

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.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“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.”