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TT postscript: Irons, putter failed him Sunday

By Tiger TrackerMarch 11, 2018, 10:15 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – It was a day that began with great promise, but one that ended in a bit of disappointment. Here are a few observations after walking the final round of the Valspar Championship alongside Tiger Woods, whose bid for an 80th career win came up just short:

• Woods shot a 1-under 70, his fourth straight round under par on the Copperhead Course. But he ultimately fell one shot short of a potential playoff with Paul Casey, tying for second alongside Patrick Reed.

• The budding momentum that built steadily over the first three rounds simply wasn’t there for much of the day. After grabbing a share of the lead with an opening birdie, Woods gave a shot back on the short fourth hole and spent the next three hours just making pars.

• By the time he finally broke that streak with a 44-foot birdie bomb on the par-3 17th, the crowd at Innisbrook Resort nearly lost its mind. It left Woods one shot off the lead heading to the final hole, where he came up short with a 38-foot birdie putt that would have forced a playoff.

• While his irons were not as crisp as the first three rounds, Woods’ downfall came on the greens. He seemingly failed to make any putt of consequence until the 17th hole, as birdie tries from inside 15 feet on Nos. 5, 7 and 8 slid by while Casey, Reed and others started piling on birdies.

• After the round, Woods explained that he struggled throughout the afternoon with yardages that left him in between clubs and made it difficult to go after tucked pins. “I just didn’t feel that sharp with my iron game,” he said.

Full-field scores from the Valspar Championship

Valspar Championship: Articles, photos and videos

• Of all the chances he might want back, a sticking point is likely the par-5 14th. Running out of viable birdie opportunities, Woods got to the edge of the green with a mighty driver and long iron only to leave his 80-foot eagle try well short. It led to what amounted to a three-putt and his most disappointing par of the day.

• Woods’ stat line in the final round: 8 of 13 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation, 32 putts. It was the first time all week he needed more than 28 putts in a round.

• It wasn’t a win, but Woods’ finish is by far his best result since 2014. It’s also one that should move him inside the top 150 of the next world rankings.

• Woods will have a couple days to rest, then he’ll be back at it next week as he makes his first start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational since he won it back in 2013. There was a lot to like in his Valspar tournament debut, and there’s plenty of reasons to expect even bigger and better things at Bay Hill.

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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.”