Uehara leads, big names lurk at Royal Birkdale

By Will GrayJuly 10, 2014, 5:47 pm

Royal Birkdale proved a difficult test for the start of the Ricoh Women's British Open, but Japan's Ayako Uehara had little difficulty with the links layout. Here's how things look after Round 1 in England, where Uehara holds a one-shot lead with a pair of notable Americans lurking just off the pace:

Leaderboard: Ayako Uehara (-4), Mo Martin (-3), Morgan Pressel (-2), Mina Harigae (-2), Sarah Kemp (-2), Stacy Lewis (-1), Holly Clyburn (-1), Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Suzann Pettersen among 14 players at even par

What it means: While Birkdale produced several high scores in the opening round, Uehara overcame an opening bogey to take sole possession of the lead. Her advantage is tenuous, though, as several big names sit within four shots of her after the first round, including each of the top four players in the Rolex Rankings: Lewis, Ko, Park and Pettersen.

Round of the day: Uehara was one of many players to begin her round with a bogey on the difficult opening hole, but she failed to drop a shot from there, getting into red figures after three birdies on a four-hole stretch from Nos. 5-8. She added two more birdies on the back nine, including one on the par-5 18th, to shoot a 4-under 68 as she looks for her first major title.

Best of the rest: Martin ended her day with a flurry of birdies, carding four circles over her final eight holes to finish with a 69 and sole possession of second place. The American hit 12 of 14 fairways and took only 29 putts, looking to add her name to the lengthy list of Americans that have won this year on the LPGA Tour.

Biggest disappointment: A spot shared by two former major champions, as both Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer opened with disappointing rounds of 3-over 75. Wie made five bogeys against just two birdies on her round, while Creamer stumbled out of the gate, playing her first five holes in 5 over. The pair now sit seven shots off the pace and face a significant deficit entering the second round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: It remains to be seen how Uehara plays with the lead, but the list of contenders behind her is a stout one and includes Pressel, who flirted with the top spot in the standings before settling for an opening 70. With so many strong players within four shots of the lead after 18 holes, it's likely that Uehara will face some stiff competition Friday as she looks to protect her advantage.

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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.”