U.S. wins Presidents Cup in thriller

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 11, 2015, 6:22 am

The International team achieved its goal of keeping the Presidents Cup competitive, with the outcome not decided until the final hole of the final match. In the end, the United States prevailed, 15 ½ to 14 ½. The competition came down to the anchor match – local hero Sangmoon Bae against U.S. captain’s pick (and captain’s son) Bill Haas – and the final hole, which Haas won. Here's a match-by-match look at the Americans' victory on a cold, rainy day in Incheon, South Korea (matches posted in order of finish)

Match 20: Adam Scott (INT) def. Rickie Fowler (US), 6 and 5

Fowler won only one hole, and that was with a par. Scott's standard-length putter was on fire, as he birdied four straight holes (Nos. 7-10) and left a potential fifth straight birdie one revolution short.

Match 25: Phil Mickelson (US) def. Charl Schwartzel (INT), 5 and 4

Mickelson got off to a shaky start, with his opening tee shot ending up in a female spectator's umbrella, then seeing his second shot bury in a bunker. But he got up and down for par and never looked back. Mickelson made only two birdies, but Schwartzel won only two holes.

Match 19: Patrick Reed (US) and Louis Oosthuizen (INT) halved

One down going to the par-5 18th hole, Oosthuizen made eagle to halve the match. That completed an undefeated week (4-0-1) for the South African.

Match 21: Dustin Johnson (US) def. Danny Lee (INT), 2 and 1

Lee started horribly, bogeying his first three holes and doubling the fourth, but his putter gradually warmed up and he took his first lead on the 14th hole when Johnson failed to drive the green and found the hazard. Lee bogeyed his next two holes, however, to lose.

Match 22: Hideki Matsuyama (INT) def. J.B. Holmes (US), 1 up

This match came down to the 18th tee all square. Matsuyama outdrove the longer-hitting Holmes by 22 yards, but both players wound up just in front of the green on their second shots. Matsuyama chipped close and made a short putt for birdie. Holmes, after backing off a couple of times to towel off his hands, left his chip considerably short and failed to convert the putt.

Match 23: Bubba Watson (US) and Thongchai Jaidee (INT) halved

Another match that went to the 18th tee all square. Jaidee drove into the water and his chances appeared to have sunk, but he salvaged par and Watson missed a short birdie putt that would have won it.

Match 24: Steven Bowditch (INT) def. Jimmy Walker (US), 2 up

Walker was 2 up through eight holes, then went bogey-bogey-double bogey-bogey to lose four holes in a row. Bowditch stretched his lead to 3 up through 14, but Walker won two of the next three to cut his deficit to one going to the 18th. Both were just in front of the par-5 green in two, but both hit indifferent chips. When Walker missed his birdie putt, he conceded Bowditch’s birdie putt and the match.

Match 26: Chris Kirk (US) def. Anirban Lahiri (INT), 1 up

Kirk took a 1-up lead with a birdie at the third and stretched it to 2 up through 11, but Lahiri won the 12th and 14th and the match went to the 18th all square. Kirk's third shot left him with a 15-footer for birdie, which he made for a 1-up win. Lahiri had a 2-foot putt to halve the match, but it lipped out. That half-point could have ended the Presidents Cup in a tie.

Match 28: Zach Johnson (US) def. Jason Day (INT), 3 and 2

In a match where world No. 2 Day made six bogeys, Johnson built a 5-up lead through 11 holes, then coasted home.

Match 27: Marc Leishman (INT) def. Jordan Spieth (US), 1 up

After making eight birdies on Saturday, Spieth made another one on No. 1 to go 1 up, but Leishman refused to be intimidated. Spieth had to make a 5-footer on 17 just to extend the match to the 18th hole, but Leishman matched his closing birdie to hold on against the world No. 1.

Match 29: Branden Grace (INT) def. Matt Kuchar (US), 2 and 1

Grace dominated the front nine, going 5 up as Kuchar made four bogeys. Kuchar whittled away at the lead on the back nine, cutting his deficit to two holes through 16, but Grace held on to become just the fifth player in Presidents Cup history to go 5-0.

Match 30: Bill Haas (US) def. Sangmoon Bae (INT), 2 up

Bae made an insanely clutch putt on 16 to keep the match alive. He drove into a bunker on the par-3 17th, but almost holed out from there. Haas two-putted for par, sending the match to the 18th and clinching a tie (and retention of the cup) for the U.S. On the par-5 18th, Haas reached the greenside bunker, while Bae was just short and left of the green. Bae stubbed his chip, failing to reach the green, and sent the next one past the pin. Haas blasted out to inside 6 feet, and Bae conceded a 2-up win for Haas.

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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.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”