Wie women's hottest player, but not in International Crown

By Randall MellJune 26, 2014, 3:26 pm

Michelle Wie’s victory Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Open comes with a lot of perks, but a berth on the American team for the International Crown next month isn’t one of them.

Given the dominant run she is on this year, Wie’s participation could bring enormous attention to the new international team event, an Olympic-style competition that will pit eight nations against each other July 24-27 at Caves Valley outside Baltimore, Md.

The eight nations who earned berths were set on Nov. 21, before the last event of the 2013 season. Qualifying to see which four individuals made each team was set on March 31, with the release of the Rolex world rankings following the conclusion of the Kia Classic.

The top four Americans who made the team (and their rankings at the time) were: Stacy Lewis (No. 3), Paula Creamer (No. 8), Lexi Thompson (No. 9) and Cristie Kerr (No. 12). Wie was No. 38 in the world at that time, making her just the 10th-highest ranked American in the world.

Wie moved to No. 7 in the world with her U.S. Women’s Open victory, making her the third-highest ranked American woman today, behind Lewis (No. 1) and Thompson (No. 5). The only way Wie could still make the International Crown is as an alternate, but she’s the sixth alternate for the United States.

It begs a question: Why did the LPGA end individual qualifying so early in the year, almost four months out in front of the event? If qualifying had ended after the U.S. Women’s Open, the most important event of the LPGA season, the drama surrounding qualifying would have added spice to earlier events, and allowed somebody like Wie to make the team with a hot run.

Give Dottie Pepper credit, she questioned the early qualification way back on Jan. 22 in an article for ESPNW.

“This simply is too early and does not assure that those playing the best golf will be representing their countries when the Crown rolls around,” Pepper wrote. “This is like Tom Watson having to finalize his Ryder Cup team, which doesn't compete until late September, somewhere around Memorial Day.”

So why did qualifying end so early?

“It’s a good question,” Heather Daly-Donofrio, LPGA senior vice president of tour operations, told GolfChannel.com. “With the International Crown a new event, without team captains, and with the four players determining everything themselves, we wanted to give players a level of comfort with the logistics, with planning their schedules, given the global nature of the event.

“In wanting to make sure the inaugural event was the best it could be, we thought making the cutoff early would help players get comfortable preparing for the event, and help educate players and fans about the event. There are so many unknowns in putting on a first-time global event like this, in juggling eight teams, getting uniforms and everything else ready.”

Daly-Donofrio said the qualifying times would be addressed once the inaugural event concludes and is evaluated by tour staff.

“Once you’ve gone through the event the first time, you have a better understanding what lead times are needed,” Daly-Donofrio said. “After the event, we will discuss any tweaks we think are needed.”

Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”