After Further Review: Bubba Golf built for Augusta

By Jay CoffinApril 14, 2014, 2:00 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Bubba Watson's second Masters victory in three years, what it means for him going forward and how tough scoring conditions this week could affect the future setup of Augusta National.

Never overlook Bubba Watson here at the Masters. Never. I did this year and am not sure why. When he won at the Northern Trust Open he jumped on an early Masters favorites list. But somehow, at least to me, when he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational I erased him from my mind as a contender altogether. I was focused mostly on Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar. Never again. Doesn’t matter how he plays prior to this tournament, his booming drives and ridiculous shot-making ability will give him a chance to win more green jackets over the next eight years. Scary thought. – Jay Coffin

The cliché is, "the Masters doesn’t really begin until the back nine on Sunday." So the most disappointing part of this year’s Masters was just how dull it was on the back nine Sunday. That’s the exact opposite of how it’s supposed to go. The tournament is supposed to be set up for great television — birdies, eagles, water splashes, thrilling charges, epic collapses — but we got none of that. Bubba Watson shot par on the back nine and won easily. Nobody came close to making a run at him.

His challengers —  Jordan Spieth (1 over), Jonas Blixt (1 under) and Matt Kuchar (1 over) could not do ANYTHING interesting on the back.

The tournament committee has to think about this. There were just three eagles on No. 13 (none by contenders), zero eagles on No. 15, only a couple of balls in the water on No. 12 and then nothing too exciting at the usually thrilling holes like 11 or 16. It was just blah all the way around — Blixt would say, simply, “I didn’t feel like I got it close enough to the pins in order to make that many birdies.” There have been so many changes at Augusta the last few years, many of them necessary with the evolving equipment and talent of golfers. But I think they made it too hard this week. The thrill was gone. – Joe Posnanski

Bubba Golf, in all its unique quirkiness, is better than the sum of its parts. Say what you will about the two-time Masters champion, his victory lap on Sunday at Augusta National was textbook. For the week, Watson finished first in driving distance (shocking, right?), 13th in greens in regulation and 12th in putts per green in regulation. His high-flying game has already produced two victories in 2014, as well as two runner-up showings, and virtually assured him a spot on this year’s Ryder Cup team. He may not be the most orthodox player, either in form or fashion, but the days of doubting his resolve are over. – Rex Hoggard

We’re going to find out a lot more about Jordan Spieth during the next three major championships. Prior to a runner-up finish in his first Masters appearance, the 20-year-old was saddled only with his own expectations, not those of everyone else. Now the hype machine is going to be set to full power. All eyes will be on Spieth at Pinehurst and Hoylake and Valhalla, because in a game that desperately yearns for a youthful new superstar, he fits the bill. Indications are that he can handle the pressure - this is a kid who’s been immune to any bravado. The intensity of the spotlight will only shine brighter going forward, though. He’s handled everything in his career with an unusually mature attitude so far, but it’s only going to get more difficult from here. – Jason Sobel

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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.”