Hoch Unhappy with Season
Hoch doesn't see it that way.
'It's been my worst year ever,' Hoch said after his tie for 70th in the 72-man field at the American Express Championship. 'Other people can maybe do what I've done, but I can't stand it. I expect too much of myself.'
Hoch has been a model of consistency throughout his 24-year career on the PGA Tour. He finished in the top 40 on the money list 20 times, and the only time he was outside the top 100 was the year he had shoulder surgery and missed most of the season.
This year, he has been hampered by an injury to his left hand, and went four months without making a cut.
His only good weeks were the Match Play Championship, where he ran into Tiger Woods in the quarterfinals (Woods was 7 under through 13 holes), and the Ford Championship.
His hand started hurting on the range at Doral, and Hoch nearly withdrew until a few minutes before his tee time. He wound up beating Jim Furyk in a playoff.
'I should be smart enough to know when I shouldn't be playing, but I continued to play and it put me in bad habits,' Hoch said. 'You think it's getting better because it's not getting any worse. The times it was hurting me enough to stop, I did.'
A review of Hoch's statistics confirm the worst.
He is last among 197 players in the all-around ranking (a combination of all major statistical categories), and he isn't in the top 100 in any category except the obscure 'three-putt avoidance.' He's tied for 62nd.
'Go look at my stats. You cannot believe how bad they are,' Hoch said. 'I'm not in the top 100 in any category except the world ranking and the money list.'
He is 50th in the world ranking, 52nd on the money list.
Hoch is playing in Las Vegas this week but might not play again the rest of the year except for Disney -- and only because he lives in Orlando.
MICKELSON SERIOUS DOWN THE STRETCH
Phil Mickelson never missed the Tour Championship while playing a full schedule, and he's not about to let that streak end without a fight.
Mickelson is playing the Las Vegas Invitational this week, and he has told organizers he plans to play at the Funai Classic at Disney and the Chrysler Championship in Tampa.
Mickelson is 35th on the money list.
'I'd like to make it,' Lefty said last week at Capital City Club.
As for the two Florida tournaments, Mickelson said he is planning to play them, but it's 'day to day.'
PRESSURE ON CLARKE
Ernie Els was one putt away from being a lock to win his first Order of Merit on the European Tour.
Els closed with a 67 at the American Express Championship and tied for 12th, which nearly gave him an insurmountable lead over Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland.
If Ignacio Garrido had missed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole, Els would have risen to the 11th spot and made just enough money to clinch the title. Now, Clarke must win the Madrid Open and the season-ending Volvo Masters to beat Els by about $425.
Els is done playing in Europe for the year.
'It's probably the fullest season I've played in Europe,' Els said. 'I said from the get-go, it's not one of the goals I've chosen in my career, but if it comes around, it will be great.'
Still, it would be a meaningful feat.
Fellow South African Retief Goosen won the Order of Merit the last two years. And Els has spent 10 years devoting time to both tours, more than any other current player. He says next year, he will focus more on the PGA Tour.
'I paid my dues,' Els said.
Duval trades the clubs for a rod
David Duval might be in a bad slump on the golf course, but that isn't the case when he puts a rod and reel in his hand.
While fishing last month in British Columbia, Duval landed a king salmon that measured nearly 50 inches and weighed between 45 and 48 pounds.
'I'm not sure if it was a record,' Duval said Monday. 'But it had to be close.'
Refreshed by a seven-week break, Duval returns to the PGA Tour this week at the Las Vegas Invitational.
Tiger Woods wears some shade of red in the final round. Masters champion Mike Weir dresses in black from top to bottom.
It started with the Bob Hope Classic, where Weir won by two. He wore a white shirt when he won at Riviera, then went back to black at the Masters and has stuck with it ever since in the final rounds.
Will he wear it the rest of his career?
'I might if it keeps working,' Weir said. 'With the exception of the PGA, where I had a bad fourth round, I've played most of my best golf on Sunday this year. I'm really not a superstitious guy, but that's one thing I'm a little bit sticky about right now.'
DIVOTS:If this week is any indication, qualifying for the Tour Championship could be tight. Rocco Mediate is in 30th place by $54 over Robert Allenby. ... Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton has decided to play in the UBS Cup on Sea Island in November. ... Juli Inkster slightly injured her right shoulder while moving out of her northern California house for renovations, causing her to miss the Safeway Classic in Portland. She returned last week and tied for 14th at the Longs Drugs Challenge. 'I don't think my body is used to manual labor,' she said. ... The TPC of Scottsdale, home of the Phoenix Open, is the latest golf course to increase its yardage. The 7,070-yard track will be more than 7,200 yards. Among the changes is a new tee on the par-5 15th that will leave a second shot from about 235 yards to the island green.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Going into last week, Tiger Woods had made only four putts longer than 25 feet, last on the PGA Tour. He made three of them at the American Express Championship.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
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
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
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.
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.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
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.
“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.”