Break Out the Bubbly

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
In Backspin, takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.

BACK IN THE GOOD OL' USA: The United States took a 9-7 lead into the Sunday singles format and held on for its first Ryder Cup victory since the miracle at Brookline back in 1999. It also ended Europe's impressive run of three consecutive victories.
BackspinHard to imagine things going any better for captain Paul Azinger's squad this week: From the fast start on Friday, to the raucous Louisville fans, to Anthony Kim's convincing win over Sergio Garcia in the opening singles match on Sunday. Somewhere Curtis Strange, Hal Sutton and Tom Lehman must be wondering what champagne tastes like.

WITH YOU ALMOST ALL THE WAY: Tiger Woods said in his monthly newsletter, which came out last Tuesday, that he would not be attending the Ryder Cup at Valhalla. Instead, he would be cheering on the U.S. team from home, with his cell phone by his side, should anyone call for advice.
BackspinWho needs advice from a guy who is 7-12-1 in team portions of the Ryder Cup? Looks like the Americans who did play did just fine without him. Tiger better play well over the next two years if he wants to make the 2010 team ' hes not a sure bet to be a captains pick.

13TH MAN: U.S. captain Paul Azinger wanted the Kentucky crowd to be a positive influence for his team ' and he got his wish. The support was overwhelming throughout the week and help buoy the Americans to victory.
BackspinAzinger and company did their part to get the crowd riled up. They signed tons of autographs leading up to the competition, held a pep rally in downtown Louisville Thursday night, and even managed to get off to a good start (for once) Friday morning. Throw in a couple of Kentuckians on the team and the local crowd was roaring at every stop. Even European captain Nick Faldo mentioned that he would have liked to have had a few more supporters in the gallery for his side.

MOVE OVER JD: Boo Weekley came into the Ryder Cup an already established player with two PGA TOUR wins, but may have left as a household name. Chants of 'Boooo' rained down from the Kentucky crowds all week as the down home Floridian went 2-0-1.
BackspinWeekley's biggest contribution might have been to get underneath Lee Westwood's skin with his efforts to get the crowd fired up early in the week. Westwood wasn't his usual dominant self in this competition. But one thing is clear: Golf fans have finally found a replacement for John Daly.

A STAR IS BORN: Anthony Kim's first Ryder Cup was one to remember, from his 1.5 points earned with Phil Mickelson in team play to his 5-and-4 thumping of Sergio Garcia in Sunday singles. Kim, who finished 2-0-1 in his Cup debut, was among the strongest players on the team.
BackspinThe 23-year-old Kim breathed some much needed life into the U.S. team with his youthful exuberance and stellar play. Add to that his desire to be on the squad and successful partnership with Mickelson, Kim headlined the Americans' Ryder Cup rookies. He probably would have done even better had Mickelson not weighed him down.

ACTIONS LOUDER THAN WORDS: Michelle Wie shot 70-65-74-71 to easily qualify to the second stage of LPGA Q-School. Wie finished in a tie for fourth, with the top 30 and ties advancing to the finals, Dec. 3-8 at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.
BackspinA side note to Wies qualifying was her snubbing of the media after her first three rounds. She finally spoke Sunday after the event was over and said something like, 'Um, I'm really like, um, happy and stuff.' Actually she didn't say that. But we figure what she did say wasn't too far removed.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Will MacKenzie birdied the second hole of a playoff against Brian Gay and Mark Turnesa to capture the Viking Classic on Sunday...Matt Bettencourt won the Oregon Classic for his first Nationwide Tour title Sunday, closing with a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over former U.S. Amateur champion Bubba Dickerson Once again, Michael Jordan could be seen following the U.S. team at the Ryder Cup.
Backspin With the win, MacKenzie solidifies his TOUR card for next year, jumping to 99th on the money list... 'This will take a while to settle in. Its what you dream about when youre a little kid. Its awesome,' Bettencourt said Wonder why Jordan doesnt follow them around at the Presidents Cup?
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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.”