Johnson ends extended week with Hyundai victory

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 8, 2013, 10:34 pm

Year of the Collapse?

Dustin Johnson made sure that trend was so 2012.

Struggling with his driver down the stretch, Johnson pulled himself together by chipping in for eagle on the 14th hole, carrying him to a four-shot victory over Steve Stricker at the weather-plagued, season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

“It gives me a lot of confidence going into this year,” Johnson said afterward. “I’m very pleased to come out and get a win this week. I played really good golf the past two days.” 

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With the victory – the seventh of his career, the most by any player under 30 – the 28-year-old Johnson became the first player since Tiger Woods to win in each of his first six seasons out of college. He also moved to 3-0 in 54-hole events.

In the most benign conditions of the week – which is to say bountiful sunshine and wind gusts to 30 mph – Johnson closed with a 5-under 68 Tuesday on the Plantation Course to finish the shortened event at 16-under 203, four clear of Stricker (69). Brandt Snedeker (69) was third, another two shots behind.

''It was nowhere near ho-hum,'' Johnson said. ''I had to really fight hard.''

Despite a huge advantage off the tee – on the 11th, for instance, his drive sailed 120 yards farther than Stricker’s – Johnson uncorked two wild tee shots that nearly cost him the title. His lost tee ball on the ninth led to a bogey on the reachable par 5, and an overcooked drive on the short 13th resulted in a double bogey that trimmed his lead to one. 

''We found a shoe, some sunglasses, about five or six other balls,'' said Stricker. ''There might have been a guy living up in the tree.''

On the very next hole, however, Johnson responded by nearly driving the green on the 305-yard par 4, then pitched in for eagle to return his lead to three shots. He tacked on birdies at 15 and 18, as well.

“He gave me a couple openings there, but he came back strong,' Stricker said.

''It looks like very little fear in him. Because he'll hit one a little crooked, but he'll pull out that driver again and try it again. And he pulled it off, especially at 14. That was the deciding shot and chip for the tournament. Expect a lot of good things as he continues his career.''

Trailing Johnson by five shots with 11 holes to play, Stricker made a run at back-to-back titles at Kapalua, pulling within a shot at one point, but his back-nine 36 wasn’t enough to catch Johnson. Still, it was an encouraging performance for a semi-retired golfer who is dealing with a pinched nerve in his left leg.

Johnson certainly wouldn’t mind a pain-free season. One of the Tour’s longest hitters underwent knee surgery in late 2011, and then missed three months the following season after injuring his back. Upon returning to the Tour last June, Johnson showed glimpses of his immense talent, winning the St. Jude Classic, finishing inside the top 10 in each of the four FedEx Cup playoff events and earning a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. 

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1

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Perez (T-3) looks to remedy 'terrible' major record

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 7:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez’s major record is infinitely forgettable. In 24 Grand Slam starts he has exactly one top-10 finish, more than a decade ago at the PGA Championship.

“Terrible,” Perez said when asked to sum up his major career. “I won sixth [place]. Didn't even break top 5.”

It’s strange, however, that his status atop The Open leaderboard through two rounds doesn’t seem out of character. The 42-year-old admits he doesn’t hit it long enough to contend at most major stops and also concedes he doesn’t exactly have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the game’s biggest events, but something about The Open works for him.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I didn't like it the first time I came over. When I went to St. Andrews in '05, I didn't like it because it was cold and terrible and this and that,” he said. “Over the years, I've really learned to like to come over here. Plus the fans are so awesome here. They know a good shot. They don't laugh at you if you hit a bad shot.”

Perez gave the fans plenty to cheer on Friday at Carnoustie, playing 17 flawless holes to move into a share of the lead before a closing bogey dropped him into a tie for third place after a second-round 68.

For Perez, links golf is the great equalizer that mitigates the advantages some of the younger, more powerful players have and it brings out the best in him.

“It's hard enough that I don't feel like I have to hit perfect shots. That's the best,” he said. “Greens, you can kind of miss a shot, and it won't run off and go off the green 40 yards. You're still kind of on the green. You can have a 60-footer and actually think about making it because of the speed.”