What We Learned: Riviera provides another classic

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2013, 2:53 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. This week, our writers weigh in on Riviera Country Club, which again produced a great finish at the Northern Trust Open, the possibility of the PGA Tour splitting from the anchoring ban and Lydia Ko's impressive performance in Australia.

The PGA Tour is deep – really deep. For much of the weekend, you couldn’t move through the first two pages of the leaderboard without bumping into a player currently inside the top 20 in the world ranking. Down the stretch Sunday, though, it was not one but two players from outside the top 100 who wound up dueling for the title. As the Tour now gets set for arguably its most unpredictable event with the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Sunday served as a keen reminder that the difference between the all-star and the journeyman may not be as pronounced as we once thought.

I also learned that making an exciting birdie on the 18th hole Sunday may not be a winning strategy at Riviera. Just ask Phil, Keegan … and now Charlie Beljan. – Will Gray

Riviera Country Club shouldn’t host another major championship. I say that not because I don’t admire the course; in fact, it’s for the very opposite reason. It doesn’t need a U.S. Open or PGA Championship because the Northern Trust Open has so closely resembled a major in recent years. Leaderboards changing by the minute, players forced to think their way around the course, birdies and bogeys equally possible on every hole – those are just some of the reasons that this is annually one of the best venues on the PGA Tour schedule. Save for Pebble Beach every decade or so, I’ve never been a big fan of hosts for regular events also holding a major in the same year. The Riv doesn’t need one. Once again this week, it showcased itself as one of the country’s preeminent old-style tracks, as the tournament was a terrific amalgam of fist-pumping and relieved smiles and nervy putts and hanged heads. Let’s not be greedy. Once a year is good enough. We’ll get the major experience every time anyway. – Jason Sobel

The proposed anchor ban just got a whole lot more interesting. With the 90-day comment period soon to expire, Brad Faxon revealed in a web column that the Policy Board will convene Monday and that commissioner Tim Finchem likely will recommend that the Board urge the USGA to withdraw the proposed ban of the anchored stroke. That’s a bombshell, even if the USGA doesn’t back down, as Faxon expects. Any resistance from the Tour would undermine the credibility of the USGA specifically and the governing bodies in general. Chalk up an early point for the anchorers. A game-changing decision is on the horizon. – Ryan Lavner

Lydia Ko is 15 going on 30.

Yes, you could say we learned how poised she was last summer, when she won the CN Canadian Women’s Open, but there was so much more to learn about her in her loss Sunday at Royal Canberra in the LPGA’s season opener in Australia. There was a lot to learn in how she handled the adversity that struck early in the round.  Tied for the lead at Sunday’s start, she could have fallen apart after a clumsy start. With a double bogey at the first hole and a bogey at the second, Ko quickly dropped four shots behind Jiyai Shin. How Ko responded was instructive. With her birdie at the 12th, Ko pulled back even with Shin. Yes, she would stumble again, but her comeback from that nightmarish start tells you everything about Ko’s resilience, about the fight in her that will keep her coming back for more. – Randall Mell

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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.”