What We Learned: Snedeker, Ko with impressive victories

By Damon HackFebruary 11, 2013, 12:30 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. This week, our writers weigh in on Brandt Snedeker's impressive victory at Pebble Beach, 15-year-old Lydia Ko's third professional win in just over a year and the downfalls of a pro-am style tournament.

It isn’t very often that a golfer calls his shot, but that’s nearly what Brandt Snedeker did at Pebble Beach. Last week, fresh off a second straight runner-up finish to one of the game’s icons, Snedeker said he was tired of second place. To be great, Snedeker explained, he had to win tournaments.

So one week later, along the Monterey Peninsula, that’s exactly what Snedeker did, winning his fourth PGA Tour event since the start of the 2011 (as many as Tiger Woods, one less than Rory McIlroy) and fifth Tour win overall.

Snedeker hadn’t even clutched his crystal trophy yet before he started talking about winning majors, starting in April at Augusta National.

Snedeker was in contention there in 2008 before a final-round 77 left him in tears.

He’s grown up a lot since then, enough to be taken seriously nearly every time he tees it up. – Damon Hack

As a society, we’ve become desensitized to certain things. From violence on TV to unpredictable weather, we learn to live with issues that would have been bigger news for previous generations.

A similar desensitization has happened in the game of golf. Not that long ago, a teenager could tee it up with the world’s best professionals and that alone – score and result notwithstanding – would have been enough to warrant major headlines. But now? It’s become a weekly standard to see young men and women competing alongside their heroes. Check that: competing well.

And so when 15-year-old Lydia Ko won the New Zealand Women’s Open on Sunday – already her third victory in a professional event – much of the golf world offered a collective shrug toward the accomplishment.

Been there. Done that.

We’ve seen players such as Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel set the game afire at a young age, so we’re now accustomed to it.

Well, forget suspending disbelief; it’s time we suspend belief when it comes to young players winning tournaments in general and the exploits of Ko in particular. What she has done prior to her Sweet 16 is nothing short of remarkable. Her “career” – if you can call it that for a sweet kid with a brilliant smile – has already surpassed those of some big-name professionals. It doesn’t look like there’s any end in sight, either, as she’s got all the tools to become a superstar. Yes, I know. You’ve heard that before. And like Roger Daltrey once screeched, we won’t get fooled again. But take a minute to realize just how impressive Ko has been and just how bright her future is.

In other words, stop the desensitization. – Jason Sobel

Barring injury, Brandt Snedeker will be the first FedEx Cup champion to play the Tour Championship the next season. Following back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open, Sneds cruised to victory on Sunday at Pebble Beach and has 1,282 FedEx Cup points. That was good enough to rank 18th on last year’s regular-season points list and likely good enough for a return trip to East Lake. – Rex Hoggard

I learned – no, it was brutally enforced – that it should be pros-only during the final round at Pebble Beach. Let the celebs have their fun on Saturday, which is always the most unwatchable telecast of the year, and then clear the way for the pros. That’s the way it is at the Humana Challenge – the amateurs play each of the three courses in the tournament rotation, and never have there been complaints about pace of play there. But it’s unfair for the play-for-pay types to endure rounds of five-plus hours when they’re trying to win the event or grinding to improve their status for the reshuffle. Watching three days of wayward driving and yippy putting is already torture enough. – Ryan Lavner

Lydia Ko's desire to remain an amateur has been admirable, but the 15-year-old is giving away so much money doing so. The pressure to turn pro ratchets up with her third professional title in 53 weeks.

It isn't just the money she is leaving on the table. More than that, it is the fact that she is just too talented to get much more out of the amateur game. If she is going to continue to get the most out of her remarkable gifts, she is going to have to do it as a pro. The amateur game has little left for her, and yet she is so young to live in a competitive adult world.

If you are Lydia Ko, or the folks who love her, it's a tougher call today than it was last week. If she wants to go to college, to round out her life experiences, it might have to be as a pro, on the same route that So Yeon Ryu and Michelle Wie took. Ko is too talented to play for a college program. – Randall Mell

Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”