Foreseeing the Open future

By Jason SobelJune 10, 2011, 12:40 pm

Some predictions are based on research and facts and stats. Others are purely hunches.

Consider this one a little of both.

You can read my statistical reasoning for selecting Edoardo Molinari here, but this pick is based on more than just the average vitals for the four reigning major champions. Really, the man nicknamed Dodo just seems to fit the recent major profile. Very good player, but hardly great. He’s won, but hasn’t claimed a big one.

Based on recent history, he certainly fits in with the McDowell/Oosthuizen/Kaymer/Schwartzel type of players who have been winning the majors lately.

And with that, here is my top-25 for the upcoming U.S. Open, with a caveat: Just in case you didn’t realize it from the guy in the No. 1 position, these aren’t the favorites, but rather my predicted order of finish.

1. Edoardo Molinari
If the similarities with recent winners aren’t enough, he also won a U.S. Amateur on an East Coast, tree-lined course.

2. Alvaro Quiros
The longest hitter on any major tour, when his short game is on, he can be unbelievably tough to beat.

3. Robert Karlsson
Last year’s hot play one week beforehand in Memphis led to a T-27; this year expect much better.

4. Matt Kuchar
Based on recent track record, tough to envision a leaderboard anywhere that doesn’t include Kooch.

5. Justin Rose
Hampered by a few illnesses, but now ready to contend and always gets hot this time of year.

6. Lee Westwood
Close calls in majors – five top-3s in last four years – should be perceived as positive experiences rather than bad signs.

7. Dustin Johnson
When one interviewer recently told DJ that lengthy Congressional suits his game, his eyes lit up.

8. Phil Mickelson
This championship is Lefty’s white whale, but he’ll soar in the polls with a win in the nation’s capital.

9. Davis Love III
Ryder Cup captain likes his chances at Congressional. “It’s big, long and hard,” he said. “Suits my game.”

10. Luke Donald
Fifteen top-10s in last 16 starts, but zero in seven career U.S. Open starts. Something’s gotta give.

11. Gary Woodland
First player to reach field via new U.S. Golf Association exemption policy for top 50 in the world after FedEx St. Jude.

12. Hunter Mahan
Even this ball-striker supreme can’t hit all the greens – and he’s been known to be dicey from greenside rough.

13. Rory McIlroy
Great story if he can recover from back-nine meltdown at Augusta to contend once again.

14. Steve Stricker
World No. 4 owns just three career top-5s in majors – but two of ‘em were at the Open.

15. Nick Watney
Rarely mentioned among PGA Tour’s longest hitters, but his distance off the tee matches almost anyone.

16. Patrick Cantlay (a)
Hot on the heels of winning the Jack Nicklaus Award as a UCLA freshman, he cruised through the PGA Tour player-laden Columbus sectional.

17. Fredrik Jacobson
Known as “Junkman,” this noted scrambler should benefit if the leading score remains close to par.

18. Martin Kaymer
Hasn’t played his best golf recently, but the reigning PGA champion has the talent to win anywhere, anytime.

19. Francesco Molinari
If the other Molinari brother wins the title, I’m taking partial credit with my pick to win.

20. Ian Poulter
Quickly becoming known as a match play magician, he could thrive in a final-round final pairing.

21. Jonathan Byrd
Longtime pro is enjoying a breakthrough season with one win and a few other title contentions.

22. Robert Rock
One of the few players on a major tour without a hat deal, he looks like a throwback without one.

23. K.J. Choi
Once won the AT&T at Congo, but no player has ever won The Players and U.S. Open in same year.

24. Jim Furyk
Has yet to win this year, but remember: His U.S. Open victory in 2003 was first of that season, too.

25. Fred Funk
No, he’s no longer competitive on the PGA Tour, but the Maryland native may find some magic this week.

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UCLA junior Vu named WGCA Player of the Year

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

UCLA junior Lilia Vu was named Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

Vu recorded the lowest full-season scoring average (70.37) in UCLA history. Her four tournament wins tied the school record for most victories in a single season.

Vu was also named to the WGCA All-America first team. Here's a look at the other players who joined her on the prestigious list:

WGCA First Team All-Americans

  • Maria Fassi, Junior, University of Arkansas
  • Kristen Gillman, Sophomore, University of Alabama
  • Jillian Hollis, Junior, University of Georgia
  • Cheyenne Knight, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Jennifer Kupcho, Junior, Wake Forest University
  • Andrea Lee, Sophomore, Stanford University
  • Leona Maguire, Senior, Duke University
  • Sophia Schubert, Senior, University of Texas
  • Lauren Stephenson, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Maddie Szeryk, Senior, Texas A&M University
  • Patty Tavatanakit, Freshman, UCLA
  • Lilia Vu, Junior, UCLA
Chris Stroud and caddie Casey Clendenon Getty Images

Stroud's caddie wins annual PGA Tour caddie tournament

By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

Casey Clendenon, who caddies for Chris Stroud, won the gross division of the annual PGA Tour caddie tournament on Monday, shooting a 5-under 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Scott Tway (65), who caddies for Brian Harman, won the net division by two strokes over Wayne Birch, Troy Merritt’s caddie.

Kyle Bradley, Jonathan Byrd’s caddie, took second place with a 71 in the gross division.

The tournament was organized by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, and proceeds from the event went to two charities. The APTC donated $20,000 to Greg Chalmers’ charity,, which aids families living with autism. The association also donated $10,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

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Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.

The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.