Harrington keeps refreshingly unique attitude

By Jason SobelJanuary 30, 2013, 1:45 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Padraig Harrington stands on the end of the driving range beating golf ball after golf ball into a fading late-afternoon sky. The range is located adjacent to the first tee at TPC-Scottsdale, home of this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, but it could be anywhere for a global golfer who has been there and done that.

Another city, another course, another week.

Except … it’s not. This one is different.

One of the most loquacious golfers ever to be deposed in an interview room, Harrington has often opined on how it’s so difficult to turn down any opportunities in a world which is home to an overabundance of tournaments. No, he quickly corrects you – an overabundance of “great” tournaments.

Which is the reason why this one is different. The three-time major champion can usually be found competing in Dubai this week, or maybe getting ready for his regular two-event West Coast Swing at Pebble Beach and Riviera.

Instead, he’s here in Scottsdale, taking part in this event for the first time. The man who maintains there are too many great tournaments to play every year has found yet another one to add to his list.

“I really have watched this tournament on TV, and I really appreciate what they've done here, and I feel like it was always an event I wanted to come and see and play myself,” Harrington explained. “I'm a great believer that we have a lot of golf tournaments and a lot of golf tournaments that try and hold them out to be something, and it's nice to have variation. It's nice to come here and [see how] very much they celebrate the spectators this week.”

If that sounds like a refreshingly unique attitude, it should. At 41 years old, Harrington is at the point in his career where he should be dropping events from his schedule, not adding them. Well, that’s at least the strategy from many of his peers, those of whom are so set in their ways that they’d rather schedule another root canal every year than another tournament.

Of course, Harrington has never been one to go along with the crowd. He’s a constant tinkerer, a fact that is literally written across his face this week. In the offseason, he decided his eyesight needed some work, so despite 20/20 vision he showed up here wearing prescription eyeglasses.

There will undoubtedly be plenty to see. This event annually draws more than 500,000 fans behind the gallery ropes, making it the biggest party in golf. For a self-proclaimed teetotaler, Harrington will be able to do some first-class people-watching.

“It's a great thing when you see golf tournaments that get a little niche,” he said. “It's very important in this day that all the golf tournaments can't be the same, and it's important that each tournament has to find a little niche in the market to try to strive themselves different. Obviously the Waste Management Phoenix Open has done that with their spectators. They created a completely unique event in golf, and that's a great thing. So that's why I'm here, because of that.”

That alone should be enough to ingratiate Harrington with these fans. While many players are serenaded with a chorus of jeers for poor shots – or even more often, no reaction at all for any shots, with the tournament hardly providing distraction from the party atmosphere – the willingness of a world-class player to add this event to his schedule for the sole purpose of checking it out should sit well with observers.

And if it doesn’t, just wait until he tries to pull off the improbable – a hole-in-one at the famed 16th hole in front of 15,000 screaming fans.

“I'm thinking about pulling a shirt over my head and running down to the green if I hole out,” he quipped with a laugh. “That's a soccer celebration, and with my six-pack and everything, it would look perfect.”

It sure would, the man who was interested enough to see what this tournament is all about hitting the one shot that would forever make him a part of folklore ‘round these parts.

That’s just Padraig being Padraig. Most golfers with three major wins and victories all over the world and dual membership on the game’s two biggest tours aren’t looking for more work, but Harrington isn’t most golfers. He understands his role as ambassador and has a naturally curious side that is once again rearing its head this week.

When asked Tuesday if he likes desert golf, Harrington smiled knowingly.

“I like golf,” he said. “To be honest, if they were playing for $6 million out there on a runway out there at the airport, I'd still tee it up.”

Yes, Harrington is a different type of guy when it comes to elite pro golfers – and that’s exactly why he’s playing here this week.

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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.”