Predicting the top 25 Open finishers

By Jason SobelJuly 17, 2012, 11:42 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – He who finds the fewest bunkers wins.

At least, that’s what most of this week’s Open Championship competitors would have us believe. There are 205 total bunkers at Royal Lytham & St. Annes which range from “hazardous” to “like hitting one out of bounds.”

With that in mind, driving accuracy will certainly be a key component to the makeup of this week’s leaderboard, but it’s hardly the only factor. From an ability to shape shots to being creative around the greens to a propensity for holing clutch putts, the course should stand as a stern test throughout the week.

But who will win? As always, the prediction game is an inexact science – and on a venue with so many twists and turns, where a good bounce results in a green light to the flagstick and a bad bounce means a death sentence in a bunker, there’s a lot more “inexact” than “science” at play this week.

With that in mind, here is my predicted order of finish for the top 25:

1. Justin Rose: Fits the mold of recent major champions. Rose is a major talent without a major win. An excellent driver off the tee, he could make it 10 straight first-time major winners.

2. Tiger Woods: Looking relaxed and confident in the days entering this tournament, the 14-time major champion says, “I’ll win major championships” once again.

3. Lee Westwood: If the stars are aligned, this could finally be his week. The Open serves as Westwood’s best chance at a major and his driving prowess should keep him out of too much trouble.

4. Graeme McDowell: His failure to capture a second U.S. Open remains an open wound, but McDowell has proven himself worthy of consideration for any major championship title.

5. Adam Scott: With a major record that is finally starting to look respectable, Scott just turned 32 – prime age for players to start winning these things.

6. Charl Schwartzel: Mark these words: The best player nobody ever talks about will win another major to go along with his Masters title – and it may come sooner rather than later.

7. Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Looking for a serious dark horse who could seriously contend? Look no further, as RCB owns four top-three results on the Euro Tour already this season.

8. Rickie Fowler: Youngster has performed well in what he calls his favorite tournament, with a T-14 and T-5 in his first two appearances.

9. Padraig Harrington: When he’s pessimistic, he plays his best golf. But the two-time champion is optimistic this week. What does it mean? Well, not necessarily the opposite.

10. Jim Furyk: Anytime accuracy is at a premium, expect Furyk to finagle his way onto the leaderboard. Should add to his six career top-10s in 17 starts at this event.

News conferences

Woods | Mickelson | McIlroy | Donald | Westwood | Watson | Clarke

11. Francesco Molinari: Obviously disappointed by last week’s Scottish Open playoff loss, Molinari should still enter this week with plenty of confidence.

12. Jason Dufner: Time to stop thinking of the world’s seventh-ranked player as an underdog. Dufner owns top-five finishes in three of the last six majors.

13. Ian Poulter: Since finishing runner-up in 2008, he has followed up MC-60-MC the past three years. Simply put, Poulter is too good for that trend to continue.

14. Rory McIlroy: Tough to know which Rory will show up: The one who can dominate tournaments or the one who has appeared complacent at times? If he’s on, he has as much talent as anyone.

15. K.J. Choi: This could be one of those “slow and steady wins the race” type of weeks. If so, keep a close eye on Choi, who can tread water with the best of ‘em.

16. Ernie Els: He isn’t among the best in total driving on the PGA Tour, but leads the Euro circuit, which portends big things with the big stick for the Big Easy this week.

17. Zach Johnson: Fresh off his John Deere Classic victory, the two-time winner this year is obviously in great form and should be comfortable on a course that seems to suit him.

18. Luke Donald: With accuracy so important at this venue, the world’s No. 1-ranked player may struggle to put himself in the right position off the tee every time.

19. Martin Kaymer: The game’s Human Disappearing Act seems like he may be on the verge of reappearing, finishing in the top 30 in four of his last six starts.

20. Hunter Mahan: Would be sweet justice if he could return to the U.K. and avenge that duffed chip at the 2010 Ryder Cup which haunted him for so long afterward.

21. Keegan Bradley: When asked about there being 15 straight different major champs, Bubba Watson said, “We're going to change that this week. Keegan Bradley, he's going to win.”

22. Richie Ramsay: Consider this one a bit of a flier, as the former U.S. Amateur champion doesn’t have a very strong recent results table, but he could sneak his way onto the leaderboard come Sunday.

23. Aaron Baddeley: Another guy who fits the recent major champion profile. Just a good, solid player who may be waiting for his moment in the spotlight.

24. Ben Curtis: Currently third on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy, Curtis won’t be able to sneak up on people the way he did nine years ago – but it would still be close.

25. Tom Lehman: Call it a sentimental choice, but elder statesmen have shown a propensity for playing well at the Open and none know this course better than Lehman, who won here in 1996.

Getty Images

Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas matched the Brickyard Crossing record with a 10-under 62 on Thursday in the Indy Women in Tech Championship, making birdie on the final three holes for a two-stroke lead over fast-starting Angel Yin and Japan's Nasa Hataoka.

Yin birdied eight of the first nine holes in her morning round for a front-nine 8-under 28 - one short of the LPGA Tour's nine-hole record. It matched the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Salas eagled the par-5 second in the afternoon and added three straight birdies on Nos. 4-6. She birdied Nos. 12 and 14 before reeling off three more in a row to close, waiting out a late 77-minute suspension for an approaching storm.

Salas matched the course record set by Mike McCullough in the PGA Tour Champions' 1999 Comfort Classic.

Getty Images

Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

Getty Images

Peterson confirms plans to play Finals

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Tour Finals.

Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.

Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.

Getty Images

Lyle honored with sand sculpture at Wyndham

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 16, 2018, 9:00 pm

Jarrod Lyle passed away last week at the age of 36 after losing his third battle with cancer.

And after a PGA Championship filled with tributes to the Australian, the Wyndham Championship found its own way to keep his legacy alive at the North Carolina Tour stop.

Next to the Wyndham Championship and PGA Tour logos carved into the sand on site at Sedgefield Country Club is Lyle's name and the "Leuk the Duck" mascot. The duck has become synonymous with Challenge, an organization that supports kids with cancer.

Fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby posted the display on social media:

View this post on Instagram

(Pic update) Brighter is better

A post shared by StuartAppleby (@stuartappleby59) on

Lyle was also remembered in a more traditional manner on the first tee, where his bag and trademark yellow bucket hat were prominently displayed.