Simpson puts on show in scrapped first round at Hyundai

By Jason SobelJanuary 5, 2013, 2:15 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Matt Kuchar stood in the player locker room holding up a piece of paper as a few of his fellow competitors huddled around, marveling at it like a winning lottery ticket. Close. It was Webb Simpson’s scorecard, showing him at 3-under through seven holes in blustery, drenched, brutal conditions during what was supposed to be the opening round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

“Is he really?” “Let me see that!” “Is that net?”

That piece of paper was rendered nothing but an obsolete souvenir when Friday’s play was suspended after just 131 minutes, then wiped off the books completely.

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That’s right. It never happened. Just one giant mulligan.

The PGA Tour wanted to put on a show for Opening Day. Well, this one was kind of like Seinfeld. A show about nothing.

As far as ominous signs are concerned, wiping away the first round of the season might be akin to breaking a mirror while walking under a ladder with a black cat crossing your path.

Instead, the 30-player field will return Saturday for a scheduled 36 holes on the Plantation Course, with impending weather predicted to be even worse than the day that was just deemed irrelevant. More on that later. First let’s get to a few reactions from players about the notoriously un-Maui-like conditions on Friday.

“This isn’t golf; it’s goofy golf,” said Bubba Watson, who never teed off.

“It was really bad. I mean, it was gusting 35. It was real borderline from the first tee shot,” Ian Poulter opined.

“That rain and wind combination, that was about as bad as I’ve seen. I couldn’t even get the umbrella up straight – and I’m pretty strong,” deadpanned Kyle Stanley.

This was the first time the PGA Tour declared a round and void since the second round of the 2005 Players Championship – and you’d be hard-pressed to find a player not named Webb Simpson who wanted to remain on the course.

“It stinks for me,” he said. “I got off to a great start but that's the way it goes. I'm sure they made the decision that's best for all the guys.”

While Simpson may have been left screaming toward the heavens like the Bishop from “Caddyshack,” the rest of the players in the field will be more than happy to start anew.

“[Thursday] we were joking with our amateurs [in the pro-am] that we really didn’t need to play,” Zach Johnson explained. “Then after six or seven holes, I wasn’t beating around the bush at all. I was like, ‘Guys, we can go have lunch and just converse.’ But they wanted to play. Long story short: That was one of the worst experiences I’ve had on a golf course in terms of weather, but today would have been even worse.”

He continued: “You can’t use an umbrella, because it’s too windy. When you combine it with the rain, it’s just tough. You can’t get the ball to stay on the greens – and they’re slow. … I saw some of the pin placements. A ball would get to three feet, look like it was going to stop, then all of a sudden it’s off the green. Those kinds of things should be taken care of tomorrow with a level playing field.”

So now the PGA Tour season will officially begin at 7:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, with players starting on two tees and theoretically playing two full rounds. Theoretical because the forecast calls for 25-35 mph winds with gusts of up to 40 mph.

While the plan makes sense on paper, it was enough to leave a few players snickering due to the fact that Friday’s eventual delay was caused by a 41 mph gust and the biggest wind of the day was 45 mph. What it means is that we could be doomed for a long weekend through the scheduled Monday finish, one in which some more severe decisions could still loom.

“I can honestly say the forecast isn't real good but maybe we'll get lucky,” PGA Tour vice president of rules and competition Slugger White said. “That's the hope.”

Usually the most difficult decisions here on Maui involve choosing between the beach or pool and whether to hit the buffet line for another helping of pineapple.

Of course, Maui doesn’t often feel like a preheated version of Scotland, with violent winds ripping through the course. Much like the players who will attempt to slog it out for 10 hours on Saturday, it appears those windy conditions aren’t going anywhere for a while, either. All of which renders the season-opener little more than an open-ended question right now.

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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.”