Wind gets ridiculous at Hyundai

By Jason SobelJanuary 7, 2013, 2:39 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – What has taken place here on the idyllic, bucolic island of Maui goes way beyond weird or strange. It’s miles past frustrating. We’re talking Lost meets Groundhog Day set in the Twilight Zone.

Let us review three days trapped in this space-time continuum.

Take 1.

This is how the 2013 PGA Tour season was supposed to begin: Rickie Fowler hits the opening tee shot of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at 10:35 a.m. local time on Friday. And it did – only to be postponed because of heavy winds 131 minutes later and eventually wiped away altogether.

Take 2.

This is how the 2013 PGA Tour season was supposed to begin: After a one-day deferment, 30 winners from last year get the tournament back on track by playing 36 holes on Saturday. Except conditions were even worse, so after three straight one-hour delays, the entire day was canceled.

Hyundai TOC: Articles, videos and photos

Take 3.

This is how the 2013 PGA Tour season was supposed to begin: Exactly 48 hours and 35 minutes after the initial opening tee time – and following what was already a four-hour delay on Sunday morning – the first round would finally get under way. But that lasted only 71 minutes before more gusting winds caused yet another suspension and yet another day that was completely wiped from the books.

We’ve seen a handful of Monday finishes over the years. Brace yourself for what is believed to be the first-ever Monday start.

Three days into the season, the season still hasn’t begun. Hollywood scriptwriters couldn’t come up with something this improbable, especially in a tropical locale renowned for its weather.

It isn’t for lack of trying. The brief period of golf that was played on Sunday was comically entertaining at best, downright embarrassing at worst and completely bizarre any which way you look at it.

There was Matt Kuchar, trying to start his season on the exposed 10th tee. Hatless – because it blew off twice during his pre-round range session – he watched his ball blow off the tee and needed to consult a rules official before even making a swing.

“I was told that it took me seven minutes to actually hit the ball,” he later said with a laugh.

There was Ben Curtis, hitting his first two greens in regulation – which only resulted in a double bogey-triple bogey start.

“I hit it 25-30 feet left of the pin and we were walking halfway down and my caddie said, ‘Hey, your ball is moving,’ and it rolled about another five feet,” he explained of his travails on the 11th. “I get over it for the third time and this time I see it's going to move and it started to move a foot, two feet, three feet and just started picking up pace and off the green it went, 25 feet or so.”

There was Charlie Beljan, who never even completed a hole.

“I hit two in the left garbage, because on my backswing the wind was hitting me 40 miles per hour,” he said. “Then I swung as hard as I could and the ball didn’t come out, then I hit a beautiful little shot onto the green and it rolled about 20 feet and all of a sudden, I’m waiting for Tommy [Gainey] to hit and my ball starts rolling to six feet from the hole.”

There was Scott Stallings, whose experience may sound unique, but was pretty common for this day.

“I drove it pretty close to the green on 12,” he maintained. “I putted it to about 10 feet. I missed the putt and went to tap it in, but it started rolling and I ended up having further for par than I did for birdie – and then my hat blew in the hazard!”

We’re now left with the chalk outline of a once prestigious tournament that has more than a little let’s-just-get-it-over-with-already feel to it.

Next up: Monday’s schedule is for 36 holes followed by 18 more on Tuesday, which would still render this an official – albeit shortened – event.

Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of rules and competition, sounded cautiously optimistic in expressing hope that this schedule could remain as planned, even though more wind is expected to blow through the Plantation Course.

“The forecast is a little bit better. We have got wind blowing out there about 48 miles an hour right now,” he explained Sunday afternoon. “It would be sustained [Monday] for probably 20, 25, gusting into the high 30s.”

For yet another day, 30 elite players will return to the course in hopes of finally getting started.

This is how the PGA Tour season is supposed to begin.

Take 4.

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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.”