Here We Go Again

By Kraig KannJanuary 6, 2004, 5:00 pm
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- So here we are on the island of Maui. And you wonder where 2003 ended and where 2004 begins. Well, it begins here. And all you can say as you soak up the sun, the surf and the golf is, How good is this?!

OK, so according to locals, last weekend they had the biggest storm in some 20 years. Big deal. Thirteen inches of rain in two days. Seven inches fell on Friday and eight on Saturday when my plane touched down.

But guess what? The courses drain so well, and the grounds crew is so good that youd never know it by the looks of things. This place is paradise!

So we begin anew after a year of the amazing. Thirty-one players won the PGA Tours 48 events in 03. The field this week, however, totals 30 because David Toms is out with a bad wrist that required surgery and will keep him out until at least the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Would you believe that some 72 players earned at least $1-million last year? Its true.

There were eight multiple winners including Tiger Woods, who, at last check during a rainy Saturday had his agent on the phone to Mercedes Championships officials checking on the weather before jetting over for a few early practice rounds.
 
Seven first-time winners made their way here this week. None more recognizable than British Open champ Ben Curtis from Kent, Ohio who told me that Kent States football team had a surprisingly decent season. (Always love a guy who can go beyond golf.)

Shaun Micheel is here too. The PGA champ was hanging out in the Ritz Carlton Hotel lobby with his grandparents, wife and six-week old child. Steve Flesch is on board this week at the Mercedes. He has two kids in tow. Young son Griffin was holding court in the same lobby about two hours earlier. Griff was checking out the band, asking questions to the guitarist about the number of strings he had on his instrument.

The Mercedes Championships means success. Its as simple as that. Winners only ' thank you. Its old hat for guys like Tiger and Davis, Ernie and Vijay. But for others like J.L. Lewis and Tommy Armour, Jake and Stads this is big doings.

As I see it, this is as big an event as they come on the PGA Tour. You have to have done something to get to the lobby at the Ritz or the Kapalua Bay Hotel. Just ask Crane or another first timer like Jonathan Kaye ' who, by the way, was eating macaroni and cheese for dinner Monday night.

Simple tastes turn into complicated lives for PGA Tour winners. Theyre finding it out this week. And by the way, with all that rain, dont expect another 31-under par victory total like Ernie Els put up last year. Its too wet and theres too little roll in the fairway as I see it. How about 26-under? Sound about right? I think so.

More than a $1-million will go to the winner and dont be surprised if it goes to Tiger Woods. Do you think he has the money title in his mind in 04? Gee, I wonder.
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Getty Images

Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”