Davies of Old Topping Augusta Field

By Martha BrendleMay 16, 2002, 4:00 pm
Big hitter Laura Davies looked like her old self during the first round of the Asahi Ryokuken International Championship. The Coventry native recorded back-to-back birdies right out of the gate and went on to make eagle on the par-5 16th en route to a 5-under 67.
 
With her ball resting on the apron at No. 16, Davies placed all bets on her putter and soundly moved to 4-under par, establishing herself as the leader of this second-year event by two strokes.
 
Hit a good drive, had like 218 to the pin, but it was uphill into the wind and hit a 3-iron, just managed to get it to the front edge and had about an 80-foot impossible snaking putt and knocked it in,' Davies said. 'Enjoyed that one. That was fun.'
 
Treacherous holes lurked just around the corner at Mount Vintage and Davies found out just how true that statement was when she faltered on the very next hole, dropping back to 3-under as she made the turn.
 
Another bogey, on the par-4 second, left her floundering amid a pack of players tied at 2-under. Birdie on the par-4 fifth was sweet redemption for the former Player of the Year (1996), moving her back to 3-under and as the established leader once again. The Englishwoman then broadened her lead with two more birdies during her round to finish at minus 5.
 
'You can see that people are 1- and 2-under, which is unusual,' Davies said of the difficult conditions.
 
'If you're not 5-under day 1, you're out of the top 10. So it's understandable because these greens are very demanding. You hear that they're hard, and hitting into them is the hardest thing. You can't fire at the pin.'
 
Grace Park made the turn Thursday in 34 strokes with one bogey and three birdies under her belt. Park finished the day two strokes off the lead with her opening-round 69. 'I shot 69 last week and I wasn't even top 15,' Park said. 'And this week I'm second. So, you know, it says a lot about this course and the toughness of it.'
 
Despite solid play which has netted her $259,953 and six top-10 finishes in eight starts, Park is still winless this season.
 
A foursome is tied for third. Janice Moodie, Dawn Coe-Jones, Carin Koch and Jeong Jang all opened with 2-under-par 70.
 
Only 15 competitors managed to break par in round one, and Davies and Park were the only two to break 70. Some less fortunate had a very rough go of it.
 
Defending champion Tina Fischer had gotten off to a great start before falling apart with a round that consisted of five bogeys and two birdies and left her in the back of the bus with amateur players Shinobu Moromizato and Hawaiis Michelle Wie, both of whom are four or more strokes over par. Fischer faired only slightly better than the amateurs recording 3-over 75.
 
Moromizato, the 15-year-old Japanese amateur, played safe golf after recording three bogeys during her first five holes of the day. She would go on to make seven pars before incurring yet another bogey on the par-4 fourth. Moromizato was 5-over through 14 holes.
 
Wie, unlike Moromizato, recorded a lone birdie during her round. The 12-year-old was in 125th position, at 7-over, through the 13th. She made two more bogeys, and then had a moment of relief on the par-5 16th where she recorded birdie.
 
As a testament to just how difficult the course was playing Carmen Hajjar recorded 12-over 84 in the opening round of her fourth LPGA Tour tournament of the season. The 35-year-old Ausie bogeyed or double-bogeyed all but two holes on the front nine. It had to be a disappointing day Hajjar who holds exempt status on the LPGA Tour. Julie Piers, a ten-year veteran on the LPGA, matched Hajjars high score.
 
Full-field scores from the Asahi Ryokuken International
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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.”