Black Jack

By Mercer BaggsAugust 27, 2000, 4:00 pm
Under the cover of darkness, Tiger Woods birdied the 72nd hole at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio to win the $5 million NEC Invitational - by 11 shots.
At 21-under-par, Woods more than doubled the score of Justin Leonard and Phillip Price, who tied for 2nd at 10-under. Hal Sutton, who played in the final group with Woods, tied for 4th with Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.
Sunday's final round was suspended for nearly three hours due to rain and lightning. When play was called, Woods and Sutton had yet to complete the first hole.
Having taken a nine-shot lead into the final round, Woods could have played left-handed and still won the $1 million dollar first prize. The battle was for the $540,000 second place check.
Sutton got off to a great start by birdying three of his first five holes, but bogeyed the 8th, 9th, 10th and 13th to fall out of runner-up contention.
Down the stretch, Price had the best chance of earning the more-than-half-million dollar check. At 13-under, Price was two shots clear of Leonard. But in a race against the impending darkness, Price bogeyed the 15th and 16th to fall to 11-under. Entering the home hole - with camera flashes providing the lone source of light - Price still maintained a one-shot advantage over Leonard, who had bogeyed the 18th and posted a 10-under score.
Needing to get up and down from the greenside bunker, Price splashed out 10 feet past the hole. With the cup barely in sight, Price missed his par save and slipped into a tie for second with the 1997 British Open champion.
'I'm disappointed that I did not finish off,' said Price, who collected $437,500. 'I'll probably stew on that one a little bit. But I think there were so many good things that came out of it, I'm not going to try to dismiss the tied-second.'
It didn't appear as if the final round was going to be completed on Sunday. And it wouldn't have had Tiger not held such a commanding lead.
'If it had been tied or a one or two-shot lead, we would have probably stopped it on about the 15th,' said Woods.
Completing the tournament benefited Woods the most. Monday, he is scheduled to play Sergio Garcia in the $1.5 million made-for-television 'Battle at Bighorn' at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calf.
'(I'll host) a clinic from 8:00 to 9:00,' Woods said of his Monday schedule. 'I'll be in the air by 10:00 and out there by about 12:30; tee up at 4:45 and then drive home to L.A.'
Battling the flu, Woods shot rounds of 67-67 on the weekend. Not comparable to his first two rounds of 64-61, but still impressive. With an aggregate of 259, Tiger fell two shots short of the all-time PGA TOUR 72-hole scoring record set by Mike Souchak at the 1955 Texas Open.
Though he missed Souchak's mark he reached the number set by caddie Steve Williams.
'(Steve) was grinding harder on that number than he has on most numbers. He wanted to get to 21 pretty bad,' Woods said.
'I don't know why. It has always been his favorite number,' Woods said of his 21-under total. 'He runs in 21-minute intervals and swims that way. Whatever it is, it has to do with 21. That's always been his favorite number.'
This is Tiger's third successful title defense in 2000. He becomes the first player since Johnny Miller in 1975 to accomplish that feat.
Last week Tiger defended the PGA Championship. He also captured the Memorial Tournament in May for the second straight season.
Woods' 8th PGA TOUR victory in 2000 pushes him over the $7.6 million mark in season earnings.
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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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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.”