Home Sweet Home
At 6-under-par, Aubrey is tied with fellow journeyman Danny Briggs in Paoli, Penn. Loren Roberts and Frank Lickliter are two shots off the lead at 4-under-par.
It's been a disappointing year, thus far, for Aubrey. The 39-year-old missed 13 of his first 15 cuts. Recouping from a back injury, which forced him to miss the end of the '99 season, Aubrey is playing on a special medical exemption in 2000.
But things are finally starting to go Aubrey's way. The three-time Pennsylvania Public-Links State champion has qualified for weekend play in four of his last five starts, including three in a row.
'The last two tournament in Canada, I made birdies on the last hole on Friday to make the cut,' said Aubrey, currently 194th on the money list. 'Hopefully, things are turning around.'
After using a 15-foot par save at the 1st as a 'wake-up call,' Aubrey birdied four of his next seven holes to make the turn in 4-under-par 31. Aubrey only carded one birdie over his first eight holes on the back nine, but the 8-year PGA Tour veteran coaxed in a birdie 4 at the home hole for just his seventh round in the 60s this year.
So what was the difference for Aubrey on Thursday? Better driving? Better iron play? Better putting? Well, Aubrey missed only three fairways and three greens in regulation in the first round, and he took only 27 swipes with the flatstick. But the biggest determining factor was an intangible one.
'I love this place,' Aubrey said of his native Pennsylvania. 'I've obviously come back to visit my parents. Spent some time in Harrisburg a lot. For me, it brings back old memories for sure. We spent a lot of time going to sports in Philly, just great - eat some cheese steaks. It is great coming back, but it is really special to play a tournament here.'
There's no home-course advantage this week for Briggs. The 39-year-old was born in Texas and lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. Still, Briggs seems to feel right at home at the Waynesborough Country Club.
Beginning on the back nine, Briggs was 1-under as he made the turn. But the front nine proved to be more fruitful. Briggs drained a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-4 1st to move to 2-under, and then chipped in for a birdie 2 at the 2nd.
After a par at the 3rd, Briggs again carded back-to-back birdies at the 4th and 5th to climb to 5-under. The former Texas A&M Aggie ended his Thursday scoring by nearly holing his second shot at the par-4 8th.
'Eight was kind of neat,' said Briggs, who, like Aubrey, earned a special medical exemption to play on the 2000 Tour. 'My divot (on my approach shot) was like this close (indicating five inches) and my ball was like this close (indicating two inches); so that was nice.'
In recent years, Briggs has bounced back and forth between the PGA and Buy.Com Tours. In fact, with his wife expecting twins in the early 90's, Briggs quit the game to take a television gig with a Hall of Fame baseball player.
'I did a television show with Johnny Bench called `Golf in Paradise,'' said Briggs. 'It was a show that you went around to all of these different resorts, and you would have two different guest celebrities, and I was the pro that was doing the tips.
'I had an opportunity to go work for a gentleman that paid me a decent amount of money so that I could feed my family and cover the bills at home, and I had an opportunity to do that. I really enjoyed doing it.'
Of course, the competitive fire still burned. And nowadays, there's plenty of 'green' to go around.
'It's a dream,' Briggs said. 'And, look at how much money we're playing for out here now, too. I mean, thank you, Tiger Woods for being out here. It's been fantastic.'
The game's biggest names aren't in attendance this week, but those who are, are making their presence felt.
Roberts is tied for third. Carlos Franco, Mark Calcavecchia and Dudley Hart are all in a nine-way tie for fifth at 3-under. And Grant Waite, who has finished runner-up in each of his last two starts, is tied for 14th at 2-under.
Aubrey and Briggs have yet to make a name for themselves in their extensive careers, but things could change this week.
'I'm not one of the PGA Tour stars,' said Briggs. 'It would be fun after this week to kind of become one for a week, I guess. But there's three days left for that.
'All I know is my kids and my wife still love me, so I'm okay.'
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
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
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
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.
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.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
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.
“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.”