Players Trying to Break From Their Shells in Houston

By Mercer BaggsApril 18, 2001, 4:00 pm
Is there a window of winning opportunity? And if so, is that window closing in 2001 for some of the games best.
Aside from world No. 1 Tiger Woods, there are six full-time PGA Tour members ranked in the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Those six players ' Phil Mickelson (No. 2), Ernie Els (3), Vijay Singh (6), David Duval (7), Davis Love III (8) and Hal Sutton (10) ' have combined for all of two tour victories this season.
Love won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, shooting 64 in the final round to earn a come-from-behind victory. And Mickelson defended his title at the Buick Invitational, doing so in a bizarre playoff.
Its not to say that the aforementioned have played poorly in 2001. In fact, its just the opposite.
The six players have combined for 19 top-five finishes.
Still, while Steve Stricker, Garrett Willis, Joe Durant, Scott McCarron and Jose Coceres have all found the winners circle this year; Els, Singh, Duval and Sutton have not.
All have had excellent chances to cash at least one first-place check.
Els finished in the top-4 in each of his first three starts this season.
After winning at Pebble, Love lost to Mickelson in the Buick playoff. In his next start, the Nissan Open, Love led by three shots entering the final round, only to shoot a Sunday 75 and finish in a tie for 8th.
The week before winning the Buick, Mickelson double bogeyed the 72nd hole at Pebble to finish in a tie for third. He then finished a shot back of Woods at the Bay Hill Invitational.
At the BellSouth Classic, the left-hander was within two shots of the 54-hole lead, but fired a final-round 75 to tie for third.
And at the Masters Tournament, Mickelson was on pace to win his first major for the better part of Sunday. But too many loose shots resulted in another third-place finish.
Duval and Sutton have both been hampered by injuries this year. Suttons bad back kept him out of contention early in the season. Hes since found his form, earning a pair of top-5s over his last four starts.
In the Genuity Classic at Doral, Sutton was just one shot off the 54-hole lead, but shot 72 in the final round to tie for third.
Duval missed over a months worth of action due to tendonitis in his right wrist. When he emerged at Augusta, Duval found himself in great shape to garner his first major title, but an errant 7-iron plus a missed five-footer equaled a runner-up finish.
Then theres Singh.
Despite finishing fourth or better in six of his ten starts this year, the Fijian has yet to record a win.
Three times ' the Mercedes Championships, Pebble Beach and The Players Championship ' Singh was within two strokes of the lead entering the final round. On each occasion, he failed to due what was necessary to win.
Last week, at the WorldCom Classic, Singh led by two shots after 54 holes. Yet he shot 74 on Sunday to tie for third.
Once again, opportunity arises for Singh, Sutton and Duval. The three men are the only players ranked inside the top 10 scheduled to compete in this weeks Shell Houston Open at the TPC at The Woodlands.
Duval won this event in 1998; Sutton is a two-time runner-up (1994, 99). Singh has three top-10 finishes in five career starts.
With their track records at The Woodlands ' combined with their consistent play this season ' it shouldnt come as a surprise if any, or all three, contend for the title this week.
Whether or not one of them can break through and win is a question which will take a full 72 holes to answer.
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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.”