Pros and Cons

By Mercer BaggsAugust 29, 2001, 4:00 pm
As the more familiar names in golf continue inch closer to the Senior PGA Tour, a host of amateur all-stars are consistently joining the professional ranks.
 
Last week, Bryce Molder, 22, and Luke Donald, 23, made their pro debuts at the Reno-Tahoe Open. This week, a trio of others will do the same at the Air Canada Championship.
 
Jeff Quinney, James Driscoll and Erik Compton are leaving behind their days of playing purely for fun.
 
Now, theyre playing for profit.
 
All three competed in last weeks U.S. Amateur Championship. Quinney, 22, lost in the quarterfinals; Driscoll, 23, in the third round; and Compton, 21, failed to qualify for match play.
 
Meanwhile, Molder and Donald skipped the Amateur to pursue their professional dreams.
 
Though highly criticized by many, both felt quite comfortable with their decisions. In fact, while Donald missed the cut in Reno, Molder finished in third place and earned $204,000.
 
The professional ranks are saturated with former amateur stars. Some of which burn brightly, many of which fade away.
 
All of the aforementioned greenhorns have impressive resumes. Quinney defeated Driscoll to win the 2000 U.S. Amateur. Compton, who underwent a heart transplant nearly ten years ago, is a second-team All-American from the University of Georgia.
 
Molder is a four-time All-America selection from Georgia Tech. And Donald is a former NCAA champion at Northwestern.
 
Still, amateur aptitude doesnt guarantee professional success.
 
For every David Gossett ' the 1999 U.S. Amateur champion who won last months John Deere Classic, there are hundreds of Hank Kuehnes ' the 1998 U.S. Amateur champion who is treading water on the mini tours.
 
Even Gossett can attest to the struggles in evolving into a professional player. Before his maiden triumph, the 22-year-old missed nine of his first ten cuts on tour.
 
Fellow 22-year-old Charles Howell III can relate. This year, the 2000 NCAA champion has earned over $1 million; though, hes had to do so as a special temporary member of the PGA Tour.
 
But, the fact is, Gossett and Howell have had success. And thats all a potential pro sees.
 
When a collegiate leaves early to play with the big boys, it hardly registers anymore; players have been doing so for decades.
 
But now, with a lucrative lure, players are forgoing college, altogether.Kevin Na and Ty Tryon, a pair of teenagers, have announced their intentions to turn pro ' prior to finishing high school.
 
Na, a 17-year-old Korean living in California, is entering his senior year in high school. Tryon, a 17-year-old in Orlando, Fla., has just started his junior year.
 
Both have said they will complete their secondary education while pursuing a professional career.
 
Tryon made the cut in each of the two tour events he has played in 2001 - the Honda Classic and the B.C. Open. Na missed the cut in the Buick Invitational.
 
When a player turns professional, the PGA Tour grants him seven sponsors exemptions in order to try and earn his card for the following season.
 
Compton, Quinney and Driscoll begin their treks this week at the Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey, BC.
 
There is, however, a great difference between Quinney and Driscoll, and Compton.
 
Compton still has two years of eligibilty left in college. Quinney and Driscoll have already graduated.
 
Experience, no matter how miniscule, is maginfied on the PGA Tour. The more you have, the more it helps.
 
Think about the recent number of players who have won less than a year after leaving college - Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Scott Hoch and Gossett come to mind.
 
That's about it.
 
And think about the quality of player just mentioned. Four of the five will represent the United States in the upcoming Ryder Cup.
 
The road from amateur to professional is, at best, filled with stones. But in the rush to fame in fortune, there is apparently no time like the present.
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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.”