Golf goes on, but Tiger saga won't go away

By Nick MentaMay 31, 2017, 7:49 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Outside the clubhouse at Muirfield Village sits a very large rock bearing the names of every winner in the 40-year history of the Memorial Tournament.

It’s a list that starts with Roger Maltbie in 1976 and ends with William McGirt in 2016.

In the middle, on five separate inscriptions, is the name Tiger Woods.

For years, Woods dominated the Memorial, claiming victory and posing with Jack Nicklaus on Sunday a record five times. Woods is the all-time money winner at this event, racking up more than $5 million in earnings.

And once again this week, as in so many years past, Woods is the biggest story.

Of course this time, golf has nothing to do with it.

Woods early Monday again rocked the sports world with a mugshot that represented a new low in what’s been a stunning fall from grace.

When Woods so much as sneezes, it qualifies as news in golf circles. So when he’s cited for DUI, the air comes out of the room.

There is a tournament to be played this week at Muirfield, a good one, too. Seven of the top 10 players in the world are here just two weeks before the second major of the year.

Jason Day is here trying to find balance in his life after aiding his mother in her fight with cancer. Dustin Johnson is looking to regain the form that saw him win three consecutive events before he injured his back at the Masters. Jordan Spieth is coming off a runner-up finish at Colonial one week after trying out a new putter and is somehow flying under the radar. There are storylines aplenty.

And yet, as much as golf has moved on from Woods’ era of dominance, his is the only name that transcends the game. And the slow but steady trickle of updates coming out of the Jupiter Police Department is keeping fans and media members’ attentions rapt.

Woods’ colleagues on Tour have spent the early week mostly discussing the states of their games, save for the time they’ve spent less-than-eagerly discussing Woods.

When asked about the situation Tuesday, Day appeared frustrated that he hadn’t dodged the question and then saddened at his friend’s plight, saying that it was “tough to see Woods go through this.”

Adam Scott thought for a second and didn’t look all that comfortable talking about it while offering that he was “just surprised and I guess a bit saddened to see that. I don’t ... we should all – I don’t know all the details about it, but hopefully it’s not a worse problem than it is.”

A day earlier, Jack Nicklaus called for support for Woods, and Dustin Johnson in an interview offered his thoughts and prayers.

No doubt, once play gets underway here Thursday, the focus will return to golf. Should a Spieth or a Day or a DJ walk up the 18th fairway Sunday afternoon to a standing ovation, discussions will return to how a litany of young talents have banded together to take up Tiger’s mantle. The same thing will happen in two weeks at the U.S. Open.

But no matter how good a story golf provides, Tiger is going to keep looming large, new details will continue to emerge. The dash cam video is coming. The results of his urine test will follow. There will be an arraignment, and court proceedings will proceed from there. And as in the past, there will be updates – real or fabricated – on his health, recovery, and future as an athlete.

For those reasons, Woods is going to continue to exist in a parallel universe. We’ve arrived at a point where there are stories about golf, and there are stories about Tiger, and those two topics seem increasingly unrelated. Only once before was that dynamic as clear as it has been this week at the Memorial. But in 2009, when he dented up a different black SUV, Tiger Woods was still Tiger Woods. There was a surreal quality to the headlines back then. While the last few days have offered a look at a different kind of trouble, each successive setback in his personal life is proving progressively less surreal, progressively more believable when it comes to light.

The game will move on in the way it already has. DJ, Day, Spieth, Rory McIlroy and the like will carry the torch and borrow from the best parts of “Tiger Woods, The Golfer” to great success.

But Tiger is going to continue along in his own bubble, largely disconnected from the game he ruled. Until Woods makes a successful return, until he makes headlines for his play on the course, he’ll be a story unto himself.

Perhaps the most revealing comments about Woods' current relationship to the PGA Tour came from last week's champion Kevin Kisner. A two-time Tour winner who has finished runner-up six times in the last three seasons. Kisner was asked on Tuesday how well he knows Woods.

"Never met him," he answered.

As each new detail filters out over the coming days and weeks, Woods’ name will stay in the conversation. But each time one of his peers has to stop discussing his game to address whatever is going on with Tiger, the disconnect between Woods' life and professional golf will grow wider.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.