624th-ranked player leads Watson, Lee at U.S. Open

By Randall MellJune 16, 2016, 10:11 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. – PGA Tour rookie Andrew Landry looked as if he were going to make his first major championship appearance historic.

Bubba Watson looked poised to pick up where he left off the last time he played the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.

Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy just plain looked out of sorts.

But Thursday’s start of the year’s second major never fully came into focus with passing storms causing three suspensions of play before the USGA halted action for the day.

Just nine players completed the first round when the weather horns blew a final time at 3:51 p.m. Round 1 will resume Friday at 7:30 a.m.

The entire afternoon wave of 78 players, which included Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, never even reached the first tee. The first suspension was 1 hour and 19 minutes. The second was 2 hours and 26 minutes.

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“The U.S. Open is a test of patience,” Lee Westwood said. “This just adds to it. So try and get your head around it and make the best of it.”

Amateur Scottie Scheffler – the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur champion who just finished up his sophomore year at the University of Texas – is the leader in the clubhouse after posting a 1-under-par 69.

“The experience, I can't even describe it right now, but I didn't really let the magnitude of what's going on kind of get to me,” Scheffler said.

Landry, 28, leads the suspended round. The 624th-ranked player in the world is 3 under through 17 holes. He was lining up a 10-foot putt for birdie at the ninth hole, his last hole of the day, when play was halted.

With Oakmont softened by overnight rains, Landry took advantage with a hot start. At 5 under with five holes to go, he appeared poised to challenge the record 7-under-par 63 Johnny Miller shot in the final round at Oakmont Country Club when he won the U.S. Open in 1973. The second weather delay, however, cooled Landry off. He came back out and bogeyed his 16th and 17th holes of the day.

Watson, who finished fifth when the U.S. Open was last played at Oakmont in 2007, is at 2 under through 14 holes. Danny Lee, the 2008 U.S. Amateur champion and winner of last year’s Greenbrier Classic, is also at 2 under through 13 holes.

Westwood (13 holes), Kevin Streelman (16 holes) and Harris English (12 holes) are all at 1 under.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth was at 1 over through 11 holes.

“Completely different golf course than we played in the practice round,” Spieth said. “I mean, night and day.”

Fowler is at 6 over through 12 holes with McIlroy at 4 over through 13 holes.

Players were held in shelter on the course during the first suspension of more than an hour and didn’t get to warm up before returning.

“It's a challenge not being able to warm up, going out there and trying to hit tee shots at the U.S. Open, but it is what it is,” Spieth said.

Landry said the rain took some of the fierceness out of Oakmont’s famed greens.

“I think they stimped the greens at like 16 whenever I got here on Monday, which is absolutely crazy,” Landry said. “Now, obviously, they're a good speed, and they're so perfect out there. You can make so many putts.”

Watson made five birdies and three bogeys over his first 11 holes. He rolled in a delicate 50-foot downhill putt at the 10th for his final birdie before the suspension of play.

“I just kept fighting,” Watson said of rebounding from three bogeys. “You don't really think about the mistakes or the bogeys, because everybody's going to make bogeys out here. The golf course is that difficult.”

While Oakmont was softer, it was far from easy. Bryson DeChambeau was on the leaderboard at 3 under before making back-to-back double bogeys at his ninth and 10th holes.

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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.

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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.

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“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?

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“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.”