Bunker Shots No Sleeping on World Cup

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2009, 10:36 pm

Blasting to China and the World Cup in a quiet week of tour golf . . .

The Americans will be trying to win for the first time in nine years at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in Shenzhen, China.

Two-man teams from 28 nations will tee it up in the 55th staging of the competition beginning Thursday (All four rounds air on Golf Channel Wednesday-Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET).

Nick Watney and John Merrick will represent the United States.

This event used to be a big deal for Americans. There have been some dynamic U.S. pairings over the years. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer teamed up to win it four times in the 1960s. Palmer and Sam Snead won it twice. Ben Hogan and Snead teamed to win it once. Nicklaus was a part of six victories, pairing up with Johnny Miller in a victory and Lee Trevino in another.

The most formidable duo might have been Fred Couples and Davis Love III, who teamed to win the World Cup four consecutive years (1992-95), the longest winning streak by a duo in the event’s history.

U.S. teams have won the World Cup 23 times, more than any other nation, but the Americans haven’t won it since 2000, when Tiger Woods paired with David Duval. Woods also won it in ’99 with Mark O’Meara.

With the nature of golf’s scheduling altered, the World Cup isn’t the priority it used to be. The fact that 11 Americans passed on the chance to play before Nick Watney accepted brings that point home. Woods, Phil Mickelson, Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Sean O’Hair, Anthony Kim, Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink and Ben Curtis all passed on chances. As the highest ranked American accepting, Watney got to pick his partner. The world rankings are used to set the top 18 teams in the field. China gets a team as the host. The rest of the nations played their way in through qualifying.

The format features fourballs (best ball) on Thursday and Saturday and foursomes (alternate shot) on Friday and Sunday. There’s $1.7 million as the payoff for the winners ($850,000 to each player).

Just three of the top 10 players in the world are competing with No. 7 Henrik Stenson, No. 8 Sergio Garcia and No. 10 Rory McIlroy in the field. Notably, McIlroy jumped into the top 10 for the first time with his third-place finish Sunday at the Dubai World Championship. He joins Garcia as the youngest players to have cracked the top 10. Garcia also was 20 when he first did it.

The Swedish team of Stenson and Robert Karlsson are defending champs. McIlroy is teaming with Graeme McDowell for Northern Ireland. Garcia will play with Spanish teammate Gonzalo Fernandez-Costano. England features the only tandem with both players among the top 20 in the world. No. 13 Ian Poulter and No. 20 Ross Fisher are paired.

Stance: With the PGA Tour season officially over, Q-School resuming next week for its final stage, the Race to Dubai complete and the LPGA season over, it’s the quietest week this year in tour golf. The World Cup isn’t what it used to be, a mere hors d’oeuvre on the golf plate this Thanksgiving week, but there are enough familiar names and a compelling format to keep us interested.

Takeaway: With so much attention sure to be focused on McIlroy, Watney gets another chance to distinguish himself as one of the game’s up-and-coming players, though he’ll need help from Merrick in this team format. When Watney won the Buick Invitational in February and followed up with a second-place finish to Mickelson at the WGC-CA Championship and a tie for fourth behind Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Watney looked ready to step up in class before cooling off the rest of the way. He had one top 10 after March on the PGA Tour season but warmed up with a fifth-place finish at the HSBC Champions in China two weeks ago.

Bunker shot: McIlroy didn’t win the Dubai World Championship last weekend or the Race to Dubai, but he finished off an impressive year in Europe and the United States. He won the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this season, finished second in the Race to Dubai and logged top 10s at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. When you’re sorting the list of promising young talent, McIlroy has to sit at the top by virtue of his performances in the world’s biggest events.

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.