Ko-Henderson could turn into historic rivalry

By Randall MellJuly 6, 2016, 9:00 pm

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – It’s tempting to expect too much too fast in their budding rivalry, but . . . 

Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson are delivering more than golf fans can fairly expect faster than they can ask for it.

They’re delivering great moments earlier than any players in the history of the game.

Ko became the youngest owner of a major championship title when she won the Evian Championship last fall at 18 years, 4 months and 20 days old. Henderson became the second youngest winner when she took the title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last month at 18 years, 9 months and 2 days old. If either wins the U.S. Women’s Open this week to keep the teenager sweep of this year’s majors going, she will be the youngest winner in the history of this championship.

“I always say things are going so much faster than I would ever have dreamed or imagined,” Ko said.

Together, Ko and Henderson delivered one of the greatest finishes in the history of the women’s game when Henderson chased down Ko at the Women’s PGA and then beat her in a playoff.

So now that Ko is No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and Henderson is No. 2, are they ready to begin delivering women’s golf its best rivalry since Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb began battling for the game’s biggest prizes back in the ‘90s?

Are Ko and Henderson good enough together to reprise their Women’s PGA Championship duel at CordeValle Golf Club this week?

Though they are grouped together with Lexi Thompson in the first two rounds this week, neither is biting on projecting anything beyond the first tee shot that awaits them Thursday morning.

“I'm definitely a lot more confident coming into this week at World No. 2 and knowing that I've won a major championship,” Henderson said. “But that doesn't really mean anything when I tee it up on Thursday. I have to have two solid rounds to make the cut, and then to climb up the leaderboard on the weekend.”


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Yes, it’s too early to begin calling Ko and Henderson rivals, but the show they put on at the Women’s PGA makes for a nice foundation to launch one. Of course, these things can’t be forced or manufactured. They evolve with intensifying competition for the game’s biggest prizes.

Ko’s record is already so impressive, with 13 LPGA titles before her 20th birthday, two of them majors. Henderson seems in a hurry to catch up. Her victory at the Cambia Portland Classic last weekend was her third LPGA title. She turns 19 in September.

Henderson was asked if she looks at Ko as a rival.

“Lydia is an inspiration to all of us girls out here, and I think everyone in the world, basically,” Henderson said. “She has done amazing things in her career and she's only a couple months older than I am. We're just trying to kind of chase after her. She showed us a lot of things that are possible.

“She will always have a lot of respect from me, but that doesn't mean I don't want to beat her. That doesn't mean I don't want to go out there and have four solid rounds of golf. And I hope we do have a lot of playoffs together for Major Championship wins, like we did a couple of weeks ago, that means I'm playing really well and that means she's playing really well. So that's what I'm kind of hoping for.”

Henderson is making her fourth start in a U.S. Women’s Open. She tied for 10th two years ago and tied for fifth last year.

Ko is making her fifth start in a U.S. Women’s Open. Her tie for 12th last year was her best finish in the event.

What does Ko think of Henderson?

“Brooke is a really great player,” Ko said. “We all know what an amazing talent she has. But the thing is that she has such great personality and she's super nice. That's why we always love watching somebody like her play well. And our age gap, we were both born in 1997, so it's not like I'm miles older than she is.

“She’s an aggressive player, but at the same time she's smart. I think she's one of the most confident putters out there, too.”

Henderson, who jumped to No. 2 in the world with her victory at Sahalee, is still almost six whopping points behind Ko in the world ranking average. She won’t be overtaking Ko for No. 1 even with a victory this week. Nobody’s going to be overtaking Ko anytime soon, but Ko knows she’s the target.

“I don't necessarily think about it when I'm out there practicing, thinking, `Hey, I need to hit one more ball to beat Brooke,’” Ko said. “At the end of the day, all I can do is try my best, work on my own golf. And I think that's all you can do.”

If golf’s fortunate, Ko and Henderson will be asked a lot about each other in the coming years.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1