Ko's streak ends with layup into lake

By Randall MellApril 4, 2015, 2:05 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lydia Ko’s streak of sub-par rounds ended Friday in head-scratching disappointment.

Needing a birdie at the 18th hole to break the modern-day LPGA record for consecutive rounds under par, Ko hit her attempt to lay up too far at the ANA Inspiration. She knocked it into the water in front of the green and ended up making bogey, ending her streak at 29.

Ko, 17, shares the record with Annika Sorenstam.

“It was so cool that I was tied with someone amazing and as great as Annika,” Ko said. “I was like, 'Man, I would love to reach 30 in a way.' But as I said, I'm relieved that this question is not going to be asked. I think 29 is pretty good in my book.”

With that closing bogey, Ko shot 73, leaving her seven shots off the lead.

Unhappy with her driving all day, Ko made a frustrating pass at her tee shot at the par-5 finishing hole, flaring it out to the right.

After finding her tee shot in the rough, Ko huddled with her caddie, Jason Hamilton. They calculated she had 160 yards to the end of the fairway, 190 yards to the water. She wanted to hit her layup 150 yards, to leave herself 10 yards short of the end of the fairway. That would leave her 85 yards to the flagstick, the layup yardage she really wanted.

Ko caught a flier.


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“I just hit a three-quarter 6-iron, and I would have never guessed that I was going to hit a 6-iron 190, not even if I was Lexi [Thompson],” Ko said. “So, obviously, that was the wrong club at the end of the day.”

Hamilton said Ko asked him if a 6-iron could reach the water.

“It shouldn’t,” Hamilton said he told her.

Ko and Hamilton both thought even if she caught a flier, the rough would stop the shot from reaching the water. Afterward, Hamilton said he regretted not being more forceful about the trouble a 6-iron could bring.

Ko couldn’t believe the big bounce her layup took when it hit the fairway, and that it ran so hard into the water.

The drama was over after Ko took a penalty drop and failed to hole a wedge for birdie from the fairway.

“I believe the story has a full stop to it,” Ko said.

Ko hit just six fairways in the round, uncharacteristically errant for the Rolex world No. 1. Still, she scrambled all day to give herself chances. She watched a 15-foot birdie putt agonizingly go halfway into the cup before horseshoeing out at the 13th hole. She just missed a 10-footer for birdie at the 17th.

“I just really couldn't get my driver going, and when you're in that kind of position, it's not easy around this course,” Ko said.

The streak may be over, but Ko still has a chance to set another record this weekend. With a bounce back on Saturday, Ko can give herself a chance Sunday to become the youngest winner of a major championship. She’ll be 17 years, 11 months and 12 days old on Sunday.

“Hopefully, I’ll get my tee shots together,” Ko said.

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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.


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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.”