Bethpage Black Ballpark

By Rex HoggardApril 22, 2009, 4:00 pm
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USGA logo - 100x41Seems fitting that the same year the New York Yankees packed up their balls and bats and all those ghosts and moved into the new house across the street from the house that Babe Ruth built, the golf world would return to the citys other sporting cathedral.
In some ways, the 2009 version of Bethpage Black ' which Tiger Woods referred to as a big ballpark earlier this week ' will be akin to the new Yankee Stadium, that is to say bigger. The U.S. Golf Association and architect Rees Jones have quietly added 203 yards to the layout since 2002. Whether the added real-estate will make for a tougher test will depend largely on the weather the third week of June and the wherewithal of Mike Davis, the USGAs top set-up man.
The Bethpage Open will be Davis third championship as the associations top set-up man and the unassuming man from Far Hills, N.J., has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt following widely heralded stops at Oakmont in 2007 and last year at Torrey Pines.
Players may worry when they see a Black course that can be stretched past 7,400 yards, spooky stuff considering that Woods was the only player to finish under par the last time the Open was played at the games most public major venue. But Davis and Jones look at the nip/tucks and see options.
Its a lot of little stuff that means a lot, Jones said. I reacted to what Mike wanted which was more tee options and more opportunities for accessible pin positions. It makes the pros think more.
Jones said the course will probably not play longer than 7,300 yards, noting that Davis had some 7,600 yards of prime SoCal real-estate at Torrey Pines last year but didnt approach that distance during the championship. For its part the USGA normally doesnt tip its hand so far in advance of a championship, but even Davis concedes that just because he has 200 more yards to work with doesnt mean he will use it.
Were trying to mix teeing grounds up. Whether it plays a yard longer than it did in 2002, I doubt it, Davis said.
The new scorecard may scream more ' with new or extended tees at nine holes including an additional 51 yards at the 13th hole, 42 yards at the ninth and 36 yards at the seventh (the fourth-toughest hole in 02) ' but players will likely be pleasantly surprised to learn there also will be more fairway, more options and more scoring opportunities awaiting them at the years second major.
Davis said that at least one of the biggest concerns from the 02 Open was the carry to the 10th and 12th fairways. As a result, the fairway at the 10th has been moved 40 yards closer to the tee and he said the USGA will adjust the tee at the 12th depending on the conditions.
If its a cold, wet week we could have a new teeing ground that we never use, Davis said. The changes are not huge but Id like to think we made the course more playable.
The fairway at the seventh hole, a demanding par 4, may be the best example of the more user-friendly Bethpage. For this years championship the fairway will be twice as wide, from about 24 yards across to almost 50 yards, and a new tee box will create a different angle that will allow players to be more aggressive.
We are going to give you a beast of a hole but were going to give you some room to play it, Davis said.
Maybe the only thing that will be missing from the Bethpage set up will be the now-signature driveable par 4, a Davis staple at Oakmont (No. 17) and Torrey Pines (No. 14).
The 16th (at Bethpage) could have been the only place we could have a driveable par 4, but it just wouldnt have worked, Jones said. As Davis put it, we wont force it.
Davis even hand and penchant for late-round pyrotechnics aside, he counts the 2008 Open as a perfect storm that combined an ailing Woods, affable Rocco Mediate and flawless weather, more so than a layout that was set up for speed as well as comfort, as the primary reason last years championship may go down as one of the most memorable majors.
Perhaps, but then it was Davis push to play the South Courses finishing hole as a reachable par 5, instead of a rigorous par 4, that provided a fitting stage for that all-star cast.
While Bethpages finishing line would never lend itself to closing eagles the way Torrey Pines 18th did, A.W. Tillinghast would have none of that, but that doesnt mean Davis and Jones dont have options.
There will be a lot of excitement at 18 because its a swing hole, Jones predicts. Just take a look at what happened at Augusta National last week.
Prior to the 2002 championship, Jones may have been the first to dub the event the Peoples Open. Listening to Jones and Davis talk about this years tournament, the 2009 edition may go down as the Options Open.
Hole0209Difference02 rank
No. 32322052712th
No. 547845127Fifth
No. 752548936Fourth
No. 821023020Eighth
No. 94184604215th
No. 1049250816Third
No. 124995045Second
No. 135546055117th
No. 1647949011Sixth

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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.”