Gore recalls 14-over 84 on Sunday at 2005 U.S. Open

By Rex HoggardJune 15, 2014, 5:00 pm

PINEHURST, N.C. – Jason Gore was spending Father’s Day in an Albuquerque, N.M., hotel, a stopping off point on a drive from his home in Los Angeles to Wichita, Kan., site of next week’s Air Capital Classic on the Web.com Tour.

Pack up the kids, a quick trip to Starbucks and the Gore family would be on their way, but not before a brief detour back to his first Father’s Day as a father in 2005.

Nine years ago, Gore spent this Sunday holed up in his hotel room at Pine Needles avoiding the television at all cost and trying desperately to take a nap.

“The hardest part about Sunday in 2005 was the 3:30 (p.m.) tee time,” recalled Gore, who began the final round of the 105th U.S. Open tied for second place and just three strokes behind pacesetter Retief Goosen.

“You kind of wanted to watch the telecast to see how it was playing but you didn’t want to watch because of everything that was going on and I wasn’t really comfortable with what was going on.”

What was going on was magical.

Five years removed from a solid college career at Pepperdine, Gore was still making his bones as a professional when he qualified for the ’05 Open, which would be just his second major start.

He opened with rounds of 71-67-72 to land himself a spot in Sunday’s final two-ball at his national championship. It was a made-for-television event and the inevitable media frenzy was almost as concerning as the thick rough that used to ring the No. 2 course at Pinehurst.

“I don’t know what I was expecting. That was the hardest part. Trying to find something to do but doing nothing,” he laughed.

The Cinderella story began to lose steam when Gore played his first three holes in 3 over par. It was the same score Goosen posted over his first three and the two would go on to shoot a combined 25 over par.

Gore would tie for 49th place, but it would be just the beginning of his dream summer.

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He would win three of his next four starts on the Web.com Tour to earn a promotion to the PGA Tour and in his fourth start as a card-carrying member in the big leagues he won the 84 Lumber Classic.

The player that was referred to by one scribe as “some Joe Bagadivots” had arrived, and to Gore it couldn’t have been possible without all that Pinehurst pain.

“I think I learned so much more about myself at that point,” Gore figured. “Going into it I knew I was never going to be faced with that again. I’d seen the (worst), even if I played in the final group at the U.S. Open again. I was in the final group a couple more times that summer and that was easy.”

The whirlwind of that final round has faded with time for Gore. He remembers sleeping well the night before, eating breakfast and the media maelstrom that awaited him.

“My wife asked me if I remembered when we walked out of the hotel and there were flash bulbs everywhere,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Do I look OK?’”

As Gore was preparing to get back on the road to Wichita the serendipity of Sunday’s leaderboard wasn’t lost on him. Erik Compton, the two-time heart transplant recipient who will begin the final turn at Pinehurst tied for second and five shots back, is this championship’s feel-good story.

“At least Compton is on Tour, he’s done well. He’s had his card several times,” Gore said. “I kind of came out as an 8 handicap coming into that week.”

Gore’s wife, Megan, has a much more vivid memory from that eventful final round, recalling with clarity every one of her husband’s 84 shots and a crowd that never gave up on the ultimate everyman.

“For me personally it was the roar of the crowd and how many people were still out there. The crowds didn’t go away,” Megan Gore said. “I went to the tallest person I could find and told him to narrate for us.”

Although nine years dull memories as well as scars, Gore does recall walking off the 16th green after his third consecutive bogey when Goosen, one of the circuit’s more aloof types, asked a seemingly random question.

“He asked if I ever played cricket? I said no but knew a little bit about the game,” Gore recalled. “He said, ‘We’d be playing a heck of a game of cricket as many overs as we have going.’ ”

Gore responded with a challenge to play a $5 match over the final two holes. “He lost it. It may have been the first time I’d ever seen him laugh,” Gore said.

Gore lost that match and the U.S. Open, but gained so much more – the confidence to go on and have one of the most dominant summers by a player not named Tiger Woods and the respect of golf fans everywhere.

As Gore walked off the 18th green, battered and bruised by Pinehurst, he was greeted by Megan and, at the time, his 8-month-old son, Jaxon. She told him she was proud of him.

“I remember walking off afterward and thinking that was awesome. We were disappointed, but it was a great week,” she said.

There is always a disconnect between results and reality in sport. Someone will likely have a “Gore” Sunday at Pinehurst today, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad day.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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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.”