This Open looks like the last, with DJ, Spieth and Day

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2015, 4:46 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – There’s no need to adjust your televisions.

While Thursday’s action at the Open Championship may seem like a rerun, your programing is indeed live and original even though the only thing that has changed since last month’s U.S. Open is the arena, a lush and green Old Course compared to the brown and burnt out turf at Chambers Bay.

The cast, however, remains virtually unchanged; from Jordan Spieth, who won the U.S. Open, to Dustin Johnson, who lost the U.S. Open, to Jason Day, who gained a legion of fans for his gutsy performance last month as he battled the lingering effects of benign positional vertigo.

“I know. That's amazing, isn't it? Bloody hell, they just won't go away,” Day laughed after an opening-round 66 left him tied for second place, a stroke behind Johnson.

“Right now it's good excitement for the game of golf with how things are going. It's kind of extended on from the U.S. Open with Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth where they are right now, so it's going to be an exciting three days coming up.”

Spieth was another shot behind Day after a perfect opening loop that included seven hit fairways, nine greens in regulation, no bogeys, five birdies and just 14 putts that added up to a 5-under 31.

It’s nearly a perfect copy of the leaderboard after Round 1 at last month’s U.S. Open, where Johnson opened with a 65 for the early lead followed by Spieth and Day tied for seventh, three strokes back.


Open Championship tracker: Day 1

Open Championship full-field scores


The differences are the stage and the situation, with Spieth fresh off back-to-back major victories and looking to become just the second player to win the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship in the same season.

The only question as a wet and windy 54 holes loom is whether the outcome will follow the script from Chambers Bay, where Johnson three-putted from 13 feet at the last to finish a stroke behind Spieth?

The way Johnson played on Thursday, which is being billed as the calm before Friday’s literal storm, a sequel seems unlikely. Just ask Spieth.

“If [Johnson] keeps driving it the way he is, then I'm going to have to play my best golf to have a chance,” he said after spending the better part of five hours grouped with the bomber on Day 1.

“It's hard to argue with somebody who's splitting bunkers at about 380 yards and just two-putting for birdie on five or six of the holes when there's only two par 5s.”

Not that the 21-year-old was conceding the claret jug to Johnson just yet. As humble as Spieth is he bristled when asked if he thought he could beat Johnson. “Yeah, I think I can. If I didn't, I would go ahead and walk off and take a flight back home tomorrow,” he said.

Considering the forecast for the next two days, which calls for heavy rain and winds that will gust to 35 mph, and his historic fortunes at Grand Slam events, it’s far too early for the engraver to start etching Johnson’s name into the claret jug.

What’s equally as certain is if Johnson comes up short again it won’t be due to any lingering baggage he picked up at Chambers Bay.

“Nothing bad happened at Chambers Bay. I wasn’t disappointed, really,” he figured. “I don’t really dwell in the past too much. You can’t really change it, so there’s no reason to worry about it.”

It almost seemed like an unsavory dig that R&A officials grouped Johnson with Spieth for the first two rounds this week (with Hideki Matsuyama in tow), but given the U.S. Open runner-up’s aversion to fits of nostalgia it doesn’t seem to have had an impact.

In fact, the move may have worked against Spieth, who averaged 286 yards off the tee on Thursday and spent the day some 40 yards behind Johnson (who averaged 322 yards from the launching pad).

On the par-5 fifth hole, for example, Spieth found himself more than 60 yards behind Johnson, who hit 7-iron to 10 feet for an eagle, yet still finished the day just two shots back.

It’s a testament to the Old Course’s agelessness that the two leading men arrived in red figures via vastly different routes.

While few, if any, can match Johnson’s firepower, Spieth is at peace with his divergent approach to the game if not his own considerable abilities.

“I've played enough golf with him to where I believe in my skill set that I can still trump that crazy ability that he has,” Spieth said. “I expect when he stands on the tee it's going to be up there miles down the fairway. I also expect that I can birdie each hole when I stand on the tee. It just happens to be a little different route.”

While familiarity may breed contempt, the competitive odd couple seemed to enjoy their stroll around the ancient links, to say nothing of the duo’s familiar position atop the leaderboard.

As one would imagine, there was not a lot of talk about Chambers Bay on Thursday between Spieth and Johnson.

“No chat about the U.S. Open at all other than talking about the differences in the course here and there,” Spieth said.

For at least one day at the Open Championship, the drastic differences between the Old Course and Chambers Bay were the only things that distinguished the two majors. Whether that distinction remains through Sunday is what makes this major so compelling.

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.