Putnam qualifies for trip home to Chambers Bay

By Rex HoggardJune 9, 2015, 2:20 am

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Each morning, Dan Putnam awakes and follows the well-worn path from his house in University Place, Wash., and around the former gravel pit and back home. All in, it’s a 4 1/2-mile journey.

In two weeks, the same journey along the shores of the Puget Sound will be a much more meaningful stroll.

On Monday at the U.S. Open sectional qualifying site in Columbus, Putnam’s son, PGA Tour player Michael, completed a circular journey of his own, scorching the course at the Lakes Golf & Country Club with an 8-under 64 for a share of medalist honors and a spot in the field at Chambers Bay, the links-like layout that frames those daily walks for Dan Putnam.

Putnam was born in Tacoma, Wash., and now lives in University Place, about a mile and half away from Chambers Bay. In fact, he was the first to play the Robert Trent Jones Jr. design and boasts that he briefly held the course record.

“I shot 70,” Putnam smiled. “Maybe that’s why they made it harder.”

But for Putnam, that 70 couldn’t compare to his afternoon round on Monday at the annual 36-hole marathon for U.S. Open hopefuls. After an early bogey at No. 2, he played his final 16 holes in 9 under, including an eagle at the par-5 third and three consecutive birdies starting at the 14th hole.

Putnam finished at 12-under 132 and tied with Sam Saunders, who carded matching rounds of 66 to earn his second start at the U.S. Open, for medalist honors.

Considering USGA executive director Mike Davis’ comments that players would need extra preparation to compete at this year’s championship, Putnam jokingly figured himself an early favorite.

“Apparently I’m going to win because I’ve played it more than anyone else,” laughed Putnam, who estimated he’s played Chambers Bay 40 times.

Full results: U.S. Open sectional qualifying

Putnam will also have the advantage of having his brother, Joel, caddying for him at the U.S. Open. Joel Putnam worked at Chambers Bay as a caddie and has looped more than 500 rounds on the rolling course.

He will be joined at the year’s second major by Bryson Dechambeau, the NCAA individual champion who held the lead for much of the day after making birdie at five of his first six holes in his afternoon round, but cooled following an hour and a half weather delay.

“I got off to a hot start and that kind of propelled me,” said Dechambeau, who carded rounds of 66-67 to tie for third place with David Hearn. “I knew my game was good enough, it was just about believing and trusting myself.”

Putnam also struggled with the delay with players at the Lakes course unable to warm up before play resumed, but at least he avoided the five-players-for-three-spots playoff at Brookside Golf & Country Club that lasted past 9:30 p.m.

D.A. Points, Robert Streb, Alex Cejka, Kevin Chappell and Danny Lee finished tied for 13th place at 7 under par. At the first extra hole, Brookside’s par-4 opener, Cejka needed five strokes to reach the green and was eliminated.

After trading pars at the second extra hole, No. 9 at Brookside, the group returned to No. 1 where Chappell three-putted for bogey, missing his par attempt from 1 1/2 feet, and will be the Columbus site’s first alternate. 

The group finished the event in almost complete darkness after all four players agreed to play on. 

But then it could have been much worse. Monday’s forecast in Columbus called for an 80 percent chance of severe thunderstorms throughout the day and players arrived for their first-round tee times braced for a long day.

“I told myself, ‘Man, you need to get off to a good start because this might be an 18-hole deal,’” said Bo Van Pelt, who finished tied with five players at 8 under to earn his ninth trip to the U.S. Open. “We weren’t sure how much we’d get in.”

The foreboding forecast prompted many players (28) to withdraw before play began on Monday, and after the weather warning horn sounded at 4:45 p.m. (ET) another 39 bolted.

For a handful of those who did challenge the woeful forecast and a long day, however, the reward is a trip to Chambers Bay. For Putnam, it’s a trip home.

“This has got to be up with one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” Putnam said.

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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.

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.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“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.”