Spieth motivated by Day's stranglehold on No. 1

By Rex HoggardMay 18, 2016, 7:15 pm

IRVING, Texas – With nine holes to play at last month’s Masters, the paradigm seemed to be swinging in Jordan Spieth’s direction with every confident swing.

With a five-stroke lead as he made the turn at the year’s first major, Spieth already had the metaphorical arm in another green jacket and a stranglehold on his third major championship.

With a victory, Spieth would have wrested back the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking from Jason Day and reestablished himself as the undisputed king of a game he was making look ridiculously easy.

Over the next three holes, that new dynamic unraveled shockingly quick. Bogeys at Nos. 10 and 11 set the stage for a quadruple bogey-7 at the par-3 12th hole that included not one but two shots into the depths of Rae’s Creek.

Since that implosion, Day has cemented his status as the game’s alpha male while Spieth has . . . well, struggled.

At Augusta National, Day’s advantage over world No. 2 Spieth was 1.37 average ranking points. That advantage has now been extended to 2.48 average points. To put that in context, Spieth could win his next two starts – this week at the AT&T Byron Nelson and next week at Colonial – and still not reclaim the top spot.

At the time, Spieth’s Masters meltdown was surprising, shocking even; but it was mitigated somewhat by his record and the fact he’d already made his first visit to Butler Cabin for the iconic winner’s ceremony in 2015.

There was solace in the fact that although he wasn’t the world’s best, that benchmark was only one good week away, but considering how the last few weeks have transpired, with Day winning his seventh title in his last 17 starts at last week’s Players, that warm blanket is no longer as comforting.

“There's some motivation there,” Spieth conceded on Tuesday. “[Day] is playing his game. He believes his game is better than anybody else's and he's on his game and so it is better than everyone else's . . . He's separated himself and that bothers me and it motivates me.”

That’s a Texas mile from where the game found itself just seven short months ago following Spieth’s historic season that included five Tour victories, two major championship triumphs and a FedEx Cup title.

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Spieth was the runaway winner of the 2015 Player of the Year voting despite Day’s season, which also included five victories, a major and two playoff triumphs.

On Wednesday at the Byron Nelson, however, there was no doubt who had taken control of the game.

“What Jason is doing is just dominant,” Ryan Palmer said “Seven wins in 17 starts, he’s overpowering golf courses like Tiger [Woods] used to.”

Spieth – whose record at TPC Four Seasons Resort since turning pro is less than stellar (his best finish as a Tour member was last year’s tie for 30th place) – can change that dynamic, much like he did last summer with his run through the major championship season.

But all things being equal, it’s hard to imagine Day going quietly back into a bit player role after his stellar start to the season.

Oakmont, widely considered the most challenging of all major championship venues, would fit more snuggly into Day’s wheelhouse, with his unique combination of power and precision.

The same could be said for Baltusrol, site of this year’s PGA Championship and the Memorial, where the duo will face each other next.

“Their games are so different,” Palmer said. “When they are both on they don’t miss many on the greens, but Jason will have the edge with his length.”

To be fair, Spieth has played just once since the Masters, and that didn’t go well with a missed cut last week at The Players. He also acknowledged that his swing has been off the last few weeks as he tries to initiate subtle changes to his action.

Asked if Spieth’s position in the world rankings behind Day is motivational, Colt Knost, who is spending the week staying at Spieth’s Dallas-area home, didn’t hesitate, “Absolutely,” he said.

“The kid is as determined as anyone I’ve seen,” Knost said. “He hasn’t played his best, but he has so much pressure on him, he’s only 22 years old. He will be fine.”

The expectations heaped on Spieth were always going to be difficult to deal with, but the pressure he places on himself is likely even greater and it certainly hasn’t been easy to watch the narrative swing so dramatically in another’s favor the last few weeks.

When he made the turn on Sunday at the Masters, the top rung was once again within his grasp. Five weeks later, the distance between where he is and where he wants to be is considerably further.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”