Spieth returns to Valspar with formula for success

By Rex HoggardMarch 9, 2016, 6:35 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Since the last time this slice of west Florida coastline saw Jordan Spieth he’s celebrated his 22nd birthday, collected a six-pack of PGA Tour titles, two majors and a FedEx Cup high card.

But then the Cliffs Notes version of Spieth’s year since the 2015 Valspar Championship really doesn’t do the world No. 1 justice.

The boyish smile and easy way remain the same, but there is a toughness to Spieth that might have been there before, but it certainly wasn’t as obvious.

“For me now and the biggest pressure moments, the negative thoughts have started to dwindle out of your head, the stuff that wants to creep in,” Spieth said. “When I think back on it that's what's kind of started to go away, and it's more, 'There's the line I need to hit it on. Here is the shot.'”

There will be those who will say last year’s Valspar Championship and his playoff duel with Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair was the beginning of that metamorphosis, but the truth is Spieth’s trial by fire started long before his victory at Innisbrook.

It was born from his runner-up showing at the 2014 Masters after taking a share of the lead into the final round, and his Sunday swoon at the ’14 Players (74) after sharing the 54-hole lead.

“2014 was a rough year on the PGA Tour until the end of the year because every time I was in that situation you know, there were a few good shots, but at the end of the day I wasn't holding the trophy,” he said.

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In a lot of ways Spieth’s 2016 season looks a lot like it did at this point last year.

Last year at this juncture, Spieth had three top-10s but no victories – although his unofficial 10-stroke romp at the Hero World Challenge was worth official style points – a missed cut, $845,795 in earnings and was ranked 10th in the world.

So far in 2016, he has two top-10s, a victory (Hyundai Tournament of Champions), a missed cut, $1.528 million in earnings and holds a sizable lead in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“I've actually been off to a better start in 2016 than I was in 2015. I'm in a better place right now,” he said. “Obviously the last few PGA Tour events weren't up to par with how we were doing before, but I'm looking at it from we've already won this year, now it's time to build this momentum right into this major.”

The biggest difference between ’15 and this week may have transpired on Wednesday during Spieth’s news conference at Innisbrook. Last year in the wake of his runner-up showing at Augusta National in 2014 he was asked just two Masters questions.

On Wednesday the lion’s share of his 25-minute Q&A with the media was focused on the year’s first major, with seven of the 18 questions Spieth answered having something to do with the Masters.

A green jacket can do that.

But Spieth’s transformation over the last 12 months goes well beyond his impressive wardrobe.

He’s learned how to deal with success as well as failure, which might have been a more difficult mountain to climb.

After his eight-stroke victory in Maui to start the year, Spieth allowed himself to lapse into a form of competitive complacency, to believe that somehow every week should be that easy.

But reality crashed in at the Northern Trust Open where he missed the cut and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he tied for 21st. By the time he arrived at Doral for last week’s World Golf Championship the adjustment had already been made.

“The four tournaments that I played in between Hawaii and Doral, I certainly think the expectations that I put on myself were too high because of Hawaii. I kind of needed to dial it back a little bit,” Spieth said.

Twelve months after taking that competitive leap forward at Innisbrook, Spieth is clearly a better player, if not a perfect player.

For all his accomplishments in 2015, Spieth’s work ethic is beginning to appear even more impressive, as evidenced by two practice sessions sandwiched around a nine-hole practice round on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday he talked of improving his putting and shoring up his wedge play before he gets to Augusta National.

But then it’s not those bits and pieces that make Spieth a different player today than he was 12 months ago. What has coalesced since last year’s Valspar Championship is much less subtle and virtually unquantifiable.

“It's a different feeling than certainly the past couple years,” Spieth said. “It's a good feeling. Just builds more and more confidence. I feel like instead of trying to get in contention and then test out how to close, now we have a formula to be able to close out tournaments.”

It turns out it’s not Spieth’s competitive form that’s so impressive, it’s his formula.

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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.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1