Spieth's recent stretch demands comparison to Woods

By Rex HoggardJanuary 10, 2016, 2:19 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – As one player spoke with a gaggle of reporters following his round on Friday, a celebration erupted from the ninth green just down the hill at Kapalua.

“That’s the boy,” the player mused with a healthy dose of awe.

“The boy” was Jordan Spieth, the PGA Tour’s 22-year-old wunderkind who continues to surprise despite a resume that already includes two major bottle caps and a half dozen victories. His eagle at the par-5 ninth on Friday vaulted him into a commanding lead at the 2016 lid lifter and he’s really not looked back since.

The boy wonder set out on a windswept Saturday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions with four-stroke advantage and picked up three consecutive birdies starting at the fourth before dropping his first shot of 2016, a bogey that was the result of a wicked bounce in a bunker on No. 8.

“I started out the day with just kind of an off range session. I wasn't feeling great,” said Spieth, who closed with a 65 for a 25 under total. “[Nos.] 8 through 11 was a tough stretch for me striking the ball. But we still played those holes 1 over when it could have been worse. We made up for it.”

But even when Spieth gives the field a glimmer of hope it’s starting to feel like borrowed time.

Following his bogey at No. 8, Spieth also failed to birdie the par-5 ninth and Brooks Koepka picked up two shots with birdies at the 14th and 15th holes to cut the lead to one shot.

Spieth’s answer was quick and undeniably clear, a birdie putt at No. 12 from Oahu (actually it was 46 feet) that dropped with a sheepish grin and innocent shrug followed by two more birdies at Nos. 14 and 15.

Despite a charging effort from Koepka, who posted with a 10-under 63 in the week’s toughest conditions, Spieth maintained a healthy advantage to fuel his burgeoning aura.

Comparisons with Tiger Woods and his dominance have all turned out to be wildly unfounded. There have been Tiger-like performances in recent years (see McIlroy, Rory 2014) and Tiger-ish seasons (Spieth 2015), but sustained preeminence is hard.

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Spieth’s last 10 months, however, demand comparisons to Woods at his best, no matter how unfair they seem.

Since winning last year’s Valspar Championship in March he has five Tour victories, including career-defining triumphs at the Masters and U.S. Open.

Along the way he added five runner-up finishes and a FedEx Cup title. By any definition, that is Tiger-like.

It’s etched into the leaderboard and the faces of his frat brothers every time he converts a crucial putt, like his 9-footer for eagle at the last to close his round on Saturday for a five-stroke advantage.

“I know what it feels like to be Jordan Spieth now, I guess, shooting 10 under every round,” Koepka laughed.

Spieth’s name atop a leaderboard may not be worth a half a stroke a side like some say it was for Woods once upon a time, but there is no denying that his continued excellence is starting to inch its way into the collective psyche.

“I tell you what, you can't make a lot of mistakes,” said Brandt Snedeker, whose 65 on Saturday was his best card in 14 trips around the Plantation Course but still left him nine shots back.

“I played a couple practice rounds with him this week and he just hits so many quality golf shots. And when he doesn't, his short game is so good he doesn't make any bogeys.”

Whether this is the new normal remains to be seen, and to be historically accurate Woods achieved his status after a decade of stellar play, but three rounds into the new year it’s hard to see any weaknesses or blind spots in Spieth’s game.

Spieth plays to his strengths, avoids the big miss and though he might not make every putt he steps to, he certainly holes the ones that matter.

He’s won on fescue greens (U.S. Open), bent (Masters) and Bermuda grass (Tour Championship), and seems to play better when the conditions are most demanding.

Although he’s far too modest to ever admit it, he seems to sense his building mystique among the rank and file.

“When Tiger’s in contention, why is his record so phenomenal? Well, sure, he played the best golf and he was the strongest mentally, but everyone else knew that he could do it and maybe tried to do a bit too much and then they're out of their own sync,” said Spieth, who has now led or been in second place after all seven rounds he’s played at the Tournament of Champions.

“In no way, shape, or form am I comparing where I'm at to what he's done, but I think that any time someone continues to win or close a deal, it just starts to put it in your head.”

With a Houdini short game and a putting stroke that travels, Spieth has emerged as a singular talent. Whether he’s bound for the heights that Woods reached depends on what transpires over the next decade or so, but he’s certainly headed down a familiar road.

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Rose's Saturday 64 matches Carnoustie Open record

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 1:03 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose needed to sink a 14-foot putt on the final hole Friday just to make the cut on the number at The Open.

Freewheeling when he came to the course Saturday, Rose tied the lowest score ever recorded in an Open at Carnoustie.

Entering the weekend nine shots off the lead, the world No. 3 carded a bogey-free, 7-under 64 to at least make things interesting. It won’t be known for several hours how many shots Rose will be behind, but his back-nine 30 gives him an opportunity, if the wind blows 25 mph Sunday as forecast, to challenge the leaders.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

After all, Paul Lawrie was 10 shots back entering the final round here in 1999.

“I think the birdie on 18 last night freed me up, and I’m just very happy to be out on this golf course and not down the road somewhere else this morning,” said Rose, who is at 4-under 209. “So that might have been part of the shift in mindset today. I had nothing to lose from that point of view.”

Rose’s 64 matched Steve Stricker and Richard Green’s record score at Carnoustie (2007).

It also was Rose’s career-low round in a major.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 12:45 pm

Tiger Woods, in search of his 15th career major championship title, started the weekend six off the lead at Carnoustie. We're tracking him in Round 3 of The Open.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 12:20 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:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch.

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.

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 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 marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 8:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)