Thats a Wrap

By Rex HoggardNovember 16, 2009, 4:57 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Pat Conroy novels don’t have this many sub-plots and the crowded byway from Queens to Bethpage, N.Y., has never seen so many detours.

Officially the 128 assembled Tour types at Walt Disney World Resort played for just a single trophy, yet essentially the rewards were limitless. From every corner of the money list, from every turn of the tee sheet, battles large and small were won and, more often than not, lost on Sunday at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic.

Rich Beem began the final day tied for 31st and was projected outside the top 125 in earnings (128th). He’d panicked his way through a Friday 73, got a pep talk from his swing coach Cameron Doan before Round 3 and gutted out a 68-68 weekend that felt like a pair of 59s.

“Panic set in a little bit,” Beem admitted. “I was fixated on keeping my job, going to Hawaii (Sony Open), the Bob Hope. When someone tells you you can’t do your job next year it’s not a very good feeling.”

With that “Beemer” turned to the ever-changing scoring computer, which listed the former PGA champion at 125th in earnings. “I can’t handle this boys,” he sighed. “I got to go have a beer.”

All total it was a good day for former car stereo salesmen and beer vendors, as the unnerved became unhinged.

Jimmy Walker was headed for an adult beverage of his own, cruising along at 5 under through 16 holes and safely inside the money Mendoza Line when he followed a bad swing thought with a bad swing and a three-putt for double-bogey.

The par-4 17th was the final Kodak Challenge offering of the season, and Walker was a perfect snapshot of what happens to normally mild-mannered men when your job depends on how well you negotiate the final 492 yards of the final tournament.

It is, of course, the acme of foolishness to fixate on the last hole of the season. Of the 1,332 holes Walker played in 2009 there are as many “what ifs” as there were swings. In Tampa he was forced to withdraw with a neck injury before the final round, missing out on a check of any kind that would have made Disney a layup, not a lay-awake-at-night week.

Walker didn’t make things easy at the last hole. He missed the fairway right, the green right and ran his chip 5 feet by the hole. The clichés were ubiquitous. “Get up there, rock the shoulders and keep your head down. Left center,” he breathed deeply.

James Edmondson, the caddie for Ryan Palmer who played college golf with Walker’s looper Andy Sanders, inched to the edge of his seat: “You make these in your sleep, don’t you?” he asked. Or your nightmares.

Walker made the par save and took Beem’s place at the computer. He moved to 124th in earnings. Then No. 125. By the time the computer stop adding, Walker’s name remained inside the bubble, his hand wrapped firmly around a Bud Light and that flight home to San Antonio suddenly felt a lot shorter.

Nicholas Thompson was already headed home to south Florida by the time the processors stopped, similarly unaware of his 2010 status following an equally eventful finish.

After Thompson’s drive at the last settled between roots right of the fairway, he pulled a 6-iron, settled over the ball and swung hard neither concerned nor mindful of potential injury.

“I planned on this being my last tournament of the year,” he smiled widely. “I knew (par) would get me golden and (bogey) would probably do it.”

Following a blistering start, Thompson said he figured he needed to make about $100,000 to avoid a return to Q-School: “I went to Georgia Tech I can do the calculations on the fly,” he said during a five-minute interview during which he dropped from 123rd in earnings to 125th. He eventually settled in at No. 123.

Yet for every Walker and Thompson there were more than enough David Duvals and Robert Garriguses to go around.

Duval missed the cut and tumbled from 125th to 130th, while Garrigus also watched from his couch as he slid from 123rd to 127th.

Jeff Maggert, who putted like he had a pair of those thick white Mickey Mouse gloves on coming down the stretch, shot 70 to earn a ticket to Q-School and was in no mood for small talk.

“You guys don’t want to talk to me all year long, now you do,” sneered Maggert, who bogeyed the 16th and missed a 20 footer for birdie at the last.

Maggert’s a nice guy made mad man by circumstances and the simple law of the Tour jungle – perform or pay the price at Q-School.

There were other stories to tell on a Magic Kingdom-perfect Sunday. Players vying for the top 150 (exempt into the final stage of Q-School and limited 2010 status), top 70 (exempt into all invitational fields) and top 30 (U.S. Open and Masters starts).

Jonathan Byrd shot 68, tied for 11th and moved from 72nd to 67th; while D.A. Points was 7 under through 12, tied for seventh and jumped from 77th to 66th.

“That was my major goal this week to finish in the top 70,” Points said. “I’ve been leaning on Mr. (Arnold) Palmer for invites. It’s going to be nice not to have to ask, and I have a couple top-70 bonuses written into my contracts, so it was nice.”

Sunday at Mickey’s place was like an episode of the 1950s cop series “Naked City,” complete with eight million stories. All were compelling, many were gut wrenching.

And in case you missed it, Stephen Ames took the trophy after George McNeill’s putt at the second extra frame caught more lip than a Manny Pacquiao left cross. At least that’s the rumor.

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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.”