Traffic jammed behind Quicken leaders

By Rex HoggardAugust 1, 2015, 11:37 pm

GAINESVILLE, Va. – When Troy Merritt completed his record-setting round of 61 he figured his 14-under-par total would leave him squarely back in the pack by the time dusk settled over Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

“Decent chance,” he figured when he completed his round just as the day’s last group was heading out at the Quicken Loans National.

Little did he know a light breeze and intense humidity would combine with Saturday pressure to create a leaderboard as crowed as the Capital Beltway at rush hour.

All told, the final five groups and the top 10 players heading into Round 3 posted an average of 70, nine strokes worse than Merritt’s masterpiece that left the 29-year-old tied with Kevin Chappell and a stroke clear of Rickie Fowler.

It was not exactly the afternoon scoring many expected at a spongy layout that had yielded plenty of birdies, not to mention holes-in-one, for the first two and a half days. The result will be a busy landscape for Sunday’s final turn with a dozen players within four strokes of the lead.

“Somebody will do it early and post a number,” said Charles Howell III, who loomed just two back at 12 under after a 67. “You have to stay at it on this golf course and especially if it’s fairly calm tomorrow like it was today. You got to make birdies.”


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Welcome to the East Coast version of the Bob Hope Classic where one-way traffic (up the leaderboard) is the only requirement.

One of those early risers on Sunday who will need to claw his way back up the leaderboard is tournament host Tiger Woods, who failed to hit a fairway until the eighth hole on Saturday and scrambled his way to a 74 that didn’t look nearly that good.

After turning in 1 over par Woods made a mess of the par-3 12th for double bogey and added another bogey at the 14th before finally making his first birdie of the day at No. 16. For a player who appeared inspired by two sub-70 rounds to begin his week it was another setback in his journey back to competitiveness.

“I saw a lot of [Round 4 hole location] dots out there for tomorrow. They’re in pretty easy spots. Shoot one of those 61s out there,” said Woods, who needs a victory this week to qualify for next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, otherwise the PGA Championship may be his last start of the 2014-15 season.

Fowler won’t need to be nearly as perfect as he continues to establish himself as a regular contender. Despite three bogeys, The Players champion signed for a 68 and continues to make good on his promise to start winning more events.

Following last season, when he became the first player to finish inside the top 5 in all four major championships, Fowler committed to taking the next step this year with more trophies. His near-flawless finish at TPC Sawgrass in May was an impressive start and he added another “W” last month by winning the European Tour’s Scottish Open.

“It would have been nice to get a win in the majors last year. With making history and that top 5 in all four majors it's going to be special to look back on, but winning is a lot better than finishing top 5,” Fowler said earlier this week.

While Fowler will be the clear fan favorite on Sunday it will likely be Justin Rose who may have the competitive edge. Although this year’s Quicken Loans National is being held at a new venue, the Englishman has proven himself adept wherever this event is played.

In 2010, he won Tiger’s tournament at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia; last year he collected his second Quicken Loans title at Congressional. It’s worth pointing out he won last year after starting the final round three shots out of the lead, the same place where he will begin Sunday.

“I’ve won tournaments from four back before and it’s going to take something very low for me. It’s out there, probably 63 tomorrow,” said Rose, who moved into contention with a 65 after a late-afternoon putting session with his short-game coach on Friday. 

It was a common theme at an uncommonly low-scoring event. In the eight-year history of the Quicken Loans, just twice (2009 and 2011) has the winning score made it to 13 under. Thanks to Merritt’s early move on Saturday and Chappell’s workmanlike 67 that benchmark has already been eclipsed.

It all sets the stage for a very different final round from what players and fans have come to expect at the Washington, D.C. area stop.

“You’ve got to keep the pedal down tomorrow,” Howell said.

And you also have to remember this is not your normal Quicken Loans National.

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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