Hooks and Cuts Humor and Honesty

By Rich LernerJune 7, 2010, 8:41 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio – I interviewed exiled former CBS announcer Ben Wright for an upcoming story on 'Golf in America.' He’s like the Dos Equis beer “Most Interesting Man in the World.” Wright was a Russian language interpreter for British Intelligence during the Cold War and hung out with Hemmingway at Paris bars. Now 77, he’s married for a fifth time, living in Flat Rock, N.C.

  • One highly ranked player on Tiger Woods: “He’d talk to you for the first few days of a tournament like you were his friend, but Sunday in contention he’d walk right by you without saying hello. It was embarrassing really.”
  • Leftover from Colonial: In 1953, Ben Hogan won the Colonial National Invitational and his older brother, Royal, won the Colonial Club Championship.
  • If I could take you with me to work, I’d let you put on the headsets during commercial breaks to listen to David Feherty. There’s funny – and then there’s Feherty funny.
  • Sometimes, it looks to me like Phil Mickelson plays to amuse himself, as if he’s bored hitting conventional shots.
  • We’re coming up on the 50-year anniversary of perhaps the greatest U.S. Open ever, 1960 at Cherry Hills. Jack Nicklaus was the 20-year-old, reigning U.S. Amateur champion, on his way to Cherry Hills when his father, Charlie, picked up a newspaper and saw a blurb that caught his eye. “Look at this son,” Charlie said. “They have you at 35-1 to win. You want $20 on that?” Explains Jack today: “In my entire life I’ve never bet on a golf match. But I told my dad, ‘Sure, I’ll take that’.” When his dad asked if he wanted a bet on finishing second, Jack snapped, “No, we’re here to win.” He led by one early on the final nine, but balky putting cost him, and Palmer won with 65.   
  • Five months into the season and we still remember Brian Davis at Hilton Head, Rickie Fowler in Scottsdale and Jordan Spieth in Dallas. Five months in and we’ll never forget Phil Mickelson at Augusta and Rory McIlroy at Wachovia.
  • Sergio Garcia needs to get moving or we may not see him in Wales at the Ryder Cup in October.
  • Adam Scott cautions those who would write off Sergio and all those super talented players who might be falling short of expectations. “Golf is a different sport in that history shows us that you don’t hit your peak until your mid-30s,” he said.
  • Plenty of people dismissed Justin Rose as a guy who was good for the first 36 holes, but couldn’t close. Critics criticize. Players keep playing. Justin Rose is a player.
  • Rickie Fowler might want to familiarize himself with Wales.  
  • Tom Kite on the reliance by today’s players on swing gurus and video breakdowns: “I see a lot of pretty swings but not a lot of guys who know how to get the ball in the hole.”
  • I’m headed to St. Andrews Monday to file stories for next month’s British Open. I’ll be interviewing Old Tom Morris. David Joy’s been performing as Old Tom for 20 years and will extend me the privilege. You might remember him from the Titleist commercials with John Cleese of Monty Python fame.
  • The designated tournament idea designed to help struggling, smaller market events is a good one. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James play every year in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Portland and Toronto. Why shouldn’t Tiger and Phil, if not every year, at least every once in a while?
  • I had the good fortune to participate in the first ever Patriot Cup on Memorial Day in Tulsa, Okla., to raise money for families of fallen soldiers. In my group was a young staff sergeant who was fairly new to golf. Bunkered on the seventh hole, he listened to both the caddie and club pro in our foursome pepper him with instruction. “Open the club at an 82-degree angle, left foot out at 19 degrees, tilt the head, weaken the grip, flex the knees, soften the hands, hit an inch-and-a-half behind the ball and accelerate through.”  Before he hit, he looked up and cracked, “Is this really going to work?’
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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.”