Mickelson unwise to make tax complaints public

By Rich LernerJanuary 25, 2013, 7:06 pm

Phil’s hit some questionable shots through the years, but his Romney-esque riff on taxes was among his most impetuous. To his credit he realized it.  And though his complaint may have some merit, it’s a subject best kept private, especially when people are out of work or struggling to make a dollar.

Brandt Snedeker is already a genius with his putter.  If he continues to get more consistent Tee to Green, he could become a truly great player.  Going back to 2007, he’s never been inside the top 100 in greens in regulation.  Granted it’s early, but at the moment he’s 5th.  Above all, his mental makeup is outstanding.

• What’s mildly disconcerting about Rory’s Nike move is that for the first time he doesn’t feel authentic.  And how does abandoning their putter after one round inspire consumer confidence in the product?   Oh, right, the world will be smiling after we see the Rory/Tiger commercial again.  That said, given Rory’s propensity for silencing critics, the Middle East missed cut is just a blip on the radar.

• Jack turned 73 this week.  At the PNC Father-Son Challenge in December, he stood with Raymond Floyd on the range late Friday afternoon.  They were lamenting their loss of distance off the tee.  Jack said, “On that 400 yard par four on the back, number 15, I hit my drive about 200 yards.  200 yards, and it was downwind! I had 200 left to the green and had to hit five-wood.”  He paused. A slight smile broke across his face. He said, “I hit it five feet.”

• On the proposed anchored putter ban, someone will have to make a convincing argument to Carl Petterson that a club he’s used for nearly 15 years is suddenly going to be taken away.  It would be one thing if the ruling bodies declared 460cc driver heads off limits and everyone was affected.  But in allowing the putter for so long, there is a case to be made that it’s unfair to those who’ve relied on it.

• Bet Brian Gay’s happy to be paying almost $400 K in taxes in the last week.

• Abu Dhabi winner Jamie Donaldson’s a strong lad, built like a rugby player.   He’s this year’s Peter Hanson, the quiet and steady Euro riser.

• Four majors to catch Jack didn’t feel like a lot in the world Tiger used to rule.  Now it feels like a very tall order, maybe too tall.

• K.J. Choi is poised to bounce back from a sub-par 2012.  He told me in Hawaii that when he returned from playing in the Middle East last year he wasn’t feeling well, a result of sand in his eyes.  What’s more, he took time adjusting to life without his longtime caddie, Andy Prodger, who retired.  K.J. is now comfortable with new bag man Graeme Courts, who looped for years for Loren Roberts.  Choi began to turn the corner late last year when he won the event he hosts in his native Korea. 

• The LPGA’s International Crown with eight countries featuring four golfers apiece looks good on paper.  If the inaugural delivers South Korea against the U.S.A. late Sunday for the title they will have gotten off to a great start.

• Expect a commercial to pop up on Golf Channel with the deep voiced announcer saying, “Do you suffer from bifurcation?  If so, there is a remedy.  Bifurcia.”

• I don’t know a reporter who wouldn’t love to do the Mike Weir comeback story on the 10th anniversary of his 2003 Masters win. His elbow’s on the mend. And his heart is still the best club in his bag.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”