AskLav: Getting to root of McIlroy's problems

By Ryan LavnerMarch 7, 2013, 11:17 am

Of course Rory McIlroy’s golf swing is causing him more pain than his bothersome wisdom tooth. But we’d be foolish to take the latter ailment too lightly. Consider this a public service announcement.

Though there is no official list for such things, there are few pains quite as agonizing as dry socket. Days after a tooth extraction, the dentist crams a piece of gauze or sponge down into the inflamed socket, which then rubs against the exposed bone. It’s enough to make a grown man shriek and beg for mercy. 

It’s little wonder that Rory wants his childhood dentist, the only man he trusts, to perform the procedure, even if the fine oral surgeons of Palm Beach County are offended.

My biggest question: Why wait? 

Why let the issue fester for weeks or, in his case, months? Knock out the procedure after Doral. Endure the swelling and discomfort for a few days. Resume normal preparations for Houston (and The Masters).

But hey, don’t take my advice. I’m just a guy who forgot to gargle with warm salt water three times per day and developed dry socket. Did I shriek and beg for mercy? Oh, well, no, that was the guy down the hall. 

With that, your mailbag questions for this week:

No, no. My teeth are fine now. Loyal readers will recall my recent Day at the Dentist.

Rory took a public-relations hit, no doubt, but this controversy will fade. Taking a page out of Phil Mickelson’s tax playbook, in his news conference Wednesday McIlroy was his usual self – charming, honest, thoughtful, engaging. That was how he built up so much goodwill between he and his fans, and the press, in the first place. He will be just fine … so long as that proper takeaway gets ingrained sooner rather than later.

Aha! Perhaps we have found the source for those ridiculous Rory-and-Caroline-breakup rumors, which, of course, were fueled because the lovebirds hadn’t publicly tweeted at each other for a few days. Shoe-leather reporting, that is.

I’m all for putting the “world” back in the World Golf Championships. The most logical tournament to move outside the continental U.S. would be the Match Play, and not only because its contract with Dove Mountain expires after next year. (Unless the Tour wants to turn the Sunday final into 18 holes match play, then a giant slalom competition.) WGC stops at Doral and Firestone ideally fit the schedule – and the HSBC Champions has a November date – so why not move the Match Play to Brazil, or South Africa, or Puerto Rico? If only so one year I won’t have to shiver while covering the Round of 64.

Well, all of our picks can be found here. This week I took Matt Kuchar, Charl Schwartzel, Robert Garrigus and Russell Henley. Typically I look at only two things: recent form and past history at that event. It’s a simplistic approach that may also explain why I’m 17th out of 22 in our GC standings. But hey, I don’t regret any pick I’ve made this season. I know, I know. Whatever helps me sleep at night …

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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.”