Woods proving he's not done yet at Quicken Loans

By Ryan Reiterman July 31, 2015, 8:06 pm

GAINESVILLE, Va.  – Just two weeks ago, Tiger Woods was being asked about retirement.

After two rounds at the Quicken Loans National, it’s clear Woods is not ready to hang up the spikes just yet.

Woods went out early Friday and followed up an opening 68 with a 5-under 66 to sit just one stroke off the early second round lead.

"Overall, I hit the ball really well today," Woods said. "I was very pleased with that and made a few putts, but also I missed a bunch, too. This could have been one of those really low rounds ... I'm in a good spot heading into the weekend."

It’s a spot Woods has been missing from for most of the last year and a half as he’s gone under another swing change with instructor Chris Como. Woods denied rumors the duo were breaking up, and Como was observing Woods on the range before he headed off for his second round.

With the exception of one drive, the 2015 version of Woods looked like the 2005 version on Friday. He was pounding drives, twirling his club, throwing darts into greens and sending the crowds into hysteria with birdie after birdie.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Woods said.

Lately the hooting and hollering has been replaced with groans and even laughter as Woods’ game had sunk to unimaginable depths.

There was the chipping yips and an 82 in Phoenix. “Glutegate” and a WD at Torrey. The 85 at Memorial. Missed cuts at the U.S. Open and the Open at St. Andrews, his favorite course in the world.


Quicken Loans National: Articles, photos and videos


It certainly looks like Woods has found something here at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, a course he hadn’t competed on since the 2005 Presidents Cup. But before we go handing Woods the trophy, he still has to make it through two rounds with a swing that’s very fragile.

Woods kept the “oh my gosh!” swings under control for most of his round, except for his drive on the par-5 14th, his fifth hole of the day.

“Big, high draw that went about 90 yards,” Woods joked.

It was only one swing, but it’s further evidence that Woods hasn’t shaken the swing demons off his shoulders.

“I don’t need to think about positioning and have the club in this position, that position, that kind of thing,” Woods said when asked if he still has technical thoughts on the course. “It’s more feels for certain shapes I’m going to hit.”

Woods admitted earlier this week the combination of recovering from back surgery and switching swings from Sean Foley to Como was the perfect storm that’s led to his struggles.

“It’s not that long ago I was Player of the Year,” Woods said. “I know my ranking is awful, but it’s a matter of obviously I was away from the game for a long period of time, plus playing poorly compounded it, and I just need to keep playing and keep plugging along. Eventually I’m climb back.”

He’s put himself in position for a chance this weekend to completely turn around his season. If Woods were to win, he would get into next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on a course – Firestone –where he’s won eight times. And he would also get himself into the FedEx Cup playoffs.

As Woods has proven through two rounds, you can’t count him out just yet.

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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.”

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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.”