Irwin Among Hawiian Leaders

By Sports NetworkJanuary 31, 2003, 5:00 pm
KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii -- Hale Irwin, Steven Veriato and Dana Quigley each posted rounds of 6-under-par 66 on Friday to share the first-round lead of the MasterCard Championship.
Larry Nelson and Jay Sigel are tied for fourth place a stroke behind the leaders at 5-under-par 67.
Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino headline a group in sixth place at 4-under-par 68. Both players, who are 63 years old, were invited as sponsor's exemptions.
Tom Kite, the 2002 champion, opened with a 3-under 69 and his first-round playing partner, Arnold Palmer turned in an impressive feat of his own. Palmer matched his age Friday with a 1-over 73. Last year, Palmer matched his age at the Napa Valley Championship in October.
Irwin flew out of the gate Friday with three birdies in his first four holes. He two-putted from 20 feet to secure birdie at the par-5 seventh to make the turn at 4-under 32.
The 2002 Champions Tour money leader and Player of the Year took advantage of his next par-5, the 566-yard 10th. He two-putted there for birdie and also birdied the final par-5, the 14th. Irwin could not reach the green in two at 14, but wedged his third to nine feet to set up his final birdie of the round.
'I played okay today,' said Irwin, who won this event in 1997, 'I hit some loose irons coming in. I'm not quite geared into how far I'm hitting the ball with the new equipment. Everything in the bag is new except the putter.'
Veriato, who grew up in nearby Hilo, three-putted from 10 feet for a bogey at the third but that was his lone mistake of the round. He chipped in for eagle at his next hole, the fourth, and added two birdies on his front nine for a 3-under 33.
He blew an eagle chance at the 10th, but collected a birdie at No. 11 when he drained a 10-footer. Veriato ran home a six-foot birdie putt at the 14th and closed with a 20-foot breaker at the last to polish off his round of 66.
'This is a great spot to be in,' said Veriato. 'This is a big week for me. It's home. If I can shoot for pins, I will.'
Veriato is here on a sponsor's exemption this week as he lost his playing card in 2002. He finished 61st on the money list and lost a spot in Q-School.
'I'll be a qualifier from this point on,' said Veriato, who won the 2001 Novell Utah Showdown. 'I'll try to Monday qualify every other week. I'll be happy if I can get in 12-13 events.'
Quigley, who started his 202nd consecutive event for which he was eligible, holed a 15-foot eagle putt at four and tallied back-to-back birdies at seven and eight.
Quigley carded two birdies in his first five holes on the second nine, but missed a three-footer to save par at the 15th. He rebounded from the miscue at 15 with a 10-foot birdie putt at the last to grab his piece of first place.
'I played great and I have been all winter,' said Quigley. 'I've always played well here. This is my favorite place to play on tour.'
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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.”