Tiger Gets Early Draw on Day 1 of British Open

By Sports NetworkJuly 16, 2002, 4:00 pm
Gullane, Scotland -- Tiger Woods will begin the second half of his quest for golf's Grand Slam with an early tee time Thursday in the first round of the British Open at Muirfield.
The world's top-ranked player won The Masters in April and the U.S. Open last month to become the first player to capture the first two legs of the Slam in the same year since Jack Nicklaus in 1972. Woods has now won eight major championship titles overall and six of the last nine played, and seven of the last 11.
Two more victories -- in this British Open and next month's PGA Championship -- and Woods will be the first player in history to win all four professional majors in the same season.
But, first things first. Woods will be paired with Japan's Shigeki Maruyama and Justin Rose of England in the opening two rounds. The trio will be the 12th group off the tee at 9:01 a.m. local time (4:01 a.m. ET) on Thursday. On Friday, they will tee off at 1:57 p.m. local time (8:57 a.m. ET).
Rd. 1 Tee Times for the 131st British Open
Maruyama won the 2001 Greater Milwaukee Open, making him the first Japanese player to win a PGA Tour event on the U.S. mainland (Isao Aoki won the 1983 Hawaiian Open). He added a victory at the Byron Nelson Classic back in May. His best British Open finish was a tie for 10th place at Royal Troon in 1997.
Rose made his presence felt as a 17-year-old at the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale, where he holed a pitch at the 72nd hole to tie for fourth, earning him the Silver Medal as the leading amateur. He turned professional the next day and, after struggling on the European Tour for a few years, broke into the winning ranks with a pair of victories earlier this season.
Ernie Els, who tied for second, eight strokes behind Woods, in the 2000 Open at St. Andrews, will head out a few groups before Woods and company with Lee Westwood and Brad Faxon. A two-time U.S. Open champ, Els has totaled six top-10 finishes in 11 British Open starts, including a tie for third last year.
Sergio Garcia is one on a small list of players, Els included, who pose a real threat to Woods' chances this week. The Spaniard's best Open showing was a tie for ninth last year, and is familiar with Muirfield as the British Amateur champion there in 1998.
Garcia will play alongside Greg Norman, the British Open champion in 1986 and '93, and Sweden's Robert Karlsson.
England's Nick Faldo, victorious three times in the British Open, won the 1987 title at Muirfield with 18 straight pars in the final round. After reeling in a second Open win at St. Andrews in 1990, Faldo won again in '92 in the last championship to be held at Muirfield.
Faldo, who turns 45 on Thursday, will celebrate his birthday playing with Americans Hal Sutton and Phil Mickelson. Sutton won the PGA Championship back in 1983, while Mickelson is still in search of his first victory in a major.
Mickelson has tallied 16 top-10 finishes in major championships, including seven top-threes. However, his best finish in the British Open was a tie for 11th in 2000, 12 shots back of Woods.
Two-time runner-up Jesper Parnevik of Sweden (1994, '97) will share the fairways the first two rounds with Vijay Singh, the PGA Champion in 1998 and Masters winner in 2000, and Jim Furyk.
Five-time British Open champion Tom Watson will be in the third pairing off the first tee bright and early Thursday morning (2:22 a.m. et) with Japan's Kiyoshi Miyazato and Australian Steve Elkington, who earned a spot in the field after completing the 36-hole final qualifier on Monday.
Other notable pairings include: 1997 champion Justin Leonard, Mike Weir and David Howell; 1995 winner John Daly, Adam Scott and Padraig Harrington; reigning PGA champion David Toms, Darren Clarke and Kevin Sutherland; Davis Love III, Colin Montgomerie and K.J. Choi; and Shingo Katayama, Thomas Bjorn and defending champion David Duval.
Duval, who posted a three-shot triumph last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, comes into Muirfield in a bit of a slump. He's missed the cut in four of his last five starts, with the lone exception in that stretch being a season-best tie for fourth at the Memorial in late May.
Full coverage of the 131st British Open
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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.”