Verplank Vaults Into Top-20 of World Golf Rankings

By Sports NetworkSeptember 11, 2001, 4:00 pm
Scott Verplank, who helped justify his place on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with a three-shot win Sunday at the Bell Canadian Open, jumped 11 spots to 15th in the latest edition of the World Golf Rankings.
Verplank, the first Ryder Cup rookie to make the squad as a captain's pick, entered the World Top-20 on the strength of his fourth PGA Tour win, his first since last year's Reno-Tahoe Open.
There was no movement in the 14 spots that preceded Verplank.
Top-ranked Tiger Woods, a first-round leader at Royal Montreal this past week, faded after a three-over-par 73 in the second round. He'll look to get back on track this week in St. Louis, where the top players in the world will compete for the title at the American Express Championship, the third of four World Golf Championships events on the schedule this season.
Woods captured the last WGC title -- the NEC Invitational -- after an epic seven-hole playoff with Jim Furyk at Firestone last month. A victory at the American Express tournament this week would give Woods his fifth win in eight starts in the WGC individual events.
Woods and David Duval teamed up to win the WGC-EMC World Cup for the U.S. last December in Argentina.
Phil Mickelson remained No. 2 in the world, followed by Duval, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III and Sergio Garcia. Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke stayed in eighth place, while PGA Championship winner David Toms and Scotland's Colin Montgomerie rounded out the top-10.
Furyk, Scott Hoch, Padraig Harrington of Ireland and U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen of South Africa held the next four spots, followed by No. 15 Verplank.
In order to accommodate the addition of Verplank to the top-20, Paul Azinger, England's Lee Westwood, Mike Weir and Mark Calcavecchia each dropped one place, and now occupy the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th spots, respectively.
Weir, who followed up a missed cut with a tie for 34th during the PGA Tour's recently completed two-event swing through his home country of Canada, won last year's American Express Championship at Valderrama in Spain and will be on hand to defend his title this week at Bellerive Country Club.
Holding on to 20th place was Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, who was forced to withdraw after two rounds of last week's European Masters in Switzerland because of a shoulder injury.
Although Bjorn pulled out of the American Express event, his injury is not considered serious enough to keep him from competing for the European team at the Ryder Cup in England later this month.
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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”

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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break

By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2018, 2:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.

“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.

Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.

Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.

“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”

It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.

“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.

“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”

This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.