Wadkins Leading But Firestone Winning

By Sports NetworkJune 8, 2002, 4:00 pm
Senior PGA Championship logoAKRON, Ohio -- Bobby Wadkins didn't come close to hitting a fairway over the difficult final three holes at Firestone Country Club Saturday. Somehow he only played that span of holes at 2-over-par and grabbed the 54-hole lead of the Senior PGA Championship.
He shot a 1-under 69 in the third round and has the lead at 1-under-par 209 as Wadkins is the only player under par in the field. This marks the first time since the tournament shifted to a 72-hole format that only one player was under par after 54 holes.
Roy Vucinich shared low of the day honors with Bob Eastwood Saturday with a 2-under 68. Vucinich is tied for second place with Fuzzy Zoeller and Larry Nelson at even-par 210.
Walter Hall and club professional Jay Overton are tied for fifth at 1-over-par.
Wadkins and Zoeller, playing in the same group, shared the lead at 3-under-par when they reached the par-5 16th tee. Wadkins pushed his tee shot deep into the trees on the right side but found an out and advanced his ball down the fairway. Zoeller was in the fairway off the tee and laid up short for his second shot.
Their third shots proved to be critical. Wadkins left his 25 feet short and right of the hole, safely on the green. Zoeller flew his over the putting surface and left himself with an impossible chip that rolled 20 feet past the stick.
Wadkins blew his putt four feet past but made the improbable par save. Zoeller ran his par putt three feet past the hole and then missed his short bogey save. Zoeller left with a double-bogey-7 while Wadkins headed to 17 with a two-shot lead.
'That hole just plays short,' said Zoeller, referring to 16. 'And I know it. I'm a big dummy. It always plays short and I just nuked it a little bit too hard. Once I knocked it over the green, I was a piece of dead meat hanging from a meat pole.'
Wadkins drove into a fairway bunker at the 17th and nicked the lip of the trap advancing it only 50 yards. His third was in deep rough but he wedged a shot from 94 yards that rolled a foot from the stick. Wadkins tapped in the par save and Zoeller made par as the margin remained the same.
The 18th hole saw another erratic drive from Wadkins, this one landing in the left rough under a tree. He had no other shot but a punch into the fairway but needed to get under the ball enough so that it would not get stuck in the rough. Wadkins did not get under it and left his ball in the left rough.
Wadkins' third shot came from deep rough and also had a tree blocking his path to the flag. He hit it short into the left rough and needed three more strokes to get into the hole. Wadkins took a double bogey to fall to 1-under par for the tournament.
Zoeller hit another approach long at 18, landing in the back bunker. He left the 18th with a bogey and an even-par 70, meaning he would start Sunday's round one shot behind Wadkins.
'I just hit a bad tee shot,' said Wadkins, speaking about 18. 'You can't miss it left and you can't miss it right. I just didn't make a good swing. I was a little short. I just didn't do what I needed to do.'
Despite stumbling home Wadkins said there would be no holdover effect from the poor finish on Sunday.
'It's over now. The hole is finished,' said Wadkins, the younger brother of fellow Senior Tour member Lanny Wadkins. 'I'm damned close enough to win tomorrow, so that's all that counts. You're going to have a bad hole now and then. You just hope it's not the 72nd hole.'
Wadkins has enjoyed success since joining the Senior Tour in the middle of 2001. He has one victory and 11 top-10 finishes in 24 starts.
Wadkins went 1-under-par through the front nine and made his move up the leaderboard on the back side. He drained a 10-foot birdie putt on 11 and played a beautiful approach four feet from the hole at 14 to set up another birdie and tie him for the lead with Zoeller and second-round leader Wayne Levi.
Zoeller played steadier than anyone before his late-round collapse. He birdied five and seven and found a greenside bunker at the 14th. Zoeller blasted out and saw the ball roll a few feet before falling into the cup for a birdie and a share of the lead.
Zoeller, a tour rookie, is in search of his first win on the elder circuit and thinks he has a low round in him Sunday.
'I wish I could hit them all good,' said Zoeller. 'Maybe tomorrow is the day that I'll do that. I came very close today. I drove the ball well, I hit the ball well except for a few screwy shots coming in.'
Levi stumbled home with a pair of double-bogeys and a bogey on the back nine. He shot a 5-over 75 and is tied for seventh with Bob Gilder, John Schroeder, Tradition champion Jim Thorpe and three-time Senior PGA Champion Hale Irwin. The group stands at plus 2.
Full-field scores from the Senior PGA Championship
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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.”