Off and Running

By Steve BurkowskiSeptember 10, 2003, 4:00 pm
It seems like it was just yesterday that Southern California and Clemson were crowned the national champions for the 2002-03 season. But it was actually over three months ago, and a busy summer has come and gone.
 
Now its time for a new season and whole new crop of faces to keep an eye on.
 
The most talked about recruit on the womens side is no longer an amateur, as Aree Song has opted out of her commitment to the University of Florida and will give it a go on the LPGA Tour.
 
Florida will still be a squad to keep and eye on, as Aree's sister Naree makes her Gator debut this weekend at the Womens Fall Preview in Opelika, Ala. The Lady Gators, who start the year third in the country according to the Coches Poll, are led by first-team preseason All-America Aimee Cho.
 
Duke heads into the fall as one of the teams to beat as Dan Brooks team is once again loaded with talent.
 
The Blue Devils will once again start the season ranked No. 1 in the country. They have two preseason first-team All-America selections in senior Virada Nirapathpongporn, who won the U.S. Womens Amateur Championship, and sophomore Liz Janangelo. Senior Leigh Ann Hardin is a second-team selection.
 
Sixth-ranked UCLA might very well make some noise, not only out west, but nationally as well. The Bruins return every player who led the team to a fifth-place finish in last years NCAA Championship.
 
On the mens side, another incoming freshman had a summer to remember. Casey Wittenberg heads to Oklahoma State after finishing runner-up at the U.S. Amateur, and representing the United States at last weeks Walker Cup matches. Wittenberg and the rest of the Cowboys will be a team to reckon with this season.
 
The defending national champions are also one of the best in the land. Clemson returns three players from last years title winning team, and should once again contend for top honors. Florida and UCLA will also be in the mix from beginning to end.
 
Like their female counterparts, UCLAs mens team will return every player who led the Bruins to a third-place finish in last years NCAA Championship.
 
This is always an exciting time of year for me, because the college game can offer so many interesting possibilities. From teams we expect to contend every time they tee it up, to schools that catch everyone by surprise as they breakthrough with a remarkable run.
 
Whatever the case may be, it should prove once again to be a ride worth remembering.
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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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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.”