Big Challenge for Stenson Molinari

By Tom AbbottFebruary 6, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editors Note: Tom Abbott is the host of Golf Central UK. He will be filing a bi-weekly column on thegolfchannel.com with news, opinions and his inside knowledge of the European Tour.
 
Stenson King of the Desert Swing
Henrik Stenson
Henrik Stenson has moved inside the top 10 on the Official World Golf Ranking. (WireImage)
Henrik Stenson became the first Swedish player to win the Dubai Desert Classic last week, beating Ernie Els by a shot at the Emirates Golf Club. Im not sure what it is about the Middle East, but it seems to bring out the best in Stensons golf. Last year, he went second, first, seventh through the stretch; this season: eighth, seventh, first. Cast your minds back to this time last year and youll remember that Stenson was all the rage in world golf; some were even predicting him to be the first rookie to win the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller. However, he struggled to maintain his form and didnt churn out the results midway through the year, only managing to win one more event at the BMW International Open. The big question for Stenson is whether he will change that trend and built on this period instead of letting it become the highlight of his season. One quick side note: Stenson acts as a golf ambassador for the Emirate of Dubai, so they really couldnt ask for a better winner.
 
Peoples Favorite of the Week: Ross Fisher
I played a bit of golf with Ross Fisher when we were juniors back home in Surrey, England. At the time I was playing county golf for Surrey, which is probably not much bigger than the city limits of most major American cities, the team boasted a roster which included, Paul Casey, James Heath, Kieran Staunton, Ross Fisher, Sam Osborne and Zane Scotland - all of whom went on to play on the European Tour. Although Casey stands head and shoulders above the rest at present, Fisher is fast becoming a star. Even back in his junior days The Fish was a huge hitter. Obviously, long driving is just a small part of becoming a top class professional, but Fisher has no doubt raised all parts of his game to be able to compete with the big boys. Last season, Fishers main goal in the early season was to make the BMW Championship at Wentworth, his home course. He did indeed play the event and afterwards his results began to dwindle; it was almost as if the steam had gone out of his year. This season, Fisher and his agent Mark Booker have been able to sit down and plan a much better schedule seeing him play fewer events in an effort to keep the momentum going throughout the year.
 
Hidden Gems
The PGA Merchandise Show took place in Orlando recently, attracting a number of friends from abroad, among whom was Michael ODonnell, the Director of Golf at the Terre Blanche Golf Club just outside Cannes in France. I had the pleasure of visiting the course, which includes a five-star Four Seasons Hotel, last autumn and I must tell you its absolutely magic, with two lay-outs, the Chateaux and the Riou. The former is the tougher, longer lay-out, which although not insight of the coast, affords spectacular views of the Provincial countryside - and when I visited, it was in fabulous shape.
 
I fully expect the course to attract some sort of professional tournament in the not too distant future, and my advice for those of you in Europe would be to take a weekend gateway and live the lap of luxury. For those readers further a field, make a trip to play golf in France; the country offers many hidden gems. I remember playing the French Amateur at Chantilly some years ago, and wondering how a venue that exquisite had disappeared from the French Open rota. Chantilly first hosted its National Open in 1913 and has since played host a further nine times, with Robert De Vicenzo and Nick Faldo on the list of winners. The week I played the Amateur, I was lucky enough to stay at the home of one of the members and my bedroom looked out over the Chateaux, which was illuminated at night. Id leave the shutters open and fall asleep looking at this majestic castle; it was spectacular.
 
Big Challenge for Former U.S. Amateur Champ
Congratulations to Eduardo Molinari, who overcame Gustavo Mendoza at the Columbia Masters on Sunday in a two-hole play-off. Molinari, who youll remember as the 2005 U.S. Amateur champion, has struggled to find his footing in professional golf following his invites to the Open Championship, U.S. Open and the Masters Tournament. He played the Columbia Masters on a sponsor's invite having failed to obtain any status from last years European Tour Qualifying School. Now hell be able to set his schedule on the Challenge Tour this season and no doubt will obtain a handful of starts on the main tour as a sponsor's invite. Molinari collected just over 21,000 euros for his victory last week. As long as he keeps decent form this season and finishes in the top 10 a handful of more times before year's end, he should obtain one of the valuable 20 spots on the main tour that are on offer this year to Challenge Tour graduates.
 
Another Jacklin
Tony Jacklin was spotted at the Columbia Masters last week, but the 1969 Open Champion wasnt playing. Instead, he was carrying the bag of 15-year-old son Sean who was given a sponsor's invite into the tournament. Jacklin senior was a champion of the Bogota Open during his career and still holds the 72-hole scoring record at the club. Despite having dad on the bag, Sean Jacklin struggled in his Challenge Tour debut carding rounds of 86 and 87 to miss the cut.
 
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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.”