Lees confidence surging entering US Amateur
The worlds top-ranked amateur could have worked out the few kinks in his game with a practice round or two at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort before the national championship of amateur golf begins there Monday.
Instead, he went 75 miles across the state to Greensboro to tune up with the professionals after making his first start on the PGA Tour. Perhaps even more remarkably, he stuck around the Wyndham Championship longer than anticipated after making the cut.
Playing with all these great golfers out here and competing with those great golfers, I think, is going to make me develop my game and give me lots of confidence when I get ready for (the U.S. Amateur), Lee said. I think its a good opportunity to play in this.
I didnt even think about playing this well, he added. All I was trying to do was not make any mistakes.
The New Zealander and Western Amateur champion is, of course, one of the favorites to claim the Havemeyer Trophy and the perks that come with it ' invitations to next years U.S. Open, British Open and Masters, plus the next 10 U.S. Amateurs, as long as he remains an amateur.
To do that, hell have to emerge from the field of more than 300 players who will tee it up for two days of stroke play at a pair of courses at Pinehurst, the Donald Ross-designed No. 2 and the No. 4 that was redesigned in 1999 by Tom Fazio.
The field will be trimmed to 64, and five days of match play will follow on the resorts centerpiece course, the 101-year-old No. 2 that was the site of two U.S. Opens and is hosting a third in 2014.
Pinehurst has long been a favorite site for the USGA to determine a champion; it has played host to eight previous championship events, including the U.S. Senior Open in 1994 and the U.S. Womens Amateur five years earlier.
But this marks just the second U.S. Amateur held in the North Carolina sandhills, and first since 1962. Tournament officials have promised the course wont be set up quite as brutally as it was for the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005.
The more you play it, the more you find out about the course ' where not to miss it, especially, said Clemsons Phillip Mollica, who won the North and South Amateur last year at No. 2 and has played there about a dozen times. Its going to be more about hitting fairways, getting the ball in play off the tee versus a couple of years ago when the rough was down and you could really hit it anywhere out there. Its going to be a premium hitting fairways.
One of the downsides to Lees longer-than-expected weekend with the pros is that theres no time to get a feel for the Pinehurst courses. After finishing his round at Sedgefield, Lee planned to drive down from Greensboro on Sunday night in advance of his Monday morning tee time on course No. 4. Then, he plays No. 2 on Tuesday afternoon.
Then again, he did get plenty of work on another original Ross design ' the Sedgefield Country Club course that played host to the Wyndham. Lee began his final round at 9-under 201, 10 strokes off the lead.
The bad thing is, I couldnt play a practice round (at Pinehurst), so Ill have to just use my caddie for playing those courses, Lee said. Still, Im confident Ill still play well.
Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba
Conor Moore is known for his impressions of golfers, and he is back with a new video just in time for The Open.
Moore even got the thumbs up from Ian Poulter.
This is hilarious..— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 16, 2018
Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite
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
Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC
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.
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.
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
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.
“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.”