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Woodland's win for family here and above

By Will GrayFebruary 5, 2018, 1:11 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – After holing a short putt to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Gary Woodland plucked the ball from the hole and pointed skyward.

His entourage at TPC Scottsdale ran deep on Sunday: Both his parents were there, as were other family members. His wife, Gabby, was nearby holding his 7-month-old son, Jaxson.

But in the moment after capturing his first PGA Tour win in nearly five years, Woodland’s thoughts immediately went to the one family member who wasn’t there.

“That was just kind of a tribute to last year,” Woodland said while choking back tears. “Obviously we lost a little girl, and being there, seeing my wife give birth to her, that’s real.”

When he and Gabby first announced they were pregnant with twins last spring, Woodland explained on social media that it’s “the first time I’ve been excited about a double.” But that excitement turned to sorrow in the middle of Gabby’s pregnancy, when they learned that one of the twins would not survive.

Jaxson was born 10 weeks premature on June 23, the highlight of a tumultuous summer for Woodland that saw him spend almost as much time in the NICU ward at the hospital as on the course.

“I couldn’t wait for 2018 to start,” he explained. “Couldn’t wait for 2017 to be over with.”


Full-field scores from the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Waste Management Phoenix Open: Articles, photos and videos


With a new year came renewed optimism, with Woodland again focusing on his game as Jaxson continued to make progress. Despite all the turmoil last season, he managed to make it to the Tour Championship and carried that form into his most recent starts: T-7 at the Sony Open, T-12 at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Sure, the winless drought stretched back to the 2013 Barracuda Championship. But his peers knew its end was near.

“I typically look at leaderboards and see who’s had good weeks, kind of week in and week out, and figure they’re due for a win,” said Matt Kuchar. “And Gary was that guy that was due.”

Woodland admitted he has struggled to piece together four good rounds in a single tournament, but he did so brilliantly at TPC Scottsdale, where a final-round 64 got him into a playoff in which he defeated Chez Reavie with a par on the opening hole.

Woodland appeared set to take home the title in regulation, but two closing birdies from Reavie forced overtime. Given what Woodland has endured off the course in recent months, playing an extra hole with the trophy up for grabs was a minor inconvenience.

It helped, perhaps, that he was minutes removed from a round that included nine birdies, allowing him to quickly erase an overnight three-shot deficit.

“I didn’t even know I made nine birdies until I got done,” he said. “My caddie asked me, ‘How many birdies did you make?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ So obviously I was in the zone, I was kind of in the moment all day and just trying to give myself a chance.”

Woodland has long been viewed as one of the Tour’s best athletes, a prodigious driver who won two state titles in basketball while in high school in Kansas. His burly physique would have been well-suited for any athletic endeavor, but mashing a little white ball turned out to be his best option.

Even among Tour pros, his is an exceptionally high ceiling, and one that Kuchar knew was well within reach after just nine holes of practice together Tuesday on the Stadium Course.

“He was driving it so well. When he’s driving it well, golf becomes easy,” Kuchar said. “He’s doing that right now, and he’s making the game look pretty easy.”

In the off-season, Woodland met with longtime instructor Butch Harmon to try to identify the missing ingredient that had prevented strong play from turning into wins. Harmon offered counsel, but he also suggested a meeting with short-game guru Pete Cowen. This week Woodland even sought the putting wisdom of PGA Tour Champions member Brad Faxon.

Sometimes it really does takes a village.

“I feel like I can make a lot of putts, and I haven’t felt that way in a long time,” Woodland said. “And obviously with the way I hit it and now I’m confident with the short game, and the putter starts working, good things will happen.”

This victory won’t change Woodland’s career arc – if anything, it validates the position many of his peers felt he has long deserved to occupy.

But in the moment of victory, he wasn’t thinking about his career standing, or the victory drought that had finally come to a close after years of hard work. With Gabby nearby and Jaxson in her arms, Woodland thought first of the daughter who never got a chance to share in a post-victory celebration.

“I just wanted her to know that I still love her,” he said.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1