Golf

Tiger struggles in 3rd round of QLN, goes wrong way on moving day

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Tiger struggles in 3rd round of QLN, goes wrong way on moving day

BY PETER HAILEY

GAINESVILLE, Va. -- When Tiger Woods hit a miraculous second shot through a group of trees that landed just off the green on the second hole of his third round at the Quicken Loans National, the fans following him buzzed with excitement. 

And when Woods went on to chip his third shot on to the green and tap in for par -- a tremendous save after a woeful tee shot -- the gallery at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club was thrilled.

"That's the old Tiger Woods!" one man yelled, as others marveled at Woods' ability to gather himself and end with a par after starting so poorly. 

It was at that moment where hopes were highest -- hopes that Woods would heat up, continue to build off of his impressive first two rounds, and put himself in position to contend for a win at his own tournament.

Those hopes, however, were dashed about an hour and a half later starting on the eighth hole, as Woods would shoot 3-over on the final 11 after staying even through the first seven. As the round dragged on, and Tiger's drives got wilder and wilder, the 39-year-old was simply unable to hit the terrific rescue shots that he had at the start of the day.

Woods admitted he sensed something was awry while warming up on the range.

"Unfortunately, I warmed up that way," Woods said after posting a 74. "Sometimes it's one of those things you hit awful on the range and go stripe it on a golf course. That wasn't the case here. I warmed up, it was indicative of how I played."

The first two days for Woods brought along a lot of promise, and he began Saturday tied for fifth and just four shots off the lead. But as many golfers were able to climb up the leaderboard by taking advantage of the soft greens and warm temperatures at RTJ, he went the opposite way.

When all was said and done, Woods had fallen 37 spots, and heads into Sunday tied for 42nd. 

"I was waiting for the one moment, the one shot," he said. "I couldn't find it. Basically it was a fight all day."

For Woods, an answer for why his swing was off and why he couldn't put together his third straight round with a score in the 60s wasn't immediately clear. But he did say he was sure it wasn't because it was the first time in a long time that he'd been in contention on moving day.

"I felt very comfortable out there," Woods said. "I've been there so many times. I saw most of the guys were at 3-under par or better through nine holes and felt like the course was definitely getable."

Woods is now trailing leader Troy Merritt -- who set a course record with a 61 in his third round -- by nine strokes, meaning the chances of him winning his first tournament since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational are a lot slimmer than they were Saturday morning. For those who travelled to Gainesville wishing to see glimpses of the old Tiger Woods, that's tough news to hear.

Even more unsettling for those Woods watchers, though, is having to wonder whether this version of Woods -- the one who teases us with a couple of quality shots only to follow them with bad ones -- is the one we'll see during the rest of his career. Some thought QLN would be the place where Tiger finally turned things around after a strong Thursday and Friday, but that doesn't look like it'll be the case anymore.

And if he keeps on this path that he's headed, there will be fewer and fewer fans like the one from the second hole yelling, "That's the old Tiger Woods!" after his best shots, simply because those memories will just keep falling further and further into the back of our minds.

MORE FROM QUICKEN LOANS NATIONAL: Merritt sets a course record

2018 PGA Championship Predictions: Fantasy Golf sleepers, fade picks

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 PGA Championship Predictions: Fantasy Golf sleepers, fade picks

The final major golf tournament of the season takes place this weekend at Bellerive Country Club in Town And Country, Missouri. Bellerive last hosted the PGA Championship in 1992 when Nick Price captured the first of his three major titles.

Will Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka or Francesco Molinari claim their second major title of 2018? Can Dustin Johnson, the world's top golfer, capture his first major title since 2016? What about Tiger Wood? There are so many questions that will get answered between Thursday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 12.

If you are looking for the best insight and analysis to help you win at fantasy gold, you've come to the right place. 

The panel of golf experts offering their predictions, picks and analysis are:

Chris Garosi, The Fantasy Fix
Geoff Fienberg, DraftKings Live/The PME Experience
Kenny Kim, Fantasy Golf Degenerates Podcast
Doug McKinney, NBC Sports Washington/Sports Junkies

PGA Championship 2018 Fantasy Golf Picks and Predictions

PICKS TO WIN

Geoff Fienberg: Dustin Johnson
The No. 1 player in the world has four Top 5 finishes in his last five5 starts and I expect another outstanding finish this week. I don’t want to live in a world in which Dustin Johnson has the same amount of majors as Keegan Bradley and a cavalcade of others so I’m looking forward to him getting No. 2 this week.

Chris Garosi: Dustin Johnson
I’ll stick with the favorite this week and go with Dustin Johnson. He’s finished in the Top 10 in five of his last six tournaments, missing the cut at The Open Championship. He may be in the best form of his life and perhaps the best form of anyone in the field.

Kenny Kim: Rory McIlroy
McIlroy is in solid form entering the 2018 PGA Championship. He was in the final pairing last week at Firestone and was in contention on the back-nine Sunday at Carnoustie. His length off the tee should be helpful at a wet Bellerive and the soft conditions should help with his approach game as well. The course favors golfers who hit a draw off the tee and McIlroy does that with the best of them. If he putts like he did last week, he could run away with it.

Doug McKinney: Brooks Koepka 
Why not? All Koepka does is compete at golf’s four prestigious in-season events. Since whiffing in his first two major appearances, Koepka has only made 17 straight cuts, including 11 Top 15 finishes and seven Top 10’s. Oh right, he also has two U.S. Open titles. The Florida State product has gone T-15 / T-5 / T-4 / T-13 in his last 4 PGA Tour visits. Bellerive is built for Koepka’s profile: long off the tee, maintain strokes gained tee-to-green and greens in regulation.  

SLEEPER PICK

Geoff Fienberg: Bryson DeChambeau
 The only player at Firestone to improve his score all four rounds. He'll never stop grinding for us and when you believe it is the Summer of Bryson how can one resist odds being posted as high as 80/1? Alex Noren was a close second for me here flirting in that 50-60/1 range.

Chris Garosi: Patrick Cantlay 
Since I went with chalk at the top, let’s dive a bit deeper for a sleeper. Patrick Cantlay tees it up for his second PGA Championship this week off a T6 at Firestone last week. He has three top 15 finishes in his last five events. He’s No. 31 in Strokes Gained: Approach, No. 11 Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and No. 8 Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on the year.

Kenny Kim: Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau impressed me last week by improving every round after shooting an abysmal 75 Thursday at Firestone. He could have given up but instead grounded out a Top 30 finish. He has all the tools to win here: length off the tee, sharp long irons, good approach stats, and his putter has improved the back half of this year. He’s also one of the top golfers on Tour at long par 4s. He has a lot to play for as he is one spot out of automatically making the Ryder Cup team and a strong showing this week will go a long way in his bid to make the team.

Doug McKinney: Paul Casey
I really wanted to slot Jon Rahm with the sleepers, because rarely anyone is giving him a shot to win…but I’ll play the game and go with someone who is even less talked about. The two-time PGA Tour winner – cough, cough he has 13 European Tour victories, mind you – is an older, British version of Rickie Fowler. Consistently making the weekend at Majors, usually near the top of the leaderboard (Nine Top-10’s on his record) and just has not put together four rounds together at the same time. 

Sound familiar right? The biggest difference between the two is that Casey is older and Fowler flashes a lot of orange. Casey’s iron play has been impressive this season and his tendency for higher than average ball-flight should come in handy this weekend.

LONGSHOT PICK

Geoff Fienberg: Beau Hossler
 The young Hossler is a brick house filled with immense talent and I’ve been sucked into the 150/1 price tag. Luke List and Gary Woodland also have my attention at numbers north of 100/1.

Chris Garosi: Kevin Chappell
 Kevin Chappell sits No. 27 in Strokes Gained: Approach and that’s enough for me to risk him this week as a longshot. I also always look at Cameron Smith on any par 70 course. Even though it’s been an up and down season for the youngster, he’s had a small uptick in play recently and perhaps it’s the start of something. 

Kenny Kim: Kyle Stanley
Stanley had a strong showing last week and his game should fit the needs of this course. He hits a ton of fairways, has excellent iron-play, and he is longer than you might think off the tee. Last week he averaged well over 300 yards with his driver. He hasn’t had too much success at Majors but has shown the propensity to do well in strong fields this past year. He has two Top 5s in the WGC events this season and has a runner-up finish at The Memorial. A Major breakthrough is not out of the question for him.

Doug McKinney: Gary Woodland
I picked “Woody” as my longshot for the U.S. Open and he “rewarded” me with a T-36. Two great rounds sandwiched in with two bad ones. He is coming off a solid performance in Akron and is fifth in strokes gained off the tee this year. He catches flack for his short game, but I think the other facets of his game will mask that problem this weekend.

FADE PICK

Geoff Fienberg: Francesco Molinari
Winning at Wentworth changed his career but winning at The Open has changed his life forever, from a strictly to win prospect I’m going to say ‘Cesco has run out of W's for 2018. 

Chris Garosi: Justin Rose
 Rose should be near the top of every card this week, but he withdrew last week with a back injury which gives me pause. You can find any number you want that will point you to Rose being a true contender, but I’m not risking it with him this week. 

Kenny Kim: Tiger Woods
It hurts my soul writing this but I think Tiger is a fade this week. This is his first full season on Tour in FIVE YEARS! There is no way his body can be used to the amount of golf he has played this season. His average swing speed has decreased in each of his last five tournaments and we’ve seen him struggle on weekends his last few outings. I don’t see a miraculous energy boost in his game this week no matter how much Monster he drinks.

Doug McKinney: Sergio Garcia
I don’t think he’s going to be a popular pick in the first place, but the 2017 Masters winner has missed the cut in his last four Majors. He hasn’t been able to drive the ball accurately this year. I wouldn’t roster him in any of my 30+ line-ups or betting plays.  

BARGAIN BUILDER

Geoff Fienberg: Ricky Fowler ($10,200)
It seems like many golf people are getting Fowler fatigue but he’s going to have a great week on a ball strikers/putters course.

Chris Garosi: Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($7,300), Eddie Pepperell ($7,000)
At $7,300, Cabrera-Bello is an outrageous bargain. You want stats? Ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach (if you like fancy stats) and 12th in GIR% (if you’re more of a simple stats kind of player). How about 31st in Total Driving? He’s coming of a T17 at Bridgestone and form at Bridgestone has seemed to be a good indicator for success at the PGA Championship. Maybe even play him as your top Spaniard if you’re into such things.

Kenny Kim: Jason Day.
I would consider Jason Day a Top 5 favorite to win this week but he is only the twelfth highest priced golfer on DraftKings. This is by far Day’s best Major and he is coming in with good form. We all know how good he is with the putter and out of the bunkers but what makes him a favorite for me is his improved iron play. If he gains anywhere near the 4.7 strokes he gained with his irons last week, he’ll be in contention on Sunday.

Doug McKinney: Jordan Spieth ($10,700), Rickie Fowler ($10,200).
Not a lot of love for the 2018 Masters winner, but I’ll roster him a bunch at that price. Patrick Reed could end the Majors season the way he started it.

 

Francesco Molinari wins Open Championship for first career major title

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Francesco Molinari wins Open Championship for first career major title

It was only a mere three weeks ago that Francesco Molinari closed with a final round 62 en route to a dominant eight-shot victory at the 2018 Quicken Loans National. 

On Sunday, his eight-under total was good enough for a two-shot win over Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

The 35-year-old played his final round alongside Tiger Woods, who shot a 5-under-par 66 in Saturday's third round that left him at 5 under through 54 holes and four shots back of the leaders. His 66 was his first weekend round in the 60s in the Open since 2007.

The 14-time major winner had to settle for a closing round of 71 on Sunday. It was his first Open since missing the cut at St. Andrews in 2015.

Molinari continues to be one of the world's hottest golfers, notching his third win in the last five starts. 

Some of golf's best weighed in on Sunday: 

When it was all said and done, on a day that featured difficult Carnoustie wind conditions, Francesco Molinari emerged victorious hoisting the Claret Jug.