Category Archives: Jordan Spieth

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Last Word on Golf Roundtable: PGA Championship Predictions

This week’s roundtable of predictions by Last Word on Golf’s talented group of writers tackles the 2019 PGA Championship. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf team make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your PGA Championship picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Paul Casey (50 to 1)

The last Major memory golf fans have of Paul Casey is a missed cut at The Masters. Despite that, in 13 starts this season Casey has not only made the cut in 10 events but in each of those has finished no worse than a tie for 25th. Half of his made cuts were all top-10 performances including his latest start at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago with a tie for 4th. The Englishman currently sits 17th in Driving Accuracy and could finesse his way around the treacherous Black Course.

Brenden Martin (@brendenmartin28)- Henrik Stenson (70 to 1)

Bethpage Black is a narrow course. You have to be accurate, especially off the tee. Stenson is ranked 7th on Tour in driving accuracy and has been in the mix in previous majors.

Brandon Eisenman (@BrandonEisenman)- Rory McIlroy (12 to 1)

McIlroy needs to have solid drives off the tee and hit as many fairways as possible to have a chance to contend. The former PGA winner may have a tough time at Bethpage this week, but look for him to be in contention as the weekend nears.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Patrick Reed

With such a strong field this week this was the toughest prediction to have much confidence behind. While it’s true the last time the PGA Tour played Bethpage Black, Patrick Reed found victory but the 2018 Masters champion has had a tough 2019. He has yet to break through to a top-10 finish this year and has missed the cut twice in his last six starts. Additionally, Reed currently sits 169th in Driving Accuracy, 132nd in Greens in Regulation Percentage, and 126th in Total Putting; all stats you want with you, not against you at the PGA Championship.

Martin- Jordan Spieth

Spieth has been inconsistent with his play for the last few years and has struggled in key moments since he was a Major champion. He’s a great person, but he needs to regain his confidence and his game.

Eisenman- Jason Day

Day has played great golf all year long so far. However, Bethpage is one of the toughest courses in the country and he may have trouble making par on many holes. With his performance last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Day comes into this week looking to contend. But, he will miss the cut and fall in the rankings.
2019 PGA Championship Runner-Up
Walton- Tommy Fleetwood

There’s a gut feeling inside that says a European is going to make a run this week. The adverse weather conditions and thick rough set up perfectly for someone like Fleetwood to take advantage. Last week the Southport native made a strong run at the Betfred British Masters finishing tied for 8th. The 28-year old has made the cut in his last seven PGA Tour Major appearances and could take home his first Major victory this week in Farmingdale.

Martin- Tiger Woods

What Masters hangover? This is one of the greatest players in history and he has returned to glory. Watch him make a run on Sunday in his legendary red shirt.

Eisenman- Brooks Koepka

Koepka won the PGA Championship in 2018 with four solid rounds of play. Bethpage Black is a tough course to play on, but Brooks knows what it takes to contend for another major victory. Being paired with Tiger Woods this week should give Koepka a challenge as he seeks another win on the TOUR this season.
2019 PGA Championship Winner
Walton- Dustin Johnson

The 2016 U.S. Open champion is due for another Major victory so why not this year at the PGA Championship. Thus far this season Johnson has teed it up in 11 events featuring 11 made cuts, seven top-10’s and a victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship. The top-ranked golfer in the world nearly pulled off a comeback victory at the Masters but had to settle for a tie for second. Look for DJ to take advantage of his length off the tee and his continued Strokes Gained success to come home with the coveted Wanamaker Trophy this year.

Martin- Brooks Koepka

Koepka, of course, has a history of winning this tournament and has played well going into it. It will be close and not an easy course to play, but Koepka should be playing with a ton of confidence this week.

Eisenman- Tiger Woods

Woods comes into the PGA Championship searching for another major win. The 2019 Masters winner reclaimed his title of being one of the best golfers in the world with the win at Augusta in April. Tiger leads the PGA in reaching the green in regulation at 72%. Solid drives and nice shots on the green could land Woods his next major win.

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Spieth looks to complete the Grand Slam at PGA Championship

At just 25-years old three-time Major winner Jordan Spieth enters Bethpage Black with his eyes on one of the richest prizes in the world of golf. Winning the PGA Championship is a coveted title in its own right. But a victory this week in Farmingdale will earn Spieth the distinction of being a Grand Slam winner.

Just five other competitors have completed the modern day Grand Slam of golf. Gene Sarazen was the first to complete the feat in 1935. Since then Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods have each joined the club. Nicklaus and Woods, the two most decorated Major champions, have each cycled through the Grand Slam on three occasions.

In his 7th PGA Championship appearance, Spieth will look to make it an even six. Following his first PGA Tour victory, the Texas native soared up the World Golf Rankings with 10 Tour victories between 2015 and 2017. In just over that two-year stretch he added all three of his Major victories including The Masters, U.S. Open and his last victory at the 2017 Open Championship.

After claiming the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale with a commanding three-stroke victory Spieth’s recent run has less than lived up to expectations. Despite two top-10 finishes in his last six Major starts, the 2015 Player of the Year missed the cut last year at the U.S. Open and has finished tied for 28th and tied for 12th in his last two PGA Championship attempts.

The last time the PGA Tour teed off from Bethpage Black Spieth did see some success. Sharing a tie for 10th with close friend Justin Thomas, who withdrew from play Monday, Spieth finished at 5-under par and four shots off the lead. With the switch to May, Bethpage will offer a much different look than Spieth saw in 2016.

At 45-to-1 Spieth is a considerable underdog heading into Thursday’s opening round. But if he can keep it in the fairway and navigate the treacherous Black Course with poise and precision, he will put himself right back into a familiar place down the stretch Sunday.

With Spieth’s putting getting back on track this season, currently 5th in Putting Average at 1.703, the Grand Slam still seems not a matter of if but rather when for the University of Texas Alumni.

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2019 RBC Heritage Viewing Guide

Just days removed from one of the most inspired Masters Sunday finishes in recent memories the PGA Tour is back in business at the RBC Heritage. The always loved, yet still challenging, Harbour Town Golf Links welcomes some of golf’s hungriest competitors to the post-Augusta party. Boasting the smallest greens on tour, fairways and iron play will be at a premium this week in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Coming off one of the most difficult tournaments of the year didn’t stop eight of the top 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings from teeing it up this week. Included in this week’s field is the newly reclaimed World number one Dustin Johnson. The South Carolina native comes fresh off the heels of a tie for second at Augusta and looks to capitalize on his recent momentum.

With so much happening in Hilton Head this week Last Word on Golf has your guide to the course, featured opening round groups and how to watch and listen to all the action at the 2019 RBC Heritage.
The Course
While many are still buzzing about the coveted Masters green jacket, for the 132 competitors at Harbour Town Golf Links this week it’s all about the red tartan plaid sports coat befitting of the RBC Heritage winner. With the help of Jack Nicklaus, the course was designed in 1967 by the famous Pete Dye. This year-round public course has played host to various iterations of the Heritage Tournament since 1969.

In its 50th anniversary as a PGA Tour event, the RBC Heritage remains a scoreable tournament meant to test the nerves of even the most seasoned competitors. The 7,099 yard par-71 course plays shorter than the tour average of 7,200. Despite its length, Harbour Town makes up its’ difficulty in their greens but still holds a tournament course record of 20-under par set in 2009 by Brian Gay.

The grounds as a whole are comprised of multiple types of Bermuda grass from tee to green. With just 3,700 square feet of greens to work with Harbour Town truly hosts the smallest greens on the PGA Tour. Leading the field in strokes gained statistics, specifically proximity-to-hole and approach-the-green, will be a significant key to success this week.

Another important stat category to consider this week in Hilton Head will be greens in regulation. The difficult landing surfaces will make just getting on the greens a crucial commodity. 2014 winner Matt Kuchar currently leads not just the field but the entire PGA in greens in regulation percentage at 75.76%. Kuchar will go into the week with a valuable course history but as Satoshi Kodaira proved last year anyone can claim victory at Harbour Town.
Featured Groups
Three of the top-15 in FedEx Cup rankings will tee it up together over the first two days of play at the 2019 RBC Heritage. World number one Dustin Johnson will be joined by a fellow runner-up last week at the Masters in 25-year old rising superstar Xander Schauffele. This talented threesome will be rounded out by the 2019 WGC Match Play champion, and 2015 Heritage runner-up, Kevin Kisner. They will tee it up Thursday at 12:50 p.m. Eastern and Friday at 8:10 a.m. Eastern.

Before slipping late on Sunday, Francesco Molinari was just a few holes away from taking home his first green jacket. One man who knows something about winning at Augusta, despite his recent struggles, is 2015 Masters winner and three-time major champion Jordan Spieth. Both will be joined by fellow major winner, and 2013 Heritage runner-up, Webb Simpson. This trio of major champions get started opposite the previously mentioned featured group at 8:10 a.m. Thursday and 12:50 p.m. Friday.

In 2014 Bryson DeChambeau made his pro debut at Harbour Town and finished in a tie for fourth. Last year DeChambeau shot one his career low rounds before finishing in a tie for third place. This year he will be paired with former RBC Heritage winners Matt Kuchar (2014) and Satoshi Kodaira (2018) at 12:40 p.m. Thursday and 8:00 a.m. Friday.

With other talented threesomes including Tommy Fleetwood and former Heritage winners Graeme McDowell (2013) and Brandt Snedeker (2011) there’s a number of marquee match-ups to work through over the opening rounds. Don’t forget to check the official tee times to see when the top competitors tee it up Thursday and Friday.
Viewing and Listening Schedule
The 2019 RBC Heritage begins Thursday, April 18, and is scheduled to conclude Sunday, April 21. Coverage throughout the week can be found on PGA Tour Live as well as both radio and television broadcasts. Below are the dates, times and locations for your listening and viewing needs (all times Eastern Standard time and are subject to change).

Thursday April 18 – Round 1
PGA Tour Live 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PGA Tour Radio 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sirius 208/XM 92)
Golf Channel 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday April 19 – Round 2
PGA Tour Live 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PGA Tour Radio 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sirius 208/XM 92)
Golf Channel 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday April 20 – Round 3
PGA Tour Live 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PGA Tour Radio 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sirius 208/XM 92)
Golf Channel 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
CBS 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday April 21 – Final Round
PGA Tour Live 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PGA Tour Radio 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sirius 208/XM 92)
Golf Channel 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
CBS 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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Five Thoughts Heading into Ryder Cup Four Ball Matches

On the eve of the start of the Ryder Cup, Team USA and Europe’s selections for the morning four-ball matches were revealed. Captains Furyk and Bjorn made the vital selections that will pave the way for their teams to have success in the Ryder Cup. Here are the morning four-ball matches that will open the Ryder Cup:

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood

With the golfers set for both squads, here are my five initial thoughts heading into the Ryder Cup Friday Four-Ball matches.
1) Both Europe and USA Lead with Strength
It is clear that both Europe and USA want to get off on the right footing when it comes to who they put into the Four-Ball matches. For the Americans, they included golfers who come into the Ryder Cup with a ton of momentum. Tiger Woods is arriving at this competition, fresh off winning the TOUR Championship. Brooks Koepka has won two major championships this year.

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For the Europeans, who can argue the success Justin Rose has had this year. FedEx Cup Champion. World Number One. Oh, and he has an above .500 record in the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy is the other leader for the Europeans, coming into the Ryder Cup with a 9-6-4 career record. Putting the squad’s two top golfers in the first two matches sends a message that Europe wants to get the early lead and set the tone early in this competition.
2) Older Veterans Are Sitting
In the past, normally it would be the older veterans to start for the squads, to galvanize the respective teams. But in this Ryder Cup, both the Americans and Europeans are sitting their older players for future sessions. The USA is sitting Phil Mickelson, playing in his 12th Ryder Cup. Europe is resting Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, both of whom have played pivotal roles in victorious European Ryder Cup teams in the past.

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But can you blame Captains Furyk and Bjorn for their decisions? Since being selected as a Captain’s Pick, Phil Mickelson has been at the bottom of the leaderboards at the BMW and TOUR Championships. Sergio Garcia has not made the cut of a major championship since he won The Masters back in 2017. Ultimately, these players will have to compete at least once in the Ryder Cup. Most likely, some of them may play in the Foursomes session on Friday. But giving rest to the older players is important, as the Captains would like to keep them physically fit and not tired before the grueling Singles Sunday.
3) Rookies Get Golden Opportunity
It is clear that Captains Furyk and Bjorn aren’t shying away from putting their rookies in the hot seat early on in the Ryder Cup. Six rookies combined will be starting in the Friday morning Four-Ball session; Tony Finau and Justin Thomas for the Americans and Jon Rahm, Thorbjorn Olesen, Tyrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for the Europeans.

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“Players stand up and they are counted for what they do in the greatest events in the world. But legends are made in this event,” Bjorn said. “That is where the public comes around them and can do so much for their careers. It’s an opportunity to go out there and be the best that you can be on a grand stage.”

Thomas Bjorn is risking more with starting four rookies compared to Furyk’s two. Not to take away anything from Tony Finau or Justin Thomas but those two have been in the mix in major championships (Thomas 2017 PGA Championship winner) and relish those high-pressure moments. For Bjorn, he will roll the dice with Rahm, Olesen, Hatton, and Fleetwood. These four have shown promising golf this year, but will it shine through in front of the rowdy home crowd? The Danish captain believes they have what it takes to seize the moment.

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“There are the obvious guys out there, in the sense that they are players you would all expect to see, and then there’s a new guy in every group,” Bjorn said.

“They have been just itching to go, especially Thorbjorn, Jon and Tyrrell. I think Tommy is a different guy, in the way that he’s won [the 2017 France Open] around here, and he’s been real quality for the last couple of years.”
4) Best Morning Match?
While it will be fantastic to see the big hitters of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy going toe-to-toe or the lifelong friendship of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas becoming Ryder Cup partners, the best morning match will be the last one. Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed, the Big Cat and Captain America taking on Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, the Italian Stallion and the English Rookie.

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Patrick Reed’s Ryder Cup record is sensational. 6-1-2 and most famous for exuding that American pride in defeating Rory McIlroy at the 2016 Ryder Cup. Despite Tiger Woods’ underwhelming Ryder Cup record (13-17-3), he is coming into the Ryder Cup on a high after winning his 80th PGA Tour victory. The partnership of Woods and Reed can fuel and ignite the fire within each other, showcasing that emotion and enthusiasm we are used to seeing at the Ryder Cup.

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Francesco Molinari arrives in Paris playing the best golf of his career. Winner of the BMW PGA Championship and the Open Championship, Molinari utilized his steady ball striking tee to green to capture these victories. This includes deflecting a Tiger Woods final round charge at Carnoustie to hoist the Claret Jug.

Molinari will be paired with Tommy Fleetwood, a Ryder Cup rookie who has played brilliantly this season. From shooting a 64 in the final round of the U.S. Open to winning the 2017 French Open at Le Golf National, Fleetwood’s coolness under pressure will be a critical asset to possess in this Ryder Cup match.
5) Who Wins Each Match?
These four matches have the potential to produce terrific drama to open the Ryder Cup. As both the USA and Europe teams know, getting off to a strong start is crucial. When a player arriving to the first tee at the Ryder Cup, there is no messing around. Just ask Rory McIlroy, who vividly remembers his experience of coming to the first tee in his inaugural Ryder Cup appearance.

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“I still thought it was this team event that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things,” McIlroy said. “I was more concerned about individual titles and all that. Then I got to the first tee and I realized the magnitude of it all. It just hits you. You try and put your ball on that tee and it takes you a couple times to get it to settle on there.”
With that said, here are my predictions for the opening four matches.

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm (Europe)

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen (USA)

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey (USA)

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood (Half)

 

Score After Friday Morning Session: USA 2.5 – Europe 1.5

 

 

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