Open champion Jordan Spieth’s mental strength is the most powerful weapon in his arsenal.

The 146th Open was one that saw records tumble left, right and centre. 

Great sporting champions have many traits.

They have the raw skill and talent but also that burning desire to win. They are resilient and never give up, even if they are staring defeat in the face.

Jordan Spieth is no different.

The 23-year old from Texas won The Open on Sunday after beating Matt Kuchar by three shots in an enthralling final day at Royal Birkdale.

Spieth has shown throughout the week the many different weapons he possesses in his arsenal, but none are more powerful than his mental strength.

There is no doubt that the collapse he suffered at the 2016 Masters would have played on his mind ahead of his final round and one would have hoped that those wounds would not reopen this time around.

Unfortunately, the American could not have made a more nervous start. Three bogeys inside his first four holes set in motion the straight shootout for the Claret Jug between himself and Kuchar.

Spieth did ride out his luck at times on the front nine. On numerous occasions, Kuchar had the opportunity to capatalise on Spieth’s wayward drive shots, but missed crucial putts.

However by the halfway point of the round, Spieth had lost his three shot lead and both players were level on scores.

Then came the 13th hole and something we will never likely see again in a professional tournament.

Spieth’s tee shot went 120 yards wide of the fairway, and after consulting the match officials for no less than 20 minutes, the Texan took a penalty drop and hit a three iron just short of the green.

To the amazement of the Merseyside crowd, commentators, pundits and viewers watching from around the world, the American went on to only score a bogey on a hole that looked to be championship-ending.

He did however surrender the lead to Kuchar, who parred the hole.

Where many would capitulate mentally, Spieth seemed to gain confidence.

The 23-year old went on a mesmerising run, which saw him birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie holes 14-17. The scars from the 2016 Masters were fully healed.

Kuchar tried his best to keep up, but he couldn’t match the skill Spieth was oozing out of his body.

As he made the famous walk up the 18th green, the crowd applauded one of the greatest players in the sport today.

Spieth becomes the second player behind the legendary Jack Nicklaus to win three majors before the age of 24. He is also the youngest Open winner since 22-year-old Seve Ballesteros won the first of his three titles in 1979.

Only the PGA Championship is missing from the Texan’s trophy cabinet, and should he win that in three weeks time, he would complete the grand slam.

The 146th Open saw records tumble, with South African Branden Grace shot an eight-under-par 62 on day three- a major record for the lowest round score ever recorded.

It was also a historic tournament for Chinese golfer Li Haotong. His 63 was a final day highlight, and helped the 21-year old finish third overall. He is without doubt a name for the future.

But the spotlight rightly deserves to shine on Jordan Spieth. He has been the best player over the last four days and is a worthy Open Champion.

But he isn’t just a champion. He is a great one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masters 2017: Charley Hoffman provides masterclass on how to take on Augusta in difficult conditions.

The American leads after round one on seven-under-par. 

On a day where previous green jacket winners and major champions struggled, Charley Hoffman produced the round of his professional career.

The 40-year old sank nine birdies to score a seven-under-par 65, four shots clear of fellow American William McGirt in second.

They were the only two golfers to finish with a score above 70, but it will be Hoffman that will be on all of the back pages this morning.

Born in San Diego, the Californian has only finished in the top 25 of a major once in his career, back at the 2015 Masters.

After recording a two-under 34 on the front nine, Hoffman hit four consecutive birdies through holes 14, 15, 16 and 17.

His four shot lead is the largest after the opening round at the Masters since 1941.

McGirt is his closet challenger after he made an impressive start to his Masters debut.

The world number 53, who is only one place behind Hoffman in the rankings, is another American that lacks pedigree in the majors.

He missed the cut at both the US Open and The Open last year, before finishing a respectable 10th at the USPGA.

Although two Americans lead, there is a strong field of Englishmen who are only a few shots back and could mount a serious challenge for the green jacket if they continue their fine form into round two.

Lee Westwood hit an eagle on the 13th and sits third on two-under-par, one shot clear of Justin Rose, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Andy Sullivan.

Rory McIlroy finished strongly with three birdies to end the day on even par, as he looks to complete his quest to win the grand slam.

But with powerful gusts and strong winds, the conditions at Augusta were the most difficult they have been in recent history.

It seemed to have an effect on most of the players out on the field, with many battling to try and get round on level par to stay in contention.

This wasn’t a day where the Masters could’ve been won, but it most certainly one where it could’ve been lost.

Those who struggled included two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson (+3), 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson (+4) and world number four Hideki Matsuyama (+4).

Jordan Spieth quadruple-bogeyed a hole for the second successive round at the Masters. Following his disaster at the 12th in the final round last year – a hole which ultimately cost him a second consecutive green jacket – the 2015 Masters champion struggled this time on the 15th.

The 23-year old needed nine strokes to complete the par-5 hole, and he ended on three-over-par alongside Watson. He will need to provide some more Masters magic if he is to get back into contention.

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Masters 2017: Who do the bookies fancy for this year’s green jacket?

Some familiar names are among the frontrunners to win in Augusta. 

It’s that time of year again. The jaw-dropping scenery of Augusta National will once again be the home of the biggest names in golf, with the 2017 Masters set to begin tomorrow.

Following Danny Willett’s very traditional British champion’s dinner, the players will be practising around the infamous course one last time this evening before the competition begins.

Here are ten players the bookies are favouring to win the opening golf major of 2017.

DUSTIN JOHNSON (11/2)

The world number one is without doubt the favourite going into the tournament. The 32-year old has won his previous three events, the Genesis Open, WGC- Mexico and the WGC-Match Play.

After a sensational 2016, where he won the US Open (the first major win of his career) and helped USA to their first Ryder Cup victory since 2008, the man from South Carolina is hoping to carry on his superb form at a tournament where he has struggled previously. He has only finished in the top 10 twice in the last eight years.

No world number one has won the Masters since Tiger Woods back in 2002.

JORDAN SPIETH (7/1)

Is there any golfer who looks more at home at Augusta than Jordan Spieth? The American won the tournament in 2015, sandwiched between two runner up finishes in 2014 and 2016 respectively. His 2015 success saw him match Wood’s record total of 18-under-par.

The 23-year old has made an indifferent start to the 2017 season. His win at Pebble Beach back on the 9th February was the last time he finished in the top 10 of an event on the PGA Tour. But if there is one place he can turn his form around, it’s the Masters.

RORY MCILROY (8/1)

The Northern Irishman is said to be confident ahead of this year’s tournament. The 27-year old needs just the green jacket in order to complete the Grand Slam. However, Augusta has proved to not be such a happy hunting ground for him.

In 2011, he shot the worst round recorded by the leader of the Masters going into the final round. His round of 80 saw him slip from first to tied 15th.

McIlroy has not really been in any contention to win the tournament since then, but with that objective to win all for majors serving as his motivation, that could change this time around.

JASON DAY (16/1)

The former world number one will play at the tournament following his mother’s cancer diagnosis. In fact, it seems to have made him more determined to win.

The 2015 USPGA champion insists victory this week in Augusta would ‘dwarf the emotion of winning his maiden major’.

Day didn’t play at the WGC-Match Play so that he could be with his mother before she had lung surgery, but the Australian seems ready to battle for the green jacket.

The 29-year old has not got a bad record at the Masters either, finishing in the top 10 three times in the last six years.

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA (18/1) 

The 25-year old has become Japan’s golfing prodigy. The Japanese golfer has four PGA Tour wins to his name and has seemed destined to challenge for a major in the near future.

At Augusta, he finished fifth in 2015 and tied for seventh last year. This has made him a name hot on everyones lips going into the tournament.

But recently his form has not been to the level many expect of him. Since winning the Phoenix Open in February, Matsuyama has not finished any higher than 25th at an event.

RICKIE FOWLER (20/1)

Matsuyama was drawn alongside Fowler for this year’s opening two rounds, and the American is a man hoping to finally break his major duck.

The 28-year old came runner up at both the US Open and The Open during his career to date.

As his game has developed, so has his maturity when approaching each shot, making a far dangerous player when he hits top form. The closest he came to a green jacket was back in 2012, where he came fifth.

JON RAHM (22/1)

Young Spanish golfer Jon Rahm has moved up in odds under the radar. Rahm turned Pro last year and has radically climbed up the rankings.

In a matter of only 10 months, Rahm has climbed up from 539 to world number 12 ahead of the Masters.

The 22-year old has one PGA Tour win to his name, the Farmers Insurance Open in January this year.

JUSTIN ROSE (25/1)

The 2013 US Open and current Olympic champion tied second in this tournament two years ago with a respectable 14-under par.

The Hampshire-based golfer failed to make it into the top 10 of his last three events.

PHIL MICKELSON (25/1)

One of America’s most successful golfers, Phil Mickelson is a name that will always pop in when it comes to major contenders.

The three-time Masters Champion is a veteran when compared to the younger men in the field, but with that trusted left hand of his, anything could happen.

ADAM SCOTT (30/1)

The 36-year old won the green jacket back in 2013, becoming the first Australian to complete the feat.

However, since his victorious year, the one-time major winner has struggled to replicate his 2013 performance at Augusta, and has failed to make the top 10 for the past three years.

OTHER NOTABLE GOLFERS 

Henrik Stenson (Open Champion 2016) 30/1

Bubba Watson (Masters Champion 2012 and 2014) 40/1

Jimmy Walker (2016 USPGA Champion) 80/1

Danny Willett (2016 Masters Champion) 100/1

Scott Gregory (2016 Amateur Champion) 1000/1

*All odds correct via. SkyBet at time of writing.

 

 

2017 SBS Tournament of Champions: Second round report.

Two players lead at the halfway mark, with Jordan Spieth ending his second round in frustration.  

LEADERBOARD

T1 Moore, Thomas (-12)

T3 Reed, Walker (-11)

5 Dufner (-10)

THE LEADERS

After both hit six-under-par on Thursday, Justin Thomas and Ryan Moore were grouped together for round two. Both seemed to play off one another, as they recorded mirror scorecards. Each carded seven birdies and one bogey to end the day 12-under-par.

Thomas continues to build on his fine start to the 2016-17 PGA Tour season. He is currently second in the standings after his CIMB Classic victory, and his casual stroke-play on the 17th and 18th holes showed us the confidence this young 23-year old is currently waltzing around the Plantation course with.

Playing partner Moore was bogey free on the final nine, scoring five birdies. The 34-year old is currently ranked 51st in the world. A consistent start to the season has seen him finish within the top 25 in each of the three events he has played so far. A breakthrough 2016 season saw him debut in the Ryder Cup for USA.

PATRICK REED SHOOTS ROUND OF THE DAY

2015 Tournament of Champions winner Patrick Reed has always fared well in Kapalua. The American continued that trend as he carded a bogey free round, with a score of eight-under-par. The world number eight hit three consecutive birdies through three, four and five, with four more in the last five holes.

Reed hit every green in regulation for the first time in his PGA career on a day where he also only missed one fairway. He is now only one shot off the lead on 11-under-par, tied with round one leader Jimmy Walker in third.

Both contested a play-off in this event two years ago, with Reed coming out on top. Yesterday was another day that saw Walker fall by the wayside with a disappointing round of three-under-par.

The USPGA champion saw too many putts flirt around the cup, and dropped a shot on the 17th when he overhit his wedge shot to land past the green. A crucial birdie on the final hole might boost his confidence going into the weekend.

BETTER FROM JASON DAY, LESS SO FOR SPIETH 

World number one Jason Day is playing in his first event since September, and after a slow yet steady start on Thursday, the Australian picked up his game in round two.

Day ended on seven-under, after carding four-under-par. Aside from his bogey on the par four 13th, the Aussie hit five birdies, three of which came on par-fives.

A bogey-free third round from the world number one could see him back in contention on the final day.

The same can’t be said for Spieth. The defending champion struck nine birdies on Friday, with five coming consecutively between holes nine to 13.

However, the 23-year old also carded a double bogey on the par three eighth, and a triple bogey on the par four 17th, to end the day on five-under-par.

Seven shots down, the Texas-born world number five will need to shoot a 62 or 63 to get back in the race, but he sounded very deflated when talking to the media after his performance, claiming his tournament “was effectively over.”

2017 SBS Tournament of Champions: First Round.

US PGA champion Jimmy Walker leads after a bogey-free first round, with Jason Day and Jordan Speith making slow starts in Hawaii. 

THE LEADERBOARD

1 WALKER -8

T2 MOORE, HERMAN, THOMAS -6

T5 DUFNER, BERGER -5

THE LEADER

In what were ideal conditions, except for the occasional light rain shower, Jimmy Walker hit two birdies on the par-five 15th and par-five 18th for a two shot lead in the opening PGA Tour event of 2017.

Walker – who lost in a playoff with Patrick Reed in Kapalua two years ago – hit one eagle, six birdies and 11 pars at the Plantation course this time around to shoot 65.

In the off-season, Walker shortened his driver to try and improve his game off the tee. But with a driving accuracy of just 73.3%, it was his shots with the irons, wedges and putter that were the stars of the show.

His opening round ended with a GIR score of 94.4%, the joint highest in the round alongside Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

With his impressive record in PGA Events taking place in Hawaii, little would look past Walker to avenge that 2015 defeat to Reed this weekend.

OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

Justin Thomas: The 23-year old and world number 22 followed up his CIMB Classic victory with a six-under-par 67. His four birdies in five holes during the middle of his round eased the pressure off the young American, who made a slow yet steady start with seven consecutive pars.

Rod Pampling: One of the most experience men competing in the Tournament of Champions this year is Australia’s Pampling. The 47-year-old hasn’t competed in this competition for a decade, but you wouldn’t of thought it as he hit a four-under-par 69. He is tied seventh alongside world number six Matsuyama and US Open champion Dustin Johnson.

SPIETH AND DAY STRUGGLE TO GET GOING

It wasn’t the start to 2017 neither the world number one or the current defending champion would’ve wanted.

Spieth won this event last year with a score of -30. He will need to hit two majestic rounds if he is to get anywhere near that score again. Two bogeys on the back nine looked to deflate the former Masters and US Open champ, but his birdie on the 18th crucially see the 23-year old get into gear.

Day managed to end the day on three-under-par, but the Aussie did hit a bogey on the second hole to get off to a sluggish start. Birdies on both the 13th, 14th and 15th seemed to have rescued the round, only for the number one to hit a bogey six on the final hole.