British Open notebook: Woods tries to boost Ryder Cup prospects
HOYLAKE, England — U.S. captain Tom Watson had been looking forward to seeing Tiger Woods at the British Open to “tell him my feelings about him direct” about the Ryder Cup.
On second thought, there's not much to say.
“Not a whole lot, probably,” Watson said Monday. “Again, it's performance. I could ask Tiger, ‘How are you feeling? How are you feeling like you're hitting the ball? Are you hitting it well?' And that doesn't mean anything, really. The performance means something. I'll be watching Tiger and I want him on the team — I do. He's a tough competitor and he's great in the team room. Wouldn't you want him on your team?”
Woods has three tournaments to give Watson an indication of his game.
The 14-time major champion was out for three months because of back surgery, and he wasn't playing well in the months leading to the March 31 operation as his back pain became more evident. Woods is No. 72 in the Ryder Cup standings with only five weeks remaining to earn one of nine spots.
He is a long shot to make the team, though a victory at Royal Liverpool — or the PGA Championship — would do the trick.
Rose among favorites
Justin Rose not only moved up to No. 3 in the world by winning the Scottish Open, he became a co-favorite to win the British Open.
Las Vegas-based Bovada has listed Rose and McIlroy as the joint favorites for Royal Liverpool at 14 to 1. They are followed by Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson — Nos. 1 and 2 in the world — at 16 to 1.
Woods is next at 18 to 1. He is a three-time Open champion. U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and defending British Open champion Phil Mickelson were listed at 20 to 1. Masters champion Bubba Watson was 40 to 1.
Looking for a long shot? Look no further than Nick Faldo at 1,000 to 1.
Olympic rankings begin
If the world ranking looks just like this in two years, Scott would be headed to Rio for the Olympics as the No. 1 player in the world — and so would Roope Kakko of Finland at No. 287.
The ranking is certain to change next week, let alone two years from now.
But starting this week, the International Golf Federation will be publishing a weekly “Olympic ranking” to show movement as players try to make the team. The 60-player field for men and women will be based entirely on the world ranking, with the cutoff on July 11, 2016.
That depends, of course, on whether an eligible player agrees to participate.
Players from the top 15 are guaranteed a spot in the Rio games, provided there are no more than four players from each country. For the Americans, those four would include Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Woods and Jordan Spieth, while excluding Jim Furyk, who is No. 11 in the world.
Howell's opening salvo
David Howell is in the first group at the British Open for the third time in his career, with one difference: He gets to hit the opening shot.
“Thrilled,” Howell said of his 6:25 a.m. tee time with former champion David Duval and Robert Karlsson said. “I played in the first group before. I'm not sure if I hit the first shot in Troon.
“However, at The Open there's always a chance you're going to get an early or late one. As early as that is, I don't think you'll find anyone complaining.”
Howell was third to hit at Royal Troon in 1997 — his first Open — and second to hit at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2001.