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U.S. ahead by 1 at delayed Presidents Cup

DUBLIN, Ohio – One other rain delay minimize brief some exceptional golf Friday in the Presidents Cup.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley shot 30 on the front 9 at Muirfield Village, an astounding efficiency in foursomes. Only some sloppy play allowed the match to go 15 holes in a four-and-3 win over Jason Day and Graham DeLaet.

“We have been down but, boy, on 5 we just turned it on and played a few of our greatest golf,” Mickelson stated.

Proper behind them, Brendon de Jonge started to emerge as a star of the International workforce. He teamed with Ernie Els and they never trailed in a 4-and-3 win over Hunter Mahan and Invoice Haas, going 8 beneath when the match ended on the fifteenth.

“This man, he performed lovely and we each played effectively right this moment,” Els said.

The Americans had a four½-3½ lead, although 4 matches had been still in progress when darkness descended on Muirfield Village.

For the second straight day, storms interrupted play and left a bleak outlook for finishing Sunday. Heavy rain – and the time it took to get small swimming pools of water out of the bunkers and fairways – led to a delay of almost three hours.

The opposite 4 matches – the Americans were up in two, the Worldwide led the other two – were to renew Saturday morning.

Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar were 6 below via eight holes and still only had a 1-up lead over Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. Oosthuizen missed a short par putt on the ninth to lose one other hole, and the previous Open Championship winner made an excellent higher blunder on the par-3 twelfth. After Woods went long of the green, Oosthuizen’s 7-iron leaked to the appropriate and hopped into the water. The Individuals gained with a bogey and have been 3 up with six holes to play once they stopped.

Steve Stricker and 20-12 months-outdated Jordan Spieth finally seized control of their match when Spieth made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-three eighth, and the Texan made one other key birdie on the twelfth. They had been three up with 4 holes remaining.

What appeared to be the decisive match of the foursomes session was Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman, who overcame an early deficit and have been 1 up with 5 holes remaining towards Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker. The International workforce had control of the opposite match. Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott lost just one gap and had been 4 up with seven holes remaining towards Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner.

[+] EnlargePhil Mickelson and Keegan BradleyBrian Spurlock/USA AT PRESENT Sports activitiesPhil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were plenty glad after securing some extent for the U.S. workforce on Friday.

Saturday is the busiest day for the Presidents Cup, with five fourballs matches early and five foursomes matches late. It concludes with 12 singles matches Sunday, though the forecast isn’t any higher, especially for Sunday.

One thing was becoming clear by way of the relentless look of clouds – the course Jack Nicklaus built has been groomed for birdies.

Nicklaus stood at the back of the press heart peering at the scoreboard, and he couldn’t consider the scores he saw from each side. “They are saying this golf course is tough,” Nicklaus mentioned, though he knows better. The greens are among the most pure on the PGA Tour, and they’re comfortable because of the rain. In match play, with 24 of the very best players from every continent except Europe, Muirfield Village does not stand much of a chance.

“They aren’t defending the course like they might do on a Sunday of the Memorial,” Els stated. “So they’re establishing the course where you can make some birdies in case you play correctly.”

It was an enormous change from two years in the past at fast, fiery and frightening Royal Melbourne. In eighty holes on Friday, there have been 51 birdies and two eagles. That is good for the fourballs format – not often for alternate shot.

“People need to see birdies,” Mickelson said. “We do not need to be taking part in protection. We want to be playing offense. And if you try this, you are winning holes due to nice photographs, not because of other’s mistakes. And I believe that’s exactly the way it needs to be in these staff events.”

Mickelson and Bradley, coming off their first loss in 4 matches as a staff, fell behind early and wanted a pair of huge putts from Bradley to keep from falling additional behind. It took a 15-foot eagle putt by Mickelson just to square the match on the par-5 fifth. However there was no stopping them from there. They adopted with three straight birdies and gained three straight holes on the again nine with pars.

Mickelson tried to hole out a pitch simply wanting the thirteenth inexperienced – an up-and-down was all he needed – and it hit the opening and spun 4 feet away. Bradley missed the par putt, bungled the 14th for an additional bogey and they halved the fifteenth with birdies.

Even so, they made six birdies and an eagle in 15 holes of alternate shot.

“I just suppose that when Phil and I get rolling in this alternate shot, we complement one another so nicely,” Bradley mentioned. “I think that we each really enjoy type of exhibiting off in entrance of one another.”

De Jonge and Els opened with two fast birdies via three holes and never gave Mahan and Haas a lot of an opportunity. They did not lose a single gap.

“Brendon performed awesome,” Els said. “He played nice yesterday. Actually, he even performed higher at this time.”

The Zimbabwean, in his first Presidents Cup, stated Els contributed in his own means.

“Do not let Ernie give me all of the credit,” de Jonge said. “He is by far probably the most calming affect I’ve ever been on the golf course with. It’s nice to play with a Hall of Famer who hits it in the course of the golf green and middle of the inexperienced. He makes it very straightforward.”

The conclusion of the second session might be pivotal for captain Nick Worth and his International crew, which has misplaced the last seven foursomes sessions on this occasion.

 

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2014 Masters odds are out, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy lead the field

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson — Getty Images We’re 240 days till the start of the 2014 Masters (the countdown to Augusta is right right here), but that does not mean preliminary odds aren’t out for the primary major of next yr.

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Tiger Woods, who hasn’t won a serious in over five years, leads the percentages at 5-to-1, with Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy coming in at 12-to-1 and Adam Scott is 15-to-1.

PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner is 30-to-1 to win.

Check out the remainder of the percentages after the leap, and tell us which number you suppose has value.

THE MASTERS
AUGUSTA NATIONWIDE GOLF CLUB – AUGUSTA, GEORGIA
APRIL 10-13, 2014

ODDS TO WIN:
TIGER WOODS 5/1
PHIL MICKELSON 12/1
RORY McILROY 12/1
ADAM SCOTT 15/1
JUSTIN ROSE 20/1
BRANDT SNEDEKER 25/1
JASON DAY 25/1
LEE WESTWOOD 30/1
CHARL SCHWARTZEL 30/1
DUSTIN JOHNSON 30/1
HENRIK STENSON 30/1
MATT KUCHAR 30/1
JASON DUFNER 30/1
LUKE DONALD forty/1
BUBBA WATSON forty/1
KEEGAN BRADLEY forty/1
LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN forty/1
HUNTER MAHAN 40/1
SERGIO GARCIA 50/1
GRAEME McDOWELL 50/1
STEVE STRICKER 50/1
IAN POULTER 60/1
RICKIE FOWLER 60/1
ANGEL CABRERA 60/1
WEBB SIMPSON 60/1
NICK WATNEY 60/1
BILL HAAS eighty/1
ZACH JOHNSON 80/1
THORBJORN OLESEN eighty/1
JIM FURYK eighty/1
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA 80/1
JORDAN SPIETH 80/1
MARTIN KAYMER a hundred/1
BO VAN PELT one hundred/1
RYAN MOORE 100/1
BILLY HORSCHEL a hundred/1
NICOLAS COLSAERTS 100/1
K.J. CHOI a hundred/1
ERNIE ELS one hundred twenty five/1
HARRIS ENGLISH one hundred twenty five/1
PETER HANSON a hundred twenty five/1
MARTIN LAIRD one hundred twenty five/1
JONAS BLIXT 125/1
PAUL CASEY a hundred twenty five/1
FRED COUPLES one hundred twenty five/1
ROBERT GARRIGUS a hundred twenty five/1
PADRAIG HARRINGTON 150/1
MATTEO MANASSERO a hundred and fifty/1
FREDDIE JACOBSON 150/1
FRANCESCO MOLINARI one hundred fifty/1
SCOTT PIERCY a hundred and fifty/1
RUSSELL HENLEY a hundred and fifty/1
BRANDEN GRACE one hundred fifty/1
RICHARD STERNE one hundred fifty/1
BOO WEEKLEY a hundred and fifty/1
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ 150/1
GRAHAM DeLAET 150/1
GEOFF OGILVY a hundred and fifty/1
BROOKS KOEPKA 150/1
TIM CLARK 200/1
GEORGE COETZEE 200/1
BERND WEISBERGER 200/1
MARC LEISHMAN 200/1
CHARLES HOWELL III 200/1
JIMMY WALKER 200/1
KEVIN STREELMAN 200/1
CHARLEY HOFFMAN 200/1
RETIEF GOOSEN 200/1
CAMILO VILLEGAS 200/1
GARY WOODLAND 200/1
DAVID TOMS 200/1
JOHN HUH 200/1
STEWART CINK 200/1
CARL PETTERSSON 200/1
VIJAY SINGH 200/1
MICHAEL THOMPSON 200/1
GONZALO FERNANDEZ-CASTANO 200/1
PETER UIHLEIN 200/1
RYO ISHIKAWA 250/1
CHRIS WOODEN 250/1
LUKE GUTHRIE 250/1
SHANE LOWRY 250/1
THOMAS BJORN 250/1
Y.E. YANG 250/1
TREVOR IMMELMAN 250/1
SANG-MOON BAE 250/1
JAMIE DONALDSON 250/1
ALEX NOREN 250/1
AARON BADDELEY 250/1
KEN DUKE 300/1
LUCAS GLOVER 300/1
DARREN CLARKE 300/1
MIKE WEIR 300/1
JORDAN NIEBRUGGE 500/1
DEREK ERNST 500/1
BERNHARD LANGER 500/1
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL 500/1
GARRICK PORTEOUS a thousand/1
TOM WATSON a thousand/1
DISCIPLINE (all others) 10/1

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Tiger Woods paired with Davis Love III and Keegan Bradley for first two rounds of PGA Championship

Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley — Getty Images Whereas the Bridgestone Invitational nonetheless has 36 holes to go, loads of the focus within the golf world is on the ultimate major of the yr.

The PGA Championship kicks off next week, and the PGA of America has already launched the tee instances for all the gamers for the primary two rounds. Tiger Woods will be paired with two former winners of this occasion, Keegan Bradley and Davis Love III, while the three major winners of 2013, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson, will go off collectively at Oak Hill.

The rest of the tee occasions are after the jump, however give us what threesome you’d most wish to comply with in the event you have been headed to the year’s final major.

Round 1 (No. 1), Spherical 2 (No. 10) [All instances Japanese]

7:10AM-12:20PM: Rob Labritz, John Senden, Shane Lowry

7:20AM-12:30PM: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Bob Gaus, Luke Guthrie

7:30AM-12:40PM: Marc Leishman, Josh Teater, Pablo Larrazabal

7:40AM-12:50PM: Tommy Gainey, Ryan Palmer, David Hearn

7:50AM-1:00PM: Michael Thompson, Marcel Siem, Bo Van Pelt

8:00AM-1:10PM: Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem, Mark Brooks

8:10AM-1:20PM: Richard Sterne, Scott Brown, David Lingmerth

8:20AM-1:30PM: Ben Curtis, Marcus Fraser, Peter Hanson

8:30AM-1:40PM: Stewart Cink, Paul Lawrie, Rafael Cabrera-Bello

8:40AM-1:50PM: Thorbjorn Olesen, Brian Gay, David Lynn

8:50AM-2:00PM: Stephen Gallacher, David McNabb, Branden Grace

9:00AM-2:10PM: Caine Fitzgerald, Kevin Streelman, Bernd Wiesberger

9:10AM-2:20PM: J.C. Anderson, (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational winner), Jaco Van Zyl

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12:25PM-7:15AM: John Huh, Ryo Ishikawa, Danny Balin

12:35PM-7:25AM: Darren Clarke, Tom Watson, Paul McGinley

12:45PM-7:35AM: Kohki Idoki, Rod Perry, Nick Watney

12:55PM-7:45AM: Nicolas Colsaerts, Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker

1:05PM-7:55AM: Tim Clark, Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson

1:15PM-eight:05AM: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Webb Simpson, Angel Cabrera

1:25PM-eight:15AM: Rory McIlroy, Vijay Singh, Martin Kaymer

1:35PM-8:25AM: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Luke Donald, Jordan Spieth

1:45PM-eight:35AM: Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson

1:55PM-eight:45AM: Lucas Glover, Ian Poulter, Zach Johnson

2:05PM-eight:55AM: Kevin Chappell, Christopher Wood, Mike Small

2:15PM-9:05AM: Kevin Stadler, Chip Sullivan, Chris Stroud

2:25PM-9:15AM: Sonny Skinner, (Winner of the Reno-Tahoe Open), Richie Ramsay

Round 1 (No. 10), Spherical 2 (No. 1)

7:15AM-12:25PM: Charley Hoffman, Bob Sowards, Matt Every

7:25AM-12:35PM: Mark Sheftic, Robert Garrigus, Hiroyuki Fujita

7:35AM-12:45PM: Hunter Mahan, Paul Casey, Billy Horschel

7:45AM-12:55PM: Hideki Matsuyama, Steve Stricker, Jason Dufner

7:55AM-1:05PM: Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler

8:05AM-1:15PM: Graeme McDowell, Ernie Els, Bill Haas

8:15AM-1:25PM: David Toms, Padraig Harrington, Y.E. Yang

8:25AM-1:35PM: Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel

8:35AM-1:45PM: Davis Love III, Keegan Bradley, Tiger Woods

8:45AM-1:55PM: Peter Uihlein, Jim Furyk, Thomas Bjorn

8:55AM-2:05PM: Ok.J. Choi, Ryan Polzin, Jonas Blixt

9:05AM-2:15PM: Scott Stallings, Jason Kokrak, Jeff Sorenson

9:15AM-2:25PM: Scott Jamieson, Roberto Castro, Stuart Smith

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12:20PM-7:10AM: Mark Brown, Scott Piercy, Brooks Koepka

12:30PM-7:20AM: Derek Ernst, Jeff Martin, Charles Howell III

12:40PM-7:30AM: Ken Duke, Matteo Manassero, Jimmy Walker

12:50PM-7:40AM: Danny Willett, Joost Luiten, Russell Henley

1:00PM-7:50AM: Freddie Jacobson, George Coetzee, Harris English

1:10PM-eight:00AM: Boo Weekley, Francesco Molinari, Thongchai Jaidee

1:20PM-8:10AM: Jamie Donaldson, Ryan Moore, Alex Noren

1:30PM-eight:20AM: Brett Rumford, Geoff Ogilvy, John Merrick

1:40PM-8:30AM: Sang-Moon Bae, Woody Austin, Martin Laird

1:50PM-eight:40AM: Carl Pettersson, D.A. Points, Mikko Ilonen

2:00PM-8:50AM: Graham DeLaet, Kirk Hanefeld, Kyle Stanley

2:10PM-9:00AM: David Muttitt, Charlie Beljan, Brendon De Jonge

2:20PM-9:10AM: Lee Rhind, Chris Kirk, Marc Warren

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WGC-Bridgestone Invitational odds are out with Tiger Woods coming in a heavy favorite

Tiger Woods — Getty Images You realize what happens while you come to a golf course you have received at seven instances after choosing up four PGA Tour wins already in a season? You’re the favourite. The heavy, heavy favorite.

That’s Tiger Woods this week on the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone. Woods, coming off a T-6 finish at the British Open, is a four-to-1 favourite so as to add an eighth title at Firestone with Open champion Phil Mickelson coming in second by the oddsmakers at 12-to-1.

This week kicks off an ideal run on the PGA Tour, with Bridgestone happening this week and the PGA Championship taking place the week after. It is also a type of rare instances when Tiger plays the week before a serious, hoping the momentum from a golf course that has produced some nice Tiger moments up to now can propel him to a serious droop buster.

Check out the rest of the chances after the soar and let us know who you like in a few of those spots.

WGC-BRIDGESTONE INVITATIONAL
FIRESTONE COUNTRY MEMBERSHIP (SOUTH COURSE) – AKRON, OHIO
AUGUST 1-4, 2013

ODDS TO WIN:
TIGER WOODS 4/1
PHIL MICKELSON 12/1
ADAM SCOTT 15/1
JUSTIN ROSE 20/1
BRANDT SNEDEKER 20/1
MATT KUCHAR 20/1
RORY McILROY 25/1
LEE WESTWOOD 25/1
HUNTER MAHAN 25/1
DUSTIN JOHNSON 25/1
STEVE STRICKER 25/1
JASON DAY 30/1
KEEGAN BRADLEY 30/1
CHARL SCHWARTZEL 30/1
HENRIK STENSON 30/1
LUKE DONALD 40/1
SERGIO GARCIA 40/1
GRAEME McDOWELL 40/1
BUBBA WATSON forty/1
JASON DUFNER 40/1
IAN POULTER 50/1
ZACH JOHNSON 50/1
RICKIE FOWLER 50/1
JIM FURYK 50/1
WEBB SIMPSON 50/1
ERNIE ELS 50/1
BILL HAAS 50/1
ANGEL CABRERA 60/1
HIDEKI MATSUYAMA 60/1
MARTIN KAYMER eighty/1
NICOLAS COLSAERTS 80/1
RYAN MOORE 80/1
BO VAN PELT eighty/1
BILLY HORSCHEL 80/1
PAUL CASEY 80/1
FRANCESCO MOLINARI 80/1
MARTIN LAIRD 80/1
BRANDEN GRACE 100/1
NICK WATNEY 100/1
HARRIS ENGLISH a hundred/1
MATTEO MANASSERO one hundred twenty five/1
RUSSELL HENLEY 125/1
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ a hundred twenty five/1
RICHARD STERNE one hundred twenty five/1
THORBJORN OLESEN 150/1
PETER HANSON one hundred fifty/1
SCOTT PIERCY 150/1
JONAS BLIXT a hundred and fifty/1
SHANE LOWRY one hundred fifty/1
DISCIPLINE (all others) 8/1

TOURNAMENT MATCHUPS:
PHIL MICKELSON +165
TIGER WOODS -185

JUSTIN ROSE +110
ADAM SCOTT -130

DUSTIN JOHNSON +110
BRANDT SNEDEKER -130

MATT KUCHAR -120
STEVE STRICKER EVEN

CHARL SCHWARTZEL EVEN
LEE WESTWOOD -120

JASON DAY -110
SERGIO GARCIA -110

KEEGAN BRADLEY -120
JASON DUFNER EVEN

LUKE DONALD -120
GRAEME McDOWELL EVEN

BILL HAAS -110
ZACH JOHNSON -110

BRANDEN GRACE +105
MARTIN LAIRD -125

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Muirfield moments and a British Open to remember

GULLANE, Scotland (AP) — On the day after a British Open that will be talked about for years, it was time for Muirfield to return to normal. Workers dismantled the green seats in all the grandstands. Trucks carried out supplies from the tented village. The blue name plates of players were removed from the lockers.

Still towering over the 18th green was that enormous, glorious, yellow scoreboard with all the letters and numbers in place.

”Well done, Phil. See you at Royal Liverpool.”

On the left side of the board were the names, numbers and memories of Muirfield. Phil Mickelson with a red ”3” next to his name, the only player under par. Henrik Stenson. Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Adam Scott. Zach Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and – at the bottom – Tiger Woods.

Four players had a share of the lead Sunday. Twice as many looked as though they might walk away with the claret jug. It might have been one of the best, deepest leaderboards in the final round of a major in 20 years. Last one: Inverness in the PGA Championship, when Paul Azinger beat Greg Norman in a playoff, and the contenders included Nick Faldo, Vijay Singh, Tom Watson, John Cook, Lanny Wadkins, and even a young Californian named Mickelson.

Muirfield has the greatest collection of winners of any major championship – only two of its 16 champions aren’t in the Hall of Fame (one is Ted Ray, who should be). Every great course is due to have a dud for a major champion. Oakmont had Sam Parks Jr. Medinah had Lou Graham.

There was no way that was going to happen at Muirfield.

Of the nine players who had at least an outside chance on the back nine, it was a toss-up between Stenson and Hunter Mahan of those who had the least credentials. Stenson has won The Players Championship and a World Golf Championship. Mahan has two WGC titles and was playing in the final group at his second straight major.

That set the stage for Mickelson to play what he believes to be the best round of his career. By numbers alone, it was his lowest final round of a major. On a course that didn’t yield a single bogey-free round all week, Mickelson only dropped a shot at the 10th hole. The scoring average for Sunday was just under 73.5. Mickelson shot 66, matching the lowest score of the tournament. It was the lowest final round ever at Muirfield, and the lowest by an Open champion since Justin Leonard shot 65 at Royal Troon in 1997.

The greatest final round in a major?

Not quite.

Just about anything will be tough to beat Jack Nicklaus with a 65 at the 1986 Masters when he won his sixth green jacket and 18th professional major at 46. Johnny Miller will tell you – he probably already has – that his 63 at Oakmont in 1973 was pretty good. He is the only major champion with a 63 on Sunday. For pure theater, there was Tom Watson’s 65 at Turnberry when he beat Nicklaus by one shot in the ”Duel in the Sun.”

What made this so compelling was Mickelson.

A four-time major champion, he had only contended twice in the British Open. Muirfield has a short history of players winning the claret jug with help from other’s misfortunes. That’s often true in majors to some degree, but not this one. Mickelson seized it with four birdies on the last six holes, and a momentum-saving par on the 16th when he used his 60-degree wedge for a shot so many others would have putted – a thin lie, up a steep slope to a green with a false front to 8 feet to set up a tough putt.

”I don’t want anybody to hand it to me,” Mickelson said. ”I want to go out and get it. And today, I did.”

Muirfield also provided another chance to handicap Woods and his pursuit of the record 18 majors by Nicklaus.

Woods is back to winning more than everyone else, but all he can say about the majors is that he’s back to contending in them. He has left a mark in five of the last six majors – either a share of the 36-hole lead or close enough on Sunday to pay attention to that red shirt – but he has yet to be a serious contender. He says he has been in ”probably about half the majors on the back nine on Sunday with a chance” since his last major in 2008.

That’s a stretch. Contention is best defined as having a chance in the final hour. That hasn’t been the case since his downfall. It would be foolish to dismiss his chances of at least catching Nicklaus, but this won’t be easy. At this stage, the bigger threat to him is not how good he is, but how much better everyone else is.

Westwood doesn’t feel as though he played badly, and while he closed with a 75, that was not a disgrace. Mahan also had 75 in the last group. Woods was in the group ahead and shot 74. This wasn’t a meltdown like Scott’s last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, or Nick Watney and his 81 at Whistling Straits in the 2010 PGA Championship, or Dustin Johnson’s 82 at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open.

This was more like a slow bleed. The bandage started to come undone on the seventh tee. There was the sound of a camera clicking on Westwood’s 9-iron, perhaps from the gallery. Westwood only turned to glare after his ball came up short and headed into a pot bunker. It didn’t seem to be that big of a deal, but his reaction was the first sign of frayed nerves. He was tentative on some birdie chances on the back nine.

Westwood made 12 birdies and an eagle going into the final round. He made one birdie on Sunday.

Of the top five players on the leaderboard, he was the only one without a birdie on the back nine. This would have to fall under the category of ”missed opportunity” more than ”blown opportunity.” But at 40, those opportunities might not come along as often.

For Mickelson, who captured the third leg of the career Grand Slam, the U.S. Open can’t get here soon enough.

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British Open odds updated after second round

Tiger Woods — Getty Images We are halfway through with the 2013 British Open and the Claret Jug is still very much up for grabs. Miguel Angel Jimenez leads at 3-under, with Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood sitting a shot back at Muirfield.

The winning odds have been updated, courtesy of Bovada, and we have some surprises (Jimenez at 14-to-1) and some numbers one would expect (Tiger at 5/2).

Check the odds after the jump and let us know which name you like the most to snag this Open Championship.

The Open Championship 2013 Outright Winner
Tiger Woods 5/2
Lee Westwood 6/1
Henrik Stenson 15/2
Dustin Johnson 11/1
Angel Cabrera 14/1
Miguel Angel Jimenez 14/1
Phil Mickelson 14/1
Adam Scott 16/1
Zach Johnson 16/1
Martin Laird 20/1
Charl Schwartzel 25/1
Ian Poulter 33/1
Jason Day 33/1
Bubba Watson 40/1
Ryan Moore 40/1
Rafael Cabrera –Bello 40/1
Webb Simpson 40/1
Jordan Spieth 50/1
Francesco Molinari 66/1
Darren Clarke 75/1
Hunter Mahan 80/1
Branden Grace 150/1
Graeme McDowell 150/1
Jamie Donaldson 150/1
Brandt Snedeker 200/1
Ken Duke 200/1
Bernd Wiesberger 250/1

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Flawless Johnson in tie for John Deere lead

(Reuters) – Rejuvenated by improved form with his driver, Zach Johnson made a strong start to his title defense at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois as he surged into a share of the lead in Thursday’s opening round.

The 37-year-old American piled up seven birdies in a flawless display for a sizzling seven-under-par 64 at the TPC Deere Run, finishing joint top with Colombia’s Camilo Villegas.

Burly Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge was a further stroke back, mixing four birdies with an eagle at the par-five 10th to end the round level with Americans Matt Bettencourt and Daniel Summerhays.

Most eyes, however, will be firmly focused on Johnson who triumphed here last year with a birdie on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to edge out compatriot Troy Matteson.

Johnson has now posted sub-70 scores in his last 17 competitive rounds on the par-71 layout.

“I am very pleased,” Johnson, a nine-times winner on the PGA Tour, told Golf Channel after making four birdies in his last nine holes. “Very few mistakes, one maybe two errant shots. I was very much in control, and very in control on the greens.

“I hit my driver beautifully, putted great and gave myself a lot of good opportunities. That’s all you can ask for. Hopefully I can just continue that consistency for the remainder of the week.”

Johnson was especially pleased with his driving, a component of his game which gave him trouble early on this season when he missed the cut three times in his first seven PGA Tour events.

“It feels tremendous,” he smiled. “It’s at the point now with my driver that I must have been way off (before). I feel very comfortable.

“I’m going to be hitting bad drives but I don’t feel I have to grind as much off the tee box. The consistency of left-to-right and right-to-left is always nice on these tee shots.

“But I still have a lot of work to do. I am never going to be content. The leaderboard here is packed and it will be come Sunday.”

GRANDSTAND VIEW

One player who had a grandstand view of Johnson on Thursday was three-times former champion Steve Stricker, who was paired with his fellow American in a high-profile grouping which also included Davis Love III.

“It was a lot of fun, an enjoyable round with two friends and watching Zach play, Zach played great,” said Stricker, who charged into contention at one of his favorite events with an opening 67.

“He hit in there (close) a lot of times and when he sets the pace like that, you don’t want to fall too far behind. You know he’s played well here in years past and you’ve got to stay up to him because I think he’s going to be tough to beat.”

Stricker made an explosive start to his round, holing out with a sand wedge to eagle his opening hole, the par-five 10th. He got to five under for the round after 11 holes before recording two bogeys over his closing stretch.

“I kept it going for a little while, then ran into a couple of bad holes at four and five on the way in,” said the 46-year-old American, who was champion at the TPC Deere Run for three successive years from 2009.

“But a good start overall. I wish I could have taken a little bit more advantage of that start but I am pretty pleased with the way I finished off the round.”

South African world number 10 Louis Oosthuizen, the highest-ranked player in this week’s field, made a roller-coaster start, mixing five birdies with a bogey, a double and a triple for a one-over 72.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue/Greg Stutchbury)