Looking for a New Ballgame
When I was not much older than my boy is now, I listened as my brothers called the play-by-play on their imaginary games in the yard. My oldest brother could throw a ball high into the air and change instantly from Willie McCovey, who had hit the ball, into Roberto Clemente, who dashed to the right-field wall for the one-handed grab.
Small wonder, then, that I became a lifelong fan. Well, that was the plan, anyway.
The recent death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, probably at least partially from the abuse of ephedrine as a weight-loss aid, sealed it for me. Add to that 1) the mounting evidence of steroid use to turn slender players into muscle racks, and 2) the nagging fact that the games most exciting player and best hitter since Ted Williams allegedly bet on games he was managing (doesnt matter whether the gets into the Hall or not), and Im uncomfortable with the idea of major league players being my sons idols.
Even Sammy Sosa, a guy who seems like a perfect role model for kids, bristled when Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly suggested he settle the steroid issue with a little test. O.K., maybe it was just a case of Sammys dignity being offended. But to leave doubt about an issue like this? Im still uncomfortable.
Whats a father to do?
Two-year-old Joseph and I have begun to solve the problem by sitting in my home office, looking at pictures golf holes in big books, and learning new words.
ME: Say flagstick.
ME: No, son; say flagstick, or the USGA will be mad.
ME: Very good.
This got me thinking, and the Clean Cut Playoff between Charles Howell III and Mike Weir confirmed it. Golf could do a lot of good for itself by hard-selling what the PGA Tour has been quietly preaching for years: Golf is squeakiest clean sport there is. Heck, Weir and Howell are posters boys for square, back when that word could be most often found between three and meals and otherwise meant decent.
Its no secret that although there are a few sour personalities out there, most professional golfers are thoroughlywell, square folks. Something about the discipline and determination required to reach that level develops levelheaded people. The kind of people you want your kids to look up to. (In my case, that will be especially true when Joseph inevitably realizes the truth about Dads swing.)
Success in golf discourages drug abuse, as we all know. It is a sad fact that young baseball players feel, rightly or wrongly, that they have to take supplements to be strong enough to stay in the league ' not to excel, just to stay. But its a fact nonetheless. And baseball seems unwilling or unable to do anything about it.
So it was that I was sitting with my son early Sunday evening, watching to see if he would react when Howell launched a long and excruciatingly difficult bunker shot toward the flag on the second playoff hole. The ball landed six feet from the cup.
FLASSTIG! said Joseph.
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.
Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.
The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:
The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.
For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.
But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.
Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":
Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.
Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.
Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.
The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.
“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.
In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.
“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”
Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.
“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.