Reports and Adversaria from Recent Travel
Travel broadens the soul, so they say. Here are some things I learned on a recent trip to the West Coast.
1.I did not see any flaming lumber trucks. I did, however, manage to be out of Los Angeles during two earthquakes. (Sure, Californians said they were small quakes. But to a Northeasterner, there is no such thing as a small quake.)
2.Golf retailers are worried. Its uncertainty, rather than an identifiable business condition, that has golf shop owners edgy. They know that golf equipment, especially in the premium end, is a big-ticket item nowadays. At a recent gathering held by Callaway Golf, retailers applauded their hosts efforts to find opportunity during a tough time. But many believe that in general, a lot of wallets seem stuck in consumer pockets because of the war. That interruption, and the calamity that preceded it, came at the beginning of a down cycle for the equipment industry.
3.Griffith Park in Los Angeles may be the busiest public golf facility Ive ever seen. On a recent Sunday afternoon, there was a solid two-hour wait to get on one of the two 18-hole courses, even for a single. The two-tiered range was jammed with practice buffs of all sizes and abilities. And from what I can see, Los Angeles Korean population loves to play and knows its stuff. A sample exchange: How do you like your new TaylorMade? Fine; hit it. [A hit] Wow. Howd you get it with that shaft? Ill bet these guys get more fired up about gear than birdies and bogeys.
4.Pings gold putter vault, where I had a chance to shoot some video for a future story, is a sight to see. The room itself is unostentatious, but the goods are magnificent. There are hundreds of beautiful putters in there, and three gold-plated replica wedges: the one that Bob Tway used to win the 1986 PGA Championship, the one Paul Azinger used to win the 1993 Memorial Tournament, and the one Jeff Maggert used to win the 1999 World Golf Championships-Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship. Why wedges? Because the last strokes of those tournaments were chip-ins, not putts.
5.The late Karsten Solheims office at Ping, a sanctum of orderliness with many photos of golf memories on the walls, has been left as it was on the day he died in February 2000. Theres even a basket of parts and small machines on the desk, evidence of the master engineers delight in tinkering and figuring things out.
6.Expect TaylorMade-adidas Golf to make a push in wedges in 2002.
7.Speaking of TaylorMade, what about their rumored plans to buy Maxfli? The parties have done a great job of keeping a lid on this one. Industry watchers say theyve heard that the pens are poised over the papers, but no one has signed yet.
8.Cobra Golf, under the leadership of new general manager (and Wilson Golf alum) Jeff Harmet is high on its new King Cobra SS 350 titanium driver, and not just because of the technology. The suggested retail price will be $369, which might cause the club to pick up some of the business scared off by higher-priced competitors.
9.To the golf partners who carried me and my woeful tee ball around the course this trip: Your coupons for free chiropractic treatment are in the mail.
Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race
A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.
Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.
Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.
Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Bubba Watson
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Rickie Fowler
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Xander Schauffele
12. Matt Kuchar
13. Kevin Kisner
14. Tony Finau
15. Brian Harman
On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.
Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Francesco Molinari
2. Justin Rose
3. Tyrrell Hatton
4. Tommy Fleetwood
1. Jon Rahm
2. Alex Noren
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Paul Casey
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.