Bienvenidos a Mexico PGA TOUR

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Mayakoba Golf ClassicPLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico -- PGA TOUR players are about to discover what colleague Esteban Toledo and thousands of tourists have known for years: Playing 18 holes in Mexico can be as enjoyable as a cold margarita on a hot afternoon.
 
The PGA TOUR is making its debut south of the border this week with the Mayakoba Golf Classic in an area known as the Riviera Maya. Fittingly enough, the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleon golf course playing host to the event was built for tourists.
 
For all its natural beauty, the course might not challenge the pros too much, unless there's a stiff enough wind off the Caribbean Sea. Still, no matter how low the scores go, having them posted aqui -- here -- is what matters most to Mexicans.
 
'The whole country is excited,' said Toledo, a native of Mexicali and among the nation's more successful golfers. 'All the Mexican people see the best players on TV. Now they're seeing them for real, in their own country. This is the biggest thing that can happen for golf in Mexico. I'm really, really surprised we haven't had it before.'
 
Despite the history being made, this event isn't even getting top billing on this week's PGA TOUR calendar.
 
The world's top 64 players are at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. Some others stayed away out of concerns about the course, the country and other unknowns that come with any first-time event.
 
For the most part, lines at customs have been short and other issues have been minimal. The weather has cooperated, too, going from cool and cloudy on Monday to the kind of crystal blue skies and comfortably warm temperatures shown in commercials on Tuesday.
 
'All the players I've been talking to, they're excited, they're very happy,' Toledo said. 'It's not Pebble Beach, but it's just wonderful. It's the best golf course that I've ever played in Mexico.'
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem and Norman attended a news conference Tuesday to help kick off the week's events. They were upstaged, though, by Salvador Linares, the director general of construction for developer OHL, a Spain-based company.
 
Speaking in Spanish, Linares requested 'constructive criticism' from the media, adding with a hearty laugh that no one should '(expletive) with us.' He later said his goal was for 'these gringos to go back home and tell everyone we can do it as well as they can.'
 
Finchem and Norman heard the barbs through a translator and laughed along, knowing what a character Linares can be. Finchem responded at the end of his opening remarks by saying, 'Salvador, I'm quite certain that we gringos will go back saying, 'Yes, indeed, they can do it just as well as we can.''
 
Billed as the PGA TOUR's Cancun event, the tournament actually is being held in another part of the Quintana Roo state, south of Cancun and just north of Playa del Carmen, in a resort community called Mayakoba that features jungles, exotic animals and a unique underground water system.
 
The Norman-designed course and the first of five hotels planned for the area opened in late 2005, a few months after Hurricane Wilma tore through.
 
The 7,000-plus-yard layout of El Cameleon features two oceanside holes and a cave-like cenote, a natural underground passageway that connects a giant opening on the middle of the first fairway (known as 'Devil's Mouth') to a less-noticeable opening between the second hole and third tee box.
 
The TOUR is under contract to return here through 2012, so it's possible the less-than-perfect timing of this year's event was intentional, making it somewhat of a dress rehearsal. How things go, on and off the course for the golfers and their families, could determine where the tournament lands on the 2008 calendar.
 
Toledo expects a primo date.
 
'I think the word is going to spread,' he said. 'I guarantee you there will be huge names next year. I guarantee it. The whole package here is just fantastic.'
 
Related Links:
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    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    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.

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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    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.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    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.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    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.

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    Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

    By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

    There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

    Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

    In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

    “It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

    “That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”