A Couple Masters Unknowns Answering the Call

By Associated PressApril 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Brett Wetterich has friends in low places, the kind who call at 1:30 in the morning even when their buddy has an important tee time in just a few hours.
Might be time to turn the cell phone off.
He has plenty to worry about without those kind of distractions.
Wetterich and Tim Clark, last year's surprise runner-up, are co-leaders halfway through the Masters at 2 under par.
Wetterich got his share of the lead by shooting 1-over 73 on Friday, and he did it even though he may have been a bit tired for his 8:55 a.m. start.
You see, his phone rang a little late the night before.
'I'm the type of person that gets phone calls like that every now and then,' he explained. 'My buddies forget that I'm playing the Masters and I have to get up at 5:30.'
Several years ago, the golf world thought so little of Wetterich that he could only get a scholarship from Wallace State Community College. He was a late bloomer who started making a name for himself with his win at the Byron Nelson Classic last year. That helped land him on the Ryder Cup team for the Americans, and we all know what happened there.
'It took me a while to progress, and every year I kind of got a little better and better,' Wetterich said. 'And here I am now.'
Wetterich has put the losing experience at the Ryder Cup behind him. And for his first Masters, he has put his typical go-for-broke strategy on hold.
'I definitely am playing a little less aggressively than I normally play, for sure,' Wetterich said. 'I'm trying to make as many pars as I can. That's usually not my style of game.'
He laid up on the par-3 15th hole, even though he could have tried to clear the creek for an eagle try. In all, he's 2 over on the par 5s this week, usually a formula for defeat at Augusta National.
But the formula is being turned on its head a bit. Only three players survived the first two rounds below par, and they did it by playing more like this is a U.S. Open than the Masters.
Though the weekend brings different pressures, Wetterich has shown he can hold it together under stress.
Midway through the round, he became the first -- and still only -- player to reach 4 under for the tournament. Then he got to 15 and 16 and made back-to-back three-putts. He drained an 8-footer on No. 17 to avoid a third straight and keep himself in the lead.
'That kind of stopped my bleeding,' he said. 'Having three three-putts in a row -- that's not a good thing.'
Meanwhile, very few were picking Clark to be ahead of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at this point in the Masters. Maybe they should have.
Last year, it was the South Africa native, a three-time winner in Europe who has yet to break through on the PGA Tour, who ended up second to Mickelson. A bunch of better-known names -- Woods, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazabal -- were in the hunt that day. Clark beat them all.
Maybe the biggest surprise there is that Clark doesn't think his game suits the course.
'I'm not going to let that get in the way of me playing well,' he said. 'I've dreamed of coming here and playing this tournament as a child, and I'm here now, and I'm going to make the most of it.'
Among the hurdles he overcame Friday was a double bogey on No. 5 after hitting up against a tree on his drive. There was also the distraction of playing with Larry Mize and Troy Matteson, who combined to shoot 31 over for the first two days.
'I find here you really get into your own game and not worry about what others are doing,' Clark said.
Putting distractions out of mind figures to be key for both players, at least on Saturday, when they'll be the last ones out.
Clark knows the drill. He played with Woods on Sunday last year, shot a 69 and finished one spot ahead of the best and most popular player in the world.
He also learned a lot that day.
'He didn't get off to the greatest of starts but he felt like he was in the tournament going into the back nine,' Clark said. 'I think that's what you have to do. You have to know that no matter what happens to you there, you can still get yourself back into the tournament and it's never really over.'
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    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    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.

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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.

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    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.