Daly Back to Grip It and Rip It at Western

By Associated PressJune 29, 2005, 4:00 pm
LEMONT, Ill. -- Whether he's on the golf course or pulling his big motorhome up to a promotional appearance, someone's always wanting to shake John Daly's hand.
 
Those booming drives and two major titles aside, fans look at him and see themselves. He struggles with personal problems just like they do, and he doesn't exactly have a typical athlete's physique.
 
``They just can't believe an overweight, out-of-shape guy like me can walk 18 holes,'' Daly said with a laugh after his pro-am round at the Western Open on Wednesday.
 
Daly has been the people's favorite since 1991, when, as the ninth alternate, he drove through the night to play the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick and wound up winning the whole thing. His drinking problems and marital woes only endeared him more to fans, all of whom know someone -- a neighbor, friend, maybe even a brother or sister -- just like him.
 
Back at Cog Hill Golf Club for the first time since 1996, Daly was trailed by some of the biggest galleries of the day Wednesday.
 
``The fans have been through thick and thin with me,'' he said, ``and it's nice to play decent golf for them.''
 
Daly has quietly resurrected his career the last two seasons, winning last year's Buick Invitational for his first PGA Tour victory since the 1995 British Open. He had four other top-10 finishes and ended the year ranked 21st, his best showing since 1991.
 
This year, he lost the Shell Houston Open in a playoff with Vijay Singh, the second-best player in the world. He also tied for 17th at both the Mercedes Championships and the Match Play Championship, and is currently ranked 50th.
 
But he's also missed four cuts. At Bay Hill, he shot an 80 in the final round thanks to an 11 on the 18th hole. His best finish in the last five tournaments is a tie for 48th at the Byron Nelson, where he shot 64-73-71-69.
 
``You never know what ... I'm going to do, so I'm not putting myself as a favorite,'' Daly said when asked who to watch this week. ``I'm just going to be here and try my best, and whatever happens happens.''
 
Daly has only played the Western five times, with his best finish a tie for 15th in 1991. He missed the cut the next two years, then tied for 47th in 1996, his last appearance here.
 
``Usually this falls on an overseas trip or a week that I'm with my daughter,'' he said. ``I had them last week ... so it just kind of fit in this year.''
 
The course is longer than Daly remembered it, and the long, patchy rough will wreak havoc on anyone who strays from the fairway. Asked if he's been hitting it straight, Daly grinned.
 
``Sometimes I do,'' he drawled, ``sometimes I don't.''
 
While Daly might be the sentimental favorite, he's hardly the only big name in the field. Singh and Tiger Woods, who have been trading the No. 1 ranking since last September, are both here. So are former Masters champ Mike Weir, 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and hometown favorite Luke Donald.
 
Woods would seem to be the player to beat. He's already won three times this year, including his fourth Masters title, and was a runner-up at the U.S. Open. He's a three-time champion at the Western, and hasn't finished lower than 23rd since he turned pro.
 
But Singh has also won three times this year, and has 11 top-10 finishes.
 
A 1-2 showdown on Sunday would be thrilling for fans -- not to mention what it would do for the TV ratings -- but Woods and Singh said they have other concerns.
 
``You're trying to win the golf tournament, and you're going to have to beat everybody in the field,'' Woods said. ``... You can't approach it like, `I just have to beat him and I'll win the tournament,' because you'll probably be blown by by everybody else.''
 
Added Singh, ``I'm here to win the golf tournament. If I can win the golf tournament, I don't care what I'm ranked after this week.''
 
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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.