Defending Champ Cabrera Kicks the Habit

By Associated PressJune 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- If Angel Cabrera is smoking again this week at Torrey Pines Golf Course, it will be his golf game that's red-hot and not the Lucky Strikes and Camels.
 
The 38-year-old Argentinean has snuffed out his cigarette habit since winning last year's U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he famously declared, 'There are some players that have psychologists. I smoke.'
 
He's no longer playing between puffs.
 
'I'm feeling much better now that I don't smoke,' Cabrera said after a practice round Tuesday. 'But my life goes on whether I smoke or not, so I don't really care much about it.'
 
And he doesn't concern himself with the decision to exempt players and caddies from the no-smoking policy at Torrey Pines, where the only other puffs this weekend will be from hot dogs grilling or the fog rolling in off the Pacific Ocean.
 
Cabrera, who's hoping his splendid combination of length and accuracy off the tee helps him master the picturesque cliff-top course, said he hasn't compensated for the cigarettes in any way.
 
'No, not really. Everything is still the same,' he said. 'Just without the smoking.'
 
Actually, one thing is different since he kicked the habit: he hasn't won since holding off Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk for a one-stroke victory at last year's Open.
 
He's hoping to recapture that magic this week, and he thinks he has the game to tame golf's toughest test yet again, which this year measures a record 7,643 yards.
 
'Yes, I think that it helps long hitters, it favors long hitters,' Cabrera said. 'But it's a U.S. Open golf course and you have to be straight off the tee.'
 
That, he usually is.
 
'My game is in very good shape, especially the long game. I'm working on my putting, trying to improve a little bit. Hopefully I have,' Cabrera said.
 
He tested out a new putter Tuesday in hopes of finding a solution to his short game woes.
 
'I'm having a rough time on my putting right now. So I'm trying different things, different putters,' Cabrera said. 'I have two putters, the one that I used last year at Oakmont and a new one. So I'll see. The one that feels best I'm going to play on Thursday.'
 
One thing Cabrera hopes is a carbon copy of last year is his steely nerves, even without the nicotine assist.
 
'I think that the most important thing that I did last year was having a lot of patience on the golf course, specifically on the third day,' Cabrera said. 'The third day things went rough for me and having patience and waiting, I think that was the key. So, I hope to do the same thing this year.'
 
After firing a third-round 76 last year, Cabrera rebounded with a 69 on Sunday, when he went toe-to-toe with Woods and Furyk on the leaderboard and prevailed, becoming the first champion to shoot 76 and win the Open since Johnny Miller did it in the third round in 1973, also at Oakmont.
 
If Cabrera can recapture that performance and defend his title at Torrey Pines, there will be another big bash waiting for him back home like the one thrown in his honor in Argentina a year ago.
 
'There was a parade, and also the celebrations lasted for a couple of days,' Cabrera recalled. 'It was very big for Argentina, not only for Cabrera, but also for the country.'
 
Of course, there would be no victory cigar this time, at least not one that's lit.
 
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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.