Diaz co-leads through 54 at Marathon Classic

By Associated PressJuly 19, 2014, 10:17 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Lee-Anne Pace made a name for herself as an amateur in her native South Africa, then proved herself with eight wins on the Ladies European Tour.

Now she's ready to make waves in the U.S.

Pace shot a 3-under 68 on Saturday to grab a share of the third-round lead with Laura Diaz in the Marathon Classic. She can barely express what a breakthrough win on the LPGA Tour might bring.

''It'll mean quite a lot to be able to come out here and play well,'' she said after recovering from bogeys at 11th and 12th holes with three late birdies. ''It already has made my week. I was so tired in the beginning of the week and now this has happened, so I'm very excited.''

Pace could have foundered after losing the two shots to par. But she came right back to birdie the next two holes and then added another at the par-5 17th to join Diaz at 11-under 202.

The 33-year-old, in her 10th year as a pro, wants to keep it simple in the final round at Highland Meadows.

''I play a very similar type of game every time I go out there: Hit the fairways and try to hit the green and make the putt. And so far it's been working,'' she said. ''Hopefully, coming down the stretch it's going to be enough.''

It was a day of highs and lows for Diaz, the leader since birdieing her first five holes in an opening 62. She led by four and then three strokes after the first two rounds.

Chasing her first win since 2002, she could have regained the outright lead but left a 7-foot birdie putt short on the 18th to finish with a 71.

Up by three shots on the fourth hole on Saturday, the 39-year-old faltered with a double-bogey.

After pull-hooking her drive under a pine tree, she and caddie Pete Smith moved away some twigs and the ball moved. The gallery around her let out a collective gasp. She quickly assessed herself a one-shot penalty and ended up punching back to the fairway, hitting to the green and two-putting for the double.

By the time Diaz got to the tee at No. 9, rookie Jaye Marie Green's torrid play had pulled her into a tie for the lead. Playing one group ahead, Pace would nail a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe to join them.

But before Pace's putt, Diaz hit the shot of the day.

Officials had moved the tees up on the 255-yard, par-4 hole to allow players to go for the green off the tee. Pace and playing partner So Yeon Ryu, the 2012 winner of the Marathon, vacated the putting surface to allow Diaz and Lydia Ko to hit their drives. Diaz's ball landed 25 yards short of the green and had a bead on the pin before edging past. Diaz later rolled in the 10-foot downhill eagle putt to regain a two-shot lead.

Diaz bogeyed the 12th. The lead remained one shot until Pace hit into the deep rough near the bunker fronting the par-5 17th, dropped a delicate gap wedge to 8 feet and then rolled in the birdie putt to forge the tie.

Diaz consistently left birdie putts short all day.

Asked if a player can ever forget how to win after a long respite, she said, ''I can't say that I knew how to do it then, and I don't know that I know how to do it now.''

Green applied pressure with a low round early on the cloudy day.

The medalist in last year's LPGA Tour qualifying school, she turned in 30 and birdied four holes in a row before closing with a par on the par-5 closing hole. The 63 allowed her to climb from a tie for 31st at the start of the day to a share of the lead before Diaz's eagle.

Green is tied a shot back with Ryu, who birdied the 15th, 16th and 17th holes for a 68.

Another shot back, at 9-under 204, was Ko, who birdied the last two holes in a 70. The group at 205 included Cristie Kerr (68) and last week's Women's British Open champion, Mo Martin, who had a 67.

Eighteen players are within four shots of the lead.

Pace sounded thrilled by the all the potential mayhem.

''Yeah, the whole LPGA is chasing,'' she said.

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Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

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

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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:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood

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Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

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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.