Diaz maintains Marathon lead with late rally on Day 2

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2014, 11:23 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio – Laura Diaz almost chose to walk away from golf to spend more time at home with her family.

Now she's making the decision to juggle both jobs seem like a shrewd move.

''I love being a mom; it's the greatest thing in the world,'' she said after following a 9-under 62 with a solid 69 on Friday to maintain a three-shot lead through 36 holes at the Marathon Classic.

''It's hard for me when I have to choose. So I made a list. My family is first, and then golf comes second and we work everything out in between.''

Chasing her first win since 2002, Diaz is at 11-under 131, three shots ahead of Lee-Anne Pace and Lydia Ko.

Diaz led by four shots over Pace and Austin Ernst after the first round.

She was pleased her game was sturdy enough to hang on to the lead despite being in the heat of contention for the first time in several years.

''It was just a challenge because I haven't been in this position in a very long time,'' Diaz said. ''For sure, I haven't had cameras on me in a long time.''

So she took the opportunity to say hello to her kids - 8-year-old son Cooper and 4-year-old daughter Lilly.

''(The cameras) get in my face and I don't really know what to do,'' she said. ''I said, 'Hi, kiddos. I love you.' That kind of stuff.''

She made sure the cameras stuck around with her strong play down the stretch.

After a nine-birdie, no-bogey effort in the first round, she showed signs of faltering early on Friday.

She had her first bogey of the tournament on the sixth hole to fall back into a tie with Pace and Ko, but then regained her touch after getting par on the next six holes.

Starting at the 13th, she birdied four of the next six, including the par-5 closing hole.

Diaz was a rising star early in her career, winning twice in 2002 and playing on four Solheim Cup teams. After she married Kevin Diaz, she found that she liked being a wife and mother more than traveling the world playing golf. She hasn't been in the top 20 of a tournament since 2010.

Before the season she was torn between coming out on tour and staying home so as not to miss any of the daily routine. In the end, she decided to keep playing.

''(It was) knowing that I could manage being a mom and play. I think that's something I've struggled with, for, well eight years,'' she said. ''When I only had one (child) I think I got to a point where I was OK. But with two you've got twice as much to get done.

Pace, a South African who is an alum of the University of Tulsa, is looking for a breakthrough win on American soil. After a 68, she couldn't contain herself.

''I'm very happy about (my) position,'' said Pace, who has won eight times on the Ladies European Tour. ''I would like to be in contention on the weekend. That's when the fun starts, right?''

The 17-year-old Ko is bidding for a second LPGA title as a pro to go with the two she won as an amateur. She shot a second consecutive 67, turning in 1 under and then posting three birdies on the inward nine.

The key, she said, was to keep her emotions in check.

''I try and be calm. You know, that's what you have to do,'' she said, sounding far older than a rookie. ''Being overly happy or overly angry, that's not going to help me.''

Lurking another shot back at 135 are 2012 Marathon winner So Yeon Ryu and Rebecca Lee-Bentham, both of whom shot 67s.

Ryu was grouped with U.S. Open winner Michelle Wie and last week's Women's British Open champion Mo Martin. A large gallery followed the threesome.

''It was really great to be playing with the two major champions,'' Ryu said. ''I felt like I was one of the other major champions.''

Brittany Lang had the day's low round (66) and was at 136 along with Kayla Mortellaro. Cristie Kerr (67) led the pack of six golfers at 137.

Defending champ Beatriz Recari of Spain followed a 70 with a 68 and was at 138 along with Martin, who shot a 71. Wie missed the cut by seven strokes.

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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.