Koepka leads Spieth by 2 in Nelson

By Associated PressMay 21, 2016, 10:39 pm

IRVING, Texas - Brooks Koepka knew all those spectators lined several deep along the fairways and around the greens were there to cheer for one of his playing partners.

Many of them were lugging around some of the 8,000 Jordan Spieth bobbleheads given away Saturday at the Byron Nelson or using hand-held fans with his picture. They also got to watch the third-round leader play.

Koepka overcame two early bogeys and the huge shadow of playing alongside Spieth in his home event, shooting a 5-under 65 and matching the Nelson's best 54-hole score at 16-under 194. He had a two-stroke lead over Spieth going into Sunday's final round when they will be paired together again.

''Doesn't really bother me. I mean he's got a lot of support which is cool to see,'' said Koepka, describing himself as a chilled athlete. ''He has grown up here. ... He should.''

Spieth played his first PGA Tour event at the Nelson as a 16-year-old amateur six years ago. He is now the world's No. 2-ranked player and his image is everywhere at TPC Four Seasons, including those treasured bobbleheads and on signage for AT&T, which sponsors him and this tournament.

Playing in the final threesome with Spieth and second-round leader Ben Crane, Koepka hit his first drive way left on the way to an opening bogey. There were birdies at Nos. 3 and 5, but Koepka followed with another bogey at No. 6 when he hit his first two shots into the rough.

But Koepka was bogey-free the rest of the day and took the lead with a 20-foot birdie at the difficult 405-yard 14th hole. Spieth drained a 23-foot putt there to salvage a bogey after hitting his drive into the water and having to punch a shot back into the fairway.

''Powerful. Fearless and powerful,'' Spieth said when asked to describe Koepka's game.


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Matt Kuchar (65), Bud Cauley (68) and Sergio Garcia (68) were tied for third at 13 under.

Crane, who turned 40 in March, shot 72 and dropped to 10 under and in a tie for 11th.

Even though Koepka played well enough to take a two-stroke lead, he felt like he hit the ball terrible and that his round ''wasn't anything to brag about at all'' with the exception of the round-low 22 putts.

''It wasn't good today. It was kind of embarrassing,'' Koepka said. ''We both kind of hung in there, battled it out and we made some good, good key 10-footers.''

A stressful round is what Spieth called it.

''I just don't have confidence over the ball right now,'' he said. ''It's very frustrating and actually pretty incredible to still be in this tournament.''

Garcia was 15 under and with the outright lead after his fourth birdie of the round, and second in a row, when he made a 25-footer at No. 8. But the 36-year-old Spaniard, the 2004 Nelson champion, then three-putted from nearly 60 feet at the ninth hole before missing the fairway with his drive for another bogey at No. 10.

That second bogey came about the same time Spieth, in the final group right behind him, made a 9-foot birdie at the 416-yard No. 9 to get to 14 under for the lead.

But Spieth had the bogey at 14 and his only other birdie after that was from about 20 foot at the par-3 17th to get back within a stroke of the lead - ''Probably the loudest roar I think I ever heard on a golf course,'' Koepka said. Spieth gave the stroke right back with a wayward tee shot and bogey at No. 18.

This is Spieth's sixth Nelson, his fourth as a professional. The Dallas native's best finish was a tie for 16th as a 16-year-old in his 2010 debut.

At 26, Koepka is four years older than Spieth with one win (Phoenix in 2015) in his 54 previous PGA Tour starts.

''I feel like I'm pretty mentally tough,'' he said. ''Nothing really bothers me but I know I've worked my tail off, so the results should come.''

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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.