Kraft Pleased with Steps Back to PGA Success

By Associated PressMarch 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico -- Just a few years ago, Greg Kraft figured his golfing career was done, cut short by an illness that sapped his strength and led him to sue the PGA TOUR .
 
Now, the 43-year-old Kraft is in line for his first PGA Tour victory in 15 years at the Puerto Rico Open, his 66 on Friday leaving him three strokes behind leader Bo Van Pelt.
 
Van Pelt (68) held a one-shot lead over Jerry Kelly (66) and two over Ted Purdy (68) at this first-time event.
 
Kraft was in a group with 24-year-old qualifier Ryan Blaum (66) and Briny Baird (68) another stroke behind.
 
Kraft is grateful for the chance to compete at this level again, no matter if Tiger Woods and many of the worlds top-ranked players are on the U.S. mainland at the World Golf Championship stop, the CA Championships.
 
I didnt think Id be out here again, Kraft said.
 
Kraft had almost cracked the top 50 in money earnings a decade ago, his swing grooved to compete and his star ready to rise.
 
Then he contracted a disease called Valley fever that turned his life upside down.
 
Kraft says it happened at the Tucson Open in 2002. Valley fever is caused by a fungus released when soil is disturbed and debilitates the lungs.
 
Suddenly, Kraft was losing strength and didnt know the cause. Worse yet, neither did doctors, some pointing the blame at cancer.
 
Kraft underwent a year of painful chemotherapy and, eventually, a section of one lung was removed.
 
Golf was over, Kraft had no doubt about that. I basically lost three years out here, he said.
 
Kraft sued the tour in 2003, his attorney at the time saying the tour had a responsibility to protect its players health. The suit was dismissed, he said.
 
Kraft recovered slowly. He didnt play at all in 2004, then spent most of 2005 on the Nationwide Tour. He tied for 18th at Q-school that fall, earning back PGA TOUR privileges.
 
Kraft had to regain his confidence as well. He was in his 30s at the time of the disease and wondered, as he struggled to return, whether his diminished skill was simply the illness or the passage of time.
 
In Puerto Rico, Kraft has shown his skill with rounds of 69 and 66.
 
He hadnt opened with two sub-70 rounds since finishing sixth at the Wyndham Championship last August. First three rounds in the 60s? Kraft hadnt done that since a Nationwide Tour event three years ago.
 
Kraft began five shots off Van Pelts first-round lead and got his round going with birdies on the fourth, sixth and seventh holes. He took the lead with closing birdies on the 17th and 18th, the final one coming after he blasted out of bunker alongside the green to 2 feet.
 
That made my lunch better, Kraft said.
 
Van Pelt followed his first-round 64 with a second straight sub-70 round for the first time in eight events this season.
 
Kelly, who at No. 63 is the highest-ranked golfer here, also played well for a second straight round. He had five birdies in his first six holes and closed with a birdie on the 17th after blasting out of a bunker.
 
Kraft hopes to pick up his pace the final two rounds. If he keeps it up, he could collect his second PGA TOUR win'and second victory opposite another event.
 
Krafts 1993 win at the Deposit Guarantee Golf Classic in Mississippi came when that tournament was played during Masters week.
 
If he falters, Kraft says hes still satisfied with how far hes come. Hell ride it as long as he can.
 
Sometimes you play well for a round, sometimes its four days, sometimes its a month, sometimes its a year and sometimes its a career, like for Tiger, Kraft said, grinning.
 
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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.