McDowell, Furyk lead headed to Sunday at U.S. Open

By Associated PressJune 17, 2012, 2:02 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk won the battle of par Saturday at the U.S. Open.

Tiger Woods lost a lot more than that.

McDowell showed the kind of fight that won him a U.S. Open two years ago down the coast at Pebble Beach. He scratched out pars and finished with a 4-foot birdie putt that gave him a 2-under 68 and a share of the lead going into the final round at The Olympic Club.


Final-round tee times

Can a 17-year-old win the Open?


''Probably for the first time this week, I actually enjoyed the round of golf,'' McDowell said.

Furyk, also bidding for another trophy from golf's toughest test, outclassed Woods in the final pairing with key bunker saves and an 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th for a 70, making him the only player who has yet to have a round over par.

They were at 1-under 139, the only survivors against par.

''Obviously, I like being up front in the position I'm in,'' Furyk said. ''The golf course will take its effect on a bunch of people. And the guys that go out there and deal with the conditions and the situations the best ... those are the guys that are have some success and have an opportunity to win the last few holes.''

Woods sure didn't look like one of those guys in the third round. Wearing a key lime shirt, he turned in a lemon.

He fell out of the lead with two bogeys in the first three holes, couldn't make a birdie on the stretch of holes that Olympic allows players to make up ground, and ended with a sloppy bogey on the 18th for a 75. Only eight players had a higher score.

It matched Woods' worst score when he at least a share of the lead after any round of a major. He also closed with a 75 in 2009 at the PGA Championship when he lost a two-shot lead to Y.E. Yang.

''I'm just going to have to shoot a good round tomorrow, and post early and see what happens,'' Woods said.


Hole-out thrusts Els into contention

Westwood in position to win first major


All was not lost for Woods, not to mention another dozen or so players. In a U.S. Open that has lived up to its reputation this week, it was difficult for anyone to get too far ahead.

McDowell and Furyk were two shots ahead of Fredrik Jacobson, who had a 68. Another shot behind was a group that included Lee Westwood, whose Saturday-best 67 gave him another shot at his first major; and Ernie Els, who holed a long pitch for eagle on the 17th that carried him to a 68. The Big Easy is a two-time U.S. Open champion, with that first title coming 18 years ago.

''Experience helps around here,'' Els said. ''For some reason, I'm patient again this week and that's been kind of my virtue in major championship golf, the ability to be patient and wait it out. And I think you're going to have to do that tomorrow.''

Thirteen players were separated by four shots going into Sunday, a list that includes 17-year-old Beau Hossler, who followed bogeys with birdies for a 70.

Woods, who has never won a major from behind, was five shots back. His round ended with a shot from the middle of the 18th fairway that hung up in the right collar of rough, and a stubbed chip that took a hard turn to the left some 10 feet away.

When he two-putted for his sixth bogey, his day got a little worse. Climbing the hill toward the fabled clubhouse at Olympic, a photographer brushed past him and Woods banged his hand into the camera. He shook it several times, but later said he was fine.

The real hurt came from Olympic.


Talk to the hand: Woods dismisses injury speculation

Tiger hits personal low for Open third round


''It was just a tough day on the greens, and most of the day, I just kept getting that half-number, right in between clubs all day,'' said Woods, who was either well long or short on his approach shots.

Furyk, the only player who has not had a round over par in this championship, and McDowell played together in the opening two rounds. Both are similar players who appear to be a good fit for Olympic – control off the tee and a strong fight to avoid bogeys. McDowell referred to Furyk as a ''plodder,'' which at the U.S. Open is a high compliment.

''It doesn't have to look or be fancy. It has to work,'' Furyk said. ''And I think we have styles of games where we put the ball into play, we put the ball on the green and take our chance at the putt and then move on.''

But this was not shaping up as a two-man race for McDowell and Furyk.

''Looking at the leaderboard, you've got to look down as far as the guys at 3 or 4 (over) as having a realistic chance of winning this tournament,'' McDowell said.

That includes some regular characters, such as Westwood and Els and even two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, who was five shots behind. And it features newcomers to this stage like Nicolas Colsaerts, the big hitter from Belgium – and even a high school kid.

For every bogey Hossler made, he answered with a birdie on the next hole.

His only big blunder came on the 11th, when he was too aggressive with a downhill putt and missed his par putt from 6 feet. Two holes later, he hit a heavy chip from the hazard that rolled back down a slope for another bogey. The kid just wouldn't go away, though, and suddenly he is dreaming big.

Hossler wanted to make the cut. Then, he wanted to be the low amateur. Now?

''My goal now is to win the tournament,'' he said.

In the 14 majors he has won, Woods was never worse than par in the pivotal third round and had a scoring average of 68.3. There was no way that was going to hold up on a course like Olympic, though Woods was expecting better than what he delivered on this Saturday.

He missed the first fairway, came up short of the third green and wound up with three bogeys through six holes.

Woods wasn't alone in making mistakes. David Toms, tied for the second-round lead with Furyk and Woods at 1 under, played that rugged six-hole stretch in 5 over and fell six shots behind with a 76.

Even with the USGA watering the course Friday night and Saturday morning, Olympic was as relentless as ever.

But it wasn't impossible.

Westwood showed that, as did Els, who called it as easy as the course played all week.

Kevin Chappell, who tied for third last year to earn a spot in this U.S. Open, had a 68 and takes an unthinkable streak of 24 holes without a bogey into the final round. He was at 3-over 213, along with Webb Simpson, who also had a 68.

Asked if the experience at Congressional would help, Chappell gave an apt description of what awaits on Sunday.

''Last year we were trying to make birdies in the U.S. Open,'' he said. ''And here, you're just trying to survive.''

Westwood came in right behind Chappell, and while he failed to take advantage on the par 5s, he finished in style with a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 67. Westwood began this week as the third wheel in a powerful threesome of the top players in the world ranking. Luke Donald, the world No. 1, and defending champion Rory McIlroy have gone home. Westwood now has another chance to pick up his first major.

He twice has missed a playoff by one shot, in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and the 2009 British Open at Turnberry. He twice as been runner-up in the majors.

A win on Sunday would end that heartache, and return him to No. 1 in the world.

''I think I've probably been in contention in major championships more than anybody else over the last three or four years,'' Westwood said. ''So I'm looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully go out and have some fun and see what happens.''

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


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.