Notes Aussies On a Roll at La Costa

By Associated PressFebruary 25, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayCARLSBAD, Calif. -- The brilliant move of the day at the Match Play Championship was by a PGA Tour rules official, who shortened the par-4 sixth at La Costa Resort by 45 yards, allowing golfers to drive the green on the dogleg-left hole.
 
That led to one of the best shots of the day, a drive by Davis Love III to within 10 feet. Lee Westwood conceded an eagle putt and Love went on to win, 7 and 6.
 
Mickey Bradley, who was responsible for the setup on the front nine, decided to help players get through the hole quicker because two rounds were played on Friday. The hole was shortened from 378 yards to 333.
 
The move allowed big hitters to launch drivers to the green over a thicket of trees rather than laying up on the fairway short of the creek that protects the hole.
 
While walking up the par-3 fifth, Love watched from across the small valley as Tom Lehman and Stewart Cink hit drivers on No. 6.
 
'When they got to their balls, we kind of gauged,' Love said. 'Tom was short and right, and it looked like Stewart was almost green-high on the left.
 
'So we just figured I'd hit driver,' Love said. 'The hardest thing is how far - not really how far is it over the creek, how far is it to the green or the bunkers. So once I saw what they did, I knew I could hit a driver. I hit a good one.'
 
Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh both drove the green on No. 6. They both were eliminated in the second round, Woods by Nick O'Hern and Singh by Jay Haas.
 
Love lost his third-round match to Cink in 20 holes.
 
GOOD ON YA, MATES
It was a g'day for Aussies, as three golfers from Down Under advanced to Saturday's quarterfinals in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Adam Scott beat Sergio Garcia 4 and 3 in the third round Friday, while Nick O'Hern beat Luke Donald 5 and 4, and Robert Allenby stopped Kirk Triplett 2 and 1.
 
Australia doesn't have a player with Greg Norman's flair at the moment, 'but golf's never been this strong down there,' Scott said.
 
'And I think everyone back home should probably take notice a little bit more of that because the guys back home give us a pretty hard time about golf in Australia and the Tour. But I think we're probably the strongest golfing nation in the world.'
 
Of the 64 players who started this tournament, 10 were from Australia.
 
Coincidentally, Aussie tennis great Rod Laver, the last man to win the Grand Slam of tennis, was among the spectators on Friday. Laver lives in Carlsbad and is a member at La Costa.
 
BEATING A BUDDY
Match play is fluky enough, but what does a golfer say while he's handily beating a friend? That's what Davis Love III had to figure out after jumping to a quick lead over Lee Westwood en route to a 7 and 6 win.
 
'It had gotten a little too quiet out there,' Love said. 'If it's somebody I don't know very well, or somebody that I really would prefer to beat, you don't feel quite as bad. But when it's your buddy, what do you say when they're 3-down? You want to walk out ahead of them and keep quiet.'
 
Westwood did provide some levity. When Love hit a shot into a bunker while holding a big lead, Westwood said: 'Now I think I've just seen the door open.' Said Love: 'We couldn't stop laughing. What do I say to that? You never know what to say. But he's a good guy and took it well.'
 
CINK SINKS THE CAPTAIN
Stewart Cink did the politically incorrect thing by beating 2006 Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman 2 and 1 in the second round Friday morning.
 
'I told my caddie last night I was hosed either way, because if I beat him I'd hurt his feelings and he wouldn't want to take me,' Cink said. 'And if I didn't beat him, he wouldn't pick me because he'd think I didn't play well in the match. Either way I just - no, probably Tom won't even remember the match.'
 
NOT QUITE LIKE MARCH MADNESS
The Match Play Championship starts off with four brackets of 16 golfers, similar to the NCAA basketball tournament's four regions of 16 teams.
 
That's where the similarities end. While upsets provide the March Madness in the NCAAs, upsets aren't good for the box office or TV ratings in match play.
 
'We're certainly used to having a great leaderboard on Sunday with the names you recognize,' Davis Love III said. 'And here anybody can beat anybody. Next thing you know we've got four guys on the last two days that aren't Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.'
 
That's exactly what happened, after Woods lost in the second round to Nick O'Hern and Mickelson lost in the third round to David Toms. The world's top-ranked player, Vijay Singh, also lost in the second round, to Jay Haas.
 
'This is a tough format for TV,' Love said before he was eliminated by Stewart Cink in the third round. 'The early rounds are almost more exciting than the later rounds.'
 
Said Kirk Triplett: 'You don't get that Cinderella story kind of feel here.'
 
MALAYSIA MUSINGS
Malaysia did Vijay Singh a favor by refusing him permanent residency years ago because he would have never become the No. 1 golfer had he lived here, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said.
 
Razak said Malaysia simply did not have a competitive environment for athletes to succeed on the world stage, according to a report Friday in the New Straits Times newspaper.
 
Najib told a gathering of Malaysian sports officials on Thursday that Singh - who was born in Fiji - had applied for Malaysian 'permanent resident' status when he was a resident pro in the country in the 1980s while trying to break into the European Tour and U.S. circuit. But his application was rejected for unknown reasons.
 
Related Links:
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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.