Notes Durant Wins Fall Finish

By Associated PressNovember 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Joe Durant walked away from East Lake Golf Club lugging a giant crystal vase and an extra half-million dollars.
 
Quite a change from where he was a few months ago.
 
Once faced with the possibility of losing his PGA TOUR card, Durant closed out a stunning turnaround by finishing third Sunday in the season-ending TOUR Championship.
 
He was no lower than sixth over his last five tournaments, holding off Jim Furyk to win the 11-tourney Fall Finish and its $500,000 bonus. Troy Matteson, who didn't qualify for the elite field in Atlanta, wound up third.
 
'It just kind of came out of the blue, to be honest with you,' Durant said. 'I've just played very well the last month and a half, two months. I made a lot of putts and seemed to not get in my way a lot, which is a pleasant change.'
 
He missed the cut in five of his first 19 tournaments this year, with only one finish higher than 36th. Adding to the misery, a thief snatched his briefcase, laptop and other electronic items from his hotel room in Milwaukee.
 
The following week, Durant got things rolling with a third-place finish in the Buick Open. He won at Disney two weeks ago to crack the top 30 on the money list, and made sure he kept his spot in the TOUR Championship by tying for fourth at Innisbrook last weekend.
 
'I'm pretty tired right now,' Durant said. 'I hate to see it end, but hopefully I can kind of pick up (in 2007) where I'm leaving off.'
 
He closed with a 3-under 67 at East Lake, four strokes behind winner Adam Scott. Durant finished 13th on the money list with more than $2.8 million, the best year of his career. In 2001, Durant was No. 14 with earnings of just under $2.4 million.
 
'I hate to see the year end, but I'm looking forward to next year,' he said. 'I kind of need to stay on top of things a little bit and just keep working.'
 
CRAZY FINISH
Stuart Appleby experienced a wide range of emotions Sunday -- and that was just on the final three holes.
 
Appleby nearly holed out a long birdie at No. 16, which was followed by a drive that came close to providing another item for sale in the merchandise tent along the 17th fairway. Finally, he sank a testy par-saver at the devilish final hole after two poor shots.
 
Whew!
 
Appleby thought he had a birdie at 16, raising his putter in the air as the 45-foot putt approach the cup. But it curled around the right side and spun out, leaving him with a tap-in for par.
 
The Aussie tossed away his putter in disgust and held his hands on his head for several seconds, as if he couldn't believe the ball didn't go in. He was still muttering to his caddie as he walked to the next hole.
 
'It looked perfect,' Appleby said, shaking his head.
 
Maybe that was still on his mind when he pushed his drive far right of the fairway at No. 17. The ball wound up next to a wooden ramp leading to a side-by-side merchandise shop and concession stand, which allowed Appleby to take relief.
 
He tried to drop the ball in a beaten-down spot of grass, but it hopped into the rough. The gallery groaned. After getting some fans to move the table they were sitting at, Appleby launched a shot that cleared a batch of trees and a corporate chalet, landing in a bunker right of the green.
 
He blasted to about 9 feet but failed to make the putt, taking bogey.
 
'I deserved to make a birdie at 16,' Appleby said. 'I guess I didn't deserve to make a par at 17.'
 
Appleby's final tee shot wound up left of the green on the par-3 18th, an uphill, 239-yard hole. His chip came up about 19 feet short, but he rolled in the putt to save par.
 
'That is one tough hole,' he said. 'One of the toughest we play.'
 
WRAPPING UP
Tiger Woods wasn't at East Lake, but he already had more than enough money to wrap up the Arnold Palmer Award as the leading money-winner on the PGA TOUR.
 
Woods finished with $9,941,563 in official earnings, more than $2.7 million ahead of runner-up Jim Furyk. It was the second straight money title for Woods and the seventh of his 11-year pro career.
 
Furyk's second-place showing was the best of his career, and he also claimed the Vardon Trophy for the best adjusted scoring average at 68.86. He edged out Adam Scott (68.95).
 
Woods finished with an average of 68.11, but he didn't play the minimum 60 TOUR rounds that are required to qualify for the Vardon award. He did win the Byron Nelson Award, given by the TOUR for the best adjusted average with a minimum of 50 rounds.
 
Meanwhile, 11 players locked up their exemption into the 2007 British Open by finishing in the top 20 on the money list. They were Trevor Immelman (seventh), Stuart Appleby (eighth), Brett Wetterich (10th), David Toms (11th), Rory Sabbatini (12th), Joe Durant (13th), Chad Campbell (14th), Stewart Cink (15th), Davis Love III (16th), Rod Pampling (17th) and Brett Quigley (20th).
 
DIVOTS
There hasn't been a final-day birdie at East Lake's 18th hole since Shigeki Maruyama in 2002. ... Adam Scott finished a career-best third on the money list with just under $5 million in earnings, bolstered by the $1,170,000 paycheck for winning the TOUR Championship. ... Scott's win was the eighth by an Australian this year. Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilivy had two apiece.
 
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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.

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    Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

    By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

    There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

    Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

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    “I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

    In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

    “It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

    “That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”