Notes Duval Opens Under Par

By Associated PressMarch 23, 2006, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- In another sign The Players Championship is not quite a major, only about 200 people were in the bleachers behind the first tee Thursday morning. Still, they were vocal when one of their own was announced, even if David Duval left town a few years ago.
Duval now lives in Denver with his wife and four children, and he recently sold his Ponte Vedra Beach home. But he said the emotion is different at Sawgrass than other PGA TOUR events.

'A little bit. Maybe not as much as I used to,' Duval said.
The golf was vaguely familiar as Duval, who won The Players Championship in 1999 to rise to No. 1 in the world, recovered from some errant tee shots to make three birdies on the back nine in an opening round of 1-under 71.
'I finally scored,' Duval said. 'For the round I played as far as ball-striking, it was one of the worst of the year.'
It looked worse than that at the beginning.
His first tee shot went well left, landing on a cart path and bouncing 25 yards into the woods. He hit over the pines to the fringe and two-putted for par. He hooked the next shot so badly that it hit a tree it went only 200 yards, yet he made par there.
'I was a little tight starting out,' Duval said. 'Fortunately for me, last week and this week I haven't had my back bothering me. It takes me a while to get fully loose, and I think I'm a little bit anxious starting out.'
Duval has made three of six cuts this year as his game slowly improves. He hasn't made the cut at Sawgrass since 2002, but he is off to good start.
Ben Crane wasn't sure what to expect when he teed off Thursday. His back has bothered him so much that he has played only four times this year, and withdrew in one of those tournaments (Buick Invitational) after the first round.
Finishing in good health was a good sign, even if he ended with a ball in the water for a double bogey.
'I haven't played golf for quite a while, being injured for most of the year,' Crane said after a 68. 'I'm just excited to be playing again, and excited to have played well.'
Crane's back problems stems from his swing, and he has been working with Titleist and swing coach Butch Harmon to alter a swing that won't put so much pressure on his back. It has taken him time -- a lot of time over shots -- to make the adjustments, and he's making progress.
Now he needs a steady diet of playing tournaments. The last stroke-play event he completed was the Bob Hope Classic the third week of January.
'I feel like my game is improving,' he said. 'But I don't know exactly where I'm at.'
James Driscoll is one of 15 players who made their first start in The Players Championship on Thursday, which includes an indoctrination to the infamous par-3 17th.
Driscoll came up short, into the water. From the drop area, he spun it down the slope and barely stayed on the green. Then he made a 45-foot putt to escape with only a bogey, on his way to a 71.
Others weren't so fortunate on the most high-charged hole in golf.
Scott McCarron and Bob Estes each hit two balls into the water and made 7s. Ted Purdy thought he was home free when he barely stayed on the green, but then he chipped through the green and into the water.
In all, 15 players hit into the water.
It's safe to say Sergio Garcia was not happy about a 2-under 70.
'To be sincere, I think I played like (dirt),' Garcia said. 'I didn't play very good at all. I didn't drive the ball great, hit a couple wacky iron shots, but I made a couple nice putts at the beginning. I guess I managed to get a half-decent round. Overall, not too bad.'
Garcia wasn't entirely blowing smoke. He hit only nine greens, but took only 24 putts.
Ultimately, a 70 is a 70 no matter what anyone says.
Two-time champion Steve Elkington withdrew Thursday because of a groin injury, and was replaced by Nathan Green. That made it three PGA TOUR rookies at The Players Championship, an unusually higher number because the bulk of the field comes from the top 125 on last year's money list.
J.B. Holmes got in by winning Phoenix, and made his TPC debut with a 71.
Camilo Villegas, 15th on the money list, was the first alternate who got in when Chris DiMarco withdrew. The Colombian lost his tee shot on No. 10 for double bogey and wound up with a 74, making it unlikely he will finish in the top five and earn enough money to get into the Masters.
Green was in the playoff at Torrey Pines won by Tiger Woods. Green opened with a 72.
Shigeki Maruyama withdrew because of a back injury. He opened with a 78. ... Ben Curtis and Craig Barlow were the only players who failed to register a birdie. Curtis shot 73, while Barlow shot 80. ... Ernie Els was 3 under and moving toward the leaders when he went bogey-double bogey on the 14th and 15th holes, shooting even-par 72. ... Greg Owen's, whose three-putt from 3 feet on the 17th hole cost him a victory at Bay Hill, needs to finish in the top 20 this week to have a chance at getting into the top 50 and earning a spot in the Masters. He opened with a 71.
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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.