Notes Watson Nicklaus Team in New Skins Format
Defending champion Jack Nicklaus will be paired with Tom Watson, reviving a Ryder Cup partnership that never lost. The other teams will be Gary Player-Hale Irwin, Arnold Palmer-Peter Jacobsen and Dana Quigley-Raymond Floyd.
The Wendys Champions Skins Game will be Monday, Feb. 6 and played at Wailea Resort on Maui.
The PGA Tour adopted a tough policy two years ago that forced players to take part in the pro-am if they wanted to compete in the tournament. While there have been a few cases where the tour could have shown some leniency, proof that its a good policy came last week in Hawaii.
Phil Mickelson didnt win over any fans when he skipped out on the pro-am at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, citing family obligations. Had this been run by the tour, Lefty would not have been allowed to play.
Mickelson shuts it down at the end of the year, even to the point of skipping the Tour Championship. Theres nothing wrong with that. But one would hope that top players who compete for $1 million in an event exclusive to major champions would feel some responsibility to the sponsors who put up the money.
Tiger Woods also missed the pro-am, citing a stomach virus from playing in Japan the previous week. That left only U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and Vijay Singh (an alternate) to play in the pro-am.
A shorter PGA Tour season in 2007 has raised hopes Down Under that Tiger Woods and other top players might consider playing in the Australian Open, the fourth-oldest national championship in golf.
Woods has not played in the Australian Open since his rookie year in 1996, when he tied for fifth. Asked if he would consider playing when the U.S. tour concludes in September, Woods replied, Maybe.
I think it will be great for the Aussie tour, as well as Japan, he said. Theyve got some great events there, and obviously Australia has lost some events. I think that would be a great way for them to move it away from Christmas time and the holiday season, and move it back to where it used to be. I think some of the top players would play.
That got the attention of Australasian tour general manager Gus Seebeck.
For them to say they would consider coming down here and playing is something we need to take very, very seriously, Seebeck told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. These guys would obviously make a huge impact on any tournament we have down here, so we need to make sure we give their comments due credit.
The Australian Open once was one of the top events in the world.
Jack Nicklaus won it six times.
Fred Couples agreed with Woods.
I want to use these words correctly ... that the PGA Tour has kind of devoured some of the other tours, Couples said at the Skins Game. I always have gone down to Australia, and theres just no time to go. As Tiger said, it would totally help that.
FATHERS AND OFFSPRING:
First it was Arnold Palmer and his grandson. Next is Fuzzy Zoeller and his daughter. Perhaps they should change the name of this tournament to Father-Offspring Challenge.
Whatever its called, the Father-Son Challenge remains one of the best events in the silly season with fans curious to see whether the kids have any of the skills that carried their fathers to a major championship. The 36-hole scramble begins Saturday at ChampionsGate in Orlando, Fla.
Gretchen Zoeller will be the first female, teaming with former Masters and U.S. Open champion Fuzzy Zoeller. She plays on the womens golf team at the College of Charleston, although she will be playing from the mens tees.
Other major champions in the field and their children include Jack Nicklaus (Jackie), Davis Love III (Davis IV, better known as Dru), Bernard Langer (Stefan), Curtis Strange (Thomas), Vijay Singh (Qass), Arnold Palmer (grandson Sam Saunders) and Larry Nelson (Josh). Larry Nelson teamed with son Drew to win last year.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is in New York this week for the start of TV negotiations for the 2007-10 schedule. Finchem said in a videotaped announced for a charity luncheon that TV talks are in full steam. ... Fred Funk, who turns 50 on June 14, said he will make his Champions Tour debut at the U.S. Senior Open.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The Masters was the only major that did not have a hole ranked among the toughest 18 on the PGA Tour this year.
Greg (Norman) has never gone out of his way to help Australian golfers.'Mark Hensby.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
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.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
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.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
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.
Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose
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.
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.