Notes Webb Ready Celeb Beats Pro at Pebble
The last shot of the 2006 season was worth $1 million to Julieta Granada, who captured the ADT Championship in Florida. Most eyes at the SBS Open in Hawaii on Thursday will be on Lorena Ochoa, coming off a six-victory season that allowed her to supplant Annika Sorenstam as LPGA player of the year.
But one player already brings a load of momentum to Turtle Bay.
Karrie Webb became almost an afterthought at the end of last season because of the Ochoa-Sorenstam dynamics. But the 32-year-old Australian had a year to remember -- five victories and her seventh career major when she won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in a playoff with Ochoa. Webb lost another major in a playoff, and she went over $2 million in earnings.
She arrived on Oahu with two victories already this year, winning the Australian Women's Open by six shots and the Australian Ladies Masters by two shots, despite finishing with back-to-back bogeys.
'I take a lot of positives, a lot of confidence into the next two weeks in Hawaii,' she said.
Sorenstam, meanwhile, is taking the first two weeks off, and the only question is whether she remains atop the women's world ranking when she makes her debut in Mexico on March 9.
She had a comfortable margin over Ochoa at the end of last season, but now leads by only 2.6 points, with Webb 2.8 points behind.
Based on his performance at Pebble Beach, one suspects Tom Watson could hang with the PGA TOUR and do just fine. Watson's name was near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend, and he wound up tied for 19th.
The 57-year-old Watson extended his streak on the PGA TOUR to 36 years making at least one cut. That dates to 1971, the year he turned pro. It also was the 20th time he has finished in the top 25 at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Still, Watson likely will play only one more PGA TOUR event at the Masters in April. He is exempt for life, but listening to him talk about the oversized Augusta National course, he might not be there much longer.
Watson also is exempt to the British Open until he is 65, but he won't be back this summer at Carnoustie.
He won the first of his eight majors -- and five claret jugs -- at Carnoustie in 1975, but he has a conflict that will keep him away. His daughter, Meg, is to be married on Saturday of the Open. Watson will be walking her down the aisle.
'I will be thinking a little bit about it,' Watson said. 'I won't tell her that, though.'
In this era of technology, Jim Furyk would have thought it would be no problem to replace a broken driver. It's been since November, and he's still waiting.
Furyk split the face of his driver during the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai at the end of last year and hasn't found a suitable replacement. Despite his dissatisfaction, he won the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, was 18th at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and tied for fourth at the Sony Open.
'I just had a hard time matching it up with the rest of my set,' he said.
Furyk tried a new driver at Pebble Beach, and played well until catching the worst of the weather at Pebble, the toughest course in windy weather. He finished tied for sixth.
How long the driver stays in the bag is another matter.
It's the second time in the last two years that Furyk has cracked the face of a driver, but he says that's nothing new on tour. Most of the big hitters do it all the time, although Furyk hardly falls into that category.
'Little pea shooters like me wear that like a badge of honor,' he said.
BEATING THE PRO:
Comedian Tom Dreesen chipped in twice and holed a 45-foot putt on his last three holes at Pebble Beach in the first round, and was pleased to add up his score and realize he shot 78. He wound up beating his pro, Robert Gamez, by one shot, although Dreesen played a forward set of tees.
It reminded him of the time he played with Steve Pate in the Bob Hope Classic one year. Pate played poorly in the first round in 1989, shooting an 81, and Dreesen had a 77. He ran into Pate's wife the next day, who told him of a bizarre night.
'She sensed this shadow moving through their room at 3 o'clock in the morning,' Dreesen said. 'She looks up and there's Pate, just pacing back and forth in the hotel room. She says, 'Steve, what's wrong?'
'He says, 'A comedian. I got beat by a comedian.''
Not to worry. The next day, Pate shot 62.
Ernie Els will receive the Gold Tee Award from the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association at the annual dinner June 18 in Rye, N.Y., near Westchester Country Club, where Els won in consecutive years. ... Cristie Kerr recently raised $140,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., during a one-night function that included 200 guests playing Texas Hold 'Em poker. ... David Feherty got his exercise last week at Pebble Beach by riding a bicycle on 17-Mile Drive in the morning. Sweat pouring off his face, the Irish funny man said, 'I found out it's actually 28 miles.' ... Phil Mickelson now has won four PGA TOUR events at least three times -- the Pebble Beach National Pro-am (1998, 2005, 2007), the BellSouth Classic (2000, 2005-06), the Buick Invitational (1993, 2000-01) and the Chrysler Classic of Tucson (1991, 1995-96). ... China will have international standard Rules of Golf officials within 12 months under an agreement signed Tuesday by the R&A and the China Golf Association.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
The wind blew 20 mph from the south in the third round, and the average score on No. 9 at Pebble Beach was 4.97. There was only a breeze from the north in the final round, and the average score was 3.98.
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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.