Romero full of talent - if not the words

By Associated PressJanuary 10, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii ' Andres Romeros timing was impeccable.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was standing in a small group behind the first tee at Kapalua when Romero showed up for his opening shot in the Mercedes-Benz Championship. He nodded in Romeros direction and whispered, This is a good one, here.
Just then, Romero turned and walked over to a familiar face and said, Que pasa, amigo?
He next stepped over to Finchem, smiled and shook his hand.
Romero was the PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2008, and while the Tour does not release votes, this should have been a landslide. He was among four rookies to win last year, but Romero was the only one to play in all four majors (he had top-10s in two of them) and the only rookie to reach the Tour Championship.
Some might argue the 27-year-old Argentine was not a true rookie. The year before joining the PGA Tour, he nearly won the British Open, and he tied for sixth in his first World Golf Championship.
Then again, imagine going to a foreign country to learn new places and new faces, barely able to get by in the language.
It was difficult, Romero said through his interpreter, Marcos Virasoro. New courses, new people, new places. But I was lucky to win in one of my first starts here, and that gave me confidence. I was used to playing two years in Europe. I knew who I was playing against, and when I won in Germany, I knew I could beat some guys.
When I came here, it was different, he said. I knew the people from TV, but I didnt know how they played.
He knows them now ' he was paired with Tiger Woods in the first round of Firestone in 2007 and in the third round at the Masters last year ' and they are getting to know him.
I love the fact hes so aggressive, said Anthony Kim, one of the few Americans whom Romero considers a close friend. Not too many guys out here are that aggressive. Hes not scared of anything. I love watching him.
But their friendship is based mainly on their youth and their style, certainly not any deep conversations.
It was another Argentine, former British Open champion Roberto de Vicenzo, who once famously said, If you shoot under 70, everybody will understand you. If you dont, they wont want to talk to you, anyway.
Romero laughed when reminded of his comment, and he agrees ' to a point.
He had planned to knuckle down on his English studies during the offseason but put it off. It can be overwhelming to learn a new language at his age.
Romero is one of nine children, a former caddie at The Jockey Club outside Buenos Aires. He learned to play by fashioning tree branches into a golf club, finding old balls and picking out targets.
Its not important for the score, Romero said, referring to his English. But it is for other things.
He regrets not having a better relationship with Kim and Adam Scott, two of his favorite English-speaking colleagues. He feels trapped at pro-am dinners and sponsor parties, recognizing famous people but afraid to say anything in a language he barely knows.
And it hurts his recognition.
The PGA Championship put together a group of young stars at Oakland Hills last year ' Garcia, Kim and Villegas. At the time, Villegas had never won a tournament and had only one top 10 in a major.
Is it possible Romero would have been part of that group if he spoke English as well as Garcia?
I dont feel bad for not being recognized, he said. I won at the beginning of the year, but maybe I was inconsistent. I have to demonstrate my game every week.
Villegas also struggled with English when he came to the United States, but he was helped by spending four years at Florida. He worked as hard on his language as he did on his game.
Still, he can appreciate what Romero faces on the PGA Tour.
It definitely makes it more lonely, Villegas said. My only good advice was youve got to commit yourself. Life becomes a lot easier, a lot more friendly, and a lot better when you can communicate. Its tough when you can only communicate with your caddie and somebody else. I know hes getting better. Hopefully, he gets it right on track quick.
Romero was more comfortable on the European Tour, where there are far more Argentines and other Spanish-speaking players.
Another life, he says with a smile. And thats where he first earned recognition, finishing 35th on the Order of Merit as a rookie, then delivering a stunning performance at Carnoustie.
With 10 birdies on the first 16 holes of the final round, Romero took a two-shot lead until a double bogey on the 17th hole and a bogey on the closing hole, missing a playoff by one shot. A week later, he won his first European tour title in Germany.
Romero is trying to become more consistent ' he missed five cuts last year and had only three top 10s besides his victory in New Orleans. He wants to play well in the majors, perhaps even win one this year. And he wants to be on the International team at the Presidents Cup, which he narrowly missed two years ago.
He also wants to fit in on the PGA Tour, which could take time.
Everyone says hi to me now. It looks like Im a good guy to the rest of the people, he said. Maybe the language is a barrier. I think if I speak good English, Ill have a good relationship with everybody. I understand much more than I did a couple of years ago. But I always say I have to start learning. And I never start.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    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.