Ryder Cup Hangover at WGC

By Associated PressSeptember 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 WGC American Express ChampionshipCHANDLERS CROSS, England -- Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald were unbeatable as a team again, and when they sat side-by-side before a room full of reporters, the Spaniard playfully leaned toward the microphone and began giving details of the match.
First hole, we won with a birdie. Second hole, we halved with pars.
But this wasnt the Ryder Cup, rather a practice round at The Grove for the American Express Championship.
They won cash from Ian Poulter and David Howell, not a point for Europe.
Clearly, this week will require some adjustments.
Its going to be tough to get the blood flowing as much as it was last week because the people in Ireland were amazing, Garcia said. But were here to perform, and try to do the best we can, and hopefully give ourselves a chance at winning the event.
The final World Golf Championship gets under way on Thursday at The Grove, an expansive estate north of London where 63 top players from around the world will play for a $7.5 million purse, with $1.3 million going to the winner.
Some players are dealing with a hangover, if not figuratively, then literally.
The Europeans partied into the night after an 18 - 9 victory Sunday at The K Club, and in the true spirit of the matches, the Americans joined them. The unwitting suspect in all this turned out to be PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem, whose suite was located directly above the European team room.
We dozed off about 6 a.m., Finchem said.
Reality returns to the individual side of golf on Thursday, that much made clear by the favorite to win.
Its an American'Tiger Woods.
He is the defending champion of the American Express Championship, trying to win for the second time this year in England. The first victory came in July at Hoylake in the British Open, the first of five straight victories sanctioned by the PGA TOUR.
This could be No. 6 in the winning streak, or No. 1, depending on how it is perceived.
Keeping track of records can get muddled when Woods travels around the world, so there was a debate Wednesday whether his winning streak was dead or alive. The answer was both.
It ended two weeks ago, Woods said.
After five straight victories from the British Open in July to the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston the first week of September, Woods lost in the first round of the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth.
But thats a European Tour event.
Im going for six in a row on our tour, Woods said of the American Express Championship, which counts as official on six major tours as a WGC event. But not six in a row tournament-wise, because Ive played two since then and lost both.
The other loss was at the Ryder Cup, still a popular topic this week.
Woods also won six straight on the PGA TOUR at the end of 1999 and the start of 2000, although he finished sixth in between that streak at the Johnnie Walker Classic, another European Tour event. That matched the second-longest streak on the PGA TOUR, barely more than halfway home to the record not even Woods believes will be broken.
Byron Nelson, who died Tuesday at his ranch in Texas, owns the record of 11 consecutive victories in 1945.
His record is still remarkable that particular year, Woods said. His 12th event, he finished second, and then he won the very next one. So thats 12 out of 13, and the worst he finished was second. Thats pretty good. And 18 (victories) in one year. I dont play that many tournaments, so I cant get to 18.
Asked whether 11 in a row was possible now, Woods said probably not.
The competition is so much deeper now, he said. Back in his day'I actually talked to him about this'he said he had to beat four or five guys every week. And when youre hot, thats not hard to do. Thats not the case anymore. Its 40 or 50 now, so its a lot different.
The World Golf Championships attract the best players from around the world. The criteria for this one is top 50 in the world ranking, and money leaders from the PGA, European, Australasian, Japan, South African and Asian tours.
Lee Westwood was hard-pressed to recognize that a World Golf Championship was at stake this week. It reminded him of Hilton Head, described by many as a working vacation because of the enormous buildup to the Masters, which is held the week before.
Any time after something youve really built yourself up for, its always difficult to get up the next week, he said.
Jim Furyk felt the same way.
If I had my druthers, I would never play the week after a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup because its an emotional high or letdown either way, Furyk said. If you play well and the team wins and you have a great time, its tough to get your thoughts back in it. If the team loses, youre in a grouchy mood.
Ah, but theres nothing like $1.3 million to cure any hangovers.
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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.

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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.”