Simpson wins 112th U.S. Open for first major

By Associated PressJune 18, 2012, 4:50 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Webb Simpson refused to think of himself as a U.S. Open champion until he sat with his nervous wife in a quiet corner of the locker room Sunday, staring in disbelief at a television as Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell tried to catch him.

He was up against a pair of major champions. He was at The Olympic Club, where the wrong guy always wins a U.S. Open.

Simpson should have known now how this would end.

He did his part with four birdies in a five-hole stretch around the turn, and a tough par from the collar of the 18th green for a 2-under 68. It was enough to capture his first major when Furyk bogeyed two of his last three holes, and McDowell couldn't recover from a bad start and too many tee shots in the rough.



''Oh, wow,'' Simpson said when McDowell's 25-foot birdie putt to force a playoff stayed left of the cup

Simpson emerged from a fog-filled final round as a U.S. Open champion, and he put two more names into the graveyard of champions.

''I never really wrapped my mind around winning,'' said Simpson, who finished at 1-over 281 to win in only his fifth time at a major. ''This place is so demanding, and so all I was really concerned about was keeping the ball in front of me and making pars.''

Olympic is known as the ''graveyard of champions'' because proven major winners who were poised to win the U.S. Open - Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart - all lost out to the underdog.

Perhaps it was only fitting that the 25-year-old Simpson went to Wake Forest on an Arnold Palmer scholarship.

''Arnold has been so good to me,'' Simpson said. ''Just the other day, I read that story and thought about it. He's meant so much to me and Wake Forest. Hopefully, I can get a little back for him and make him smile.''

No one was beaming like Simpson, who followed a breakthrough year on the PGA Tour with his first major.

No one was more disgusted than Furyk, in control for so much of the final round until he snap-hooked his tee shot on the par-5 16th hole to fall out of the lead for the first time all day, and was unable to get it back. Needing a birdie on the final hole, he hit into the bunker. He crouched and clamped his teeth onto the shaft of his wedge. Furyk made bogey on the final hole and closed with a 74, a final round without a single birdie.

McDowell, who made four bogeys on the front nine, at least gave himself a chance with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th and a shot into the 18th that had him sprinting up the hill to see what kind of chance he had. The putt stayed left of the hole the entire way, and he had to settle for a 73.

McDowell shared second place with Michael Thompson, who closed with a 67 and waited two hours to see if it would be good enough.

Tiger Woods, starting five shots behind, played the first six holes in 6-over par and was never a factor. He shot 73 and finished six strokes back.

Furyk was fuming, mostly at himself, for blowing a chance at his second U.S. Open title. He also was surprised that the USGA moved the tee up 100 yards on the 16th hole to play 569 yards. It was reachable in two shots for some players, though the shape of the hole featured a sharp turn to the left.

''There's no way when we play our practice rounds you're going to hit a shot from a tee 100 yards up unless someone tells you,'' Furyk said. ''But the rest of the field had that same shot to hit today, and I'm pretty sure no one hit as (bad) a shot as I did. I have no one to blame but myself.

''I was tied for the lead, sitting on the 16th tee. I've got wedges in my hand, or reachable par 5s, on the way in and one birdie wins the golf tournament. I'm definitely frustrated.''

But he gave Simpson his due.

Of the last 18 players to tee off in the final round, Simpson was the only one to break par. That didn't seem likely when Simpson was six shots behind as he headed to the sixth hole, the toughest at Olympic. That's where he started his big run.

His 7-iron landed in the rough and rolled 5 feet away for birdie. He made birdie on the next two holes, including a 15-footer on the par-3 eighth. And his wedge into the 10th settled 3 feet away, putting him in the mix for the rest of the day.

''It was a cool day,'' Simpson said. ''I had a peace all day. I knew it was a tough golf course. I probably prayed more the last three holes than I ever did in my life.''

Simpson's shot from the rough on the 18th hole went just right of the green and disappeared into a hole, a circle of dirt about the size of a sprinkler cap. With a clump of grass behind the ball, he had a bold stroke for such a nervy shot and it came out perfectly, rolling 3 feet by the hole for his much-needed par.

Then, it was time to wait.

It was the third time in the last seven years that no one broke par in the U.S. Open. On all three occasions, the winner was in the locker room when the tournament ended.

While Furyk will be haunted by his finish, McDowell can look back at his start - four bogeys on the front nine - and his inability to find fairways. Even on the last hole, his tee shot tumbled into the first cut of rough and kept him from being able to spin the ball closer.

''There's a mixture of emotions inside me right now - disappointment, deflation, pride,'' he said. ''But mostly just frustration, just because I hit three fairways today. That's the U.S. Open. You're not supposed to do that. You're supposed to hit it in some fairways. And that was the key today for me.''

Beau Hossler, the 17-year-old who started only four shots behind, disappeared quickly and closed with a 76. He showed up at Olympic hopeful only of making the cut, then being low amateur, then perhaps winning. He had to settle for the first one. A double bogey on the last hole meant Jordan Spieth (70) was low amateur.

Woods has never won a major when trailing going into the last round, and he kept that streak going.

Starting with a tee shot buried in the rough just off the first fairway, he bogeyed the opening two holes and chopped up the par-3 third hole for a double bogey. His name was removed from the board before the leaders even stepped onto the first tee. He played that infamous six-hole start in 6 over. And that 69-70 start that gave him a share of the lead going into the weekend felt like a distant memory.

''I was just a touch off,'' Woods said of his 75-73 weekend. ''But I was still in the ball game. Today I just got off to a horrific start, and just never got it going early. And unfortunately, I put myself out of it.''

For Westwood, the sting was sharper - and quicker. His tee shot on the fifth hole struck a towering cypress tree and never came down. Westwood gazed at the top of the 40-foot tree, even using binoculars to try to find it. But it was back to the tee for his third shot, a double bogey that made him part of Olympic lore on the fifth hole, only with a far different outcome.

It was the same hole - but not the same tree - where Lee Janzen's ball dropped from the branches as his back was turned while walking back to the tree. Janzen converted that break into another U.S. Open title in 1998. Westwood never threatened again in trying to win his first major.

Furyk and McDowell were slugging it out over the opening six holes, and no one seriously challenged them for the first few hours of the final round.

It changed quickly, and it was tight the rest of the way with as many as eight players believing they could win this championship.

Thompson, whose 66 in the opening round was the best score of the week, played bogey-free on the back nine and picked up a birdie on the par-5 16th with a wedge that settled near the flag. Despite missing an easy birdie chance on the 17th, he was in the clubhouse at 2-over 282.

Els drove the par-4 seventh green and holed an 8-foot eagle putt that brought him within two shots of the lead. He lost hope, however, when he slightly pulled his wedge into the 16th. It went into a collection area, and his putt up the slope came back at his feet. He had to scramble for a bogey.

''I'll go to bed tonight thinking of the 16th, the third shot,'' he said. ''That basically cost me the tournament.''

Padraig Harrington came out of nowhere with five birdies in 11 holes to reach 2 over, but from the 18th fairway, he buried his approach in a bunker and made bogey.

Even so, this was a major that looked as if it would belong to McDowell or Furyk. One of them lost it early, the other one lost it late.

Simpson joined them as a U.S. Open champion, a win that moved him to No. 5 in the world.

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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.