Surprise Leader at McDonalds

By Associated PressJune 8, 2006, 4:00 pm
McDonaldHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. -- The buzz wasn't quite the same. The gallery was significantly smaller. About the only similarity between Michelle Wie trying to qualify for the U.S. Open and the Hawaii teenager at the LPGA Championship was her putting.
 
Whether it's Canoe Brook or Bulle Rock, the hole still looks awfully small.
 
Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie finished strong to stay within sight of the lead.
Three days after her putter doomed her hopes of a U.S. Open berth, Wie missed six putts inside 12 feet on the first eight holes Thursday. She was toward the bottom of the pack until birdies on three of the final four holes gave her a 1-under 71, leaving her seven shots behind Nicole Castrale.
 
'I think my putting is getting better,' she said.
 
Castrale used a late string of birdies on the closing holes for a different result. It helped her post a career-low 64, giving her a two-shot lead over Cristie Kerr and Pat Hurst.
 
Only about 750 people trudged over the hilly terrain of Bulle Rock to watch the 16-year-old Wie, much smaller than the estimated 3,500 who showed up at Canoe Brook in northern New Jersey for the U.S. Open sectional qualifier.
 
'What happened on Monday, you can't really see anywhere else,' Wie said. 'The crowds were very supportive today, even though it was not quite as huge as Monday. But they stayed until the end, so I was very happy.'
 
About the same amount watched Annika Sorenstam earlier in the day as the three-time defending champion struggled at times off the tee and around the green for a 71 that included four birdies and three bogeys.
 
'It kind of summarized my year a little bit, so I'm not surprised,' said Sorenstam, who has not won since her 2006 debut.
 
Sorenstam and Wie were among those tied for 41st on a day when 24 players shot in the 60s.
 
The group at 67 included South Korean rookie Seon Hwa Lee, coming off her first LPGA Tour victory last week at the ShopRite Classic, and Dorothy Delasin, who played with Wie. Karrie Webb, who won the first major of the year at the Kraft Nabisco, and Juli Inkster opened with 70s.
 
'It was out there,' Inkster said. 'If you were going to play well, today was the day.'
 
Indeed, it was Castrale's day.
 
She was injured in a car accident during her senior year at Southern California, which led to three surgeries on her rotator cuff. She won twice on the Futures Tour to earn a card in the big leagues, worked hard in the offseason then suffered an emotional jolt in February when Dick Harmon died.
 
Her coach is Bill Harmon, but she got to know his brother and worked with Dick on her short game. The Harmon brothers -- Bill, Butch, Craig and Dick -- got together for a golf school and good times in Palm Desert, Calif., earlier this year, and Castrale recalled playing nine holes on a Thursday afternoon as Dick Harmon and her husband watched.
 
The next morning, Harmon died of a heart attack.
 
'That came as such a shock,' Castrale said, her eyes welling with tears as she spoke. 'He has unbelievable touch around the greens, and he really took me in.'
 
Bill Harmon recalled the dinner he had with his brother before he died in which they talked about the 27-year-old Castrale, and how she had persevered through her injuries.
 
'He turned to me and said, 'I cannot believe what a good player she's become. She works so hard,'' Harmon said. 'A lesser person would have packed it in by now.'
 
Dick Harmon would have been proud of her Thursday, an overcast day with soft greens and not much wind, ideal for scoring. She picked up three of her birdies from inside 100 yards, including her string on the back nine. She chipped to 4 feet on the par-5 15th, hit a sand wedge to a foot on the next hole, and choked up on an 8-iron for an approach into 8 feet on the 18th.
 
Castrale started on No. 10, and she played her second nine solidly to keep bogeys off her card and make her a surprising leader in the second major championship of the year.
 
'I just had to stay patient, because I know I've been playing well and just not really scoring,' she said.
 
Wie needed all the patience she had.
 
Her week began Monday at Canoe Brook, where she missed six birdie putts inside 12 feet in her morning round of 68, then had consecutive three-putt bogeys in the afternoon that eliminated her hopes of becoming the first woman in the U.S. Open.
 
Three days later, not much changed.
 
She hit the ball with authority from tee to green, and the hole looked the size of a thimble when she stood over putts. She missed six putts inside 12 feet on the first eight holes, taking double bogey at No. 5 when she had an awkward lie in the rough off the tee, a bad lie in the rough around the green, and then three-putted from about 40 feet on the fringe.
 
Her three birdies came inside 3 feet, including a two-putt birdie on the 15th.
 
'The last four holes seemed like I was back to normal,' Wie said. 'So hopefully, tomorrow morning I can keep that going.'
 
Divots:
Paula Creamer played with her right wrist bandaged after an MRI showed sprained ligaments. She had consecutive bogeys to start her second nine, but rallied to shoot 71. ... Morgan Pressel, in her second event since graduating from high school, played with Sorenstam and was 1 under for her round until making bogeys on two of her last three holes for a 73. 'It was a mess,' she said. ... Christina Kim, who shot 67, used John Killeen as her caddie. Killeen normally works for two-time U.S. Women's Open champion Meg Mallon, who had to withdraw because of the flu.
 
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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.