Unknowns Worth Watching

By Associated PressFebruary 19, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureTUCSON, Arizona -- Martin Kaymer was barely a blip on golf's radar screen until he shot a 59 on a mini-tour in Europe, then moved onto the Challenge Tour and finished fourth on the money list despite playing only eight tournaments.
 
That was 18 months ago.
 
Those who have watched him play are not surprised to see where he is now, nor do they put limits on how far he can go. The 23-year-old German is not only in the Accenture Match Play Championship, he is the No. 21 seed. He also is in the running for a spot on the Ryder Cup team, and likely will be eligible for all four majors.
 
'This is one worth watching,' Padraig Harrington said.
 
Kaymer was 41st on the Order of Merit last year in Europe to win rookie of the year, and his goal for 2008 was simply to keep his card. Then he won Abu Dhabi, and his birdie-birdie-eagle finish at Dubai put him runner-up to Tiger Woods.
 
'You've got to watch this kid play,' said Ernie Els, who was paired with him in Dubai the last round. 'He's going to be something, I promise you. He's long. He's got a great touch. You'll see a lot of him.'
 
This is a return trip to Arizona for Kaymer, a lean 6-footer who is dripping with enthusiasm and humility. With the winters so cold in Germany, he has gone to Phoenix the last two winters, playing mostly at Whisper Rock and Troon North this year.
 
'The facilities over here are perfect, the weather ... and I really like the American attitude in sport. They are so supportive,' Kaymer said. 'When I came here, I got to the golf course and I said, 'I play on the European Tour. Is there any chance I can practice here?' And they said, 'Yes, of course you can.' In Europe, you can't do that.'
 
The fact Kaymer beat Henrik Stenson in Abu Dhabi was sheer coincidence. Stenson's caddie is Fanny Sunesson, who has been working part-time with the German national team and still coaches Kaymer in course management and strategy.
 
Kaymer will play Boo Weekley in the first round Wednesday, and he knows what to expect. Kaymer and Alex Cejka played against Weekley and Heath Slocum at the World Cup in China.
 
'My first impression was he's a nice guy,' Kaymer said. 'Everybody asked me, 'Did you understand him?' I said, 'A little bit.''
 
TRIVIA TIME
Which player has lost to the most winners of the Accenture Match Play Championship?
 
SHARK HONORED
Greg Norman has been selected for the Charlie Bartlett Award by the Golf Writers Association of America for a commitment to charity that has spanned three decades and helped causes from children's cancer research to disaster relief.
 
Norman, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001 with two majors and 75 victories worldwide, has raised more than $10 million for charities, starting with children's cancer through his two-man team golf tournament formerly called the Shark Shootout.
 
He lent his helicopter to Katrina Relief efforts, teamed with former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush to benefit Tsunami Relief to help raise $2 million.
 
The award is named after the first secretary of the GWAA and is given to a professional golfer for his unselfish contributions to society. Norman will be honored at the association's annual awards dinner April 9 in Augusta, Ga.
 
NEW CHAIRMAN
Masters champion Zach Johnson has a new title -- chairman of the Players Advisory Council.
 
With the polls closing Friday at Riviera and voter turnout higher than it had been in years, Johnson was elected chairman over Rich Beem and Brett Quigley. And for his acceptance speech?
 
'I was shocked I won,' Johnson said. 'Shocked because the two guys I was up against, Beemer and Quigley, have been out here for years and are great guys who don't mind sharing their opinions are care deeply about this tour.'
 
The election means Johnson will move up to the policy board next year.
 
EVERT OBSERVATIONS
For those who wonder whether it's tougher to win in stroke play or match play, consider the assessment of tennis great Chris Evert, who attended her first PGA Tour event two weeks ago at Pebble Beach while watching fiance Greg Norman.
 
'My observations of golf is that mentally, it's a tougher sport than tennis,' said Evert, winner of 18 Grand Slam titles. 'There are no freebies. In tennis, I've been down 6-love, 5-1, 40-15 and won the match. And in golf, you can't do that. You have to be relentless on every single shot.'
 
The other thing she noticed was a competition among 180 players at Pebble Beach. But this week at the Match Play Championship, the winner only has to beat six players.
 
'My first Wimbledon I won, I didn't play Billie Jean (King) or Yvonne (Goolagong) because they were beaten,' she said. 'I would have for sure lost to them on grass.'
 
TRIVIA ANSWER
Nick O'Hern. He lost in 2001 to Steve Stricker in the quarterfinals, in 2006 to Geoff Ogilvy in the second round, and last year to Henrik Stenson in the quarterfinals.
 
DIVOTS
Jim Furyk, who missed the cut at Riviera, was seen practicing with a belly putter at Dove Mountain. ... The World Golf Hall of Fame has new artifacts on display in its Jack Nicklaus exhibition, which includes the set of MacGregor irons he used to win the 1986 Masters, and the driver and wedge he used to win the 1975 Masters. ... The Tavistock Cup, matches between touring pros from Lake Nona and Isleworth in the Orlando, Fla., area, will have women on each team. Annika Sorenstam again will play for Lake Nona, while Paula Creamer will make her debut for Isleworth. ... The European Open will return to England for the first time since 1994 when it is held July 3-6 on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage course at The London Golf Club in Kent.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Jeff Maggert (1999) and Darren Clarke (2000) are the only players to beat the No. 1 seed on their way to winning the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
FINAL WORD
'Maybe they would have grown more if the same guy wasn't winning them.' -- Stuart Appleby on the World Golf Championships. Of the 26 that have been played for official money, Tiger Woods has won 14.
 

Related Links:
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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.