Webb wins maiden PGA Tour title in Greensboro

By Associated PressAugust 21, 2011, 10:07 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Webb Simpson grew up in North Carolina, and his favorite memory of the Wyndham Championship was caddying for Neal Lancaster as a teenager during a pro-am.

That might change now that he’s won the tournament.

Simpson claimed his first PGA Tour title Sunday, shooting a 3-under 67 to win by three strokes.

The 26-year-old Raleigh native finished at 18-under 262 and collected $936,000 in the tournament about a 30-mile drive from the Wake Forest campus where he was a college star.

“I really couldn’t think of a better place to win than here in Greensboro,” Simpson said.

George McNeill (64) was at 15 under, with Tommy Gainey (69) another stroke back in the final event before the PGA Tour playoffs.

Carl Pettersson (69), Vijay Singh (65), Jerry Kelly (65), Kyung-tae Kim (66) and Charles Howell III (67) finished at 13 under at Sedgefield Country Club.

Simpson said his first visit to the Greensboro-based tournament came when he was 16. His father brought him to the event’s former home across town at Forest Oaks Country Club to caddie for Lancaster during the Wednesday pro-am.

“That was probably the most fun 18 holes I’ve ever been a part of,” Simpson said.

His final 18 of this tournament were marked by steady, bogey-free play and a strong finish marked by consecutive birdies on Nos. 15 and 16.

After taking the lead during Round 3 with a late five-hole stretch of four birdies and an eagle, Simpson opened his final round with eight straight pars before moving to 16 under with a birdie on the par-4 ninth.

He stayed there until late in the day. Birdies on the par-5 15th and the par-3 16th gave him a three-shot lead with two holes to go.

“When I made the putt on 15, I asked my caddie for the first time all day, `Where do we stand?’ and he said, `We’re two ahead right now,”’ Simpson said. “I knew I needed to play solid golf on the last three holes, and to birdie 16 was so huge. … I knew I had a three-shot lead on 18, and as soon as I hit the ball in play, I knew it was probably over.”

McNeill made a late charge, with the former Florida State player moving to 15 under with a birdie on No. 17, his sixth birdie of the round. But all he could do after that was hope for a few late bogeys from Simpson.

“Honestly, I thought it was going to be a lot lower,” McNeill said of the winning score. “I can only control myself. I can’t control what everybody else does. I’m very happy with the way I hit it, the way I played, the way I putted.”

Several players with strong Atlantic Coast Conference ties played pivotal roles during the fourth round at the country club where the ACC was founded in 1953 – and in a college-centric region where school ties run deep.

Simpson was the ACC’s player of the year for the Demon Deacons in 2008. McNeill was an all-conference player for the Seminoles in the late 1990s.

And Pettersson grew up in Greensboro, played at North Carolina State, serves on this tournament’s board of directors, won it in 2008 and made the daily 70-mile commute from his home in Raleigh.

“I’m disappointed. I’m a competitor,” Pettersson said. “I wanted to win this one badly, but Webb outplayed us all.”

Pettersson turned in perhaps the most remarkable birdie of the tournament on the par-4 first hole. After sending his drive well wide of the fairway and into a flower pot, he wound up chipping in from about 55 feet.

Gainey, a South Carolina native known as “Tommy Two Gloves” because he wears them on both hands, led or shared the lead after each of the first two rounds. After falling off the pace with two bogeys and a double bogey midway through the round, he reeled off four consecutive birdies on Nos. 12-15 to climb back in it.

The focus this week wasn’t solely on the leaders, but on the names moving up and down the FedEx Cup points list.

The Wyndham annually marks the last chance for players to claim spots in the playoffs, and some big names came to Greensboro hoping to play their way in.

Padraig Harrington, who called off a family vacation so he could try to escape the playoff bubble, finished at 6 under and jumped from No. 130 to No. 124. The top 125 qualify for The Barclays later this week in New Jersey.

Ernie Els, who entered at No. 126, made it into the playoff field despite shooting a final-round 72. His 8 under finish pushed him to 118th.

“You don’t know in these playoffs,” Els said. “I’ve got to play good golf though. I played really good the first two days. I’d like to get that back.”

Among those who didn’t make it: Justin Leonard missed a 13-foot putt on the 18th, and that left him at No. 126.

“To try and wait until this week to make it through is just – you know,” Leonard said. “I mean, come on. I had 25 other weeks to play like this.”

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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.