Woods, Furyk, Toms share lead at U.S. Open

By Associated PressJune 16, 2012, 1:28 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Just when this U.S. Open was starting to look like child's play, Tiger Woods led a trio of tested champions who took it back Friday.

Woods, another round closer to a serious shot at his 15th major, overcame three straight bogeys on the front nine for an even-par 70. Jim Furyk, nine years removed from his U.S. Open title outside Chicago, plodded his way around Olympic for a 1-under 69. Former PGA champion David Toms kept a steady presence in his round of 70.

They were the only three players who remained under par going into the weekend.


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And they restored some sanity to the toughest test in golf after a brief, stunning moment when 17-year-old Beau Hossler found himself alone in the lead. The kid went 11 holes without making a bogey until he got lost in the thick rough and the trees on the brutal front nine of Olympic and had to settle for a 73.

That wasn't the only surprise.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy missed the cut for the fourth time in his last five tournaments. He set a U.S. Open record last year at Congressional with a 131 through 36 holes. He was 19 shots worse at Olympic, with a 73 giving him a two-day score of 150.

''It wasn't the way I wanted to play,'' he said.

Also leaving San Francisco far earlier than anyone expected were Luke Donald, the world's No. 1 player, Masters champion Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson, coming off a win last week at the St. Jude Classic.

It doesn't take much at this U.S. Open to swallow up even the best players.

Woods had to be close to his best simply to break par.


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''Well, that was not easy,'' Woods said. ''That golf course was some kind of quick. ... You had to stay as patient as possible.''

They were at 1-under 139. Everyone else in the field was over par.

Graeme McDowell, the U.S. Open champion two years ago down the coast at Pebble Beach, dropped three shots on his last four holes for a 72. Even so, he was very much in the hunt two shots behind at 141, along with recent LSU alum John Peterson (70), Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium (69) and Michael Thompson, the first-round leader whose 75 was nine shots worse.

''It's just tough to have fun out there,'' McDowell said.

The only regret for Woods was settling for a tie.

When he regained a share of the lead with Furyk on the 13th with a 4-foot birdie putt, Woods was coming up on a series of holes that allowed players to at least think of making birdie. In a greenside bunker in two on the par-5 16th – shortened to 609 yards Friday – Woods blasted out weakly and missed a 12-foot putt. With a mid-iron in his hand in the fairway on the par-5 17th, he went over the green and down a deep slope. Despite a superb pitch to 8 feet, he missed the putt.

And with a wedge from the fairway on the 18th, he came up well short and into a bunker, having to settle for par.

Furyk rolled in a 40-foot birdie putt from off the third green in the morning, the highlight of his 69.

''Plod, I think, is a good word,'' Furyk said. ''You take what the course gives you and play the best you can from there.''

Woods is coming off his second win of the year two weeks ago at the Memorial, and hasn't lost a step. It might not show it in the scores, just the leaderboard.

''A long way to go,'' he said.

Woods had won eight straight times when he had at least a share of the lead going into the weekend at the majors, a streak that ended at the 2009 PGA Championship when Y.E. Yang chased him down from four shots back. Woods hasn't seriously contended in the final hour of a major since then.

Sharing the lead with other major champions might not be a coincidence.

''Whoever wins this golf tournament is going to be a great champion, somebody that's probably won events before, that can handle the emotions and can handle the adversity in a U.S. Open, and somebody with experience,'' Toms said. ''At least that's what I think. You never know. Strange things can happen, but I would think that you would see a lot of that on the leaderboard come late Sunday.''

And a stern test waits on the weekend. Asked for a winning score, McDowell deferred to the USGA.

''They can have whatever they want,'' McDowell said. ''If they want 5 over to win, 10 over to win it ... they can hide these pins away. I would have to imagine around level par.''

Woods, who played the difficult six-hole opening stretch at 1 under in the opening round, wasn't so fortunate the second time around.

He brilliantly bounced his tee shot onto the green at the par-3 third to 5 feet for birdie, and the outright lead at 2 under, and he appeared to have everything under control. That didn't last, though.

He pushed his approach into a bunker on the fifth and took bogey. He got a miserable break on the next hole when his second shot was suspended in the thick collar of the bunker, forcing him to grip his wedge on the steel shaft to play his shot, which went through the green for another bogey. And on the short par-4 seventh, which can be reached from the tee, he three-putted from 8 feet for a third straight bogey.

On the other side of the course, the cheers of disbelief were for Hossler.

The kid in braces, who didn't even win his state high school championship, rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt on the 520-yard first hole, putting him alone in the lead at 2 under.

''Unfortunately,'' he said, ''I kind of lost it coming in.''

It's wasn't the pressure. It wasn't the size of his audience perched along the hills. It wasn't the sight of his name listed over three major champions.

It was The Olympic Club.

Hossler dropped a shot on the next hole, though the real trouble came when he pulled his tee shot on the fourth into the hay and made double bogey. Then, he hit into a bunker on the adjacent hole for another bogey, lost another shot on the sixth and only slowed the damage with a chip-in behind the seventh green for birdie.

He still gets to sleep in on Saturday with his late tee time, and what 17-year-old doesn't like that?

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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.