Language Of Winning at Oakmont

By Brian HewittJune 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- The two best lines Ive heard all week'so far'are both funny and informing.
Kirk Triplett is getting most of the credit for being the player who said this of the 288-yard, par-3 eighth at Oakmont: Its the only hole I know where they can have a long drive contest and a closest to the pin.
Somebody else sized up Saturdays final pairing of Bubba Watson and Angel Cabrera and said this: The only thing they have in common is neither one speaks English.
Cabrera being from Argentina, dont you know. And Watson hailing from rural Florida.
Actually they both share otherworldly length off the tee. But the point of all this is how disorienting Oakmont can be and how important it has become for players to learn Oakmonts unique language.
Enter Tiger Woods, golfs polylinguist extraordinaire.
In the end Sunday, the winner will be the player who will have best blended a mixture of skill, resolve and golf Berlitz. For the 107th U.S. Open, it turns out, is a quadratic equation--X and Y variables all over the place. Solve it and youve got a chance to win.
'They say for every four pars you make it's like a birdie,' said Jeff Brehaut, who fashioned a taut 70 Saturday. 'That's about right. Just do the math.'
Enter Tiger Woods, golfs calculating calculist.
His challenge, and make no mistake he will relish it, is to track down Australian Aaron Baddeley Sunday. Woods is 4 over after 54 holes. Baddeley is 2 over. They will be playing in the final pairing. Note this: Woods has never come from behind after 54 holes to win any of his 12 major victories.
They say theres a first time for everything. For his part, Baddeley has been striking the ball with confidence all week and his putting has been better.
But a word of warning: The language of grind, it turns out surprisingly, may be counterproductive here. The weekend player tells the sad story about the four and a half hour round of golf where he can only concentrate for four. The other 30 minutes ruin his round.
The best players in the world are mentally conditioned to grind four days with few mental lapses. But even Woods has limits to his reservoir of grind. And Oakmont is a place where those limits can be reached.
On Day One here Nick Dougherty blithely made his way around in 68 pops. Led the championship and talked afterward about how much fun he had and how much he enjoyed the noises of the American crowds. This was Doughertys way of turning off the pressure. It lasted a day. He carded 77 Friday.
After his Friday 66, which will undoubtedly stand as the championships lowest round, Paul Casey also addressed the zone that, when achieved, can protect a player from the rigors of a golf course like Oakmont. In 1973 when Johnny Millers final round 63 won the U.S. Open here at Oakmont, one of the first questions asked after his round was, What was going through your mind?
Absolutely nothing, Miller responded. Or words to that effect.
Told of Millers comments back then, Casey said, Theres rarely anything going through my mind when Im playing golf.
At least not good golf.
Casey, by the way, actually counted his strokes in Wednesdays last practice round. It was 1-under 69 and he won a dinner bet from Victor Garcia, Sergios father. The method to this madness was Caseys first round struggles in majors. In April at Augusta Casey opened with 79 and followed it with 68. Here it was 77-66. Wouldnt Paul Casey, three back of Baddeley now, love to have that 69 back and be able to count it Sunday?
Stephen Ames, also three back of Baddeley, caught himself in the middle of his second round. As the day was going on, I realized that I was slowly starting to get into a rut of thinking score and stuff, Ames said. So I started to crack some more jokes.
The result was a 69, the only other round under par for that day.
'You have to switch gears,' Brehaut said.
Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, appears to have overthought the whole process. On an extended pre-championship visit he injured his wrist. And it didnt recover in time. He shot 74-77 and missed the cut by a shot.
Im going to have to change things, Mickelson said before getting out of town. Only time will tell exactly what that means.
But one of the lessons of Oakmont so far has been this: Let the game come to you. Or, failing that, make sure to stay true to yourself.
Youve got to figure out what works best for you, Woods said. Thats the hard part. I know I cant play as stoic as Hogan, and I cant talk as much as Trevino; you have to be your own person.
And, at Oakmont, you have to understand that Oakmont is going to be its own golf course.
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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.