Short And Sweat

By Brian HewittMay 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Paul Casey was going to be the guinea pig and he knew it.
 
He and Nathan Green and Charles Warren were the first threesome off the 10th tee Thursday morning at THE PLAYERS.
 
Which meant they would be the first group to reach the infamous island green that defines the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass.
 
So when Casey two-putted for birdie in the swirling, gusty winds at the par-5 16th it boosted him into a tie for the lead. It also earned him the honor on the next tee.
 
Dubious honor.
 
Thats always the problem with making birdie on 16, Casey said, moments after carding a 76 that could have been much better. There is a downside.
 
What Casey didnt know but might have guessed was that 17 would play the most difficult on the golf course in Rd. 1. Of the first 100 players that tested their mettle in the swirling winds, only 54 would find the putting surface; 33 of those first 100 would find the water.
 
The actual distance from the tee to the hole location at 17 Thursday was 128 yards. Casey figured it was 136 to the ridge in the middle of the green. And thats where he was aiming when he struck his 9-iron.
 
His ball, according to the TOURs Shotlink computers, traveled 124 yards. And found a watery grave. That left Casey, who arrived at the 17th 2 under on his round, with an awkward 92-yard pitch from the drop area. That shot didnt stop until it had rolled to the back of the green. Three putts later Casey had a triple bogey six from which he never really recovered.
 
It was a good round of golf, he said. Until 17. Bogeys followed on Nos. 18, 3, 7 and 8.
 
Casey is the 13th-ranked player in the world. And he took his medicine like an adult. Earlier this week Tiger Woods used the word gimmicky to describe the 17th. Casey, to his credit, didnt take the bait.
 
It is what it is, Casey said of, arguably, the most dangerous hole in golf. This is a great golf course. And 17 doesnt let the rest of the golf course down.
 
I do think they made it smaller, though, Casey said with a trace of humor. But I have no proof.
 
Woods had also suggested that 17 would be better positioned as the eighth hole. His contention was that the island green makes for too much drama on the 71st hole of the golf tournament late Sunday.
 
The irony is that 17 WAS the eighth hole of the day for Casey, Woods and everybody else who teed off on the back side. Woods managed a par at 17. But, ironically, he missed a 2-foot par putt on the eighth, his 17th of the day.
 
Woods, by the way, also pitched a shutout. The worlds No. 1 made no birdies and bogeyed three of his last six holes for an untidy 75.
 
But Casey had been the guinea pig and when he dunked that 9-iron it meant he was the first of many to get wet on 17. His 6 on the hole was the 173rd triple bogey in the history of the event.
 
TPC Sawgrass officials estimate that 120,000 golf balls a year are lost in the waters that surround the island green. Most of the year the golf course is open, for a stout greens fee, to the public.
 
Woods, by the way, was remarkably upbeat after his round in which too few putts dropped into the hole. Hit, he said, and pray.
 
Hopefully, you dont get the wrong gust at the wrong time, because you can look like a real idiot, he said of the winds that rarely dipped below 20 miles per hour all day. It got so bad at one point officials had to stop play on the eighth to use blowers to clear debris from the green.
 
Perhaps the most amazing accomplishment Thursday was Rory Sabbatini getting to 6 under through 15 holes. He finished with 67.
 
Meanwhile the only certainty here for the weekend is that there will be more train wrecks on the penultimate hole. When conditions get difficult here, the focal point of every round automatically becomes the island green.
 
I thought it was well-struck, Casey said of his 9-iron on 17. I was wrong.
 

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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.