Martin leads by 3 at Women's British; Wie misses cut

By Doug FergusonJuly 11, 2014, 8:41 pm

SOUTHPORT, England – Mo Martin had a plan for Royal Birkdale, and it's working better than she imagined at the Ricoh Women's British Open.

Martin took two putts from short of the green on the par-5 18th hole Friday for her 10th birdie in two rounds, and her second straight 3-under 69. That gave the American a three-shot lead over Beatriz Recari of Spain and former U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu going into the weekend.

''It's always nice when your plan pans out,'' Martin said. ''So it's fun to be here.''

For Michelle Wie, it was fun while it lasted.

Coming off her first major in the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Wie kept putting herself in tough spots and couldn't convert enough pars. She followed her highest score of the year (75) with one that was even worse, a 78 to miss the cut by three shots.


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Wie was among the favorites. It was easy to overlook the 31-year-old Martin, who has never won an LPGA Tour event and is playing links golf for only the third time.

She is 5-foot-2 and among the shortest hitters in women's golf. That figured into her strategy at Royal Birkdale, which is littered with pot bunkers and is framed by dunes covered in thick grass.

''Every hole you have something to think about. Every single shot you have something to think about,'' Martin said. ''But there's fairway there, and there's green there, and that's what I'm focusing on. ... My caddie and I just figured out where the widest parts of the fairway were, where I would have the best approaches into the greens.''

She made it sound so simple, even as Royal Birkdale has been plenty tough in pristine weather for these parts - a steady wind, but not as strong as it could be.

Martin was at 6-under 138, one of only two players to break par in both rounds.

Ryu was the other, overcoming a double bogey on her second hole by not dropping a shot the rest of the way. She shot 70 and was at 3-under 141. Recari, who arrived at Birkdale with a sore wrist that she attributed to no one helping her carry her luggage in the airport, birdied the last three holes for a 67.

Ahn Sun-Ju also had six birdies in a round of 67 that left her one shot behind at 2-under 142, along with Julieta Granada (70). Only nine players were under par when the cut was made at 6-over 150.

The accuracy of Martin has been critical, for it doesn't take much to get out of position at Royal Birkdale, and escaping is never easy.

Karrie Webb, the only woman to win five of the LPGA's majors, began her back nine with a triple bogey and picked up a bogey on the par-5 17th for a 79 to miss the cut. Catriona Matthew, a former Women's British Open champion, had a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 for scores on her card. She finished with a tap-in eagle for an 83.

Ayako Uehara, the first-round leader with a 68, shot a 44 on the back nine for a 79 and fell nine shots behind. And then there was Lexi Thompson, the Kraft Nabisco winner, who began her round by hitting two shots out of bounds and making a 10. Thompson fought back for a 77.

The second round offered a few amazing shots, none that tops the one by Vikki Laing of Scotland. She holed out with a 5-wood from 240 yards for a double eagle on the par-5 17th.

Wie was on the cut line until her tee shot on the 16th went right into a blackberry bush. She was inches away from asking for a free drop from a plaque in the ground, but instead had to take a penalty drop and made double bogey. She was too disgusted to read the plaque - it was there in honor of Arnold Palmer, who in 1961 slashed a 6-iron out of the bush and onto the green on his way to his first British Open title.

''That didn't happen for me,'' Wie said with a smile.

Through it all, mighty Mo just motored along without much fanfare. The UCLA grad played bogey-free on the front nine with two birdies. And when she got in trouble with back-to-back bogeys, she chalked that up to a good plan with poor execution. And then it was back to work.

She hit a soft wedge from 71 yards to tap-in range for birdie on the par-5 15th, and then added her third birdie on a par 5 at the last hole.

Martin has won three times on the secondary Futures Tour. She had a plan for those courses, too. The real test comes this weekend, with a major title at stake and experienced players behind her.

One of them is Ryu, who has played enough big events to know that bad things can happen to everyone. For Ryu, it was a double bogey on the second hole.

''Links golf is always hard to predict,'' Ryu said. ''Even when I hit the great shots, still can finish at the worst place. And when I hit the bad shots, still can finish close to the pin. So it's really important, whatever the result, we need to accept it and just keep working. Today I made a double bogey on the second hole, but I knew it was just unlucky. I just accepted it and then think about next holes, and it helped a lot.''

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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.