McIlroy shares BMW lead; Woods 1 back

By Doug FergusonSeptember 6, 2012, 11:45 pm

CARMEL, Ind. – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy seem to be spending a lot of time together lately. That includes the top of a busy leaderboard at the BMW Championship.

The biggest star in golf and his heir apparent put on a dazzling show Thursday at Crooked Stick, where the gallery caught a glimpse of the best players in the world for the first time since the 1991 PGA Championship.


Round 2 tee times moved up; Golf Channel to broadcast from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ET


McIlroy, flawless with his irons, birdied his last two holes for an 8-under 64 and was part of a four-way tie for the lead with Indiana native Bo Van Pelt, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and Graham DeLaet, the Canadian who is quietly becoming the Cinderella of these FedEx Cup playoffs.

Just three days after McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank Championship, he looked just as impressive in the opening round at Crooked Stick.

''He hits it great, putts it great and top of that, he's just a really nice kid,'' Woods said in some of his strongest praise ever for another player. ''The game of golf is in great hands with him, and he's here to stay.''

Woods, who finished two shots behind Monday in Boston, isn't going away quietly. He was only sharp when it came to scoring, making enough birdies to stay in the game, including a 30-foot chip-in on his last hole for a 65.

McIlroy had every reason to be a little flat because of the short turnaround from the Labor Day finish. But that wasn't the case at the BMW Championship, not with fans lined three-deep down the entire 10th hole to see him and Woods in the same group for the second time in three weeks.

''It definitely gives you a little more of a lift, especially coming off a win and maybe being a little flat,'' McIlroy said. ''You're focused from the get-go, and you want to go out and shoot a good number, and I was able to do that today.''

They made it look easy, and Crooked Stick was every bit of that on a broiling afternoon north of Indianapolis.

Because of heavy rains earlier in the week - so fierce on Wednesday that the course was briefly evacuated - players were able to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the short grass before firing at the flags. Really, there was no other option in such soft conditions.

Sixty players in the 70-man field were at par or better. Forty players were in the 60s. All but five holes played under par, and the average score was 69.47.

''I think we all knew it was there for the taking today,'' said Justin Rose, who opened with a 67 and was tied for 10th.

Vijay Singh had a chance to join the leaders until he drove into the water on the 18th hole, though he escaped with par and was at 65. Luke Donald was in the group at 66. Phil Mickelson was at 69, worth noting because it looked as though he might quadruple bogey on his last hole. Instead, he made birdie.

His second shot from the fairway on the par-5 ninth sailed toward the corporate tents, and Mickelson feared it was out-of-bounds. He hit a provisional that went onto the driving range, which definitely was out-of-bounds. Before he could hit again, Mickelson discovered the first one was in play. Mickelson had a clear enough shot at the green, and he hasn't lost his magic with the short game – his wedge settled 2 feet away for a birdie.

''I got lucky,'' Mickelson said.

Mickelson played in the group in front of Woods and McIlroy, a dream for any gallery. Even so, cheers could be heard from all ends of Crooked Stick, a testament to how many people were on the course for a Thursday afternoon.

But the biggest crowd followed the two biggest stars at the moment.

''I definitely felt left out for a while,'' said Nick Watney, the Barclays winner who played with Woods and McIlroy. ''But it was fun to watch. Those guys ... they're really good. Rory swings so aggressively, but he never looks uncomfortable. I wish I could have kept up.''

Watney, who rallied for a 70, opened with four pars and coming off the 13th green said, ''I'm playing like the Giants' offense.'' He was talking football, not baseball.

Woods and McIlroy got after it from the start. Woods hit into about 10 feet on the opening hole, and McIlroy hit next to 12 feet. McIlroy made his putt, Woods followed that with his birdie putt. There was a two-shot swing for Woods when he hit 8-iron to 4 feet on the 13th hole and McIlroy went long of the green. There was a two-shot swing for McIlroy when he hit 6-iron to 6 feet on the next hole, and Woods came up short and missed his par putt.

Woods even popped up a tee shot – just like McIlroy did in the final round at Boston – on the fourth hole. It went only 186 yards, so short that marshals came running back down the fairway trying to figure out where it went.

There was a stretch in the middle of the round when on just about every hole, one player would hit it close and the other would match him. They made it look as though they were playing at their home club on a Saturday morning, chatting on the tee and down the fairway, Woods playfully shoving him after an exchange behind the 12th green.

''I've always enjoyed playing with Tiger, and every time that we're paired up, we seem to have a good time,'' McIlroy said.

It was the sixth time they played in the same group this year - three times in Abu Dhabi, twice at Barclays and Thursday.

For Woods, he didn't need the No. 1 player in the world – and the only player besides him in the last half-century to win two majors by at least eight shots – to concentrate on posting a good score. It was the soft ground beneath their feet, the gentle breeze and a 70-man field that meant the greens wouldn't be chewed up by spike marks.

''We just couldn't afford to have a bad start today,'' he said.

The surprise was DeLaet, the Canadian who started these playoffs at No. 106 until he tied for fifth at The Barclays. Now he's No. 60 and facing elimination – only the top 30 go to East Lake for the Tour Championship – but with an eagle on his last hole, he's tied for the lead.

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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.