Molder makes Frys.com first Tour win

By Doug FergusonOctober 9, 2011, 11:24 pm

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Bryce Molder knows better than most that there's no sure thing in golf.

That wasn't the case when he left Georgia Tech nearly a decade ago after being an All-American all four years. And it certainly wasn't the case Sunday at the Frys.com Open in the longest playoff of the year on the PGA Tour.

Molder captured his first Tour victory by making a 6-foot birdie putt on the sixth playoff hole to outlast Briny Baird.

'It's a little surreal right now,' Molder said.

Molder and Baird were stuck in time, going from the 17th hole to the 18th hole in three cycles, matching birdies and pars, both players feeling at various points that they were going to win.

Three times, Molder hit driver on the 284-yard 17th hole over the water and had eagle putts for the win, each one a little closer to the hole than the previous one, all of them sliding by the side of the cup.

On the fourth extra hole, Baird felt like a winner when Molder drove into the hazard. Molder was able to get to the front of the green from the junk, while Baird's wedge hit the top of the flag and spun back some 12 feet. He missed.

After nearly two hours, Baird blinked and Molder finally made a putt to win.

'You practice and work, and you just hope there's some validating behind it,' said Molder, who won in his 132nd start on Tour. 'I don't feel I deserved to win. But I happened to settle myself down to play.'

The playoff was packed with plenty of drama, and so was the rest of the sunny day at CordeValle.

Tiger Woods managed to make news when a fan ran toward the seventh green as he was putting and tossed a hot dog in his direction. The 31-year-old man was arrested and never came close to Woods.

'I guess he wanted to be in the news,' Woods said. 'And I'm sure he will be.'

It was the 17th playoff this year on the PGA Tour, setting a record dating to the modern era that began in 1970.

Baird looked like a winner when he chipped in from short of the 17th green for eagle in regulation to take a one-shot lead. In the group ahead of him, Molder rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th to close with a 7-under 64, which got him into the playoff.

Baird, 0 for 348 in his 12 years trying to win on Tour, shot a 4-under 67. He twice had birdie putts on the 18th in the playoff to win, missing from 8 feet and 12 feet.

They finished at 17-under 267, and then looked as though they would never finish.

'Obviously, it's more than disappointing right now,' Baird said. 'I thought I'd be standing where Bryce is. I had my chances. Given a chance, you've got to make putts.'

If there was a consolation for Baird, he earned $540,000. Baird, who started his year with conditional status on Tour, was at No. 148 on the money list and now is assured of getting his card back for next year.

Bud Cauley, the 21-year-old who turned pro this summer, shot 66 and finished third to earn $340,000, which looks as if it will be enough for him to earn a card next year without having to go through the qualifying tournament.

Cauley left Alabama this year to turn pro, and it appeared to be a smart decision. He is projected to be the equivalent of 114th on the money list with two tournaments remaining. He at least gets into The McGladrey Classic next week. Cauley would be only the sixth player since 1980 - and the first since Ryan Moore in 2005 - to earn a full PGA Tour card without ever going to Q-school.

Cauley was among five players tied for the lead at some point in the final round. As usual at CordeValle, this tournament was always going to be decided over the final four holes, which offer two eagle possibilities with the par 5 at No. 15 and the tees moved forward on the 17th, making it play 284 yards over the water.

Shane Bertsch surged into the lead alone with an eagle at No. 15 to reach 15 under, only to miss a short putt on the next hole. He failed to make another birdie and tied for fourth with a 64. Ernie Els also tied for fourth. He went bunker to bunker on the 15th and had to settle for par and closed with a 68.

Ultimately, the duel came down to Baird and Molder, two players looking for their first PGA Tour win on a course that tests the nerves because of so many possible swings in momentum.

Molder birdied three of the first four holes on the back nine to take over the lead, and appeared to be playing safe by laying up on the 15th and making par. His 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th spun 270 degrees around the cup.

In the group behind him, Baird reached the 15th green for a two-putt birdie to get within one stroke, then put himself in position for the win with a drive that narrowly cleared the water on the 17th and stayed on the bank.

Trying to get up-and-down to tie for the lead, he chipped in for an eagle - the second straight day he made eagle on that hole - for a one-shot lead. Up ahead, however, Molder recovered by rolling in a 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole to catch him.

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Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

“This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”


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Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

“It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

“Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

“My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.

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Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day

By Jay CoffinApril 26, 2018, 7:51 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.

My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for GolfChannel.com.

Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:

By BRADY COFFIN

My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.

My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.

I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.

At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.

He loves working at Golf Channel.

“It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.

(P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)

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Not the 'prettiest' 65, but Duval, Furyk will take it

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 7:44 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Wearing a polo instead of a dress shirt, working with a caddie and not a producer, David Duval exited the scoring tent, walked toward the group of reporters waiting for him after their 65 and grumbled to teammate Jim Furyk, “The damn media.”

Duval was joking – we think – since he now is one of us on the dark side, a successful and respected TV analyst, after an injury-shortened career in which he battled Tiger Woods, rose to world No. 1, won a major and then experienced such a miserable slump that it drove him into an entirely new line of work.

Now 46, Duval doesn’t play much anymore, only 11 events in the past four years. His last made cut was in July 2015. Earlier this year, he teed it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but only because he and his wife, Susie, enjoy the vibe there. Competitively, he knew he didn’t stand a chance. He had moved back to Colorado, worked two out of the three weeks, and then couldn’t practice the other week because the weather didn’t cooperate. Not surprisingly, he shot three consecutive rounds of 76 or worse.

And that could have been the extent of his season (save for his annual appearance at The Open), but he was drawn to the idea of the team format at the Zurich, to the idea of playing with Jim Furyk, with whom he’s been friends for the past 32 years, dating to their days in junior golf. So Duval reached out, asking the U.S. Ryder Cup captain if he wanted to team up, for old times’ sake.

“This was about being with a friend, reuniting, having our wives together for a few days,” said Duval, who estimated that he’s played more than 100 practice rounds with Furyk over the years. “Expectation-wise, I don’t know what they are for me. I don’t get to participate out here and compete.”


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But Duval took this start seriously. He almost never travels with his clubs, but he brought them to the Masters, working with his old coach, Puggy Blackmon, between TV appearances and bouncing between Augusta Country Club and Augusta University’s practice facility.

Without any on-camera work since then, he’s spent the past two weeks grinding, even bringing Blackmon to New Orleans for a range session, just like most of the other pros in the field.

“It’s like a normal preparation,” he said. “Maybe not as much as it would be for a typical player, but a lot more than I’ve been able to do in the past.”

Duval has no intentions of diving back into competitive golf full-time, but working as an analyst has given him a new perspective on the game he loves.

“When you don’t play a lot and you don’t have that opportunity, you feel like you have to play perfectly,” he said. “Being on the other side of the desk, you see how many crappy golf shots really, truly get hit, and it’s like, look, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to hit more good ones than bad ones and go from there.”

That also sums up his and Furyk’s opening round here at the Zurich.

Furyk joked before the event that they’re the rustiest team in the field, but playing best ball, they remained steady in a driving rainstorm, then ran off seven birdies to shoot 65 and sit in the top 10 when they finished their round.

“It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest,” Duval said, “but it was solid. It wasn’t like we had 36 looks at birdie.”

“We ham-and-egged it really good today,” Furyk added. “We got pretty much one of the best scores we could have out of the round.”

The second round could be a different story, of course, with alternate shot. It’s a more nerve-wracking format – especially for two aging warriors without many competitive reps this year – and they figure to find some unusual parts of TPC Louisiana.

But that’s a worry for Friday, because Duval was in the mood to savor his four birdies, his team score of 65 and his ideal start to a work week with his longtime friend.

“I think it was good,” he said, breaking into a wry smile, “especially for me.”