Newcomers are making winning on Tour harder

By Doug FergusonMarch 10, 2014, 9:05 pm

DORAL, Fla. – The road to the Masters is just getting started, and already two players have combined to win five times on the PGA Tour.

They're not Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

How many would have guessed Jimmy Walker (three wins) and Patrick Reed (two wins) when the wraparound season began in October?

Reed might have had his hand up.

In a moment of bravado on national television after he went wire to wire (with ties) to win the Cadillac Championship, the 23-year-old Reed said, ''I'm one of the top five players in the world. I feel like I've proven myself.'' He has won twice this season, three times dating to August.

Reed and Walker are the latest newcomers to winning on the strongest tour in golf. Harris English won in Mexico last November for his second PGA Tour title in six months. Jordan Spieth won in July, and he started this year by giving himself three chances to win.

It's just another example that winning is getting hard, even for those who are used to winning a lot.

Each season seems to bring a new crop of younger players who have a lot of game and no fear. Russell Henley won the Sony Open in his debut as a PGA Tour member. Just over a year later, he overcame a two-shot lead playing with Rory McIlroy in the final group at the Honda Classic and won a four-hole playoff.

Scott Stallings won at Torrey Pines for his third PGA Tour win. He's 28.

The last three winners of the World Golf Championships – Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Reed – are all in their 20s. Ten of the 17 winners this season are in their 20s. That includes 26-year-old Chesson Hadley, who won the Puerto Rico Open on Sunday about the time Reed was beating the strongest field so far this year at Doral.

''Look at Russell Henley – he's won twice,'' Reed said. ''Harris English has won twice, Jordan Spieth won once. Myself, I've won three times. It's just one of those things that we've worked very hard – all of us – to get where we are. And it's definitely shown what we are doing is working. To see the young guys coming out and playing and putting it to the veterans is always nice.''

Walker turned 35 in January, so it's hard to consider him one of the younger players. Then again, injuries slowed the start of his career. And once he finally won at the Frys.com Open to kick off the new wraparound season, he has made it a habit. Over the weekend, Walker talked about new opportunities that have come his way following his three wins. He's not interested in anything but playing good golf.

Now that he has tasted winning, his appetite is only growing.

Walker leads the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup standings. Johnson is No. 2 on both lists, while Reed is at No. 3 in the FedEx and No. 4 in the Ryder Cup. Five of the top nine players in the Ryder Cup standings were not on the last U.S. team at Muirfield Village for the Presidents Cup.

Remember, it's still only March. The first of four majors has yet to be played. Reed has never even played in a major.

He rubbed a few people the wrong way when he declared himself among the top five in the world (he's actually No. 20). It showed what he thought about his game and that he's not afraid to say it.

So if he's top five, who are the other four?

''Tiger Woods, of course,'' Reed said.

And that was as far as he got before he smiled and said, ''You know, good question. I said top 5. I didn't know where I was going to be in the top 5.''

He then went on to mention Masters champion Adam Scott (No. 2 in the world) and Mickelson (No. 5). He mentioned how impressed he was with Graeme McDowell, and having played Saturday with Johnson, he acknowledged how good he could be when he gets on a roll. And the list stopped there, right when it was starting to grow.

The ranking (determined over two years) has Henrik Stenson at No. 3, Day at No. 4, McIlroy at No. 6.

It was clear that ''top five'' was more figure of speech than an actual number. Anyone's list of ''top five'' is likely to include as many as 10 players these days.

Years ago, Colin Montgomerie jokingly said that it was hard to win majors because Woods usually won two of them, Mickelson, Vijay Singh or Ernie Els won another and that left only one for everybody else each year.

Twenty-one players have won the last 24 majors. That would seem to make it even harder.

It's getting that way for regular PGA Tour events, too.

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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.