Notes: Mickelson has special club in mind for Masters

By Doug FergusonMarch 30, 2013, 1:21 am

HUMBLE, Texas – Phil Mickelson has something special planned for Augusta National this year.

A special club, that is.

Mickelson shot a 71 on Friday at the Houston Open and will get in two more rounds in his final tuneup before the Masters in two weeks.

He shot a 72 on Thursday with a driver in his bag, then took it out and added a 3-wood ''that's more like a driver'' for his second round. The new 3-wood produces a lower ball flight and more run in the fairway.

So what's the plan for Augusta?

''We have a special club we're making that I'll be hitting on Monday,'' he said. ''So, we'll see.''

Mickelson, the 2011 champion, rallied with three straight birdies on the back nine Friday, fueling optimism for the weekend. Two years ago, he was five shots back after two rounds, then shot 63-65 on the weekend to win by three.

''I have a chance now when I show up,'' he said. ''I'm not searching, I'm not trying to find it. I know what it is I'm trying to do and the feelings I'm trying to create to hit certain shots. I have a chance to shoot a low round.''

SNEDS SLIDING: Brandt Snedeker left the PGA Tour with a rib injury as the hottest player in golf - runner-up to Tiger Woods and Mickelson in successive weeks, and then a winner at Pebble Beach. He goes into the Masters having missed his last two cuts.

Snedeker returned last week at Bay Hill after missing a month to heal his ribs. He missed the cut there, and Friday at the Houston Open. Needing a birdie, he went for the green on the par-5 eighth hole and found the water, leading to bogey. He finished at 1-over 145.

The good news: His ribs feel fine.

''Early in the year, everything was going right,'' Snedeker said. ''I was making key putts and hitting key shots in the round. Now I'm not making key putts and I'm hitting loose shots where you can't hit loose shots. Last week I hit it bad and putted good. This week I hit it good and putted terrible. Hopefully, that means everything will be just right at Augusta.''

Snedeker is not playing in the Texas Open. He will spend next week at Sea Island, where the greens are at about 13 to 14 on the Stimpmeter to prepare for the Masters.

He's not in top form, though Snedeker doesn't feel he is that far off.

''Looking back on it, I was playing good,'' he said. ''The things I was doing so good was minimizing my mistakes and maximizing my rounds. Right now I'm not.''

MASTERS UPDATE: Geoff Ogilvy is out of the Masters unless he wins the Texas Open, and though he's entered in the event next week in San Antonio, it wasn't clear if he will play.

The top 50 in the world after this week are eligible for the first major of the year. Ogilvy was at No. 50, though he will fall out after missing the cut. Ogilvy was No. 47 after his runner-up finish at the Honda Classic, but he finished toward the bottom of the pack in his next two events, and then missed the cut his last two weeks.

Henrik Stenson is now in the best position to crack the top 50. He was at 5-under 139 going into the weekend. He could get in with a top-40 finish, though that might depend on whether Marcel Siem wins in Morocco on the European Tour.

Augusta native Charles Howell III needs to finish alone in fourth. He had a 72 on Friday and was seven shots out of the lead.

COMFORT ZONE: Brian Davis is contending at the Houston Open for the second straight year.

The 38-year-old Englishman was 7 under par after shooting a 70 on Friday morning. Last year, Davis started 68-65 and tied for fourth, four strokes behind winner Hunter Mahan.

Redstone would seem to favor longer hitters, with its wide fairways and light rough, but Davis came in ranked 150th in driving distance.

''If you play well anywhere, you can get in contention,'' Davis said.

Davis had four top-10 finishes and earned $1.3 million in 2012. He's looking for a turnaround week after missing five cuts in his first eight starts this year.

''It's a funny game,'' Davis said. ''You don't feel like you play bad and, all of a sudden, you're in contention. That's just the way the game goes.''

MISSING CHAMPIONS: Mickelson is the only former champion to make the cut in Houston.

The cut line was 143. Defending champion Hunter Mahan (145) and past winners Paul Casey (157), Johnson Wagner (155), Stuart Appleby (144) and Robert Allenby (147) also were in the field this week.

ACES WILD: Carl Pettersson holed a pitching wedge on the 143-yard seventh hole, the first ace of the tournament. It's the first hole-in-one in the Houston Open since 2011, when Brandt Jobe aced No. 7 in the final round with an 8-iron.

BACKING OUT: Sean O'Hair, who shot a 76 in the first round, withdrew Friday morning because of a back injury.


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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 at Carnoustie. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was one of 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 continuing 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.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


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.

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Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

“It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

“That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”