Notes Nas wild ride 17th becoming easy

By Doug FergusonMay 9, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The PlayersPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Kevin Na trudged up the 18th fairway, stopped a few yards short of the green and started searching for his ball.
It was buried deep in the rough.
He probably wished he could have left his entire round there.
Na had the wildest round during a strange Saturday at The Players Championship. The 25-year-old Na twice pulled within a stroke of leader Alex Cejka, but followed both of them with near-meltdowns on the unforgiving Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
He shot a 2-over 74, was at 5 under heading into the final round and six strokes behind Cejka. It could have been worse, too.
This golf course can do that to you, said Na, who turned pro at 17 and is still looking for his first PGA Tour victory. Every hole is birdieable, but definitely you can make an X on it.
Na has proof. He made consecutive birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 to get to 9 under, then badly misread a long putt on No. 9 that seemed to start the free fall. He pulled his tee shot on No. 10 into the sand, then hit his approach 70 feet past the pin and three-putted for bogey.
He yanked his second shot into a tree on the par-5 No. 11 and dropped another shot. Things got even messier at the par-3 13th.
His dropped the club during his follow through, then covered his mouth as his tee shot landed in the water left. His third shot landed over the green, leading to a triple bogey.
Na managed to regroup and get back near the top of the leaderboard with a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 15 and an eagle at the par-5 16th. But his day ended in forgettable fashion ' with consecutive bogeys that left him in a three-way tie for eighth heading into the final round.
It was wild, Na said. Some of the holes youve just got to take your medicine center of the green. I tried that. It was just a little off. I wasnt down the middle of the green, and thats what you need to do out here. Im going to go work on it on the range and figure it out a little bit.
He might first want to try to forget the last two holes.
Nas tee shot at the famed island green, No. 17, might have been the most baffling. After discussing club selection with his caddie, he watched in disbelief as his ball sailed by the pin and rolled precariously close to the edge of the water.
Using a hybrid club, he watched his slippery putt roll past 10 feet past the hole. He missed the par putt, but walked off the green feeling a little lucky he didnt make double bogey.
He hoped to get back on track at No. 18, but landed just short of a tree in the right rough. His knocked his approach shot into the tree and it ricocheted into the fairway. He came up short from there and couldnt even find his ball as he walked toward the green.
Fans and volunteer marshals had to help him out.
This course, its crazy, he said. I love the crowd here. I love the way the finishing holes are. Its just beautiful finishing holes. I think its just a great test of golf. Youve got the greatest players in the world having trouble shooting par on this golf course. It means something. Theres a reason why were shooting over par.

ANOTHER CUT: For the first time in the tournaments 36-year history, The Players Championship had a second cut. Twelve more players were cut after the third round Saturday, all of them sent home because of a Tour rule that calls for another cut if more than 78 players make it to the weekend.
Robert Karlsson, Hunter Mahan, Stewart Cink and Fred Funk were among the dozen players done a day earlier than they had hoped.

ISLAND PARADISE?: The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, the famed island green that has given players nightmares over the years, has proven to be a much more pleasant place to visit this year.
The lagoon hole, the one with swirling winds and daunting galleries, is playing under par for the first time since 1997. The holes scoring average is 2.940 through three rounds, with only 24 balls hit into the murky waters. Only four balls landed in the water Saturday, the fewest in any round since only four also got wet in the third round in 2004.

DIVOTS: NBC commentator Peter Jacobsen took a playful jab at Tiger Woods, and renowned swing coach Hank Haney, during the third-round broadcast. Jacobsen said he thought Woods would rub off on former NBA star Charles Barkley, who is starring in a reality TV show as Haneys pupil. But Jacobsen said it looked like Barkley was rubbing off on Woods. Only 18 players shot under par in the third round. Woody Austin and Kenny Perry led the way with 68s. Alex Cejkas five-stroke lead is the largest in tournament history heading into the final round.

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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.