Thomas gets record, but Harman leads U.S. Open

By Doug FergusonJune 18, 2017, 12:26 am

ERIN, Wis. – Justin Thomas landed a 3-wood on the 18th green where some players couldn't land a wedge, leaving him an 8-foot eagle putt that he calmly made for a 9-under 63 that matched one U.S. Open record and broke another.

It also put him squarely in the mix to capture his first major.

On an Erin Hills course that again lacked enough wind to be the stern test that the U.S. Open wants, Brian Harman weaved his way through traffic at the top of the leaderboard Saturday for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead over Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood.

Thomas became the fifth player to shoot 63 in a U.S. Open and the first player at 9 under. And if his hot pink pants were not enough, he did it in style. He had 310 yards to the hole when he hit 3-wood that could have led to big trouble if he went too far long or left.


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''Oh gosh, Jimmy, be good,'' he said to caddie Jimmy Johnson when the ball was in the air, and it was close to perfect. The ball landed on the front of the green just soft enough that it rolled out 8 feet by the hole.

Thomas poured that in to become the 29th different player with a 63 in a major championship.

''The finish was awesome. I'd love to have another one of those,'' said Thomas, who posted at 11-under 205.

The way this U.S. Open is going at Erin Hills, he might need it.

Only six players had ever reached 10 under par or lower in the previous 116 U.S. Opens. There are five players in double digits at Erin Hills.

Harman was at 12-under 204.

Koepka also reached the green in two on the 667-yard closing hole for a two-putt birdie and a 68. Fleetwood was poised to take the lead until his pitch to the 18th wasn't strong enough and his next shot went beyond the flag and down the slope some 70 feet away. He got that up-and-down for a bogey and a 68.

Rickie Fowler, sharing a house with Thomas this week, was being left behind until he ran off three straight birdies and shot 68. He was 10 under.

Not to be overlooked was Si Woo Kim, who captured The Players Championship last month. He shot 68 and was only three back.

Even with the course drying out, there simply was not enough wind to frighten anyone on their game.

Thomas, the 24-year-old from Kentucky who is a major away from joining the young elite in golf, only added to a year of low numbers. He made an eagle on his final hole at the Sony Open in January to shoot 59, and he went on to break the PGA Tour's 72-hole scoring record.

The U.S. Open didn't seem to faze him, and he delivered a variety of big shots that led to his sensational finish.

He rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 5 from the edge of the green that broke so severely that he stood with his toes facing the hole and rapped the ball toward his left foot. It took a hard turn to the right and rolled in. In the hay left of the 12th fairway, he gouged it out with a 9-iron and watched it roll to 10 feet.

And with the tees moved up on the 15th hole to make it reachable, Thomas hit a 3-wood that rolled off the back slope of the green to 6 feet. He two-putted for birdie, and he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

''It doesn't matter how long, how whatever the course is,'' Thomas said about the longest course in major championship history. ''When you give us soft greens, good greens and not much wind, you know there are going to be some good scores. I was just happy that I was the one that was able to take advantage of it today.''

But the work is not done.

Of the five other players who shot a 63 in the third round at a major, none went on to win. Most of them had to come from far back going into the weekend, and it was difficult to put together two good rounds.

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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.