Tiger Woods surges into a share of the lead at HSBC

By Doug FergusonNovember 6, 2009, 6:09 pm

HSBC Championship

SHANGHAI – Tiger Woods realized that no one was pulling away at the HSBC Champions on Friday, so he settled into a good groove with the putter and made sure he caught them.

Woods birdied five of his last 10 holes for another 5-under 67, giving him a share of the 36-hole lead with Nick Watney in the final World Golf Championship of the year that continues to have a distinct American look.

Seven of the top nine players on the leaderboard are from the United States, and the possibility of another No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown looms with Phil Mickelson making three birdies over the last four holes for a 66 to finish one shot behind.

Woods has been runner-up twice at the HSBC Champions, and he put himself in contention again at Sheshan International. After consecutive holes failing to make birdie with a wedge in his hand, he knocked in a 10-foot birdie on the ninth and was on his way.

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“I certainly had some looks and didn’t really capitalize on anything,” Woods said. “Made a putt on 9 and from then on, I hit a lot of good putts and basically played the last 10 holes at 5 under.”

He reached the par-5 18th in two for one last birdie to catch Watney (70) at 10-under 134.

They were one shot clear of Mickelson, Ryan Moore (69) and Alvaro Quiros of Spain, who chose to lay up on the 18th instead of hitting 4-iron to the green because the putting surfaces were firm and quick. He had to settle for a par and a 66.

Another shot behind was Anthony Kim, who made eagle on the 18th for a 69, while Pat Perez made a bogey on his final hole for a 69 that put him at 7-under 137.

Perez said he is working on some swing adjustments and not really paying attention to his score, so while he is in contention for the first time in a World Golf Championship, he is not particularly sure how he got there.

At least he might get a few more fans on Saturday.

“It felt like Sunday afternoon on the wrong side of the course,” he said. “We had like two people following us. It’s an awesome tournament, but we had no atmosphere. It made me realize I’m actually a nobody. I thought I was decently somebody, but this confirms it. In worldwide golf, I’m a nobody.”

Still laughing, Perez stated the obvious. Most of the fans were following three groups, the bulk of them with Woods.

They lined the entire side of the fairway on the 603-yard eighth hole, although most of the cheers were for Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand as he opened with three birdies over the first seven holes.

Woods had birdie putts inside 18 feet on every hole over the first hour, converting only one of them and losing his patience. The Chinese gallery doesn’t speak his language, although it understands that a player flipping his club at the golf bag is not a good sign.

Only when he glanced at the leaderboard did Woods realize no one was doing that much better.

“It certainly was a bit frustrating,” he said. “But the guys weren’t running off and hiding, either. I knew if I could just play the back nine at 3-under par … I figured that would probably be a good number. And I did a couple better than that.”

Putting also was the difference for Watney, who made just about everything on Thursday and was stunned to miss a couple of short putts in the second round. He was even for his round until closing with two birdies that put him in the final group of a WGC event for the second time this year. He played the final two rounds at Doral with Mickelson, losing by one shot.

Watney wasn’t the least bit shocked to see Woods atop the leaderboard, with Mickelson and Kim right in the mix.

“I knew from the start they were in the field, so it’s no surprise they’re playing well,” Watney said. “Whatever the lead is at, that’s not going to win the golf tournament. I need to go out and keep playing well and keep making birdies to have any shot.”

Watney and Woods will be joined in the last group with Moore, who messed up the easy holes and picked up shots on the harder ones. He finished by missing the green in a miserable spot on No. 9 and chipping in from 60 feet for birdie.

“I was happy to walk away with par, and to have birdie … that was nice,” Moore said.

Mickelson has been driving the ball great since the Tour Championship, and he gets to stack his length up Saturday against Quiros, one of the longest hitters in golf. Quiros is one of the few who has even dared go for the green on the 603-yard eighth, with a stream fronting the green. He reached it Friday with a 4-iron.

“I’m playing OK,” Quiros said. “I’m lucky with bad shots. I’m able to hit recovery shots.”

Mickelson won at Sheshan International two years ago and has done just enough to be near the lead. He chipped in twice, but perhaps his best shot followed a mistake. He hit hybrid into a fairway bunker on the 16th, leaving him an awkward yardage with the ball slightly plugged in the slope. He hit wedge to 12 feet and made birdie.

“I put myself in good position heading into the weekend,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys there, and I’ll need to play well.”

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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.