Clarke Enters - And Exits - Laughing

By George WhiteFebruary 19, 2002, 5:00 pm
Darren Clarke looked remarkably wide-awake at 8 in the morning for a man who treasures his sleep. He should be adjusted to the new wake-up hours by now, having played on the West Coast at Los Angeles last week (he missed the cut.) The eight hours time difference from his bed back home in Ireland doesnt seem so bad, though. The big fella still loves his shut-eye, his pastries and the good life.
 
Work-out is a phrase that hasnt caught on with him yet. The rest of the Accenture field was busy in the La Costa spa with the weights and bikes and gut-busting paraphernalia, but not Darren. He chuckled at the mention of the words weight loss.
 
Youve got to get the flu or something, get a tummy bug, thats the easiest way, he said, contemplating the prospect of weight reduction. And this winter, he had to admit that occasionally he had lost a pound or two. Ive been sick a little bit, he said, then laughed.
 
Clarke, who seems to do everything with extreme good nature, said he has no idea what his weight is. He looked to be about 240, give or take a few Twinkies, but professed ignorance as to the exact number.
 
I dont know ' it varies, he said. I have been doing a little stretching with John, the guy I was working last year. But I havent been doing an awfully lot.
 
Clarke, it must be said, walks about five miles every time he plays a round of golf. And it must be said that he was one of two men who played six rounds at this tournament ' the last round 36 holes - the last time it was played at La Costa, in 2000. The other was a gent named Tiger Woods. Oh ' the big guy won.
 
I was just walking around without a care in the world, Clarke remembered that day when he won, 4 and 2. Walked around, smoking a cigar and having a nice time on the golf course and that was it. It wasnt as if I was trying ' I mean, I was trying, but I didnt FEEL as if I was trying.
 
Clarke sighed. I wish it was that easy all the time, he said. Clarke, you see, at times has as much talent as anybody in the world. At times he looks absolutely unbeatable. Such is the ability of this big man. If you had to come up with a golfer to define streaky, Darren Clarke would be your man.
 
For all his size, Clarke is not a particularly big hitter. But he can be a great iron player. That was never more apparent than that day in 2000, when every second shot seemed to be right on the pin.
 
It was always me hitting first, he said, noting that he was forever further from the flag after the drive. So it was always me hitting first, so it was never really that much pressure on me hitting shots into the green.
 
Thats one of those things, if you can get in really close and put pressure on them. And because I was swinging particularly well that week, I was able to do. I missed very few greens that whole week.
 
Woods agreed. Every time he looked, another shot was in the shadow of the flagstick.
 
He didnt make many putts, Tiger noted. But he didnt have to.
 
Meaning, of course, that so many approaches were up next to their target that Clarke didnt have to spend much time lining up putts. The big guy knocked em close, then tapped em in.
 
That was supposed to signal a new Clarkie, one that was competing for world No. 1. That hasnt happened, of course.
 
The game ' youre continually learning, learning about my swing and what shots I should take on at the right time. Making the right decisions is the hardest part, he said.
 
I would not say that Im very good at that most of the time.
 
Thats a big confession. But it is the nature of this big man. Honesty ' and having a good time ' are the very best policies.
Getty Images

Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Webb Simpson

---

9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Xander Schauffele

12. Matt Kuchar

13. Kevin Kisner

14. Tony Finau

15. Brian Harman

On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood

---

Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey

---

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.