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After Further Review: 'Don't believe' what I just saw!

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 12, 2018, 1:00 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

I saw it with my own eyes and I still don’t believe. Tiger Woods is healthy and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if he won at Bay Hill and/or Augusta National.

I flew to Dubai 13 months ago to watch a wincing Woods play 18 holes in awful pain. He said he was fine, but failed to show up the next day and withdrew. That man, on that day, didn’t look like a man who wanted to play golf. That man didn’t look like a man who could play golf at any level, no matter what sort of procedure he opted to have.

That same man had off-course difficulties last Memorial Day and as recently as September said he wasn’t sure he’d ever play golf competitively again.

That man almost won the Valspar Championship and looks similar to the man who won 79 PGA Tour titles and 14 majors. He was steady, confident and in complete control of his game. I saw it and I love it, but I still don’t believe it.  – Jay Coffin

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Tiger Woods did not win the Valspar Championship Sunday after his 43-foot birdie at the 71st hole set off a roar across Innisbrook, but he might win the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week because of it.

He might win the Masters because of it. Woods moved more than within a shot of the lead with that clutch putt. He moved closer to being the player he wants to be again. He moved closer to being the player almost nobody but he and his most loyal supporters believed he could be again. – Randall Mell

On room to grow for Tiger ...

This will do little to temper expectations, because when it comes to Tiger Woods being realistic is an occupational hazard, but Sunday’s near-miss at the Valspar Championship for the 14-time major champion should become the new baseline, at least for the foreseeable future.

Although Woods inspired the massive galleries that crowded every hole at Innisbrook Resort this week, his inability to produce on Sunday is less a knock against Tiger than it is a sign of the times. After two years of competitive inactivity and four back surgeries, this will take time.

For so long Woods made winning look easy, but it never was and this new version of Tiger is incapable, at least at the moment, of winning with something less than his best stuff. That might change as the comeback progresses, but for now his fans should hope for the best and accept that anything less is part of the learning curve. – Rex Hoggard

On Tiger's growing expectations ...

Under-promise and over-deliver.

It’s an age-old maxim that, to this point, has served Tiger Woods well as he returns to competitive golf in the wake of back fusion surgery. Woods has been measured more by his ability to simply suit up for tournaments than by the shots he might hit once he got there.

But with a T-2 finish at the Valspar Championship, all that has changed. The general sentiment has shifted from how often Woods can play to how many more starts until he wins for the 80th time. Whatever embers were lit with a 12th-place showing two weeks ago at Honda have now erupted into a full-blown blaze.

Woods has successfully shouldered the weight of expectations many times throughout his career. Looking forward to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Masters and beyond, it’ll be fascinating to see how well he’s able to assume the burden this time around as his success quickly becomes measured more by results than tournaments played. – Will Gray

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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.

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.