Bad break doesn't dim Zalatoris' outlook at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 20, 2015, 5:53 pm

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – The worst break Will Zalatoris got this summer had nothing to do with a bad bounce, draw or shot. 

No, it started when the Wake Forest sophomore experienced severe pain in his abdomen on Monday of Byron Nelson week, in late May.

The ensuing surgery for an emergency appendectomy required a four- to six-week recovery. That knocked him out of not just his second PGA Tour event, but also the U.S. Open sectional qualifier, the Texas State Open, the British Amateur, a Tour event and a handful of other amateur tournaments – all important bullet points on his Walker Cup résumé.

Zalatoris tried to rush back in four weeks, for his title defense at the Trans-Miss Amateur, but it was too soon. Same for the Southern Amateur, when he was hurting on every swing. He didn’t begin to feel better until a top-five finish against a loaded field at the Pacific Coast Amateur, and this week’s U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields was the first time since May that he was hitting his shots the proper distance. 

“It was just a giant buildup,” he said Thursday. “I’m getting better week to week.”

Alas, it might be a few weeks too late for his Walker Cup chances.

If healthy this summer, Zalatoris would have been a strong contender for one of the final spots. He was one of the nation’s best freshmen in 2014-15, winning once, never placing outside the top 25 and finishing the season ranked 20th

“I’m excited for where my game is headed,” he said. “Everything is starting to really click.”

What was likely his 11th-hour bid to make the team ended Thursday, when he lost to Walker Cupper Hunter Stewart, 3 and 1, in the Round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur.

The match turned on the 12th hole, when Zalatoris got fooled by the wind on the green and the match returned to all square.

“I finally felt like I had some momentum,” Stewart would say later. 

Zalatoris couldn’t convert a birdie putt on 13 after hitting the flag with his approach, and then he missed a 10-footer on 14 to trail by one hole.  

Stewart, the fifth-ranked amateur in the world who dispatched fellow Walker Cup teammate Lee McCoy in the Round of 64, didn’t miss a shot over the final four holes to close out the match, including two bullets with long irons on brutal, into-the-wind par 3s. 

“That’s what you have to expect out of a guy like that,” Zalatoris said. “He’s such a good player.” 

Now, the Walker Cup selection committee likely will decide between the eventual U.S. Amateur winner (provided he is an American and not oalready n the team), Denny McCarthy, Matt NeSmith, Aaron Wise and Zalatoris, a decision that could have been even more difficult if not for Zalatoris’ surgery.   

“It kinda hurts, especially with the rough timing, but it’s given me good perspective,” he said. “Sometimes you just feel like you’re lacking motivation or it’s easy to be complacent, but for me it was a great learning experience to be out. It was a tough stretch to miss, but I couldn’t have asked for a better thing to happen.”  

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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.