LPGA's finish looks like the start of something big

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2014, 5:00 pm

The LPGA’s season ended with a big-bang finish Sunday in Naples, but in so many ways this year feels like it could be the start of something bigger.

At 17, Lydia Ko’s star is just beginning to rise. She won two LPGA titles before joining the tour as a member this year. She won three as a rookie this season, equaling Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park and No. 2 Stacy Lewis for most victories in 2014. It's just a matter of time until she breaks through in major championships.

Park, 26, and Lewis, 29, have battled to within hundredths of a decimal point for the Rolex world No. 1 ranking, with their struggle to hold the mountaintop evolving nicely into a rivalry that saw them square off in a brilliant head-to-head battle in Taiwan last month. They were 1-2 in just about every statistical category that mattered this year.

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Michelle Wie’s passion is returning, her confidence growing with those victories at the U.S. Women's Open and Lotte Championship. You can see how much she wants to join Park and Lewis in that battle for No. 1. You can see her competitive fires burning anew. She gets this look in her eyes now, like she wants to plow through the field to the trophy. Wie, 25, just needs to stay healthy and keep that putter functional to make a run at Park, Lewis and Ko for the game’s big prizes.

“There’s no reason she can’t climb all the way to No. 1 now,” says David Leadbetter, Wie’s swing coach.

Suzann Pettersen ended 2013 on the cusp of No. 1, but a back injury earlier this year derailed her momentum. You know she didn’t like being an afterthought in all the battles for big prizes late this year. At 33, she’s burning to get right back in the mix for majors, No. 1 and Player of the Year battles.

Lexi Thompson, 19, won her first major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year playing bomb-and-gouge golf in a way the LPGA has never seen before. Lewis says Thompson hits shots that nobody else on tour can hit. A lot of tour pros are waiting to see if Thompson puts all that mega- talent together for her biggest year yet this coming season.

The LPGA’s season may be over, but that big-bang finish Sunday came with the promise of even more spectacular fireworks. It felt like momentum that won't be contained by the calendar's turn to December.

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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.