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Mickelson assessed penalty for tapping down grass

By Will GrayJuly 8, 2018, 4:29 pm

Another start, another rules violation for Phil Mickelson.

Lefty has been giving the rule book a bit of a workout this summer, and that effort continued Sunday at The Greenbrier when he tapped down some long fescue grass with his foot in front of the seventh tee box. Because the grass was along his intended line of flight, Mickelson called a two-shot penalty on himself after consulting with a rules official for a violation of Rule 13-2:

According to Rule 13-2, a player may not improve the area of his intended stance or swing, or his line of play, by a series of actions that includes "moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed" and "creating or eliminating irregularities of surface." Had Mickelson re-teed his ball in a different area of the tee box, where the grass in question wasn't along his intended line, he would not have been penalized.

Mickelson, who started the day nine shots off the lead, made a double bogey on No. 7 after the two-shot penalty was added and ultimately shot a 4-over 74 after closing with a triple bogey on the 18th hole. He finished the week in a tie for 66th at 1 under par.

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This marks Mickelson's first start since the U.S. Open, where he created a storm of controversy by deliberately hitting a moving ball on the green during the third round. He was ultimately assessed a two-shot penalty but not disqualified and went on to tie for 48th at Shinnecock Hills.

Mickelson is in the field for next week's Scottish Open before heading to Carnoustie in search of his second Open victory the following week.

After the round, Mickelson told reporters that he was planning to hit a low iron shot on No. 7 that he expects to use frequently over the next two weeks in Scotland and "wasn't really paying attention or thinking."

"I just had a few bonehead moves today," Mickelson said. "It's just one of those things... A lot of times guys just inadvertently do things, and I just wasn't thinking."

Mickelson will now fly to Europe before playing a Monday practice round at Ryder Cup host Le Golf National outside Paris, followed by rounds at Gullane on Tuesday and Carnoustie on Wednesday prior to the start of the Scottish Open.

"I'm looking forward to getting over there," Mickelson said. "I've got to get my short game a little sharper. My iron play wasn't great, but I'm looking forward to heading over."

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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.