Poston makes solo trip to regionals worthwhile

By Ryan LavnerMay 17, 2015, 1:40 am

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – All of the teams that qualified for the NCAA Championship were already long gone by the time Western Carolina’s J.T. Poston played his final hole Saturday.

Fitting, because those other teams didn’t matter much to Poston anyway – he was playing the Chapel Hill regional here as an individual. 

Poston began the final round at Finley Golf Course with a one-shot lead as he tried to play his way into the NCAA Championship, but a few stumbles midway through his day threatened to spoil his bid. He birdied the sixth hole (his 15th of the day), made a good up-and-down on 7 and dropped a shot on 8, so at 6 under for the tournament he knew he was right around the cut line for the spot that goes to the low individual on a non-qualifying team.

For the first time all day he wanted to know the situation and where he stood, and the answer from coach Bryant Odom was simple: We need a birdie here

After his drive found the fairway, Poston hit his 8-iron to set up a 20-foot birdie try. A few weeks earlier, at the Southern Conference Championship, he sank a similar-length putt to win in a sudden-death playoff.

“I definitely drew on that experience,” he said, as he poured in the birdie putt to force a playoff with Lipscomb’s Dawson Armstrong (65), then won with a bogey on the second extra hole. 

As a result, Poston, a six-time college winner, became the first player in school history to reach nationals.

“He knew what he had to do,” Odom said. “There’s only one task when you get here. He didn’t want to be the low individual; he wanted to win it.”

Well, Poston certainly will take a T-2 finish (two shots behind medalist Maverick McNealy), and a spot at Concession Golf Club. This was the third time that the 52nd-ranked Poston has played regionals as an individual, but his previous two trips he finished 38th.

“I forced it a little bit,” he said, “knowing that I had to finish in the top-3 or top-5 to have a chance. This year I tried to stay patient and treat it like any other tournament.”

Even if this tournament feels anything but a regular tournament.

In an event that is all about the team finish – the low five squads after 54 holes advance – Poston was all on his own. He rode shotgun in the team’s sprinter van that seats eight players. He had his own stall on the range. He had the last tee time each day. And he had a cheering section that consisted of about 10 close friends and family. 

“Obviously we’d like to be here with our teammates,” Odom said, “but he knew his job and he went out and did it.” 

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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.