Stock Watch: Pebble shines; Scottsdale changes don't

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 9, 2016, 2:15 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Hideki Matsuyama (+8%): His pace of play is dreadful, and his putting holds him back from consistently challenging golf’s top tier, but Matsuyama’s ball-striking is so pure that he will vacuum up plenty of titles over the next few years.

Danny Willett (+6%): The Englishman lives in contention these days, and now he is learning how to slam the door. The Olympics and Ryder Cup are squarely in his sights.

Pebble (+5%): One of the most picturesque courses in the world boasts its strongest field in more than a decade. That’s a win-win for everyone.   

Ha Na Jang (+4%): Meet another South Korean with big potential. Not only does she have a bubbly personality, but Jang also showed plenty of grit while enduring a miserable final round in Ocala for her first LPGA title.  

Brooke Henderson (+3%): What a revelation last week: The Canadian starlet can keep up with Lexi Thompson off the tee, despite her 5-foot-4-inch frame. We’re more convinced than ever that she’s the eventual challenger to Lydia Ko’s throne.

Beau Hossler (+2%): With two wins this season at Texas and now a resounding, six-shot victory at the Jones Cup – where he was the only player under par at the brutal Ocean Forest Golf Club – Hossler is one of the most pro-ready prospects in the game.  


FALLING

Ko (-1%): It was an inauspicious start to the new year, as she played a five-hole stretch around the turn in 5 over par and gift-wrapped the title to Jang. A rare slipup for the world No. 1.

Ian Poulter’s putting (-2%): During his second PGA Tour round of the year, he had already resorted to putting one-handed. That’s an ominous sign.

Rickie’s strategy (-4%): Look, you can’t knock his pressure-proof game – down the stretch, he pulled off all of the shots, again. But he made a major strategic error on 17, a hole that clearly has his number (nine career water balls!). With a two-shot lead, he must avoid the hazard – and a possible bogey – at all costs.

TPC Scottsdale (-5%): The last four holes are tremendous theater, but the recent changes to the course – including the tightening of some landing areas – have drained much of the fun out of the Tour’s annual birdie-fest. Shame.

Bubba (-7%): Watson erred by insulting the tournament and its fans – “I’m here because of my sponsors” – instead of focusing on his criticisms with the redesign. There was no way he would emerge from this unscathed, not after his previous acts of petulance.

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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.

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Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

“It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

“That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”