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TT postscript: Woods in the weekend hunt

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 11:29 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods shoot 1-over-par 71 Friday at the Honda Classic to move four shots off the lead going into the weekend ...

• Wow, even with that heart-in-your-throat finish through the Bear Trap, Tiger delivered more fun to golf fans than he has in a long, long time. It was a rollicking good time with galleries scampering to see him, as if it was 2008 or something.

• The winds were gusting, the greens were bumpy, and yet Tiger grinded, scrambled and fought his way into contention. It says a lot about how much further ahead of schedule he may be than most anyone could have imagined at this point, because this is a ball striker’s course. If a guy’s a little bit off on this course, in these tough conditions, misses are magnified. They are swallowed by water. It’s easy to shoot big numbers here, but Woods was in pretty good control around this tough test, where par was a good score.

• Tiger was excited after the round, he couldn’t hide that, but he tried to temper it. He talked about giving himself a chance to win, but he also cautioned he “still has a long way to go.” He is, after all, just halfway through his third PGA Tour start in his return from his fourth back surgery.

• Tiger continued to look more comfortable off the tee, swinging more freely. He uncorked a 361-yard bomb into the 10th fairway, cutting the corner there. Though the stats will say he hit 8 of 14 fairways, there were no really big misses, nothing to alarm him or shake his confidence. He barely missed on a few of those drives that didn’t count as fairways hit. His worst miss came with a 2-iron at the second hole, when he pulled his tee shot into a bush and took a penalty for an unplayable lie.

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• Tiger hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation, his iron play getting sharper but still not dialed in the way he wants. He hit what looked like a pretty good iron shot off the 15th tee, but it hit a wall of wind and never made its way back to the target, nosediving in the water.

. He made a costly double bogey there. Still, the winds and “scratchy” greens made distance control tough to gauge where he’s really at.

• Tiger’s short game continues to be sharp, his putter solid, though he missed a birdie chance from 8 feet at the 12th hole that could have moved him to within one shot of the lead and turned this place upside down. He also had a costly three-putt at the 16th. Overall, he took 28 putts.

• Tiger was good and bad through the Bear Trap, going double bogey-bogey at 15 and 16 before a brilliant birdie at the tough 17th, where he carved a shot in there to 12 feet to set up his birdie.

• Tiger is in the weekend hunt ... Tiger is in the weekend hunt ... Tiger is in the weekend hunt. That deserved repeating.

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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.