You Oughta Know: Woods, Miller, Spieth ... Harman?

By Will GrayJune 18, 2017, 1:09 am

ERIN, Wis. – It’s a jam-packed leaderboard with more red figures than we’re used to seeing at a U.S. Open. Here’s what You Oughta Know heading into the final round at Erin Hills, where Brian Harman holds a one-shot lead as he looks to close out the biggest win of his career:

• Harman, 30, has two career PGA Tour victories. He won earlier this year at the Wells Fargo Championship, edging Dustin Johnson with a birdie on the 72nd hole, and got into this week’s field via his top-60 world ranking.

• Harman is looking to become the first left-handed player to win the U.S. Open and would join Tiger Woods, Johnny Miller and Jordan Spieth as players to win both the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Open.

• Harman’s best career finish in a major came at The Open in 2014 when he tied for 26th. He missed the cut in his prior two U.S. Open appearances.

• Justin Thomas is among the trio of players one shot back. Thomas became the first player to ever shoot 9 under in a U.S. Open round and is in search of his fourth win of the 2016-17 season.

• The previous 13 major winners have averaged a world ranking of No. 13. Thomas entered this week as the 13th-ranked player in the world.

• Tommy Fleetwood is one shot back after making just his second cut in eight major starts. The Englishman is in search of his first PGA Tour win but was a runner-up to Johnson earlier this year at the WGC-Mexico Championship.

U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog: Day 3 | Full coverage

• Brooks Koepka rounds out the trio at 11 under as he looks to finish T-21 or better in his eighth straight major. Koepka’s best major finish is T-4 at both the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol.

• Rickie Fowler is alone in fifth, two shots behind Harman. He is in search of his first major and sixth top-5 finish in the majors, although he hasn’t had one since going 4-for-4 during the 2014 majors season.

• The scoring at Erin Hills has been much lower than most U.S. Opens. There are five players in double digits under par through 54 holes – a mark that only six players reached at any point during the previous 116 iterations of the event.

• Experience is not a big factor on the current leaderboard. In order to find a major champion you have to go all the way down to Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen at T-17, meaning it’s likely the trophy will be handed to a first-time winner for the seventh straight major.

• Recent history favors those near the top. Seven of the last nine U.S. Open winners were either first or second after 54 holes, while 10 of the last 13 majors were won by players who held at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.