Which would be the best final pairing at the Masters

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 9, 2011, 8:24 pm

Through two rounds of the 75th Masters Tournament, youth and experience crowd the top of the leaderboard. Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell weigh in with which final pairing they would most like to see on Sunday.


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Golf is at its best when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are at there best, but given the sentimental and synergy value of a Fred Couples-Rory McIlroy two-ball out last on Sunday it’s impossible to imagine a better final pairing.

On Friday, Woods rocked the pines with his closing loop of 31, but imagine a best-case scenario of dueling generations, with Couples at 51 vying for a second green jacket and McIlroy at 21 closing on his first.

Twenty-five years ago, Jack Nicklaus became the “Golden” standard of the ageless champion with a classic closing charge. A Couples’ victory would somehow be bigger than that. It would be more than just a second green jacket. He would become the oldest major champion by more than three years.

That McIlroy would be the primary antagonist only sweetens the pot. If the Northern Irishman ended Europe’s 12-year title drought at Augusta National he would become the second-youngest Masters champion behind Woods, who was eight months younger when he won in 1997.

Of all the compelling pairings that could anchor Sunday’s show, this one would transcend slumps and scandals (Woods), sentimentality and second-consecutive victories (Mickelson). This one would be historic.


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory vs. Tiger.

The most compelling final-round pairing at the Masters come Sunday would match the youth movement’s leading man in Rory McIlroy against Tiger Woods. It would be terrific theater, almost Shakespearean in dramatic scripting, a pairing matching the future against the foundering champion fighting to reclaim his throne.

It doesn’t matter if you look at it as McIlroy, 21, having to go through Woods, 35, to officially establish a new order in the game, or if you look at it as Woods having to prove to the new generation that he’s ready to resume his reign.

McIlroy, in so many ways, embodies the next generation’s fearless assault on the sport's established order. While his statements about Woods get sensationalized, his attitude comes through loud and clear. He’s not backing down, to anyone, even a man many already view as the greatest player who ever lived. He’s not going to be beaten by reputation or aura.

McIlroy basically said last year that the European Ryder Cup team wanted a go at Woods, and that’s what would be so compelling about the pairing. He’d get a go at Woods in golf’s greastest theater. Give me a front row seat for that.
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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.

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.