Maritz Birdies His Way to Third-Round Lead

By Golf Channel NewsroomJanuary 20, 2002, 5:00 pm
Martin Maritz birdied nine holes on Saturday to fire a 63 and grab the 54-hole lead of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Houghton Golf Club. His 17-under-par 199 gives him a two-stroke edge over Englishman Mark Foster and a three-shot advantage over second-round co-leader Sandeep Grewal.
 
Ernie Els also fired a 63 on Saturday and vaulted into a tie for fourth. The two-time U.S. Open champion is joined at 13-under par by first-round co-leader Paul McGinley (66), overnight co-leader Roger Wessels (69) and last year's runner-up, Justin Rose (66).
 
Maritz flew out of the gates in the third round with birdies at the 1st and 3rd holes. He ran home a 20-footer at the 4th and added a three-foot birdie at No. 5 to reach 12-under for the tournament.
 
The 24-year-old South African continued his torrid pace at the par-3 6th when his eight-foot fringe putt found the bottom of the cup. At No. 7, Maritz spun his approach to a foot, setting up the tap-in birdie, his fifth in a row.
 
Maritz parred the next two but came back to his birdie form with a 20-footer at No. 10. He made it back-to-back birdies with a 10-footer at the 11th. He missed some putts over the next four holes but saved par and added a birdie at the par-5 16th to pad his lead to two shots.
 
Maritz earned three top-20s in five European Tour starts last year and now he fully realizes that he can gain a two-year exemption if he can hang on Sunday.
 
'In about 24 hours my life can change,' said Maritz, who tied for ninth last week at the South African Open. 'Winning was definitely my goal coming into this week and hopefully Ill be sitting here tomorrow with good news.'
 
Maritz's 63, his lowest round as a professional, matched Els' 9-under from earlier in the round. Maritz felt good about that considering he modelled his swing after the Big Easy.
 
'Ive always wanted to swing like Ernie since I was a young boy or 12 or 13,' he said. 'If my swing can be half as good as his swing then Ill be happy.
 
'Foster posted a flawless 7-under 65 on Saturday. He picked up three birdies on his second nine to earn his spot in the final pairing on Sunday with Maritz.
 
The 26-year-old won the 2000 European Challenge Tour ranking title and after taking a fourth at the Omega Hong Kong Open in his second start on the European Tour at the end of November, he believes he can win early on the big tour.
 
'I was hoping that winning the Challenge Tour would give me confidence and self-belief. It certainly gives you a lot of experience for situations like this,' said Foster, who has yet to drop a stroke in this tournament. 'The standard has improved and the cut marks are lower. It gives you good experience of travel and four round tournaments.'
 
Grewal broke into red figures early with three birdies in his first five holes, but he could only manage two birdies the rest of the way. He carded a 68 in the third round after he bogeyed the 13th.
 
Els rebounded from a 72 on Friday with his 63. He carded nine birdies and two front-nine bogeys but finished with an eagle-3 at the closing hole to get within four of the lead.
 
'At least Ive got a shot at it tomorrow,' he said. 'I felt good on the range this morning. My swing felt nice and tight at the top and I felt I could hit the ball solidly. Its good that I shot my lowest round for quite a while.'
 
Mark Mouland is alone in eighth at 12-under par after a third-round 67.
 
Reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen still has yet to make a move up the leaderboard. He shot a 2-under 70 on Saturday and is tied for ninth at 11-under with Christian Cevaer, who shot a 68 in the third round.
 
Shot of the day honors go to James Kingston. He hooked his four-iron into the trees at the par-three 15th but his ball hit a branch, landed on the green and fell into the hole for an ace.
 
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Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Xander Schauffele

12. Matt Kuchar

13. Kevin Kisner

14. Tony Finau

15. Brian Harman

On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood

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Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey

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Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

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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.