Golf Channel's Ultimate Match Play Championship

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2013, 11:30 am

We’re taking fantasy golf to the next level.

We’re making a fantastic leap choosing the top 16 players in the history of the game and pitting them against each other in Golf Channel's Ultimate Match Play Championship.

Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson are all on the fantasy range at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the host course to what promises to be the greatest competition the game has ever witnessed, albeit a totally imaginary affair.

While the staff picked the top 16 after a spirited debate and then seeded them, it’s up to YOU to determine who will win each match and who will reign as the Ultimate Match Play Championship winner. We’re rolling out electronic ballots before each round to allow you to cast your votes on who you think would win the designated matches all the way through to the finals.

Check out statistical bios for the 16 legends

The first round, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will be rolled out one week at a time (each Tuesday) in the weeks leading up to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. We’ll have game stories and photos in our coverage with the champion set to be unveiled on February 19, the day before the Accenture begins.

Yes, the notion of pitting Nicklaus against Jones, or pitting Woods against Hogan, is problematic. There’s no fair way to judge how greatness in one era compares with another – what equipment would they use? – but for those of you outraged that we’re even trying, take a deep breath. Relax. Or bite down hard on something. This is just for fun. This is just a little something to liven the conversation at the water cooler at work on Monday. In movie parlance: suspend your disbelief.

The Ultimate Match Play Championship is all about celebrating the wonder of greatness. It’s about probing the question of whether greatness is something that mostly resides in the heart and soul and whether that quality would adapt to whatever era or equipment a player was born into.

If Woods were born into another generation, how would he have fared against Hogan, Nelson and Snead? If Hogan were born into today’s game, how would he have fared against Woods? There is no true answer, but that’s the beauty of being a fan. We ask the questions anyway, and those questions only fuel our love of the game.

By the way, this competition will be waged with today’s equipment and with the players presumed to be at their best in their prime. The range at Pebble Beach has been busy for some time now with the game’s greats being fit and familiarized with today’s best tools.

Choosing the top 16 players was challenging. Somebody worthy is inevitably left out in these endeavors. Seeding in order of perceived greatness was also challenging, but here you go, here are our first-round matchups with player seeding in parentheses. It's now your time to decide who advances to Round 2:

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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.