Howell, Stenson face last chance to get into Masters

By Ryan LavnerMarch 26, 2013, 9:26 pm

WINDERMERE, Fla. – This is the final week for players to qualify for the Masters via the Official World Ranking, a cutoff that couldn’t come soon enough for Charles Howell III.

Born and raised in Augusta, Ga., Howell has played the Masters only once since 2009. He finds himself at No. 57 in the world rankings and likely in need of at least a top-5 finish at this week’s Shell Houston Open to earn a spot in the year’s first major (top 50 in OWGR qualify).

“I’ve obviously got to get in there somehow,” he said Tuesday. “I know it’s going to be a tough task ahead of me, but in a way I’m glad it’ll be over with. I’ve thought about it all year and this is the last event. As excited as I am to play, I’m glad to get it over with.”

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Howell began this year outside the top 100 in the OWGR, but ran off three consecutive top-10 finishes to begin the season. He has had a few chances to pick up some valuable points in recent weeks, but was hurt by a Sunday 78 at the Honda Classic and 73-75 at this past week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“Once the Tour turns to Florida, Augusta starts to get on peoples’ mind,” he said. “I don’t know how not to try hard, but at the same time I know it takes good golf to go do it. I know I’ve got to finish top four, maybe top five. At least I know what’s ahead of me.”

So does Henrik Stenson, who is No. 53 in the world. The Swede tied for eighth at Bay Hill and now needs a “solid week rather than a really, really good week in Houston,” he said. He has top-25 finishes in his only two starts at Redstone, in 2012 and ’09.

After winning in South Africa in November – and jumping from No. 113 to No. 71 in the world – Stenson has set his sights on the top 50. Not just to get into the Masters field, he said, but to “get a decent schedule for myself.”

“If I’m outside the top 50, I have to do a lot of traveling and that really tires you out,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. I’m playing better and better.”

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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.