What we learned: The Players

By Jason SobelMay 13, 2012, 11:10 pm

Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week we learned a lot about having to endure watching Kevin Na and his stop-start pre-shot routine.


I learned that there should be a new PGA Tour statistic: Money Putting. It would measure how much players win or lose on the final green of a tournament. Sure, there's more to professional golf than earning cash, but the 72nd hole is where players can breathe, take stock of the situation and know their bank statement can be helped by rolling one in. I also learned that as impressive as Rickie Fowler has been the past two weeks, he wouldn't want to check this stat right now. Tied with three others on the final hole, Fowler had a 7-foot birdie putt to claim solo second place. He missed it. The differential: Exactly $399,000. – Jason Sobel


I learned that Kevin Na is going to have to accomplish a lot on the course for fans to think of him in a positive light. Do a Google search on him and the following pop up: 'Kevin Na slow play'; 'Kevin Na 16'; 'Kevin Na whiff'. After watching this Saturday's bizarre incidents, we may soon see these suggested searches: 'Kevin Na psychiatrist'; 'Kevin Na and Steve Blass'. Na's growing reputation continued to go the wrong way this week. – Mercer Baggs


I learned pace of play is a deceptive problem. Kevin Na was thrust into the spotlight this week for his waggles, intentional misses and head fakes which drove fans and peers mad. 

Na handled it as best he could, deflecting some criticism with captivating candor and levity about what can be labeled a psychological malady. For as charming as Na was in providing color on his problem, the truth remains that it's still a problem.

Like trying to talk your way out of a speeding ticket, having a great story should not be an excuse for slow play. It should come with stiff penalties, even with $1.71 million to the winner on the line. 

Na is working through a major swing change with coach Dale Lynch, and he will fight through the waggles as he gains confidence. Then he will charm us with his golf, not the wait for it.

Hopefully a year from now, Na will look back at this episode and laugh at how far, how fast he has come. – Ryan Ballengee


I knew Matt Kuchar’s smile was good, but I didn’t know it was this good.

It’s the most disarming smile in golf.

The wicked architect Pete Dye couldn’t wipe it off Kuchar’s face Sunday at The Players Championship. Dye’s demanding 16th, 17th and 18th finishing holes couldn’t either. Even Kevin Na couldn’t stop that smile with his neurotic pre-shot routine.

Here’s the thing about it: When Kuchar’s face lights up, an opponent’s soul darkens. That smile is trouble. Fans may love the little upturn of his lips, but fellow players must hate it. It’s a hungry fox’s smile. – Randall Mell


That TPC Sawgrass may not be the best venue to produce epic finishes. Just once since the move to May has there been more than one player from the top 10 in the world golf ranking in the top 10 on Sunday at The Players, but it is arguably the best stage in golf, as evidenced by eventual champion Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler’s birdie exchange at Nos. 16 and 17. Exactly what Pete Dye had in mind. – Rex Hoggard


John Hancock Pivotal Moments

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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.