Peterson's Open play a welcome distraction for grieving family

By Jason SobelJune 17, 2012, 4:38 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – Father’s Day celebrations for Bill Peterson were always perfectly satisfying if not jubilant. He and wife Elizabeth would take their four boys to church in Fort Worth, then return home, where he'd grill up a steak before they'd all head over to Colonial Country Club for a late-afternoon nine-hole sixsome.

They were the type of celebrations he at once refers to as both 'nothing special' and 'some of the most special moments.' He tries to explain, but you already know exactly what he means.

In recent years, with the boys all grown up, Bill and Elizabeth would spend Father’s Day at their son David's house, enjoying the Rockwellian revelry of eating barbeque and watching the U.S. Open with their grandkids.

“It’s just a good ol’ family time,” Bill says. “Just loving each other and doing things together and taking some pictures.”

Nothing special. Some of the most special moments.John Peterson

On June 4, the Petersons’ grandson, John – last year’s NCAA champion from Louisiana State University – qualified for the very same tournament they watch as a family every Father's Day. With no status on any major tour, playing in his first U.S. Open would be a huge accomplishment. And it meant this year’s celebration would be different for the Peterson family.

Not that anyone was complaining, of course.

Bill and Elizabeth (pictured right with John) have always been great supporters of John's golf game, furiously refreshing Internet leaderboards when he's competing in tournaments and calling him to offer their praise - win or lose - after his rounds.

For him to reach the U.S. Open field was big news in the Peterson family - until they were struck by devastation.

Not long after John qualified for the tournament, Elizabeth developed an infection. Her health quickly deteriorated in the hospital, and last Saturday she passed away at age 85.

Playing in the FedEx St. Jude Classic at the time, John’s thoughts immediately turned to his grandmother. On Friday, he shot 65 using a ball marked “ELP.” Her initials. It was later placed in her casket, buried with her forever.

He thought about his grandfather, too. About the insignificance of trying to play golf while he was in such pain.

“When you’ve been married to someone for 64 years and all of a sudden she’s not there anymore, it’s really tough on him,” John says. “I couldn’t play that weekend very well. I talked to my granddad. He said, ‘You know what? The last thing that she would want you to do is to be distracted.’ She lived forever. She got sick and died in a week. She’s up in heaven, she’s looking down at me and hopefully I can make her happy.”

Golf has always been an integral part of the Peterson family dynamic. When David moved with wife Jan and their children from Baton Rouge to Fort Worth a decade ago, Bill passed on his Colonial membership to his son, ensuring his grandchildren would enjoy the game on the course he loved so much.

Since then, Bill and David and John would often tee it up together, three generations of Petersons doing what they loved most.

“He would watch me hit balls and we used to play at Colonial when he could still swing,” John says of his grandfather. “Him and me and my dad, I grew up playing with those two guys at Colonial and I owe a lot of my start to him. Giving me the opportunity to play at Colonial was awesome. He basically got me started in the game.”

This week, the game has taken on greater meaning. It’s not just a game - and this is not just a golf tournament.

No, it’s a bonding experience for the Peterson family. A way to keep them together, to keep them celebrating in the wake of such heartache.

It’s a way for Bill to keep from thinking too much about Elizabeth’s death, a way for David to assuage his worries about Bill, a way for John to keep up everyone’s spirits.

And that’s exactly what he’s done so far. With rounds of 71-70-72, the kid with no status on any major tour finds himself in a share of eighth place, just four strokes off the lead entering the final round of the U.S. Open.

The fact that he has a chance to win on Father’s Day makes it even sweeter.

“I’m getting to see my dad’s dream and I’m getting to see my son’s dream at the same time,” David says, fighting back tears. “To see those be fulfilled is pretty cool. John is getting to live his dream and frankly, I’m getting to live my dream, too.”

“He’s told me forever, ‘The best Father’s Day gift for me would be for you to be playing in the U.S. Open on a Sunday,’” John adds. “I’m doing that. I’m fulfilling his dream. I’d love to win, but I’ve got a long way to go. I’d love to do that and give him that trophy, but I just think me being out there and being in contention is good enough for him.”

As John Peterson competes in the final round, his brothers and sister will join Bill at his house, assisting their grandfather with the grieving process. They’ll cry with him, laugh with him, talk with him.

All the while, they'll be huddled around the television, watching one of their own try to win the U.S. Open on Father’s Day.

It will be nothing special. It will be some of the most special 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.

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.