Plenty of Buzz at the Cliffs
But Tuesday afternoon, the players on The Nationwide Tour were abuzz with the rumored presence of someone far less famous to the masses.
The BMW Charity Pro-Am signals the beginning of The Golf Channels domestic broadcasts of The Nationwide Tour. We will televise 14 of the remaining 25 events, so for us, this is the exciting beginning to The Nationwide Tour.
Exciting because weve seen this tour develop at a monumental pace in recent times.
Exciting because weve seen firsthand just what this tour means to the young rising stars.
Exciting because weve witnessed the birth of many of golfs current stars through the years.
And exciting because amongst the many stars of screen, stage, and sport on hand this week, we know that The Nationwide Tour players will be the stars of our show not only by weeks end, but all year.
The Nationwide Tour schedule is already six tournaments deep, but the plot has already started to develop. Jimmy Walker set a record by winning two tournaments out of the first four'the fastest ever. And now hes on the brink of a Battlefield Promotion to the PGA Tour with just one more win. Today he shook hands and chatted with someone who embodies just what success on this tour means, and hes already hearing comparisons to Chad Campbell and Zach Johnson.
Through the first six events, seven Australians are currently in the top-20. Theyre there primarily because of the Aussie friendly conversion rate from the two co-sanctioned events with the Australasian PGA Tour earlier this year down under. That number is likely to dwindle, but Euan Walters, currently second on the money list, has arrived to start his stateside campaign.
The Australian proved his metal earlier this year by winning the Jacobs Creek Open in Adelaide, Australia, and he should prove himself worthy during the remainder of the season'much the same as Andre Stolz did last year after earning his way onto the Nationwide Tour. And although Euan is new to The Nationwide Tour, he knows what the rumored player on site Tuesday symbolizes.
Everybody on this tour shares the same goal. In short, its not to be here next year. Defending champion is not a title anyone relishes on The Nationwide Tour. Champion is always a nice title, but defending champ? Thank you but no.
This is the second year that 20 players will graduate come years end. They graduate to the PGA Tour where each year Nationwide Tour players feel more comfortable. Their ease in transition comes courtesy of the current mass of former Nationwide Tour players that make up a virtual whos who of the PGA Tour. Already, Walker and Walters have amassed enough to all but guarantee themselves a trip to the show next year.
Once players get comfortable with the fact that theyre likely to graduate, then they readjust their aim in search of the top spot. Many benefits come with money leader honors. First, No. 1 means a fully-exempt card on the PGA Tour. The other 19 graduates reshuffle with other members throughout the year.
No. 1 means being able to set a schedule. No. 1 means added endorsement dollars. No. 1 means a better chance of getting into some of the bigger and more exclusive invitationals on the PGA Tour. No. 1 means the respect of your peers and the added confidence of hearing your name in the same sentence with Tom Lehman, Chad Campbell, Stewart Cink, and Zach Johnson. And No. 1 means that you are a shoe-in to be voted by those same peers to be presented with the Jack Nicklaus award signifying player of the year.
Jack Nicklaus is again playing this year at the BMW Charity Pro-Am with his four sons.
Wednesday hell be at a ceremony to present the first ever Jack Nicklaus award. Of course, hell be presenting it to the one young man who stands for everything this years players hope to achieve.
Zach Johnson arrived a day early to see his old friends. Tomorrow hell shake hands with Jack, but today he unknowingly did something that earned him even more respect. He spent time with the guys, his old friends, the ones who emulate his success and character, the ones all vying to be the next Zach Johnson.
And he turned plenty of heads in the process.
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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
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.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
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.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
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.
Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose
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.
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.