Ladies Golf Outshines PGA Tour
After much jockeying by fellow competitors - let's call them potential spoilsports - Webb and Sorenstam positioned themselves as leaders of the ANZ Australian Ladies Masters then proceeded to lock horns in a four-hole playoff.
In the end it was Sorenstam who denied Webb her fifth consecutive victory at the Gold Coast venue. 'The Main Event' - as Aussie organizers had coined the tournament - turned out to be just that. Two fierce contenders, dueling it out and denying anyone else in the field a victory. Yet, even if spectators and tournament organizers alike were pleased with Sunday's outcome - no one should be more so than LPGA Tour Commissioner Ty Votaw.
For Votaw, who three short months ago made a controversial announcement that the LPGA was reducing the number of events in this year's schedule, the timing could not have been more poignant. 'Annika's and Karrie's duel this weekend would certainly suggest that we are in for more of the same from them this year as we were in 2001,' Votaw commented. 'And that can only mean that they (and the LPGA generally) will continue to live up to our brand promise, which is to present the very best of women's professional golf to our fans. And when that happens, only good things and more excitement will occur.'
Now, as the 2002 season officially begins this week at the Takefuji Classic, it does so under a heightened sense of excitement and expectation of what Webb and Sorenstam have in store for the year.
Finally, Sorenstam and Webb are doing for the Ladies Tour what Tiger did for the men's. Add Se Ri Pak to the mix and Votaw has his own version of Charlie's Angels. It's undeniable that the trio definitely has what the LPGA Tour has been searching for - someone to stir the excitement of spectators much like Nancy Lopez did in the 70's.
The tide has turned. While the LPGA Tour top duo were putting on a first rate show, the PGA Tour's elite were losing matches.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson lost their first matches on Wednesday, while David Toms, Vijay Singh and Davis Love III wrapped up play on Thursday. By the third day Toms was the only top-five player on the 2001 PGA Tour money list to remain standing. By Saturday he fell victim to Kevin Sutherland - ranked 32nd in earnings a year ago.
In the end, all the PGA Tour had going for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship was longevity as Sutherland and Scott McCarron withstood a grueling 36-hole final match - eventually won 1-up by Sutherland.
The Match Play event fizzled before viewers' eyes while half way around the world Ladies golf was making a name for itself.
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.