Ryder Cup pants propel Captain America into contention

By Randall MellJune 17, 2017, 10:23 pm

ERIN, Wis. – We’ve been waiting for this guy to show up at a major.

You know, Captain America.

AKA Patrick Reed.

We’ve been waiting for Reed to work out exactly how to channel all the ferocity and intensity that makes him such a force at the Ryder Cup into a force in a major championship.

Well, he arrived in a big way Saturday at Erin Hills.

Reed got himself into contention with a 7-under-par 65, equaling the lowest score in relation to par in U.S. Open history. He lipped out a 6-foot birdie chance at the last that would have momentarily given him a record-breaking effort.

“All I could ask for is to get myself in a position where if I go out and have a good round tomorrow, I win a golf tournament,” Reed said

When Reed walked out of his post-round interview, he was locked in a seven-way tie for the lead, though he had a pretty good idea that wouldn’t last with all the other leaders still out on the course.

In fact, Reed’s share of the U.S. Open single-round scoring record didn’t last, either. About an hour after Reed finish, Justin Thomas posted a 9-under 63 to set the new mark.

Still, Reed got himself in the Sunday hunt to win his first major championship title.

Really, though, Reed gave all the credit to the women in his life for figuring out how to channel some of his Ryder Cup mojo into a major. They encouraged him to wear red, white and blue every round this week.

“I don't have a say in the wardrobe change,” Reed said. “I have my wife, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. And they mainly tell me, 'This is what you're going to wear.’ I just say, `Okay. Sounds good.’”

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They also got him to wear a pair of actual Ryder Cup pants on Saturday, with “USA” lettering down a pant leg.

“First time I've worn them in competition,” Reed said. “I've worn them a lot around the house and stuff like that and practice. Yeah, it was the first time popping them back out in play. They felt good.”

Reed, 26, a five-time PGA Tour winner, has been such a formidablee Ryder Cup player. He’s 6-1-2 in his two Ryder Cup appearances. He took down Rory McIlroy in an epic singles match at Hazeltine in the American victory last September.

While Reed loved hearing all the “Captain America” shout-outs to him Saturday at Erin Hills, he said playing the role in majors has been tougher than wearing Ryder Cup clothes. He isn’t quite sure if the role translates the same.

“It's hard to say,” he said. “You always can take that fire from the Ryder Cup and use it in other events. But you're talking polar opposites. You're talking one-on-one competition against 155. And because of that you can go out and play some great golf, but you have a bunch of guys out there that can play some good golf, as well.

“I think the biggest thing is not getting ahead of yourself. Every time I've been in majors so far, my first two years, I've put so much emphasis on them and tried so hard at them that I kind of got in my way.”

In 13 previous major championship starts, Reed doesn’t have a top-10 finish. He has never gone into the final round of a major with a real chance to win. Reed says he put too much pressure on himself going to majors early in his career.

“I worked too hard Monday through Wednesday,” Reed said. “And so by Saturday, I was tired. And then also I was living and dying with every golf shot, every putt and everything. Coming into this year, I was like, `It’s just another golf tournament. Show up. Do what you do on a normal event and just play golf.’ Because at the end of the day, if I go out and play the best I can and am happy with how I play, the result will take care of itself. And that's the kind of mindset I am going into tomorrow with.”

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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.