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DJ headed for another dominating stretch?

By Randall MellFebruary 11, 2018, 1:35 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Dustin Johnson shares the lead going into Sunday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he has already won twice.


That’s the reaction Johnson’s name atop a leaderboard brought to the game when he was mounting that terrific run a year ago, back before he slipped on some stairs and hurt his back at a rented home before the Masters.

That hard tumble might have been all that stopped Johnson from dominating the entire year, because that’s where he looked as if he was heading. He was becoming such a complete player. He was becoming so formidably well-rounded, with his improved wedge game complementing the best driving skills in the game.

Is that where Johnson is heading again?

If nobody steps up and stops him Sunday at Pebble Beach, that will be the question leading into the Genesis Open at Riviera next week.

Because that’s where Johnson caught fire last year.

He won at Riviera, then won his next start at the WGC-Mexico Championship and then his very next start at the WGC-Dell Match Play.

Johnson went to Augusta National as the overwhelming favorite to win the year’s first major.

If Johnson keeps a firm grip on all the stairwell railings he encounters this year, is that where we are returning in this year’s run up to the Masters?

Johnson won the PGA Tour’s first event this year, taking the Sentry Tournament of Champions last month in an eight-shot rout. Now he’s looking to win back-to-back PGA Tour starts.


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AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, photos and videos

“I’ve been working hard on the game,” Johnson said. “I definitely have a lot of confidence, and I know if I go out and play really well tomorrow, I’m going to have a really good chance to win.”

With a 2-under-par 70 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Johnson moved to 14 under overall, tied with Ted Potter Jr. (62).

Jason Day, the former world No. 1, put up a 69 at Pebble Beach and sits just two shots back. He’s the most proven player in position to take overtake Johnson. Day won the Farmers Insurance Open just two weeks ago.

“If it’s DJ (leading), I’ve got to play well,” Day said after his round. “Whoever is up there is playing tremendous golf, so I’ve got to try and chase him down.”

Potter won The Greenbrier Classic for his first PGA Tour title six years ago, but he hasn’t been the same since returning from a broken ankle two years ago.

Troy Merritt (69) is two shots back.

Jon Rahm (70), Steve Stricker (70) and Patrick Rodgers (69) are all three back.

Rahm won the Career Builders three weeks ago.

Phil Mickelson (72) is tied for ninth, five shots back.

While Johnson might have inspired that “Uh-oh” reaction last spring, he says he isn’t quite to that same level yet. In fact, he looked vulnerable on the back nine Saturday. He made three bogeys coming home before making birdie at the last.

Johnson wasn’t quite as formidable upon his return from that back injury last year. He failed to protect a 54-hole lead at the HSBC Champions last fall. He has closed out only three of the last seven times he has held or shared 54-hole leads over the last three-plus years.

“I’m going to be in good position going into tomorrow, but I’m still going to have to go out and play really well if I want a chance to win,” Johnson said.

Johnson was asked Friday if he felt close to the top form he showed early last year.

“The game's really close,” Johnson said. “I don't know if it's quite as good as it was during that stretch. That was probably some of the best golf I've played in my career, but parts of the game are just as good.

“I would say that I'm driving it well, but I'm probably not quite as good as I was when on those three wins, but everything else feels like it's really good.”


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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.