Getty Images

Rant: Tiger vs. Phil about more than $10 million winner

By Randall MellJuly 9, 2018, 9:29 pm

Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson is meaningless as an exhibition.

The outcome won’t matter, and the competition won’t be remembered in any meaningful sense, unless the $10 million they’re reportedly going to play for is their own money, and that won’t happen.

At its best, as merely an exhibition match, Tiger vs. Phil shapes up as light fare, junk food calories for serious golf fans. It’s fleeting entertainment that might even prove anticlimactic, if one of these guys is having a bad day, unless Lefty gets frustrated and starts stickhandling putts toward the hole. If one of these guys is off his game, there won’t be any other pairings to cut to when a blowout unfolds.

Really, Tiger vs. Phil will be nothing more than a TV show, but that’s where the great promise in this matchup lies.

It could be one hell of a TV show if it’s packaged the right way.

There is so much we still want to know about these two mega stars, about their history together, about what divided them for most of their career, and what brought them together.

There is a lot we want to know about what makes them different, and what may make them more similar than we ever realized.

There is still a lot we want to know about them as individuals, too, especially Tiger’s softening, his hard life lessons and his willingness to open up more to today’s players.

While Mickelson has leaked some of the details of this made for TV matchup, no official announcement has been made. When’s Alan Shipnuck initially broke the news, he reported that Shadow Creek in Las Vegas would likely be the first host site in what could be a series of matches. No other details - like what competitive format will be used, and who’s going to broadcast the match - have yet to be released.

Regardless, this is best executed as a TV show, where a man-to-man showdown leaves lots of time for vignettes, pre-recorded segments unveiling stories we haven’t heard before.

You can’t script tournament golf, but you can script the storytelling between shot making in more riveting, chapter-like fashion in an exhibition like this. There’s terrific potential to enlighten in the time between shots.

Apologies to Joey LaCava and Tim Mickelson, but a couple talented producers are more important to the success of this exhibition than a couple of caddies.

Here’s hoping the match’s storytelling opportunities will be more than puffy promotional/marketing blitzes for Woods and Mickelson. Here’s hoping these players see the benefit of providing insight that sharpen or deepen our understanding of who they are and what shaped them.

I’m all in to see something like that.

This ought to be the Tiger and Phil Show in more than a pure golf sense. If it turns out to be a dramatic match, all the better, but we’re still more likely to remember what we learn about these guys between shots than we will remember shots themselves.

As TV shows go, here some ideas to shape scripts around:

Game of Thrones ...

Yeah, before we can fully appreciate the bond these two warriors appear to be forging in their realm today, let’s revisit the conflicts overcome, whatever it was that made them look so frosty as partners in Friday fourballs and foursomes at the 2004 Ryder Cup. Let’s understand what made Woods and Mickelson look like snowmen standing next to each other on the tees that year.

Band of Brothers ...

We’ve heard how being a part of the ranks of so many American teams eventually helped bring them together, but let’s hear how the ice started to melt, the stories of how they began to connect in ways that led to a more empathetic understanding of each other.

Who’s the Boss? ...

Mickelson has talked about how hiring Butch Harmon as his swing coach helped him compete better against Woods, how Harmon shared some of Woods’ tricks, from gamesmanship to other intimidating tactics. While Woods and Mickelson never dueled on the back nine late in a Sunday major with the title on the line, Woods and Mickelson had some showdowns. Let’s hear some of the war stories from their head-to-head duels.

Mission: Impossible ...

These guys have each endured hardships, hard times where they reached out to each other. Let’s hear how these difficulties changed the way they thought about each other and treated each other.

You wonder why Woods would agree to sharing a stage like this with Mickelson, bringing him on as his equal, because it’s got to be more than the $10 million payday. Sure, there are promotional reasons, keeping the Tiger brand vibrant, continuing to tell his story to a new generation, but there’s something personal in this partnership that wasn’t there early in his career.

If the Tiger vs. Phil TV show delivers these insights, I don’t care who wins. We’ll all win getting to know these stars better.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.