Stars lined up behind McGirt

By Randall MellFebruary 16, 2014, 12:36 am

LOS ANGELES – Jimmy Walker is lurking in his rear-view mirror.

So are Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.

Some of the most gifted players in the game are in the logjam just behind William McGirt on the leaderboard going into Sunday’s final round of the Northern Trust Open.

It’s enough to make McGirt feel like David vs. a squadron of Goliaths.

McGirt heads to Sunday’s final round as the quintessential journeyman underdog, seeking at 34 to win his first PGA Tour title. McGirt has played so many mini-tours he can’t count them all.

“May have to use fingers and toes,” he cracked.

At No. 197 in the world rankings, McGirt has never even held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event before. He hasn’t won anywhere since winning a Tarheel event in 2007.

All of it makes him relish this chance in his fourth full season on the PGA Tour.

“When you are around mini-tours for eight years, and go through a bunch of heartaches at Q-School, once you finally get here, you really have to appreciate it,” McGirt said.

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McGirt seized the lead at Riviera Country Club on Saturday with a 6-under-par 65. At 12-under 201, he is two shots ahead of George McNeill (66) and Charlie Beljan (68).

A dozen players are within four shots of the lead.

Walker, Watson, Johnson and Spieth are all among a pack tied for sixth, four shots back.

McGirt, who is 0 for 96 trying to win a PGA Tour event, can find some inspiration in his rear-view mirror. Walker was 0 for 187 before breaking through to win his first PGA Tour event at 34 late last year. Walker has gone on to win three times already this wraparound season.

Walker wants his fourth title on Sunday. He gave himself a shot with a birdie at the last hole Saturday to shoot 67.

“I feel like I’m playing good, and I feel like that kind of carries over,” Walker said.

Watson got into contention with a 64 on Saturday, his career-best round at Riviera by four shots. He did that bombing his way around Riviera, launching his tee shot 362 yards at the 13th hole, the longest drive at Riviera all week. He was sharp in all facets of his game as he seeks to rebound from a loss at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in his last start. Watson couldn’t close a two-shot lead in the final round in Phoenix, making bogeys at two of the final three holes as Kevin Stadler went on to win.

“Only one guy beat me,” Watson said. “So, I played pretty solid. When I look back at it at the end of my career, I’m not going to pout over not winning. I took all the positives from it.”

Watson, 35, wants to get right back into the fire. He’s seeking his fifth PGA Tour title, his first since winning the Masters two years ago.

“I'm looking to the back nine tomorrow, having a chance,” Watson said. “Tomorrow is going to be about the pressure of trying to win a golf tournament, the people that haven't won, or the people that have won, trying to win again.”

Johnson, 29, is the first player since Tiger Woods to win in each of his first seven years on the PGA Tour. A bogey at the last Saturday left Johnson with a 69. He's coming off a second-place finish at Pebble Beach.

Spieth, 20, shot a 67 to get in the hunt. He is looking to shake off some weekend disappointments to win his second PGA Tour title.

“Today, for a Saturday, I felt like it was A+ for my mental game,” Spieth said. “Typically, my mental game on Saturdays has been a C. But really solid today.

Spieth squandered weekend chances at the Farmers Insurance Open and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in his last two starts. He was in the hunt at Torrey Pines before shooting 75-75 on the weekend. He was in the hunt at Pebble Beach last week before shooting a 78 on Saturday.

“This week, I’ve just kind of taken a different mindset,” Spieth said.

 Come Sunday, golf finds out what McGirt’s mindset is and whether he can slay some giants.

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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.