Storytime: U.S. Women's Open finale full of plot lines

By Randall MellJuly 16, 2017, 12:29 am

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – Cristie Kerr really wanted to get the President of the United States’ attention Saturday at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Coming off the 15th green, she stopped and turned toward President Donald Trump’s private box. She thrust her hand in the air and began waving and waving.

Alas, the president was preoccupied in a conversation.

It doesn’t matter, because Kerr has a grand plan that promises to get Trump and everyone else’s attention if she can pull it off Sunday at Trump National.

Kerr is going to try to orchestrate a monumental upset.

She is going to try to overtake the real superpowers in women’s golf - Asia’s best - and win her second U.S. Women’s Open 10 years after she won her first.

And then, who knows, perhaps watch the president himself hand her the Harton S. Semple Trophy, if he’s around for another day.

It would be an extraordinary ending to what is already an extraordinary U.S. Women’s Open.

In the middle of Saturday’s round, players and fans alike watched a fighter jet and Coast Guard helicopter appear to try to force a plane violating  “Temporary Flight Restrictions” over Trump National out of the air space over the club.

“They chased them right out,” Kerr said. “Kind of cool to see.”

The White House Pool Report later explained that the helicopter and jet were merely confirming the plane’s tail number, which was from a plane approved for Fox-TV use.

Outside the gates, this event is being protested by UltraViolet and other activist groups who believe the USGA and LPGA should not be aligned with Trump. A motorcade of protesters circled the course Friday with anti-Trump posters attached to their vehicles.

Players and fans have been sheltered from all of that.

Winning Sunday will be no easy task for Kerr with China’s Shanshan Feng playing so formidably, and with so many South Koreans poised right behind Feng.

Feng shot a 1-under-par 71 Saturday, finishing off a round of 17 consecutive pars with a birdie at the last. At 9-under 207, Feng is bidding to become the first player in 40 years to win this championship wire-to-wire. It hasn’t been done since Hollis Stacy won at Hazeltine in 1977.

U.S. Women’s Open: Articles, photos and videos

If all goes as Feng plans, she might become the first player to win the U.S. Women’s Open in a spotted-cow print ensemble. She played in spotted-cow print shorts and sleeves on Friday and fans loved it.

“So many people ask for them,” Feng said. “Maybe I’ll wear them tomorrow.”

Feng may lead, but she will be challenged with six South Koreans lined up right behind her. The Koreans practically own the U.S. Women’s Open. They have won six of the last nine, four of the last six.

Amy Yang (70) and 17-year-old amateur Hye-Jin Choi (70) are one shot back. Choi is trying to become just the second amateur to win the U.S. Women’s Open. France’s Catherine LaCoste was the first to win it 50 years ago.

Sung Hyun Park (67) is th reeback.

Rolex world No. 1 So Yeon Ryu (71), Jeongeun6 Lee (73) and Mirim Lee (67) are four back.

And then there is Kerr (70), the lone American among the top 13 players on the board.

Kerr is five shots back.

At 39, Kerr is 12 years older than any of those players lined up in front of her. She’s also battling back spasms, which became so sharp she almost pulled out of this championship during the first round and again in the second round.

“There was a point on Thursday when she turned to me and said `I don’t know how much more I can go,’” said Erik Stevens, Kerr’s husband.

Stevens wondered aloud if it was time to pack it in on Friday.

“She said, `No, I’m going to muscle my way through,’” Stevens said.

Kerr is playing on anti-inflammatories and a medicinal steroid.

“She's tough,” said Brady Stockton, Kerr’s caddie. “It's been like a muscle spasm. So, even though it hurts really badly, and it sounds horrible and she's moaning and groaning, it's a muscle spasm. There is no damage she can do, as far as we've decided.”

Kerr has been getting massages from an LPGA physiotherapist during rounds.

“Pure insanity,” Kerr said. “Another tournament in the world, you would think about just going home but not this one. So, I had to try to just stick it through.”

Kerr, by the way, did get President Trump’s attention coming off the 18th green Saturday after her round. He shot her a thumbs up, and then he sent an invitation to join him in his private box.

This has been a U.S. Women’s Open week like no other, with Trump’s attendance creating so much attention with his arrival on Friday. While more protests are planned Sunday, Trump appears to be relishing his visit, with fans continuing to wildly welcome his presence.

How unusual is this U.S. Women’s Open?

Kerr, her husband Erik and her caddie, Brady Stockton, were all frisked before they entered Trump’s private box. Secret Service agents in bullet-proof vests with assault rifles were stationed close by.

Lexi Thompson and Suzann Pettersen also accepted invitations to speak to Trump after their rounds.

Before heading off to see the president, Kerr was asked what they might talk about.

“I don’t know,” Kerr said. “I’m not going to talk politics. I can tell you that.”

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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.