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Whaley to make more history at U.S. Senior Women’s Open

By Randall MellJuly 11, 2018, 5:39 pm

It’s an historic week in women’s golf.

It’s an epic year for Suzy Whaley, who will make more history for women in the game later this year when she becomes the first female president of the PGA of America.

Whaley will be among 120 players teeing it up in Thursday’s start to the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club, an opportunity for women over 50 to pursue another USGA Championship.

Some of the greats of the women’s game have lobbied for years for the chance they’ll get this week.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” said Whaley, who played the LPGA for two years before turning her passion for the game to teaching. “It shows the golf business is evolving, that women’s golf is evolving as well. I certainly have a passion for that with the PGA of America. It’s a moment of time I’m thrilled to be a part of.”

Whaley will join the most democratic event in women’s golf, with nearly half the field earning its way through sectional qualifying at 17 sites. Whaley was among those qualifiers, earning one of five spots available at The Olympic Club outside San Francisco.

Whaley will join some of the game’s all-time greats on one of America’s most important venues. The Chicago Golf Club is among the USGA’s five founding clubs.

Full-field tee times from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

Amy Alcott, Pat Bradley, JoAnne Carner, Betsy King, Liselotte Neumann, Sandra Palmer, Hollis Stacy and Jan Stephenson are among 15 U.S. Women’s Open champions in the field. So are Juli Inkster and Laura Davies, active LPGA pros who are the favorites to win this week.

“I want to thank the USGA for stepping up to the plate and showing the women the respect they deserve,” said Stacy, a three-time U.S. Women’s Open champ. “It’s been a long time coming. We could have all been sitting at that bitter table of one, but we look at this as a new beginning for all of us. We’re all excited to play in Chicago at such a great golf course.”

Carner, 79, an LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer with 43 LPGA titles, will join Stacy and Palmer Thursday in the first group off the first tee at 8 a.m. ET.

“It’s an inaugural event, so you have to wonder how it’s going to be, but it’s the real deal,” Davies said Wednesday. “I think the USGA has done the players proud, and, hopefully, now we will do them proud with our performance on the course.

“I know everyone keeps saying it’s a long time coming, but I’m just glad it’s here. I don’t care how long it’s taken.”

The U.S. Senior Open for men has been ongoing since 1980.

USGA leadership is on record saying they commissioned studies to determine if sufficient demand would sustain a senior women’s event, and they finally determined it did.

Inkster, whose five USGA titles include two U.S. Women’s Opens, noted that the window to play this event has passed for a lot of the game’s greats, that players like Kathy Whitworth didn’t get the chance. Count Nancy Lopez in that group this year. Recovery from a knee replacement surgery is preventing Lopez from playing this week. Still, Inkster is relishing the chance the USGA is giving her and everyone else this week.

“We do have a lot of the good ones here, Pat Bradley and JoAnne Carner, my idols, and Betsy King,” Inkster said. “These are the players I looked up to.

“We work hard on our games, just like the guys. We put a lot of time into golf, and to have the opportunity to win a USGA championship as a senior would be amazing.”

Whaley is the PGA/LPGA director of instruction for Suzy Whaley Golf in Farmington, Conn. She knows something about breaking barriers. Her move into the PGA president’s position in November will be another significant gain for women in golf.

Back in 2002, Whaley won the PGA Connecticut Section Championship, which earned her a spot in the ’03 Greater Hartford Open, making her the first woman in 58 years to compete in a PGA Tour event. In ’02, she also became the first female PGA member to compete in the PGA Professional Championship.

When Whaley was elected the PGA secretary at the association’s annual meeting four years ago, becoming the first female officer in PGA history, it put her on track to become its first president.

So Whaley’s place in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open brings her more than another chance to compete, which she loves. It gives her another platform to elevate a message important to her.

As PGA president, she’s a symbol of growing opportunities for women in golf.

“I’m thrilled for the fact that young women coming behind me (at the PGA) will be able see themselves in that role, and aspire to that role, if they choose to,” Whaley said. “It’s important to have mentors. It’s important to have supporters in front of you, as I’ve had, who encourage you.

“If I have the opportunity to do that for another woman, to inspire her and empower her to be a part of governance for the PGA of America, then I am thrilled to assume that role.”

And thrilled to be a part of history at Chicago Golf Club.

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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.

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.