Big hitters and small hitters share Firestone stage - COPIED

By Rex HoggardAugust 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' They will tell you that Firestone, and next weeks Hazeltine National, can only be scaled by the strongest of men.
 
That winning Glorys last Two-step demands 320-yard carries, all others need not apply. That only the games bombers have a betting chance at this weeks WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the bookend PGA Championship.
 
Its all a shame, of course.
 
Tiger Woods at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Tiger Woods is eyeing his seventh win at Firestone. (Getty Images)
Sure, Padraig Harrington sluffed his way out of a season-long slide that has been tough on Irish eyes everywhere with an opening-round 64 and a Day 1 driving average of 326 healthy yards. And that hard-swinging Tiger Woods fellow is lurking just four shots back. At 7,400 humid yards, Firestones South Course may have the Tours only legitimate three-shot par 5, the 667-yard 16th hole, and the Midwest monster rewards power ' end of list.
 
But then Tim Clark and a smiling mite named Prayad Marksaeng would beg to differ. Neither player would ever be plucked from a PGA Tour lineup for performance-enhancing drug testing. Nor would either crack the lineup of your office pick-up squad.
 
And yet, despite all that real estate, there they were after the first lap at the Firestone oval, two shots off Harringtons pace, tied for second place alongside Scott Verplank, another player on the back end of the Tours driving curve, and standing shoulder to, well, ear with the games bombing elite.
 
Marksaeng tips the scales at 5 foot 4, while Clark is a towering 5 foot 7 and both ranked near the bottom of the 79-player field in driving distance (290 yards for Clark and 309 for Marksaeng).
 
Or, to put things into perspective, our diminutive heroes are 12 shots clear of Adam Scott who is about a time zone longer off the tee. Its a good things from small packages lesson.
 
Its a lesson thats taken Clark some time to learn. Truth is women may dig the long ball, or so the old saw goes, but there is something to be said for life from the middle of the fairway and a steady putter.
 
I used to cry about being here and said I should go to Reno (this weeks opposite-field event) and play, said Clark of Firestone, who figures Hazeltine will play to about 74,000 yards, or so everyone says. I come in here now with a different attitude. I try to enjoy myself and give it a good effort rather than hang your head.
 
Positive stuff, he must have solicited the psychological advice of Harrington, the picture of positive thought who has been mired in what he says is largely a self-inflicted slump.
 
The Irishman hit nearly 80 percent of his greens in regulation to post his best round in a year that XM Radios John Maginnes observed, he has worn all over his shirt.
 
The first six months of the year had a purpose, Harrington said. I was working on some things. Now I can play.
 
On Thursday the new swing simply worked, whereas Woods had to work a little harder for his 2-under-par card, saying his game came in spurts, with a mid-round birdie flourish that pushed him into red figures and a pair of gritty pars to close his day.
 
Woods, the biggest of men, is essentially an adopted son of the Cuyahoga, as much an Ohio fixture with his six Bridgestone titles as that signature water tower or Cleveland Indians fire sales.
 
After nine trips to Firestone, few know the leafy turns and twists of the South Course better than Woods, and even he was taken by how big the Akron ballpark played on Thursday: I havent seen this golf course play this long in a while, he said.
 
All of which makes that Clark - Marksaeng cameo that much more impressive, and it could have been better.
 
The mighty Thai got to 6 under before a messy bogey-bogey finish and Clark three-putted the inward loops par 3s (Nos. 12 and 15) from 12 and 20 feet, respectively.
 
The duos play, however, was worth noting as the Tour eases into the bombers portion of the schedule.
 
Not that its easy for the likes of Clark and Marksaeng to play long ball with what is, at least in Tour terms, squeeze bunt games. Clark switched out his 4-iron for a new 22-degree hybrid for Firestone and Hazeltine National, site of next weeks PGA, and Marksaeng wore out his long irons in his fourth WGC start.
 
But they proved, at least for a single sunny day, that there is room for the plodders among the pounders. Corey Pavin would be proud.
 
The ultimate test still awaits, three more loops at Firestone and Hazeltine, where three par 5s measuring over 600 yards await. But if Clark is concerned with the lengthy road ahead he wasnt letting on.
 
I dont feel like length is a huge advantage on this golf course, said Clark, who ranks 174th on Tour in driving distance but finds the fairway better than all but three of his Tour stable mates. On some holes youre actually driving into a down slope and I get a bit more run. Some guys are flying the slopes and were kind of ending up in similar positions.
 
After 18 holes, some of the circuits longest would gladly switch positions with Clark and Marksaeng ' the mighty among mice and men.
 
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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.