The odd couple: Spieth, Reed have unique rivalry

By Rex HoggardJanuary 8, 2016, 4:30 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Sports, and by association golf, is always best when served with a dollop of rivalry.

Ali had Frazier, McEnroe had Borg, Johnny Manziel has whoever that Billy Football guy was in Las Vegas, and it seems, at least at selected outlets, Jordan Spieth has Patrick Reed.

It’s a peculiar relationship. The Texas-born golden child who has engaged fans from Des Moines to Dallas and the Texas-born iconoclast who has a tendency to turn a phrase down the wrong path.

Although it’s easy to shoehorn characters as heroes and villains, when it comes to Spieth and Reed it would be a wild generalization and patently wrong.

Each player is far more nuanced than that, but the duo’s increasingly frequent bouts between the ropes are becoming something of a blueprint for a rivalry.

Reed clipped Spieth in a playoff in 2013 at the Wyndham Championship, Spieth returned the favor in extra frames last year at the Valspar Championship, and on Thursday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions the tandem traded punches on their way to the top two spots on the leaderboard, with Reed clipping the world No. 1 with an eagle at the last for a 65.


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“He got me when I think I may have deserved it on the last hole of the Wyndham. Kind of left an itch on me to want to get that tournament back in the Valspar,” said Spieth, who is poised a shot behind Reed at 7 under.

“Any time Patrick loses in a head-to-head format, you're not going to see somebody that's that upset for a very long time. He hates it. I mean he hates losing in a match-play situation.”

The dichotomy of Spieth and Reed is straight out of central casting. While Spieth enjoys the role of fresh-faced and outgoing champion, Reed is more guarded in interviews and recedes into a competitive cocoon and the safety of clichés.

Spieth once declined to talk about how humble he was in an interview because, well, that wouldn’t be humble; while Reed raised eyebrows at the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship when he proclaimed himself a top-5 player despite an actualranking that hovered closer to 40th.

Spieth dotes over his family, spending the week before this championship frolicking in the Pacific Ocean with his sister; while Reed is estranged from his parents.

Spieth is a media darling with his likeness littered about Kapalua this week, while Reed – the defending champion in Maui – has gone largely unnoticed.

For all the differences, however, the two have created a unique, mutually beneficial bond over their relatively short careers.

The duo went undefeated teamed together in four-ball play at the 2014 Ryder Cup and added a foursomes victory at last year’s Presidents Cup to their collective resume.

“For whatever reason it is, whether we want to feed off each other or we want to beat the crap out of each other, we somehow play well together,” Spieth said. “We still want to outdo each other even when we're teammates in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. So it's a good pairing.”

Although not as effusive as Spieth, Reed seemed to acknowledge a connection born largely from competitive necessity. Simply put, for Reed to reach that goal of being a top-5 player - he’s currently 10th - the most direct route would be through Spieth.

“Any time I play with Jordan we always have a good time and we seemed to play pretty solid with each other,” said Reed, who will head out paired with Spieth for the second consecutive day on Friday. “So, just another day to go out and play some golf with a friend and we went out and played some fun golf.”

There are others who would more easily qualify as Spieth’s rivals in the current golf landscape.

Jason Day pushed him during last year’s FedEx Cup playoffs – giving players, however briefly, a reason to reconsider rubberstamping that Player of the Year ballot with Spieth’s name – and world No. 3 Rory McIlroy seems poised to reclaim the top spot in the world after being slowed by injury in 2015.

All three players, however, seem forged from the same mold. While there is no lack of competitiveness among the threesome, they share an easy likability that dulls the leading edge of any real rivalry.

They will battle on the course for titles and break bread at night recounting the round. Yet, be it real or perceived, for Spieth and Reed there is only grudging respect.

“I guess each time we're together we almost feel like we're playing each other in a match,” Spieth said. “Maybe he doesn't, but that's what I think of it, that's why I think we play well together. We certainly want each other to play well, to push ourselves, [but] I don't like losing to him in a round when I play with him.”

And that, by definition, is the central ingredient of any good rivalry.

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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.