One last major shot for Tiger in 2012

By Rex HoggardAugust 7, 2012, 6:46 pm

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – It was here at “Glory’s Last Shot,” just as much as Augusta National, where Tiger Woods figured to make major championship hay.

Through the first decade of his historic career more than half of his 14 Grand Slam keepsakes were collected at the bookend majors, the Masters (four) and PGA (four). The season’s first and fourth majors are also where he has posted four of his six runner-up showings on the game’s brightest stage.

Augusta National, before both the course and his game began undergoing changes both scheduled and otherwise, was always a natural fit for his rare combination of power and touch; but it was the PGA that awakened the inner athlete.

In 2007 at Southern Hills, when temperatures hovered near triple digits, Woods literally outlasted the field as if by an act of attrition, and sprawling ballparks like Medinah, where he won two Wanamaker Trophies, fed his power advantage, be it real or perceived.

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There was also something to the argument that Woods’ schedule, lean early in the season to best prepare for the majors, lent itself to a big finish. Forget the Tour calendar, he arrived at the PGA more times than not in mid-season form.

That the PGA is also the last chance to turn a decent season into something special can’t be overlooked by a player who has kept time with a Grand Slam clock. Woods is 2-for-8 getting off the single-season major schneid in his last at bat.

In his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships it will be the PGA, as much as the Masters, that will factor heavily into the final equation. And if his tie for 28th at the ’10 PGA - a week after he began working with Sean Foley - and his missed cut last year is concerning him it wasn’t showing on Tuesday at Kiawah when he talked between rain delays.

“It’s going to take a career,” Woods said when asked of Jack’s benchmark. “Jack didn’t finish his (career) until he was 46, so if you go by that timetable I’ve got 10 more years. Forty more majors is a lot. I’ve got plenty of time.”

It’s that long view that has likely buoyed Woods throughout the last few years. More so than a swing that could win four more majors the goal seemed to be devising an action that would last for 40. Following multiple surgeries to Woods’ leading knee, Foley’s mandate seems to have been “do no more harm.”

It wasn’t that long ago that the notion that his body, particularly his left leg, might not last until he was 46. He missed the second half of 2008 following surgery, withdrew from The Players Championship in consecutive years with various ailments and walked off the golf course on Sunday this year at Doral with a bad wheel.

That he’s won three times this season is encouraging. That he’s now gone 10 events without an injury-induced WD and will play all four majors in a single season for the first time since 2010 is like Christmas in August. In many ways this comeback has literally been measured in baby steps.

By most accounts gone is the knee snap that produced so many trophies but, some contend, shortened Woods’ competitive shelf life, the intense workout regimens and extreme extracurricular activities like training with the Navy SEALs.

Instead, Woods is now indulging in post-round practice, like he did after each round last month at Lytham, to hone a swing that leaves him 13th on Tour in greens in regulation, fourth in ball-striking and 36th in driving accuracy.

“I've progressed this year over my last couple years, and I'm very pleased with what I've done, being healthy and being able to play and practice properly and implement the things that Sean wants me to do,” he said. “This is the way I can hit the golf ball. This is the way I can play. It's nice to be able to do the things that I know I can do.”

He also knows that it will likely be at the PGA where the Grand Slam portion of the program begins its comeback, particularly at the Ocean Course with its four reachable par 5s and grueling heat index. The 1999 PGA was his second major victory and his Wanamaker collection accounts for 29 percent of his Grand Slam haul. In simplest terms the PGA has been low-hanging fruit for much of his career and Kiawah marks the start of his 2012 two-minute drill.

“I've played in three major championships this year, and I didn't win any of them,” Woods said. “Things have progressed, but still, not winning a major championship doesn't feel very good.”

He may not be feeling any pressure to get on with it, but considering that Woods’ major drought now stretches back four years and 13 Grand Slam starts he’s certainly on the clock.

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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.