Players sweat while Presidents Cup captains pick

By Rex HoggardSeptember 3, 2013, 8:13 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Sweat dripping from his temples and mud caked up the side of his pants, Brendon De Jonge sighed as the metaphorical weight lifted from his shoulders late Monday afternoon at TPC Boston.

“There’s nothing more I could do ...,” he allowed when asked about his Presidents Cup plight.

The same epiphany, and sweat, radiated from Jordan Spieth just moments before. Widely regarded as America’s top prospect, Spieth had just signed for a 62 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, a furious finish punctuated by an eagle at the last, and was asked to weigh his own Presidents Cup fortunes.

“The only way to make a statement was play great golf the last few weeks, and I feel really solid about today’s round,” the 20-something mused.

In the ultimate show of competitive pass the buck, Spieth and de Jonge will now leave the heavy lifting to Presidents Cup captains Fred Couples and Nick Price, who officially went on the clock late Monday in the run up to Wednesday’s unveiling of each team’s captain’s picks.

Both captains danced the annual dance, telling reporters they will review all available data on the potential picks and get back to us.

Price said he’s down to five, “maybe six” potential picks – a short list that includes No. 14 de Jonge, No. 11 Thongchai Jaidee , No. 12 Marc Leishman and No. 13 Tim Clark.

“To be honest, I'm going to be looking at the guys who are in form harder than the other guys,” Price said.

Translation: Clark, a three-time Presidents Cup participant, would be an asset on a team that may be a tad too young for Price’s liking; Leishman, who closed with a 70 and tied for 16th in Boston; and de Jonge, one of the International side’s most consistent players the last two years and something of a protégée of Price’s, would appear to be the leaders in the clubhouse.

Price plans to poll his current team to help him determine his two picks, which would lean toward the South African (Clark) and Australian (Leishman) since his current team includes two players from Oz and five from South Africa.

Couples, however, was not so coy about his potential picks.

“Just go right off the list, and it would be, you know, Webb (Simpson), Dustin Johnson and the next guy would be Jim Furyk,” Captain America said. “And then Jordan Spieth, I don't know if I'm going on a limb, probably has had as good or better a year than those guys.”

It is worth noting that 24 hours earlier Couples would likely have had a much different take on his potential picks, what with part-timer Steve Stricker lingering just on the outside the bubble (No. 11 on the points list) and Spieth reeling from a 1-over 72 in Round 2 in Boston.

But Stricker closed with 67 to finish alone in second place at the DBC and crack the top 10 on the points list, bumping Simpson off the team, and Spieth put on his Monday show.

And then Simpson bogeyed two of his last four holes to lose his head-to-head duel with Zach Johnson, who finished 10th in points, for the final spot on the team and told Golf Channel he was going to go home and nurse a “jacked-up neck.”

To be clear, last week’s second playoff stop was not a Presidents Cup qualifier, to suggest otherwise would be a disservice to the process. It’s also worth noting that Couples’ track record as a captain is relatively clear – he tends to lean toward the established and the status quo when making his picks.

In 2009 during his first turn as the U.S. captain, Couples picked No. 11 Lucas Glover and No. 13 Hunter Mahan, skipping Brian Gay in the 12th spot.

In 2011, he selected Bill Haas at No. 12 on the points list and No. 29 Tiger Woods, an outlier in that “Boom Boom” had told anyone who would listen that he would be picking Woods if he didn’t qualify.

Before Sunday, conventional wisdom suggested the only Jordan in the U.S. team room in October at Muirfield was going to be Michael. But Monday’s coming and goings may have tipped the scales for Spieth, who became the first player since Woods in 1996 to play his way from no status to the Tour Championship in a single calendar.

“Knowing what he had to do, (he) really played very solid, birdieing the last three holes on Saturday to turn a bad round into an OK round and going out (on Monday) and shooting the low score by three or four strokes was a remarkable score,” said Couples of Spieth, who moved to 22nd on the U.S. points list. “So, you know, he’s got a 50/50 chance.”

But then from Couples’ point of view there is something to be said for not fixing what isn’t broken. He is 2-0 as a Presidents Cup captain with the likes of Furyk, Dustin Johnson and Simpson on his team.

“How do you not pick a guy (Simpson) who has been in the top 10 for two straight years here and up until the very last second, he gets pushed out?” said Couples, thinking aloud more so than answering a specific question. “So none of this is easy, but we all have great players to choose from, and it will be a tough decision.”

Now it’s Price and Couples’ turn to sweat and Spieth and de Jonge’s time to sit and wait. Eighteen muddy and muggy holes on Monday seem easy by comparison.

Note: Tune into Golf Channel at 2PM ET, Wednesday Sept. 4 as the captains officially reveal their picks

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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.