Why should athletes have to talk after a painful defeat?

By Rex HoggardFebruary 10, 2016, 8:10 pm

For an entire historic season Carolina quarterback Cam Newton spoke volumes, both with his play on the field and into the hundreds of media microphones that were placed in front of him.

Newton is exuberant and outgoing, much like Rickie Fowler, who has made his own competitive statements lately with four worldwide victories since last May.

But on Super Sunday both opted for varying degrees of radio silence in the wake of essentially similar defeats.

Sure, Newton’s loss in Super Bowl 50 will linger longer than Fowler’s playoff defeat at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but at such heights pain born from athletic performance isn’t necessarily proportional.

This reality of diminishing returns was evident in both star’s post-play press conferences on Sunday.

Subdued and somber, Newton offered just 87 words to the media following the Panthers’ 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, with most no more than clipped, two-word responses.

“Got outplayed,” Newton said moments before he bolted the interview area with a quick, “I'm done, man.”

Following Fowler’s playoff loss to Hideki Matsuyama at TPC Scottsdale the game’s quintessential millennial wasn’t much more effusive, answering just four questions, for a total of 240 words, before offering a final emotional response followed by a quick exit.

“I mean, the hard part is having, you know, all my friends and family and Grandpa and my dad who haven't seen me win. But I will be able to kind of hang with them tonight,” Fowler said as he fought back tears. “I’ll be all right. With how good I'm playing, I know I can win. That's the hard part.”

Before you break the Internet debating how misguided are comparisons between Fowler, one of golf’s most likeable if not sometimes guarded players, and Newton, who can be as petulant as he is entertaining, the purpose of this correlation is only to acknowledge the emotions that accompany the enormity of such moments.

“It’s going to hurt because I felt like I had it, especially with the way I was swinging,” said Fowler, who found the water twice on the 17th hole at TPC Scottsdale on Sunday.

“That was a bit unfortunate. I hit it right on line, hit it exactly where I was looking [at No. 17]. That's kind of the unfortunate part to hit the shots that I did and to pull them off and then it kind of backfired.”

To be clear, Newton was not nearly as talkative as Fowler in loss, particularly when asked the keys to Carolina’s defeat.

“Got outplayed,” he mumbled.

But the point is neither player was in much of a mood to talk, and it’s hard to blame them.

It’s all part of the same DNA that makes athletes like Fowler and Newton so entertaining in victory, yet so difficult during emotional defeats.

Some are able to compartmentalize loss better than others. When Jordan Spieth’s birdie attempt at the 72nd hole at last year’s Open Championship rolled wide it cost the 22-year-old more than his name on the claret jug.

Spieth had been vying to win the third leg of the single-season Grand Slam, and yet after he’d signed his scorecard and spoken with the media he joined the crowd behind the 18th green to watch Zach Johnson win the playoff.

Similarly, when Brandt Snedeker struggled to a final-round 77 at the 2008 Masters after heading out in the day’s final group on Sunday he was just as overcome by emotion in his post-round Q&A with reporters, but showed an impressive amount of resilience answering 14 questions.

“You know, I have no clue why I am so emotional. I was laughing outside. I'm crying in here. I couldn't tell you. You know, it's just ...” Snedeker said through tears.

They say players learn more from defeat than they do in victory and in golf the latter is a way of life with even the game’s best players coming up short more times than not. The same can be said of what can be learned about players in victory and defeat. 

While it’s easy to think the examples set by Spieth and Snedeker should be the standard, that entirely too simplistic logic ignores individual personalities.

Fowler’s emotion is a measure of how much winning means to him, not a weakness to be corrected.

A few days after his post-Super Bowl press conference, Newton summed it up best: “You show me a good loser and I'm going to show you a loser.”

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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.

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Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

“It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

“That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”