After four tough days, Whyte sends Baylor to finals

By Ryan LavnerMay 27, 2015, 1:47 am

BRADENTON, Fla. – Each night when they returned to the team hotel, Lauren Whyte and Hayley Davis allowed themselves three seconds to complain about their day.

“This is the day it’ll turn around,” Davis would try to convince her teammate. “I’m telling you, this is the day.”

But the message can be delivered only so many times before it eventually loses its effect.

Whyte’s high scores kept piling up at Concession: An opening 81. Followed by an 85. And then a 94. And an 82. Four days of stroke play, and not once did her score count toward Baylor’s team total.

Of the 84 players who finished four rounds here, Whyte was dead last, 54 over par, 57 shots behind winner Emma Talley.

“She was down,” head coach Jay Goble conceded.

“It’s really been hard for her,” Davis said.

The closest to Whyte in the individual standings was Duke freshman Lisa Maguire, who has endured her own struggles this season. And incredibly, both Baylor and Duke’s fates came down to those two players Tuesday during the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s Championship.

After more than an hour of clutch shots and big putts and steely nerves, Whyte prevailed with a bogey on the 24th hole of her match. On Wednesday afternoon, Baylor will play Stanford in the championship match. Neither school has ever won a national title.

That it somehow came down to Whyte and Maguire made this one of the most unforgettable days in college golf history.  

Whyte, a freshman from St. Andrews, Scotland, didn’t even crack the team’s lineup until late March. She’s failed to shoot in the 60s during regular-season play, and then she had a few disastrous rounds here at Concession.

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Even as her woes continued, Whyte reveled in the Bears’ stroke-play success that earned them a No. 3 seed for match play.

“I guess you need to deal with the bad to come out the best,” Davis said of her teammate. “She’s probably been through the worst.”

Earlier Tuesday, in the quarterfinals against Tennessee’s Hannah Pietila, Whyte dropped the opening four holes during a 4-and-2 loss.

Sent out first again in the afternoon semifinals, Whyte traded bogeys with Maguire and was 2 down at the turn. She won the 10th, and then the 12th, and the 13th and 15th, too. By the time she stood on the tee of the par-5 17th hole, she had a 2-up lead with two to play.

That advantage disappeared quickly. She promptly tugged her tee shot into the water, leading to a bogey and lost hole. And then on 18, her tee ball was unplayable in a bush, and the ensuing double bogey sent her match into extras.

The turning point in overtime came at the 22nd hole, the par-5 13th. In good position off the tee, Whyte drilled a 3-wood that trickled into a greenside bunker, leaving her an awkward 60-yard shot. Her third shot came out too hot and scooted over the green, into a valley.

The hole is nicknamed “blackjack”, because a member once made 21 there.

LPGA player Jessica Korda tweeted, “I wouldn’t want that chip... It’s hard.”

“Heck no,” Brittany Lincicome replied. “I’ve been there hahaha.”

“A lot of people would just pack it in and take the loss there,” said Goble, but Whyte de-lofted her 60-degree lob wedge and bumped her fourth shot into the bank. The ball rolled out to 5 feet. She made the par putt, ho-hum, and moved on to the next.

“She stepped up and delivered,” Goble said, beaming.

A couple of solid drives and 7-irons over the next two holes – and an ill-timed block on the 24th hole by Maguire – touched off a raucous celebration by Baylor.

“She’s so tough,” fellow freshman Dylan Kim said of Whyte. “She has such a great mind and she’s a fighter. We know how hard she’s been trying.”

Added Davis: “That’s the best golf I’ve ever seen her play. It says a lot about her that she could do that on that stage.”

On the opposite side was Maguire, who struggled mightily all season and found herself in an uncomfortable position, with everything riding on her success or failure.

With her team eliminated, Maguire stared blankly into the woods. Her twin sister, Leona, the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, consoled her from a few feet away.  

“It’s always tough to take a loss,” Lisa would say later, barely above a whisper, “but to lose it this way was especially so.”

Maguire and Duke head coach Dan Brooks have labored through a swing change since she arrived on campus in late August. Basically, they’re trying to get Maguire to utilize her lower body more to increase her distance. The results haven’t been pretty – she’s ranked outside the top 400 individually, and she had only one top 20 and a 77.07 scoring average in 10 starts.

“Anything she hasn’t accomplished this year,” Brooks said, “is because I messed with her golf swing.”

Still, Brooks saw signs of progress, such as Maguire’s bunker shot on the 23rd hole, when she had little green to work with and an opponent only 25 feet away for birdie. She splashed out to a few feet.

“She went from being a player on the periphery,” Brooks said, “to one who had everything at stake. I’m very proud of her. That showed a lot of guts.”

But this was Whyte’s moment, after a miserable five-day stay here at Concession.  

Goble’s confidence in his No. 5 player never wavered, mostly because of Whyte’s poise and confidence.

“It just makes you believe that she’ll hit the shots,” he said.

And she did, spectacularly, to put Baylor on the brink of a national title.

“Today,” Whyte said with a smile, “was me playing my part.”

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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.