Local knowledge? Only so much for Spieth, Greller

By Ryan LavnerJune 15, 2015, 11:31 pm

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Jordan Spieth’s only competitive round at Chambers Bay was a forgettable one. He shot 83 in the second round of stroke-play qualifying at the 2010 U.S. Amateur, on a day when the USGA admittedly lost control of the baked-out course.

“It was a short-lived trip for me,” Spieth said Monday. “I tried to throw out the round that I shot on this course from my memories. I’m kind of going in with a blank slate.”

The more he’s played Chambers, though, the more his opinions of the links-style course have evolved.

That shift began in summer 2013, when Spieth skipped the no-cut, big-money World Golf Championships event at Firestone to attend his caddie Michael Greller's wedding.

It just so happened that Greller was tying the knot at Chambers Bay, where he used to loop in the summer, so Spieth and a few of Greller’s buddies played the day before the nuptials. Spieth shot 72 from the back tees and won a few bucks off the groom.

Many have suggested that Spieth is the favorite this week on the 8-year-old course, not only because he’s the second-ranked player in the world but also because of his caddie’s local knowledge.

The latter part might be deceiving. Yes, Greller estimated that he has done about 40 loops here, but none since 2011. The course has undergone several alterations since the U.S. Amateur, and the course will play differently this week under the USGA’s watch. Greller’s experience, in other words, extends only so far.

Spieth generally goes solo when reading greens anyway, so Greller will be called on only for a second look or for reassurance. Instead, Spieth says that his caddie can be most helpful off the tee, with picking sight lines. Because this already has the makings of a dusty Open, with firm and fast fescue turf, being able to judge how a ball will react once it hits the ground will be important.

Spieth logged a pair of 18-hole practice rounds over the weekend and will play nine holes a day leading up to his Thursday afternoon tee time. He says that he “really enjoys the layout” and thinks it’s going to be a “fun challenge.”

And that's not just lip service. 

It’s instructive to go back to that U.S. Am in 2010, when Spieth blew up and only a 78 was needed to make match play. Even then, even after that round, Spieth said that he “absolutely loves the golf course” and simply felt as though the greens were too difficult. (Many of the most treacherous putting surfaces have since been recontoured.)

Spieth is a more complete player now than when he was a rising high school senior, of course, and he enters this Open trying to sustain his major momentum. He reminded himself of his major chops last week while watching TV in the privacy of his home in Dallas. One night he slipped on the green jacket ... you know, just because.

“Why wouldn’t I put it on?” he asked with a smile.

This week he could become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2002 to win the first two majors of the year.

“I have a chance to make history in many ways,” Spieth said. “There are certainly a lot of goals left for the year. It’s never even crossed my mind to let it kind of sink in that it’s been a great year. If I didn’t do anything the rest of the year, I’d be pretty frustrated at the second half.”

After a surprising missed cut at The Players, Spieth has recorded a pair of top-3 finishes in his last three starts. In fact, his ball-striking has been so sharp in practice so far, “I wish the tournament started two days ago,” he said.

After a disastrous early exit here five years ago, it seems Spieth can’t wait for Thursday’s opening bell.

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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.