Scott Regains Control at TPC

By Sports NetworkMarch 27, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Australia's Adam Scott posted a 3-under 69 on Saturday to jump into the third-round lead of the Players Championship. He stands at 10-under-par 206 and owns a two-shot lead over Frank Lickliter and overnight co-leader Kevin Sutherland.
 
Lickliter birdied four of his last five holes en route to a 4-under 68 while Sutherland bogeyed his last to shoot a 1-over-par 73 at the TPC at Sawgrass.
 
There are some of the top names in golf tied for fourth place at 7-under par. Kenny Perry (69), Phil Mickelson (70), Ernie Els (72), Paul Stankowski (66) and the other leader midway through the championship, Jerry Kelly (74) are knotted at 209.
 
Tiger Woods was flirting with the cut line on Friday but ultimately made his 120th consecutive weekend. His play improved dramatically on Saturday despite a shaky finish.
 
He carded a 4-under 68 thanks to eight birdies and four bogeys and sits in a tie for 16th at minus-4.
 
'Overall I played really well today,' said Woods, who won this event in 2001. 'I hit so many good golf shots. Things are starting to come together, and each and every day is starting to get a little better.'
 
Woods mixed five birdies and a bogey on the front side, capped off by a chip-in birdie at the ninth. He collected three more birdies and a bogey through 16 holes but things fell apart for the top player in the game.
 
At the famed 17th, Woods barely made it over the water and left with bogey. On the final hole, Woods sprayed his approach into the grandstands and picked up his second bogey in as many holes.
 
'I had a not-so-good finish,' said Woods.
 
If Woods is to visit the winner's circle on Sunday he will have to erase Scott's six-shot margin.
 
Scott, the first-round leader whose swing is often compared to Woods', began the third round two behind Sutherland and Kelly. Things got off to a rocky start for Scott as he bogeyed No. 1 and thanks to a birdie by Kelly, fell four off the pace.
 
'It took me a few holes to get used to the greens,' said Scott. 'It was a bit of a shock. They were good in the end. It got me ready to go for the rest of the round.'
 
Scott clawed back in with a birdie at the sixth but a run at the start of his back nine sent him to the top of the leaderboard.
 
He birdied the par-4 10th, then two-putted from 40 feet at the par-5 11th to match Sutherland in first. Scott took the lead at the next hole when his approach stopped three feet from the hole.
 
Scott had a great look at a fourth birdie in a row at 14 but his seven-footer lipped out. He was not able to reach the green in three at the par-5 16th and his fourth ran nine feet past the cup. Scott drained the big par save and it was off to one of the most daunting par-3s on tour.
 
Scott hit a pitching-wedge to 18 feet at 17 but missed the putt. He had a shorter putt for birdie at the closing hole but that putt stayed above ground.
 
The young Australian has won five times worldwide, including last year's Deutsche Bank Championship on the PGA Tour. In all five of those victories, Scott has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
 
'Maybe it's experience from the past,' said Scott, looking for an explanation for his front-running success. 'I'm far from winning this event. I've got a whole leaderboard full of the best players in the world right behind me.'
 
Lickliter, whose home course is the Stadium Course at Sawgrass, was only even-par through 13 holes but the two-time winner on tour caught fire down the stretch.
 
He birdied the 14th and par-5 16th. At 17, Lickliter hit a 9-iron to 12 feet to set up birdie. His approach at the last stopped inches from the cup and the tap-in birdie gave him a chance at the biggest win of his PGA Tour career.
 
'Walking to the 16th tee, I was just kind of thinking about how many times I've birdied the last three holes just playing out here and it put me in that not-forcing-it mode, and it just kind of relaxed me,' said Lickliter. 'I'm going to go out and do what has got me to this point.'
 
Sutherland was even on his round and one back of Scott when things unraveled at 16. His third came to rest in a sand-filled divot and after much deliberation with rules officials, he was told he could not ground his club in a large clump of sand.
 
His shot from 106 yards came up short of the green in another bad lie. Sutherland stabbed at his fourth and the ball ran through the green onto the fringe. He made bogey to fall two back of Scott.
 
Sutherland rebounded nicely from the bad break at 16 with a 25-foot birdie putt at the 17th. His drive at 18 landed in the right rough and he was forced to lay up with his second at the par-four hole. Sutherland's third landed 17 feet from the hole and he missed the putt to lose sole possession of second place.
 
When Sutherland signed his card after the round, he was told that he received a bad call on the ruling. He should have been able to ground his club but Sutherland was philosophical about the incorrect decision.
 
'I was told I couldn't improve my lie. I kept asking if I can ground my club and they kept saying, 'no you can't do it,'' said Sutherland. 'It's the way it goes. I guess I wasn't able to articulate what I wanted in the ruling.'
 
Craig Parry, the winner of the Ford Championship at Doral earlier this month, fired the lowest round of the day on Saturday with an 8-under 64. He is tied for ninth with Duffy Waldorf (71) and Vijay Singh (72). The trio is knotted at minus-6.
 
Davis Love III, the 2003 champion, shot a 2-under 70 and is tied for 30th at 1-under par. John Daly struggled to a 4-over 76 and is part of a group in 66th at 2-over-par 218.
 
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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 at Carnoustie. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was one of 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 continuing 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.”