European Perspective

By Tom AbbottJune 10, 2010, 4:56 am

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – I'm writing this column from the host city of this week’s LPGA State Farm Classic, so I think it's appropriate to concentrate on the women’s game this week.

There is much to talk about as the LPGA begins a long stretch of golf, the likes of which it hasn’t seen since last summer, with seven of the next eight weeks the ladies are in action. In this stretch, the tour will play three majors, and visit three different countries. They willl visit both Oakmont and Royal Birkdale in the next two months and make the annual pilgrimage to Evian, a tournament which no one wants to miss.

From a European perspective, Suzann Pettersen, according to the world rankings, offers the best hope for dominance this summer. The Norwegian, ranked third in the world, has finished second three times this season. However, Pettersen has elected not to play this week in Springfield, instead she has wisely chosen to rest an injured hip and spend time with her family in Oslo. She will hope to be fully fit for the LPGA Championship in two weeks, which is being played for the first time in Rochester, N.Y. Pettersen is a former champion, but won her title at Bulle Rock in 2007.

I am also keeping my eye on Karen Stupples, who has been showing some good form of late, and Laura Davies. Davies is back in Springfield, a multiple runner-up at the State Farm Classic. She lost to Nancy Lopez 18 years ago and was cruely denied again in 2003 when rained washed out the final day and handed a win to Candie Kung. Davies has played well of late in Europe.

There are a couple of returning Europeans this week. The colorful Helen Alfredsson returns to action on U.S. soil for the first time since her dismissal from the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April, having missed her pro-am tee time. The incident was far from straightforward but at the end of the day the rules were followed and Alfredsson was on the wrong end of a bad set of circumstances. Alfredsson decided to spend some time in Europe notching two top-20 finishes in May.

Minea Blomqvist is also back having given birth to her first child nine weeks ago. The only Finnish player on tour, Minea is the girlfriend of Challenge Tour player Roope Kakko, and thankfully the new mum has some help with baby duties from Roope’s sister this week in Springfield.

We also have the biggest event in the women’s amateur game, with the Curtis Cup taking place just outside Boston this week.

The Curtis Cup showcases the very best in the new breed of British players. The exploits of Irish twins Lisa and Leona McGuire have been catching my attention for quite some time now. The pair from the Slieve Russell club have cleaned up the amateur scene in Ireland. Remarkably they are only 15 years of age, meaning this week’s battle with America’s Alexis Thompson could be the first of many.

Sally Watson is another with incredible potential. I first met Sally a few years ago at the IMG Academy in Bradenton when she was studying and playing there under the tutelage of the Leadbetter Academy. Now Watson is a rising sophomore at Stanford, and is making her second Curtis Cup appearance this week. The Scotswoman has bucket loads of high-level experience having already played a major championship, the Ricoh Women’s British Open, making the cut at St. Andrews in 2008. Recently she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open which will be played at Oakmont in July. Traditionally the GB&I team have had a tough time in the Curtis Cup – they are without a win since 1996 at Killarney – but this year could be a year to surprise on foreign soil.

Golf Channel will have coverage of both the LPGA State Farm Classic and the Curtis Cup this week.

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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.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

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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.