Topgolfgears Morning 9: Carnoustie is king | Gritty Molinari | Tiger in context

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Carnoustie is king | Gritty Molinari | Tiger in context
1. Bravo, Francesco!
Scanning the headlines this morning, and a morsel of Italian is apparently necessary in any Molinari-related headline.
  • Beyond this, a common narrative: the idea that while Molinari’s recent form has been incredible, he takes a leap forward and validates his work with a mental game coach by both outplaying Tiger Woods on Sunday and steadily outmarching some of the best golfers in the game. Regardless of recent form, few believed the Italian had much of a chance of emerging from a stacked leaderboard as the victor. Perhaps the old Francesco would have agreed, but the Champion Golfer of the Year knew better.
2. Carnoustie is king
Beyond praise for the steady Molinari, whom Michael Bamberger described as looking like an “Italian detective,” which is quite accurate, but neither here nor there: plaudits for Carnoustie (and the R&A’s setup philosophy) were everywhere.
  • Geoff Shackelford writes...”Light rough, record roll and mostly light breezes rendered the infamously difficult links more strategic and lovable than anyone in modern times thought possible. If the strong scoring over the first 54 holes put a little dent in its reputation as the rota’s most sinister links, the week also helped Carnoustie erase expectations of freakishness looming around every corner.”
  • “Venue stature is a fickle thing in the major championship hosting world these days. Past Opens here have left a sour taste in the R&A’s mouth. That “something” Casey speaks of can go from a blessing to a curse with the slightest setup missteps. Consider the reputation of Shinnecock Hills, one of the world’s architectural masterpieces and perfectly managed agronomically heading into the U.S. Open.”
  • “The Southampton course’s reputation, still the talk of insiders and players at Carnoustie grasping to understand what went wrong, has now been stained by two setups gone bad. What should have been a joyous opportunity to play majors on William Flynn’s masterwork has now become a burden. Instead, Shinnecock has that “something” and few are entirely sure what that is following the 2018 U.S. Open.”
  • “Carnoustie, on the other hand, sends the world’s best away fully-tested but in no way feeling deprived of chances to display their immense skill.”
3. Tiger
As Tiger Woods made the turn Sunday, it looked like the stars were aligning for the 14-time major champion. Those ahead of him folded, and although the winds were freshening, he had to now anything under par on the back nine would likely secure the Claret Jug.
  • Instead, agonizingly, Woods missed the fairway with iron off the tee at the 11th and 12th holes, doubling and bogeying, respectively. He came in in 37. 34 would have done it.
  • Rather than dissect what went wrong or right, consider this passage from Alan Shipnuck putting the new Woods in context…”To cheer for Woods now is to believe in the power of redemption. Over the last decade he’s been to hell and back: tabloid infamy, sex addiction therapy, divorce, the police blotter, rehab for an addiction to painkillers, and a slew of back problems that literally brought him to his knees on the course.”
  • “In his heyday Woods was revered but never beloved. Now he has reinvented himself as a vulnerable 42-year-old single dad eager for connection – with his fellow players and the fans. In the wake of his scandals he has reconnected with his Buddhist roots; the underpinning of that religion is gratitude. You could feel that in the air at Carnoustie: Woods grateful to be back where he belongs, the rest of us mesmerized to bear witness.”
4. What happened, Jordan?
If you took a straw poll Saturday night, most would have expected Jordan Spieth to hoist the claret jug. Instead, the recently shorn Texan stumbled.
  • Sean Zak: “Sixty minutes had passed between that must-make birdie putt and when he signed for a 76. Of those last aforementioned 28 players to tee off, his score was the worst. Meeting one last time with the media, Spieth was happy to talk about his pace of play, which was put on the clock. He was glad to talk about Molinari’s victory, the green speeds and if Woods’s performance was a fluke. Ten questions in, he was being pulled from the mic. His agent was annoyed, but Spieth continued. This British Open wasn’t his. It was someone else’s, so let’s talk about it. Acceptance can be a good thing, and that was the theme of his evening.”
  • Jay Coffin…”Jordan Spieth was the 54-hole co-leader of The Open. He was looking for his fourth career major and second consecutive claret jug. He also has been in the biggest victory drought of his career, extending back to last year at Royal Birkdale.
  • “Spieth shot 5-over 76 – his worst final round in a major – failed to make a birdie – the first time he’s failed to pick up any strokes in a major – and tied for ninth place, four shots behind Francesco Molinari. He got over it quickly.”
  • “I’ve already gone through the frustration,” Spieth said, about 20 minutes after his round. “I’m kind of on acceptance now…When you put yourself in position enough times, it goes your way sometimes, it doesn’t go your way sometimes.”
5. McIlroy on Woods
Rory put together a solid final round to finish tied for second at The Open. Instead of focusing on that however, let’s take a look at the candid Ulsterman’s articulation of what we’ll call the Top Young Players’ Attitude toward Competing with Tiger.
  • Via Bob Harig…”Not the Tiger that Phil (Mickelson) and Ernie (Els) and those guys had to deal with,” McIlroy said. “It’s a different version. But he’s right there. He’s getting himself in the mix. He looked good in D.C. a couple weeks back (at the Quicken Loans). He’s looked good here.
  • “He’s played a full schedule. He’s healthy. I wouldn’t say we’re worried about him, but he’s one of those guy that’s always in with a shot.”
  • “With the Tiger we have to face, he does things that maybe he didn’t do 10, 15 years ago,” he said. “But it’s still great to have him back. It’s still great for golf. It will be interesting to see going forward, but this was his first taste of a major championship … drama, I guess, for quite a while. Even though he’s won 14, you have to learn how to get back.”
6. Pepperell
 Eddie Pepperell is never dull. The Englishman’s candor, articulateness, and skill with a pen make him a great follow on Twitter and beyond.
  • But even given standard Peperellian forthrightness, it was surprising to hear this: Pepperell was hungover during the final round at Carnoustie…a round in which he fired a 4-under 67.
  • Pepperell finished tied for sixth at 5-under, three strokes behind Francesco Molinari, and he offered this admission in his final-round press conference.
  • “I was a little hungover...I had too much to drink last night. And I was so frustrated yesterday, that today was really, I wouldn’t say a write-off, but I didn’t feel I was in the golf tournament. Whether I shot 69 or 73 today, it wouldn’t have been heartbreaking. But as it happens, I shot 67. So, you know, it’s a funny game.”
7. A study in composure
Michael Bamberger writes…:Which leads us to Tiger’s playing partner, Francesco Molinari…with his implacable, world-weary demeanor and just-the-facts-ma’am exchanges with his caddie, with reporters, with officialdom. He’s 35, but you would guess older. He’s remarkable, just the kind of guy Woods tends to admire: Without signs of otherworldly gifts, he has made himself one of the best players in the world.”
  • “When Molinari won on Sunday, Woods said, “Francesco played really solidly today. He chipped it beautifully. You could see him actually try and hit a couple with cut spin, a couple of draw spin. You know, he was working the ball around the greens, and that was cool to see.” In those sentences is Woods’s highest praise, and he gave it to himself after his Saturday 66: He saw in Molinari a golfer who was in complete control of his game.”
8. Top 25 islands
Now for something completely different...Links, err LINKS, takes on the Herculean labor of determining the 25 best islands for golf in the word..
“Okay, we’ll admit it. This is an audacious list. Indeed, it would be fair of you to ask, how can we possibly rate and rank the islands of the world according to their golf appeal? How can we possibly compare Amelia to Australia, Hainan to Hilton Head, Pawleys to Puerto Rico? Well, if you’re LINKS Magazine, you find a way.”
  • “As we began to apply our criteria, certain islands quickly sorted themselves to the top (or bottom). In the end, however, the numerical rankings came down to a series of matches. For example, we asked ourselves, if confined to golf on just one island, which would it be, Long Island or Hawaii? If the answer was Long Island, we asked whether that would still be the answer if the alternative were Ireland or Australia, or any of the two dozen others. Eventually, one island won all its “matches” and thus became our number one, a second island won every match except the one against island number one, so that became number two, and so on until we had our list of 25.”
  • “With more golf courses than any island on the planet-in fact, almost 1,000 more including over 30 of the world’s top 100-the sceptered isle is clearly in a class by itself. It may also be the most fun place to visit, whether on a buddy trip or with your significant other, the charm of its cities and citizens almost equal to the challenge of its courses.”
  • “The only major contender in that regard would be world island No. 2, Ireland (which in this case includes both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland). Navigating the narrow winding roads can at times be a challenge, but the journey usually ends at a course with jaw-dropping views.”
9. Molinari’s retirement plan
Wesley Bryan took to Twitter on Sunday to note that earlier this season, Molinari revealed elements of his “retirement plan.”

GolfWRX Morning 9: Carnoustie is king | Gritty Molinari | Tiger in context

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