Spring Field News Leader http://news-leader.sportstonews.com Golf Video, News, Scores and Updates Wed, 14 Nov 2018 06:52:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.11 CME Championship boosts 2019 purse to $5M, winner’s payout to $1.5M http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/14/cme-championship-boosts-2019-purse-to-5m-winners-payout-to-1-5m/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/14/cme-championship-boosts-2019-purse-to-5m-winners-payout-to-1-5m/#respond Wed, 14 Nov 2018 02:24:43 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/14/cme-championship-boosts-2019-purse-to-5m-winners-payout-to-1-5m/ 2019 CME Championship boosts 2019 purse to $5 million, winner's payout to $1.

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NAPLES, Fla. – When Terry Duffy calls, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan answers.

Duffy, CME Group Chairman and CEO, has a record of setting the bar higher in women’s golf. Duffy’s latest pitch: double the purse at the 2019 CME Group Tour Championship to $5 million and raise the winner’s paycheck to $1.5 million. And while it will remain a season-long race to qualify for the event, anyone in the field of 60 will be able to take home the record-setting prize.

“My kids see men walk off greens with $1.5 million dollar checks almost every week,” said Whan. “You never see a woman walk off the green with that. This a game-changer in terms of as Condoleezza Rice said to us at KPMG, ‘They’ve got to see it to be it.’ Terry is gonna let a few women see it.”

In the fall of 2009, Whan accepted the job of commissioner but asked not to start until January. He flew under the radar at the Tour Championship in Houston that year, where a field of 130 players competed for a $1.3 million purse with no title sponsor.

“To sit here and talk about $5 million, $1.5 million, and not to mention that my room is at the Ritz,” said Whan, “nothing against Houston, but pretty impressive week all in all.”

It’s no wonder that Whan refers to Duffy as one of the LPGA’s heroes.

“I want to be a leader,” said Duffy, who grew this event from a small pro-am tournament at Tiburon to one of the pillars of the tour. “From our standpoint, that’s what CME we’ve done our entire career. So we’re a leader, and we want to be a little bit of a trailblazer.”

Duffy asked Whan, “What’s the highest price on the LPGA?”

That would be the U.S. Women’s Open at $5 million. Duffy said he didn’t want to chase a number or get into a matching game with another tournament. What he did want to achieve, however, is getting others thinking about doing the same.

“It’s awesome,” said Brooke Henderson of the record prize. “I think a lot of girls on tour are really going to appreciate that. And I feel like even women around the world, when they see that, they’ll feel like we are getting closer to being level.”

Flying back from Asia last year, Whan looked at the number of LPGA players who made $1 million for the season. The number 17 looked a whole lot better than the eight from 2010. But then he Googled the PGA Tour’s 2017 money list: 102 millionaires.

There’s room to run, but what’s happening in Naples represents a significant step.

“The reality of it is if you’re one of the best 60, 50, 120 anythings in the world in your sport at a level that’s televised around the world, you shouldn’t need a rich uncle to help you cover travel expenses for the year,” said Whan. “This is an opportunity to say that financially, if I can make it to Naples and play good golf, I’m pretty secure financially not just for this year, but for next.”

This week at Tiburon, only 12 players have a mathematical chance of nabbing the $1 million bonus. Next year, all 60 players have a chance. Chella Choi likened it to winning the jackpot.

“I have a chance!” Choi said, pumping her fist.

Henderson is one of five players who can automatically claim the $1 million payout with a victory this week. It gets complicated crunching the numbers down the stretch at CME, making the new format much more fan-friendly.

The fact that anyone in the field can win the $1.5 million should not only strengthen the fall fields in Asia but the CME as well.

Duffy said CME’s partnership with the LPGA adds brand value to his company. It makes sense for him from a business side, but there’s a bigger picture at play as well.

For Duffy, it’s about the future of the country too.

“I think it’s an obligation not only as a CEO of a large institution, but others have that same obligation morally to do the right thing for young people,” said Duffy. “If you don’t get the young people at a certain age, they get to a certain time in their life and they’re lost. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the reality of it.

“So I want to set an example where young girls can see this, and to Mike’s point, have aspirations to be a part of it. That’s how I look at it. It’s bigger than golf for me.”

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Ariya Jutanugarn finds peace at CME with Rolex award, LPGA money title secure http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/ariya-jutanugarn-finds-peace-at-cme-with-rolex-award-lpga-money-title-secure/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/ariya-jutanugarn-finds-peace-at-cme-with-rolex-award-lpga-money-title-secure/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2018 21:46:02 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/ariya-jutanugarn-finds-peace-at-cme-with-rolex-award-lpga-money-title-secure/ Ariya Jutanugarn finds peace at this year's CME Group Tour Championship with the Rolex Player of the Year award and LPGA money title secure.

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NAPLES, Fla. – For a second time, Ariya Jutanugarn finds herself on top of the mountain at the CME Group Tour Championship. But the big-hearted Thai player is not the same person she was two years ago, when success came rushing at her like a freight train.

This is a more comfortable Jutanugarn.

At her pre-tournament press conference in Naples, Jutanugarn laughed with ease, answered questions directly and even broke down in tears when asked where big sister Moriya’s victory ranked among her favorite days of the year.

“I think it’s No. 1,” she said.

There’s a lot that comes with being No. 1, and answering questions in English has brought a lot of anxiety for Jutanugarn, who used to let her sister do most of the talking.

A couple of months ago Ariya had a lightbulb moment regarding the press: “I just realized I don’t have any pressure anymore. I felt like I should be myself and say whatever I want to say. … If I say the wrong thing, so what? It doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person. It just means I didn’t understand what you guys say.”

Sounds simple enough, but for a player who has to stand in front of a camera nearly every day, it’s huge.

Jutanugarn, a three-time winner this year, comes to the CME Group Tour Championship having already locked up the Rolex Player of the Year Award and money title. She also leads the tour in scoring.

“We had dinner last night,” said Vision54 coach Lynn Marriott, “and I just see a little more peace inside of her.

“I see that she’s having more fun this time around than last time. There’s so much there that people don’t yet see that’s so funny. And genuine. I think the more comfortable she is you’re going to see more of that.”

Jutanugarn points to her victory at the U.S. Women’s Open, where she overcame a mid-round meltdown to win in a playoff at Shoal Creek, as a tremendous learning experience.

“I feel great on what happen in my life on that day,” she said. “I feel great about that because I learn so much. That day help me a lot. It’s make me feel like I don’t have to play well to be able to win a tournament, but I have to know what I been doing and focus on the thing in my control.”

Late in 2017, a frustrated Jutanugarn wondered how long she’d even play this game. But she dug deep, as her father taught her, and triumphed here at Tiburon Golf Club, setting the stage for a 2018 season that included a tour-leading 16 top-10 finishes.

Jutanugarn knows that she’s resilient. But more than that, she is discovering along the way that being herself is more than enough.

Jutanugarn turns 23 years old on Nov. 23. She hopes to celebrate the same way she did last year – by visiting a school for the underprivileged in Thailand and handing out presents.

The heart of a champion.

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Cameron Champ reflects on start before The RSM Classic http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/cameron-champ-reflects-on-start-before-the-rsm-classic/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/cameron-champ-reflects-on-start-before-the-rsm-classic/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2018 21:29:01 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/cameron-champ-reflects-on-start-before-the-rsm-classic/ Prior to The RSM Classic 2018, Cameron Champ talks about his first big recognition in the game of golf and how the experience provided a foundation for what was to come.

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Prior to The RSM Classic 2018, Cameron Champ talks about his first big recognition in the game of golf and how the experience provided a foundation for what was to come.

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Cameron Champ takes steps toward 1st win before The RSM Classic http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/cameron-champ-takes-steps-toward-1st-win-before-the-rsm-classic/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/cameron-champ-takes-steps-toward-1st-win-before-the-rsm-classic/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2018 21:27:02 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/cameron-champ-takes-steps-toward-1st-win-before-the-rsm-classic/ Prior to The RSM Classic 2018, Cameron Champ looks back on his goals for the beginning of the 2018-2019 PGA TOUR season and how his early steps led to his first PGA TOUR victory.

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Prior to The RSM Classic 2018, Cameron Champ looks back on his goals for the beginning of the 2018-2019 PGA TOUR season and how his early steps led to his first PGA TOUR victory.

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The RSM Classic preview http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/the-rsm-classic-preview/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/the-rsm-classic-preview/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2018 21:26:02 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/the-rsm-classic-preview/ The ninth edition of The RSM Classic in Sea Island, Georgia is set to host a strong field of fresh faces and experienced PGA TOUR champions, including Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson and Jason Dufner.

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The ninth edition of The RSM Classic in Sea Island, Georgia is set to host a strong field of fresh faces and experienced PGA TOUR champions, including Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson and Jason Dufner.

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2018 RSM Classic: Tee times, pairings for Rounds 1-2; TV info http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/2018-rsm-classic-tee-times-pairings-for-rounds-1-2-tv-info/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/2018-rsm-classic-tee-times-pairings-for-rounds-1-2-tv-info/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2018 21:17:29 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/2018-rsm-classic-tee-times-pairings-for-rounds-1-2-tv-info/ Here are the first- and second-round tee times and pairings for the 2018 RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club in St.

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Here are the first- and second-round tee times and pairings for the 2018 RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga., plus TV information for the week:

TV info

  • THURSDAY-FRIDAY: 1-4:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • SATURDAY-SUNDAY: 1:30-4:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

Tee times

Seaside Course No. 1 (Thursday)/Plantation Course No. 10 (Friday)

  • 9:30 a.m./10:30 a.m.: Ben Martin, Tommy Gainey, Chad Collins
  • 9:40 a.m./10:40 a.m.: Harris English, Kelly Kraft, Derek Fathauer
  • 9:50 a.m./10:50 a.m.: Andrew Landry, Cody Gribble, Sangmoon Bae
  • 10 a.m./11 a.m.: David Lingmerth, Matt Every, Dominic Bozzelli
  • 10:10 a.m./11:10 a.m.: Will MacKenzie, Richy Werenski, Brandon Harkins
  • 10:20 a.m./11:20 a.m.: Adam Svensson, Joey Garber, James Driscoll
  • 10:30 a.m./11:30 a.m.: José de Jesús Rodríguez, Brady Schnell, Martin Trainer
  • 10:40 a.m./9:30 a.m.: Lucas Glover, Tim Herron, Cameron Tringale
  • 10:50 a.m./9:40 a.m.: Ben Crane, Shawn Stefani, Harold Varner III
  • 11 a.m./9:50 a.m.: Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Hudson Swafford
  • 11:10 a.m./10 a.m.: Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk
  • 11:20 a.m./10:10 a.m.: Chris Kirk, Robert Streb, Peter Uihlein
  • 11:30 a.m./10:20 a.m.: Martin Piller, Stephan Jaeger, Henrik Norlander

Seaside Course No. 10 (Thursday)/Plantation Course No. 1 (Friday)

  • 9:30 a.m./10:30 a.m.: Matt Jones, C.T. Pan, Keith Mitchell
  • 9:40 a.m./10:40 a.m.: Vaughn Taylor, Nick Watney, Freddie Jacobson
  • 9:50 a.m./10:50 a.m.: Brice Garnett, Ryan Armour, Jonas Blixt
  • 10 a.m./11 a.m.: Peter Malnati, Bill Haas, Sean O’Hair
  • 10:10 a.m./11:10 a.m.: Brian Stuard, Hunter Mahan, Jamie Lovemark
  • 10:20 a.m./11:20 a.m.: Sam Burns, Anders Albertson, Wyndham Clark
  • 10:30 a.m./11:30 a.m.: Jim Knous, Sepp Straka, Peter Jones
  • 10:40 a.m./9:30 a.m.: John Huh, Johnson Wagner, J.T. Poston
  • 10:50 a.m./9:40 a.m.: Graeme McDowell, Robert Garrigus, David Hearn
  • 11 a.m./9:50 a.m.: Troy Merritt, Wesley Bryan, D.A. Points
  • 11:10 a.m./10 a.m.: Scott Stallings, Andres Romero, Patrick Rodgers
  • 11:20 a.m./10:10 a.m.: Seth Reeves, Kramer Hickok, Ben Griffin
  • 11:30 a.m./10:20 a.m.: Carlos Ortiz, Wes Roach, Lee Hodges

Plantation Course No. 1 (Thursday)/Seaside Course No. 10 (Friday)

  • 9:30 a.m./10:30 a.m.: Brendon de Jonge, Sung Kang, Sam Saunders
  • 9:40 a.m./10:40 a.m.: Scott Brown, Michael Thompson, Tom Hoge
  • 9:50 a.m./10:50 a.m.: Michael Kim, Jim Herman, Ernie Els
  • 10 a.m./11 a.m.: Aaron Baddeley, Josh Teater, Seamus Power
  • 10:10 a.m./11:10 a.m.: Julián Etulain, Kyoung-Hoon Lee, Alex Kang
  • 10:20 a.m./11:20 a.m.: Corey Conners, Nicholas Lindheim, Talor Gooch
  • 10:30 a.m./11:30 a.m.: Max Homa, Adam Long, Dru Love
  • 10:40 a.m./9:30 a.m.: Ricky Barnes, Roberto Castro, Tyler Duncan
  • 10:50 a.m./9:40 a.m.: Eric Axley, Luke List, Scott Langley
  • 11 a.m./9:50 a.m.: Ted Potter, Jr., Jason Dufner, Charles Howell III
  • 11:10 a.m./10 a.m.: Jonathan Byrd, Chad Campbell, Bud Cauley
  • 11:20 a.m./10:10 a.m.: Roger Sloan, Chase Wright, John Chin
  • 11:30 a.m./10:20 a.m.: Ben Silverman, Adam Schenk, Chris Thompson

Plantation Course No. 10 (Thursday)/Seaside Course No. 1 (Friday)

  • 9:30 a.m./10:30 a.m.: Fabián Gómez, Tyrone Van Aswegen, Bronson Burgoon
  • 9:40 a.m./10:40 a.m.: Jon Curran, Sam Ryder, Joaquin Niemann
  • 9:50 a.m./10:50 a.m.: Whee Kim, J.J. Spaun, Joel Dahmen
  • 10 a.m./11 a.m.: Austin Cook, Kevin Kisner, Mackenzie Hughes
  • 10:10 a.m./11:10 a.m.: Cameron Champ, Patton Kizzire, Davis Love III
  • 10:20 a.m./11:20 a.m.: Alex Cejka, Padraig Harrington, Ollie Schniederjans
  • 10:30 a.m./11:30 a.m.: Nate Lashley, Hank Lebioda, Garrett Barber
  • 10:40 a.m./9:30 a.m.: Kevin Streelman, Brendon Todd, Trey Mullinax
  • 10:50 a.m./9:40 a.m.: Retief Goosen, Jason Gore, Ryan Blaum
  • 11 a.m./9:50 a.m.: Chesson Hadley, Brian Gay, Stewart Cink
  • 11:10 a.m./10 a.m.: J.J. Henry, Alex Prugh, Denny McCarthy
  • 11:20 a.m./10:10 a.m.: Sebastián Muñoz, Sungjae Im, Blake Morris
  • 11:30 a.m./10:20 a.m.: Tom Lovelady, Curtis Luck, Kyle Jones

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Austin Cook reviews career path before The RSM Classic http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/austin-cook-reviews-career-path-before-the-rsm-classic/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/austin-cook-reviews-career-path-before-the-rsm-classic/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2018 20:27:02 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/austin-cook-reviews-career-path-before-the-rsm-classic/ Prior to The RSM Classic 2018, Austin Cook talks about his path to the PGA TOUR and what he has learned from it.

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Prior to The RSM Classic 2018, Austin Cook talks about his path to the PGA TOUR and what he has learned from it.

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Austin Cook looks for 2nd win before The RSM Classic http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/austin-cook-looks-for-2nd-win-before-the-rsm-classic/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/austin-cook-looks-for-2nd-win-before-the-rsm-classic/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2018 20:26:02 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/austin-cook-looks-for-2nd-win-before-the-rsm-classic/ Prior to The RSM Classic 2018, Austin Cook talks about his win in 2017, the positives and negatives it has had on his game and how he and his team realize the second career win is also a challenge.

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Prior to The RSM Classic 2018, Austin Cook talks about his win in 2017, the positives and negatives it has had on his game and how he and his team realize the second career win is also a challenge.

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Best of Golf 2018: A hectic season of change across television http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/best-of-golf-2018-a-hectic-season-of-change-across-television/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/best-of-golf-2018-a-hectic-season-of-change-across-television/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2018 19:12:01 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/best-of-golf-2018-a-hectic-season-of-change-across-television/ Best of Golf 2018: It was a hectic season of change across television for the sport.

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Televised golf tends to move slowly on the macrolevel and quickly on the microlevel.

Watching a TV crew produce tournament coverage up close is an impressive site; dozens of decisions are made every minute. If more golf fans could see that, it would give them a more balanced perspective of the weekly coverage.

On the macrolevel, however, the industry moves slowly. The major network crews experience less turnover than Democrat-controlled congressional districts in New York and San Francisco, and the industry is slow to adapt to new technologies that improve the viewing experience.

Despite all of that, 2018 feels as if it has been a year of significant change in the industry.

Here, in descending order, are the year’s biggest stories.

5. Bevacqua jumps from the PGA to NBC

Who saw this one coming? In July we learned that Pete Bevacqua, former CEO of the PGA of America, would become the president of NBC Sports Group. Bevacqua got high marks for his tenure at the PGA, but his limited TV experience – the PGA holds the rights to the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup – made his selection by NBC a curious one.

4. ESPN becomes CBS’ new PGA Championship partner

 I would rather speak ill of my late mother than say anything critical of Ernie Johnson, who might be the most decent human being ever to pick up a microphone. But few golf fans will lament the departure of Turner Sports, which will air the PGA’s early-round coverage for the final time in 2019.

ESPN, which already teams with CBS on Masters coverage, will marshal all of its platforms in support of the PGA, which should elevate the championship’s stature. This partnership runs through 2030, and with the PGA moving to a more favorable date in May, CBS and ESPN will be able to spend the spring promoting the season’s first two men’s majors. The lengthy extension also is an indication that CBS’ new management remains firmly committed to golf.

3. PGA Tour, Discovery strike historic deal

 This 12-year deal to distribute coverage of the PGA Tour on television and a Tour-branded streaming service in international markets might ultimately prove to be the biggest story of 2018. The contract is one of the best recent examples of the power of live sports programming and also underscores the Tour’s creative, direct-to-consumer strategy. Discovery touted it as a $2 billion investment in the PGA Tour, which now has a seasoned international partner that will deliver 2,000 hours of content annually.

2. Johnny Miller retires

That was expected; Miller has been contemplating retirement for several years. The real stunner was that Paul Azinger will slide into Miller’s seat at NBC, while continuing to call the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open for Fox. His role with two networks is not unprecedented, but it’s rare.

The change should go smoothly; Azinger is an experienced voice and arguably the industry’s top analyst. It is, however, telling that throughout Miller’s 29 years, NBC was unable to develop a suitable heir
to his chair, and this year had to get creative to bring in Azinger.

1. Tiger returns, and so do viewers

When Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship, the TV ratings were the highest in the event’s history. When he nearly won the PGA Championship in August, the tournament posted its highest rating in nine years. Dear Lord, the final round of the Valspar Championship, where Woods was in contention until the end, had more viewers than the final round of the U.S. Open, where Woods missed the cut.

So to all of the thoughtful and eloquent Golfweek readers who email me to complain about the fawning coverage the networks give Woods, I have just one request: Stop it! Just stop it! Gwk

(Note: This story appears in the November 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

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Best of Golf 2018: ‘Moliwood’ shines, brings Ryder Cup glory to Europe http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/best-of-golf-2018-moliwood-shines-brings-ryder-cup-glory-to-europe/ http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/best-of-golf-2018-moliwood-shines-brings-ryder-cup-glory-to-europe/#respond Tue, 13 Nov 2018 18:04:07 +0000 http://news-leader.sportstonews.com/2018/11/13/best-of-golf-2018-moliwood-shines-brings-ryder-cup-glory-to-europe/ Best of Golf 2018: 'Moliwood' shines, brings Ryder Cup glory to Europe.

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white sign greeted European Tour players at the Sky Sports British Masters at Walton Heath. The 3-foot high, 15-foot-wide sign simply read: “Moliwood” in homage to a phenomenon born 300 miles away on the outskirts of Paris in the 42nd Ryder Cup.

Europe’s victory – thanks in large part to the pairing of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood – over arguably the strongest U.S. team ever assembled takes some beating when reviewing the 2018 European Tour season. European captain Thomas Bjorn lifting the Ryder Cup pips Molinari’s historic British Open victory.

Few would have guessed two of the humblest players on the European Tour would unite to do what no European tandem had done: win four points in a Ryder Cup. Not even the legendary, practically unbeatable Seve Ballesteros-Jose Maria Olazabal partnership managed that.

Bjorn looks a tactical genius for the pairing, but the Dane didn’t need Albert Einstein’s brains to see this partnership. Molinari has been close friends with Fleetwood since the Englishman arrived on tour.

They once belonged to Rocky Hambric’s Hambric Stellar Golf Limited management stable and were managed by Fleetwood’s wife, Clare (nee Craig), when she worked for Hambric. Both players have  split from the group, but it’s common to see Tommy, Clare, Francesco and his wife, Valentina, dining together on tour.

Molinari’s eldest child is named Tommaso, Italian for Tommy, while Fleetwood and Clare christened their son Franklin when he was born last year. That all took place long before #Moliwood began trending on Twitter.

Talk about the seeds of a Ryder Cup bromance?

Bjorn’s only question was how many times he would pair them, as Molinari’s coach, Denis Pugh, reveals.

“They were put out together in practice on Tuesday, and there were all sorts of discussions on whether to play them just in foursomes, or just in four-balls
or to play them three times,” said Pugh, who has coached Molinari since he was an amateur. “Even with three days to go, it wasn’t glaringly obvious they were going to play all four sessions together.”

Bjorn did what any good captain would have done and went with the flow after they won so convincingly twice on the opening day. It didn’t come down to tactical genius. It was apparent it would have been crazy to split up the tandem.

“It was sort of a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid pairing,” Pugh said. “Tommy’s enthusiasm and Francesco’s sort of stubborn, hard-nosed approach gelled together well. Francesco’s proved this year he’s not going to back down from anybody in any situation, and that gave Tommy a lot of assurances to flourish.”

Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the partnership is the way the two players conducted themselves at Le Golf National. They didn’t strut around, pump their chests and go bug-eyed like Ian Poulter. There wasn’t the same raw, almost atavistic emotion Jon Rahm showed when he defeated Tiger Woods in singles.

Fleetwood showed an exuberance you’d expect from a 27-year-old making his debut on a winning Ryder Cup team. Molinari enjoyed the celebrations but was more low-key. And if any European player had a right to imbibe and start singing “Ole, Ole, Ole,” it was Molinari.

The Italian’s Sunday singles victory over Phil Mickelson gave him another entry into the record books: He became the first European to win five points out of five. Legends Ballesteros, Olazabal, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Colin Montgomerie and even “Mr. Ryder Cup” Poulter haven’t done that.

It was exactly what Molinari deserved after a season in which he made history by becoming Italy’s first major winner with victory in the British Open at Carnoustie. He also won the BMW PGA Championship and the Quicken Loans National, his first PGA Tour title that made him the first Italian to win on the world’s top circuit.

“Francesco has done everything a little better this year,” Pugh said. “Three things have been really important: hitting it farther off the tee has
been massive, learning to play ugly golf when he has to, and putting more assuredly. Those factors and a lot of other little things have given him so much confidence and turned him into a truly world-class player.”

The good news for European golf is Molinari is only 35. He’s potentially got more majors and definitely more Ryder Cups in him. Fleetwood’s just 27. Don’t be surprised if Moliwood provides the basis for Europe’s Ryder Cup defense at Whistling Straits in two years.  Gwk


CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 23: Francesco Molinari of Italy poses with the Claret Jug after his victory in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 23, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
(Ross Kinnaird/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Top 5 European Tour Moments of 2018

5. Chris Paisley, Richard McEvoy and Paul Waring join Pepperell with breakthrough wins to increase English dominance of Euro Tour.

4. Sergio Garcia wins three points out of four to surpass Nick Faldo as all-time European Ryder Cup points winner and justify his wild-card pick.

3. Eddie Pepperell wins twice, the same Eddie P who said he’d “fallen out of love with golf” after a disastrous 2016 season.

2. Georgia Hall wins Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham to become first British woman to win a major since Catriona Matthew.

1. Francesco Molinari (above) becomes Italy’s first major winner with victory in the British Open at Carnoustie.

(Note: This story appears in the November 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

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