Molinari, Park Win on Wild Weekend

Italian Molinari and Korean Park Provide Great Shots, Surprises Abound on Both Tours

I was a double tournament watcher this weekend, and I suspect that I wasn’t alone. The men were playing the Quicken Loan National in the D.C. area, the last year of the tournament after the corporation switched its sponsorship for an upper Midwestern venue next year. I didn’t tune in to say goodbye to the tournament, though. I tuned in to see if this was the week that Tiger would choose to put his comeback over the top. Around the third round, he was playing like he meant business – old business, And suddenly, here comes Francesco Molinari, a 35 year old Italian from Turino. He has won in a few places around the world, but never here. I’ve seen his name on the board from time to time since he turned pro in 2005 He’s good, but he’s never been this good, channeling the top five players in history on their best days. One moment, I looked while he was at…what was it…12 under, 14 under? One trip to the refrigerator, I come back and the man is at 21 under, setting a tournament record, and coming very close to setting a course record with 62. Per lui, questa giorno e incredibile, meraviglioso! The man is 5’4″ and weighs less than 160 pounds, but that didn’t seem to matter at all after a string of six birdies, one eagle, and no bogeys. As for Woods, he should take the satisfaction of good play home and get set up for the next tournament, where there might not be a relative also-ran that has an incredible day. And about that putt, Mr. Woods? Yes, that one, the missed one-footer, the tap-in. My inner stadium spectator wanted to scream “How does a person who is 10 under through almost four days miss a putt like that? That putter used to be universally feared!” Oh well, I guess that anything can happen on the golf course, to anyone.

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Now, over at Kemper Lakes, the women were playing one of their majors, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Everyone wanted this one. Again, I tuned in to see Brooke Henderson and her winning intensity take the day, but it didn’t happen. In a fourth round let-down, I thought I saw the intensity aimed at winning more than the golf itself. It looked like nervous energy. That, however, is merely a theory. It could be absolutely wrong, but I wondered. With Brooke not at her best, the obvious choice according to tournament history was So Yeon Ryu. Playing together, Ryu’s calm highlighted Brooke’s exterior energy. Ryu used to be number one in the world, but was dethroned by Sung Hyun Park and an injury. When she was well, she did a lot winning, not by doing the impossible, but by doing the unstoppable, usually under a great deal of pressure. Park came from behind with the aid of a miracle shot on 16 that required either standing in a pond or playing a partially obscured ball way off the right foot from the weeds. She chose the latter and landed it close to the cup. By the end, the two were locked in a playoff, joined by Nasa Hataoka of Japan. What was she doing there? Two eagles in the same round, and a bunch of other good things. In the end, Park made the big putt, as Ryu’s slipped by the lip of the cup at the last possible moment. Winner- Park.

It was one of those weeks after which I feel utter exhaustion from watching other people play golf,and we’re not done, with the Open coming up in mid-July at Carnoustie. I’ll be looking at Francesco Molinari in an entirely new light.  Henderson, Ryu, and Park will have many more chances in 2018 to go head to head, and anything could happen on any given day. Time to rest up for those dates.

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