Paul Anthony Arco

The Takeaway

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California Dreamin'

Monday, October 10, 2011

This year’s Open offered golf fans a little bit of everything.


There was the play of rookie Jim Renner and Will MacKenzie, who set the course record at CordeValle Golf Club with a 9-under 62 during the third round.


Oh, and an overzealous fan greeted Tiger Woods by tossing a hot dog his way on the No. 7 green. (He missed and was quickly apprehended.)


And Bryce Molder notched his first-career win when he defeated Briny Baird in a six-hole playoff that seemed like it would never end.


Just another week on the PGA TOUR.


It was the 17th playoff this year, which set a new PGA TOUR record, breaking the old mark of 16 set in 1988 and 1991.


With the sun quickly setting, Molder dropped a six-foot putt on No. 18 in the playoff to outlast Baird, who had plenty of chances to earn his first victory.


Bud Cauley (15-under) finished third and Shane Bertsch and Ernie Els (14-under) finished T4.


Molder, who is the 14th first-time winner this year, finished 17-under 267. It took him 132 career starts to earn that elusive first win. He is now fully exempt through 2013.


The win has been a long time coming for the former Collegiate Golfer of the Year and four-time All-American, who played alongside Matt Kuchar at Georgia Tech. The fact that he even plays golf is remarkable. Molder was born with no left pectoral muscle (which makes that side of his chest concave), and also with Poland syndrome, a rare defect that made his left hand much smaller than his right. Molder underwent two surgeries before he was 5 because three fingers on his left hand were webbed together up to the knuckle.


The playoff was the first for both Molder and Baird, and they made the most of it.


Baird took a one-shot lead in regulation, when he chipped in for an eagle on No. 17. But Molder knocked in a birdie putt on No. 18 to reach the playoff.


While the win left Molder euphoric, it left Baird completely exasperated. Baird missed two birdie putts in the playoff that would have given him the win. It was the third time he has blown a 54-hole lead in his career. Baird, who has five runner-up finishes on the TOUR, has made $12.46 million – the most earnings without a win. Despite the loss, Baird, who managed to smile following his long day, moved to No. 93 and further cemented his spot on next year’s PGA TOUR.


Molder has made 14-of-26 cuts on the PGA TOUR this year, including six top 10 finishes.


The other big story this week, of course, was the return of Woods. Playing in his first PGA TOUR event in seven weeks, Wood finished with three straight 68s for a 7-under 277 and a T30. It was the first time all year he’d broken 70 in three consecutive rounds.


It was Woods’ last PGA TOUR event of the year. He is hosting a tournament at Pebble Beach next week and will skip the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. Don’t worry; however, you’ll see Woods at the Presidents Cup in November. And, please, leave the hot dogs at home.


Stray Shots


Among those missing the cut this weekend were Tommy Gainey, Boo Weekley, Ben Curtis and Rory Sabbatini … Molder’s win was the 319th on the PGA TOUR by a Nationwide Tour alumnus …. Cauley, playing on a sponsor exemption, earned a spot in next week’s McGladrey Classic with his third-place finish. He has made six of seven cuts this year … Renner has two top 50s this year and both were top fives (Viking, Reno-Tahoe). Els got his first top 10 of the year with a T4. It was his best finish since the 2010 U.S. Open when he was third …. Speaking of T4, it was the best finish for Bertsch, who is playing on a minor medical extension. He started the week No. 174 on the money list with just one top-10 and needs to make $251,338 over the next three events … John Rollins finished sixth, his third top 10 of the season … Paul Casey finished T7 for his first top 10 of the year … Defending champ Rocco Mediate finished T67 … Rickie Fowler won the OneAsia Tour’s Korea Open on Sunday for his first pro win, finishing at 3-under 68 to beat Rory McIlroy by six strokes. Fowler finished at 16 under. McIlroy finished with a 64. Kim Meen-whee (71) was third at 10 under, and Y.E. Yang (75) finished at 5 under … Miguel Carballo won the Nationwide Tour’s Children’s Hospital Classic Sunday in Chattanooga for his second career win. He drained consecutive 30-footers during the final round for his first win in five years. He finished 8-under 64 and a two-shot win over Monday qualifier Brice Garnett. Carballo moved to No. 5 on the money list and a spot on the PGA TOUR next year. Aaron Goldberg finished third, Matt Every was fourth and B.J. Staten was fifth.


Paul Anthony Arco is a freelance writer and contributor to He is host of The Golf Show!, which airs Saturday mornings on WNTA 1330 AM ( in Rockford, Ill. Paul can be reached at
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