The Highs and Lows in Golf

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Front 9 and Back 9, our staff will showcase the highs and lows from the world of golf. We start with the Front 9, which offers up the top moments and stories from this previous week, and then make the turn for the lowlights.
Front 9 Hole 1
THE HITS KEEP ON COMING: Zach Johnson shocked the world just over a month ago when he stepped out on golf's biggest stage and captured the Masters Tournament. As time goes by that win in Augusta may start to seem a little less shocking if Johnson continues to notch PGA TOUR victories like the one this past week in the AT&T Classic at the TPC Sugarloaf. Next up on Johnson's to-do list: try and get a win outside the state of Georgia.
Hole 2
VALIDATION STATION: Since supplanting all-time great Annika Sorenstam last month as the women's world No. 1 player, Lorena Ochoa hasn't had the results for which she was looking. Until Sunday that is, when the Mexican star shot a bogey-free 4-under 68 in the final round of the Sybase Classic to overcome rising star Sarah Lee. In addition to it being her first victory as the No. 1 player in the Rolex rankings, it also marked Ochoa's first-ever career title defense.
Hole 3
THE FAMINE IS FINALLY OVER: Not since John O'Leary back in 1982 had an Irishman won their national open. But lo and behold, Ireland's favorite golfing son, Padraig Harrington, finally came through in a big way on Sunday when he won the Irish Open in a playoff, ending the 25-year drought. The 35-year-old Harrington had twice finished runner-up in the event before finally hoisting the crystal trophy, much to the delight of the thousands of fans in attendance.
Hole 4
WARNING: DIRTY MATERIAL: Well, in nickname only, as Brad Bryant survived a wild shootout at the The Regions Charity Classic at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge. Bryant, affectionly known as 'Dr. Dirt' due to his reputation for hitting a lot balls on the range, fired a closing-round 7-under 65 to repeat as champion. Included in the win was a tense three-hole playoff with R.W. Eaks, when Dr. Dirt rolled in a 12-footer for birdie to seal the deal.
Hole 5
SEEING GREEN: As good as it gets when it comes to hosting a tournament - and it being the Masters no less - Augusta National Golf Club also does a fine job of giving back to charitable causes. Club chairman Billy Payne annouced last week that the club will be donating over $3 million to charitable foundations, including The First Tee national youth development program, which will receive $1 million; and the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area, which will receive $1.25 million.
Hole 6
STAR POWER: This weeks Nationwide Tour event was a major of sorts with the fifth-largest purse for an event this season at $650,000. It also had a major caliber field ' at least in the amateur portion on the pro-am. The celebrities included sports stars Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, John Elway and Sterling Sharpe; comedians Cheech Marin and George Lopez; and actor Kevin Costner. Oh, and a couple model/actresses in Catherine Bell and Joanna Krupa.
Hole 7
OPTIMISTIC BULLDOG: Corey Pavin isnt yet qualified for this years Open Championship ' not that it matters. Pavin will not be in Carnoustie for the seasons third major. Instead, he will be defending his title at the U.S. Bank Championship. People that aren't going to play the British Open have a very nice alternative to come here and play, Pavin said.
Hole 8
DADDY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES!: It was just a matter of time before the poker craze hit the golf course. The inaugural World Series of Golf was held this week outside of Las Vegas. The event, which used poker-style betting in place of traditional scoring, was won by Mark Ewing, a 31-year-old entrepreneur and day trader. The 10-handicapper from Newport Beach, Calif., knocked out two professional poker players, an electrician and a former railroad conductor at the end of the three-day tournament for the $250,000 first-place prize.
Hole 9
PLAYOFFS? WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE PLAYOFFS?: Mr. Harrington and Mr. Bradley Dredge got things going Sunday when the two went into extra holes at the Irish Open. Brad Bryant and R.W. Eaks then got involved in a three-hole tango on the Champions Tour. Next up, Zach Johnson and Ryuji Imada figured 72 holes weren't enough, so into a playoff they went. The Duramed FUTURES Tour? Playoff. The Ladies European Tour? Playoff. Somewhere, Jim Mora must have been rolling over on a couch. But for golf fans, there's nothing better than playoff drama.
Back 9 Hole 10
RHYMES WITH...: Scott Hoch, poor Scott Hoch. Infamously remembered for his missed 2-footer that allowed Nick Faldo to win the 1989 Masters, again saw the short putt demons creep back into his head. Holding a two-shot lead around the time he was making the turn in Alabama, Hoch missed a handful a short putts that became, lets say, very uncomfortable to watch. After one short miss late in the round, Hoch apparently had enough as he tossed his putter toward his golf bag and mumbled, 'Next week.'
Hole 11
BITTER TASTE - PART I: Michelle Wie hasnt played a womens event all year, but she has some ladies all riled up over a potential tournament in which she may be competing in October. Wie has accepted an invitation to play in the Samsung World Championship, which begins on her 18th birthday, Oct. 11. The field is limited to only 20 players and it has some quite upset about her inclusion. People aren't very happy,' Brittany Lincicome said in The Star-Ledger. 'It's tough to accept. We're out here working our butts off to get a spot in that tournament and it's just handed to her.
Hole 12
BITTER TASTE - PART II: For the second week in a row, Korea's Sarah Lee held the 36-hole lead at an LPGA event. And, for the second week in a row, Lee couldn't hang on for her break-out victory. Two weeks ago at the Michelob Ultra Open, Lee posted an over-par score on Sunday that left her out of a playoff and this past week she again shot an over-par final round that let Ochoa pass her by and get the win. But if she can keep getting herself in contention, perhaps a certain well-known company may give her an endorsement offer.
Hole 13
1988 WAS A LONG TIME AGO: Despite closing with a respectable 1-over 73, Seve Ballesteros, whose last major came at the 1988 British Open, couldn't overcome a horrendous start in his Champions Tour debut. He opened with a 78 and followed that with a dreadful 9-over 81 that eventually left him tied with Lee Trevino at the bottom of the 78-player field at 16-over 216. 'My game is not there,' said a disappointed Ballesteros. 'I'm very disappointed with my performance.'
Hole 14
DARK SIDE OF THE MOONEY: Northern Irishman Damian Mooney had what can only be described as an unpleastant first round at the European Tour's Irish Open. In a round that saw him make more bogeys or worse than pars, Mooney shot 92 and hit for the cycle and then some. His scorecard showed a bogey, a double, a triple, a quad, and a quintuple bogey - and possibly ruining any chances of him starring in any of the PGA TOUR's future 'These Guy are Good' commercials.
Hole 15
BAD STREAK, GOOD GUY: For the third straight week, Darren Clarke had to withdraw from an event. This time he was forced to do so from the Irish Open. Clarke pulled out of his national Open due to a hamstring injury that isnt healing properly. He also had to withdraw from the PGA TOURs Wachovia Championship and THE PLAYERS Championship. He hopes to return for this week's BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event on the European Tour.
Hole 16
BAD KARMA?: On the eve of hosting the Champions Tour's first major of the year, the $22 million new clubhouse at Kiawah Island Golf Resort was rocked by a gas explosion inside the kitchen, resulting in four construction workers being injured, two of whom were taken by helicopter to a hospital burn unit in Augusta, Ga. The Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course already has a reputation as being unfair, now it looks as if the clubhouse may be viewed the same way.
Hole 17
A COURSE WITH A VIEW: The field for the Barclays Classic will get a good view of Manhattan when the PGA TOUR moves the tournament to Jersey Citys Liberty National Golf Club in 2009. The tournament has been held at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y. since its inception in 1967 and is currently the first event in the PGA TOURs playoff series. Not everyone, however, is a fan of the move. 'TOUR players don't care about the views,' said Joey Sindelar to The Journal News.
Hole 18
TOO BAD FOR TWO GLOVES: The Big Break's Tommy Gainey has been making news the last couple of weeks and for several different reasons. First, he Monday qualified for the Wachovia Championship but failed to make the cut. He also made it to the finals of The Big Break VII: Reunion in an episode that aired last week. But that paled in comparison to what transpired in the BMW Charity Pro-Am at the Cliffs. Gainey, who got into the event on a sponsor's exemption, held a share of the lead after 36 holes and was just a shot back heading into Sunday. But the fairtale run unfortunately ended there; a 5-over 77 on Sunday dropped Gainey all the way down into a tie for 30th, with the top 25 getting into the following week's field.
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    Teenager Im wins season opener

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

    South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Tour.

    Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

    Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

    Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Tour event at age 20.

    Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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    Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

    He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

    12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

    Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

    At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

    Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

    1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

    Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.

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    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.