NO PLACE LIKE HOME: A player wants nothing more than to win a major championship. Second on that list - individually speaking - is to win at home. Scott Verplank accomplished the latter Sunday, winning the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. The Dallas-born Verplank was competing for the 21st time in his hometown tournament. It was especially sweet considering Verplank had a close personal relationship with Nelson, who passed away last September.
MR. CONSISTENCY?: Phil Mickelson spent most of last week caught in a firestorm after being allowed to compete in the Byron Nelson despite having missed the pro-am. And if he wasnt answering questions about that, he was talking about his new swing coach, Butch Harmon. After a couple of classic Phil rounds in which he made nine birdies, but still found himself at 1 under, Mickelson shot 9 under on the weekend. He had one eagle, nine birdies and only two bogyes in the third and fourth rounds, finishing tied for third.
BELATED HONOR: The late Byron Nelson became the first golfer to be awarded the U.S. Congressional gold medal, the highest honor which can be bestowed on a U.S. citizen. His widow, Peggy, was presented the award Saturday at a ceremony held during the third round of the Byron Nelson Championship.
NO. 1 AND NO. 2: Lorena Ochoa has never been one to shy away from stating her goals. She accomplished a big one this past week by becoming the No. 1 female player in the world, ending Annika Sorenstams reign, which began with the rankings inception in February 2006. She also put forth a good effort in her title defense at the Corona Championship, contested in her native Mexico, tying for second after shooting 14 under on the weekend.
REMEMBER ME?: The lady who took away Ochoa's Corona title was Italy's Silvia Cavalleri. The 1997 U.S. Women's Amatuer champion earned her first LPGA Tour victory by shooting 7-under 66 in the final round to clip Ochoa and Julieta Granada by two. Cavalleri was fantastic all week, making 23 birdies to only three bogeys.
REMEMBER ME, TOO?: It's been a tough road for many of the recent U.S. Amateur champions, including 2003 winner Nick Flanagan, who became the first Aussie winner of the championship in 100 years. The 22-year-old may finally be pointed in the right direction. He captured this past week's Henrico County Open on the Nationwide Tour, doing so in a four-man playoff.
A RARE FEAT: June Weiners two artificial hips dont seem to have affected her golf game. At least they didnt prevent the 75-year-old from making a hole-in-one recently in northern England. Thats a pretty good story itself. But it gets even better. Weiners playing companion, 61-year-old Sue Baskin, aced the same hole, the 152-yard, par-3 24th at the 27-hole course at Moor Allerton Golf Club in Leeds, on the very next shot. The odds of two players recording holes-in-one on the same hole in succession: 1 million to one.
A REALLY RARE FEAT: Think thats impressive? How about this: Jacqueline Gagne has made eight holes-in-one ' in the last 14 weeks. From Jan. 23 ' April 24, the 46-year-old has holed tee shots in the California desert using a 7-iron (twice), a 9-iron, a pitching wedge, and a 13-wood (four times). She is said to have different witnesses for each of the aces. Odds were calculated after she notched her seventh hole-in-one at nearly 14 million billion to one ' or 1 in 113,527,276,681,000,000.
THE DUKE: Ken Duke entered this season with one career top-10 finish on the PGA TOUR. The 38-year-old now has three in a row. Duke tied for seventh at the Byron Nelson to go along with his T-10 at the Verizon Heritage and his runner-up showing at the Zurich Classic. Duke, who was 166th in earnings in his rookie season on TOUR in 2004, is now 25th on the money list with over $1 million. Now, it's not just good to be the king; it's good to be the Duke.
SOUR GRAPES?: Under PGA TOUR regulations, players are required to take part in the pro-am if they plan to participate in that week's event. Phil Mickelson, due to what even TOUR officials described as 'circumstances completely beyond his control,' did not make it in time for his pro-am tee time Wednesday morning in Dallas and was still allowed to play the Byron Nelson. That did not sit well with several of the rank and file players on TOUR, most notably internationals players who brought up the fact that Retief Goosen was DQ'd in 2005 at the Nissan Open. The main difference between the two instances - Goosen overslept; inclement weather prevented Mickelson from flying out of Arkansas, where he was doing a charity event Tuesday. Mother Nature trumps alarm clock.
DONALD DUCK: It looked like the Byron Nelson was Luke Donald's to lose on Sunday. And he did just that. Leading by three after a birdie on the sixth, he saw his lead dwindle to one as Verplank birdied Nos. 7 and 8. Donald then watched his lead evaporate altogether when he double-bogeyed the ninth to fall one back. Donald trailed by as many as three on the back nine, eventually finishing one back of Verplank.
KIND OF A BROWNISH GREEN: The TPC Las Colinas will undergo a reported $6.8 million overhaul next month and will serve as the full-time host of the Byron Nelson beginning in 2008. That's a year too late for many in the field this past week. The greens at Las Colinas gave players fits. They were crusty, bumpy, patchy and downright ugly. Many players polled by a local paper seemed undecided on whether or not they would return to compete in the tournament next year.
NEED A BAND-AID FOR THAT WOUND?: Three major championships, a top-5 world ranking, and a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. If you're the coach of a player with that resume you will ultimately be rewarded with ... your walking papers? Rick Smith, long-time coach, friend and business associate of Mickelson, endured a tough week after the much publized coaching change left him out in the cold and Butch Harmon again with another prized pupil. For the record, Lefty hit 55.36% of his fairways. Nothing great, but he did tie for third place. Beware Dave Pelz, putting guru Stan Utley is lurking somewhere.
MAJOR LOSS? OR PAR FOR THE COURSE?: Greg Norman has suffered a bevy of major losses on the golf course. Now he's taking another major hit on the home front. It was reported this past week that Norman, who is going through a nasty divorce with his long-time wife Laura, has put his Juptier Island estate on the market. The seven-acre spread is valued at close to $40 million.
SPEAKING OF TOUGH PARS: Daniela Ortiz, an amateur in the field at the Corona Championship in her native Mexico, started her second round on Friday with birdies on two of her three first holes - a positive beginning, to say the least. Then came a pair of back-to-back par-3s that, well, derailed that positive start. What seemingly was just a hiccup at the first par-3 - a double-bogey 5 - turned out to be the beginning to an end. Ortiz then proceeded to take 11 strokes on the following par-3 en route to an 11-over 84. Coupled with her Thursday 83 the amateur finished last in the field.
MY BACK MADE ME DO IT: Annika Sorenstam finally saw her reign -- at least according to the world golf rankings -- come to an end. But the worst part about it all may be the fact that she won't have the chance to earn her No. 1 spot back in the near future. Sorenstam has been sidelined due to back problems for at least a few more weeks. She is hoping to return for her own Ginn Tribute in late May, but may not be back until the U.S. Women's Open a month thereafter. Comforting thought for Sorenstam: even Tiger has had the displeasure of losing the No. 1 ranking.
PULLING THE WRONG CLUB: According to a report from the Associated Press, Delisa Schubert of Oak Ridge, Tenn., has had enough with golfers, ahem, taking care of business behind her house. The offenders, she claims, are drunken golfers playing at the city-owned Tennessee Centennial Golf Course. After contacting authorities about the problem she was told to perhaps shame the golfers by videotaping the perpetrators. Word to the golfers at Tennessee Centennial Golf Course: YouTube is not the place you want to make your acting debut.
AY, CARAMBA!: Things were looking good for little known Luis Claverie in the first round of the European Tour's Open de Espana. The Spaniard opened with a bogey-free 4-under 68 to get within two of the early lead. He then proceeded to shoot 12-over 84 in Round 2, complete with three double-bogeys and six bogeys, and no birdies, to miss the cut.