The Highs and Lows from the Week in Golf

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 26, 2007, 5:00 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
HOW SWEDE IT IS: While most everyone was focused on the Tiger Woods' PGA TOUR winning streak, Henrik Stenson put an end to another impressive run. Stenson defeated defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, 2 and 1, to win the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. The Swede handed the Aussie his first defeat in this tournament (Ogilvy is now 11-1) and won his first TOUR event in the process. Stenson not only moved up to fifth on the Official World Golf Ranking to stake his claim as Europe's Best, but he also became just the second different European-born player (Darren Clarke, twice) to win a WGC event.
 
Nick O
Tiger Woods might want to think about using his putter as a weapon the next time he faces Nick O'Hern. (WireImage)
Hole 2
THE STREAK STOPS HERE: Nick OHern is the man who officially ended Woods TOUR winning streak at seven, defeating him in 20 holes in the third round of the Accenture. OHern is the first player since Woods turned professional 11 years ago to beat him twice heads-up in match play, also doing so in the second round in 2005. The end of the streak was not only good news for O'Hern, but also for the rest of the TOUR players who no longer have to answer questions about its impressiveness or validity.
 
Hole 3
A SILVER LINING: While Woods might be on a losing streak now; there is a ray of sunshine, because an early exit at the Accenture might mean a major title or two later on this season. Woods has twice won the Accenture, doing so in 2003 and 2004, but didnt capture a major championship in either of those two seasons. He has won at least one major every other year since the Match Plays inception in 99.
 
Hole 4
DON'T CHANGE THAT CHANNEL: Not to toot the company horn, but it was nice to see the entire Woods-OHern match Friday evening. GOLF CHANNEL stayed with the match until its conclusion in 20 holes, which was much better than watching a re-run of Walker, Texas Ranger.
 
Hole 5
AMES REVENGE: One year after getting demolished by Woods in the opening round of the Accenture, 9 and 8, Stephen Ames got his revenge by thumping Swede Robert Karlsson, 8 and 7. Ames, who had a career record of 0-2 at the Accenture, advanced to the fourth round this year.
 
Hole 6
MORE OF THE SAME: The Europeans own the Ryder Cup; apparently, they own the Americans in general. The Euros continued their dominance of U.S. players in match play, winning seven of the nine matches in which they faced one another at the Accenture.
 
Hole 7
OLD SCHOOL: Some have questioned why Fred Funk would want to play more on the PGA TOUR than on the Champions Tour this season. He gave his answer at the Mayakoba Classic at Riviera Maya. The 50-year-old, who is exempt on TOUR through 2010 due to his '05 Players Championship victory, won a playoff over Jose Coceres to become the fifth oldest TOUR winner. The $630,000 he collected in Mexico was nearly 400K more than he earned in his 11-stroke win last month at the Champions Tour's Turtle Bay Championship.
 
Hole 8
WINNING ISN'T EVERYTHING: Mark OMeara didn't win this past week on the Champions Tour, but he did show fine form getting within one shot of the lead after each of the first two rounds, ultimately finishing tied for fifth. Having notable newcomers like O'Meara near the top of the leaderboard is just what the senior set needs.
 
Hole 9
READY FOR A RETURN: After being demoted to the Nationwide Tour thanks to a 180th-place finish on last year's PGA TOUR money list, Nicolas Thompson made a huge step in returning to the big leagues. Thompson, who only had conditional status on the secondary circuit to start the season, won the HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship in a playoff to move to the top of the 2007 money list. He then hopped on a plane to head back to the States to try and Monday qualify for The Honda Classic. 'It's my hometown event,' he said. 'I have to be in that field!'
 
Back 9 Hole 10
WE FEEL YOUR PAIN:
Tiger's loss wasn't only deflating to him, as network executives had to be sad to see him exit so early. It didn't help matters that other top players packed their bags prematurely, which leads us to ...
 
Hole 11
SUPERSTARS?: By the end of the second round of the Accenture, eight of the top-10 players in the world had been shown the door. Adam Scott and Ernie Els even went so far as to head home after just one round, confirming the old adage, Anything can happen in match play. Stenson was the lone top-10 player to make it to the weekend.
 
Ernie Els
Ernie Els would love to see this event head to another site - outside the U.S. (WireImage)
Hole 12
PILING ON: Yes, we've already mentioned Els, but he deserves a hole all to his own. Els has won the European Tour's HSBC World Match Play, which is played on his home course at Wentworth, six times -- twice doing it three times in succession. But his record in the Accenture is now a dismal 6-8. A change in venue didn't help him, as he lost in the first round for the fourth time in seven appearances. He would prefer another change -- to somewhere outside the U.S. The only time Els has made it beyond the second round was in 2001, when the tournament was contested in Australia.
 
Hole 13
U-S-A! U-s-a. u-s: The Americans had a record-low 23 players in the 64-man field at the Accenture, where they had placed at least three players into the quarterfinals each year since the tournament began. Only one - Chad Campbell - made it that far this year. And for the first time in the nine-year history of the event, an American did not make it to the finals. Ouch!
 
Hole 14
RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY: The LPGA Tour was playing the Fields Open in Hawaii at the Ko Olina Golf Club when monsoon like rains nearly washed out play during the second round. The Leeward Coast of Oahu averages just five inches of rain a year, but had almost half of that on Friday afternoon.
 
Hole 15
PARADISE LOST: Natalie Gulbis might be one who is glad to see the LPGA Tour leave Hawaii. In each of the two events in the Aloha State, Gulbis entered the final round within five strokes of the lead. But instead of making a closing push to earn her first tour title, she back-peddled, shooting 75 on each occasion.
 
Hole 16
FUZZY WUZZY WIKI: Fuzzy Zoeller filed a lawsuit seeking to find out who posted a defamatory paragraph about him on the Internet reference site Wikipedia. The posting claimed Zoeller had committed acts of alcohol, drug, and domestic abuse. The site has since removed the posting.
 
Hole 17
PAPERS, PLEASE: According to reports, Anthony Kim made a rookie mistake by losing his passport, forcing him to miss out on the PGA TOUR's Mayakoba Classic. The brash Kim, a chic pick for Rookie of the Year honors, tied for ninth at the Nissan Open and was guaranteed a spot in the field.
 
Hole 18
LOSS OF A FATHER: Tim Finchem, commissioner of the PGA TOUR, lost his father this past week. The Associated Press reported that Harold Finchem, 88, died peacefully in his sleep in Virginia Beach, Va.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Full Coverage - Mayakoba Classic at Riviera Maya
  • Full Coverage - Fields Open in Hawaii
  • Full Coverage - ACE Group Classic
  • Full Coverage - HSBC New Zealand PGA Championship
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    Teenager Im wins Web.com 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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.