A Good Walk Not Spoiled

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 10, 2008, 5:00 pm
In Backspin, GolfChannel.com takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.

WHAT AN ADVENTURE: The PGA Tours 2008 season wrapped up Sunday at Disney and so did D.J. Gregorys magical run or walk. Gregory made it to every Tour stop this year, walking every course.
Backspin Thats nearly 1,000 miles and well over 3,000 holes. If that doesnt impress you, consider that Gregory suffers from cerebral palsy and every step he takes is done so with considerable labor. The 30-year-old may have fallen, by his count, 29 times over the course of the year, but his inspiration was 10 fold that number.

PHIL THE FLIRT: Phil Mickelson, in China for the European Tours season-opening HSBC Champions, spoke with reporters early in the week about possibly joining the tour, mainly due to the lure of the cash being thrown around for the Race to Dubai.
Backspin While Mickelson ultimately said he would pass on becoming a member this season, he did intimate the chances are good for him doing so in the future. Said Mickelson: I think the biggest growth opportunity for the game of golf is internationally. Perhaps those are his sponsors talking, who would no doubt like him to spread their 'global footprint,' especially considering that his big four ' Barclays, Callaway Golf, accounting company KPMG and Exxon Mobile ' are trying to raise their profile all over the world. This, and because Phil also just likes to talk a lot.

AND THEY'RE OFF!: One week after the conclusion of their 2008 season, the European Tour commenced their 2009 edition with the HSBC Champions in China. Sergio Garcia survived five days worth of play, brought on by repeated inclement weather. In the process, the Spaniard passed Mickelson for No. 2 in the world.

Backspin This is the most anticipated season in tour history ' and not just because they have a fancy new logo. The Race to Dubai should provide year-long drama (most of the year, anyway). One of the big problems the tour has faced over recent years is a lack of big name players competing and winning. Garcia got the revitalized tour off to a great start ' even if its not really 2009 yet.

THAT'S A WRAP: The PGA Tour's Fall Series came to a close with Davis Love III winning the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Classic. Love closed with a bogey-free 8-under 64 to hold off Tommy Gainey by a single stroke.
Backspin It was strange to see a Hall of Fame candidate grinding it out during the Fall Series, but thats what Love said he needed to do. After undergoing ankle surgery 13 months ago, Love said the Fall Series was his chance to get back into a good rhythm ' and also to secure his card for the 2009 season. He did that and more. By securing his 20th Tour title, he is now a life-time member. As for runner-up Gainey, the tight finish almost became the biggest big break of his life. Needing a win to keep his card, he left nothing out on the course, making six back-nine birdies. And even though he fell short, the $496,800 second-place check was good enough to get him conditional status on tour for next season.

CART PATH ONLY: Erik Compton, granted the use of a golf cart for this past weeks event at Disney, made the cut before eventually settling into a tie for 60th.
Backspin Compton finished the event with a triple bogey-8 on the 72nd hole, but that was probably the only disappointment for the young man. Most golf fans are by now familiar with the fact that Compton is just six months removed from his second heart transplant and is in the midst of trying to make his way back to the PGA Tour. Admittedly emotionally and physically drained, Compton has little time for rest as he makes his way to the second stage of Q-School later this week.

CHANGES AT AUGUSTA!: Chairman Billy Payne announced this past week that there were changes being made at Augusta National. Turns out the changes were very minor, trimming just 10 yards from the course length.
Backspin Like it does every year, the course is evaluated and adjustments are made to ensure what the club believes will make for the best possible playing conditions. Most of the changes, albeit minor, were mainly made to give the club flexibility to move the tees in case of bad weather conditions. Recall that Trevor Immelman ' the winner this year ' shot a final-round 75 in very windy conditions.

PGA TOUR, HERE WE COME: The Nationwide Tour also wrapped up its season with Matt Bettencourt winning the Tour Championship with a birdie on the 72nd hole of regulation.
Backspin Not a bad ending for someone whose week began with kidney stones and a trip to the hospital. Not only did he win the tournament ' and its $180,000 first-place check ' but he also finished atop the tour's money list and earned his PGA Tour card for the upcoming season. We at Backspin know about kidney stones ' and will say the relief of passing one may be as great as earning your PGA Tour card.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The PGA of America announced that they were in no hurry to name the 2010 Ryder Cup captain ... Greg Norman and his son Greg Jr. won the ADT Golf Skills Challenge ... Ji-Yai Shin won the LPGA's Mizuno Classic in Japan.
Backspin Lately, the PGA of America had been in a hurry to name a new captain in part to get the bad taste out of their mouths and get the focus on the next Ryder Cup. With the recent U.S. victory, they apparently plan on savoring this one a little while ... Norman's son sealed the deal with a clutch shot on the final skills challenge for the win. Did we use the words 'clutch' and Norman' in the same sentence? ... You say you don't recognize the name Shin? Shame on you; she is this year's Women's British Open winner.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Children's Miracle Network Classic
  • Full Coverage ' Nationwide Tour Championship
  • Full Coverage ' HSBC Champions
  • Full Coverage ' Mizuno Classic
  • More Headlines
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.