A Week of Highs and Lows

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
In Backspin, GolfChannel.com takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.

AWAITING WORD: Seve Ballesteros underwent brain surgery last Tuesday to remove a tumor and was listed in stable condition before doctors discovered complications that required the removal of part of his skull to relieve swelling of the brain.
Backspin There was no new news coming from Spain over the weekend, leaving the golfing world on pins and needles. No matter what we hear next this much is clear ' the outpouring of love from golf fans has been felt by Seve. Said Paul Azinger, We had an intense rivalry, but you reach beyond that. Rivalries can be healthy, and maybe they cross the line on occasion. But when real life things happen, people reach out to each other. Well said, Paul.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Marc Turnesa completed a wire-to-wire win in Las Vegas at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He became the eighth rookie to win on the PGA Tour this season and wrapped up his Tour card for the next two seasons.
Backspin It should come as no surprise that Turnesa won a PGA Tour event. The family history in the golf business is pretty impressive: his great-uncle Jim won the 1952 PGA Championship and his late grandfather captured six Tour events and finished second to Ben Hogan in the 1948 PGA Championship. Hogan was always quoted as saying the secret is, in the dirt. We here at Backspin say, it's in the genes.

AIN'T LIFE GRAND?: Jim Furyk won the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, eagling the first playoff hole to defeat Padraig Harrington. Furyk earned $600,000 for the win, which took place on the Mid Ocean Club course in Bermuda.
Backspin This tournament is reserved for the year's major champions. Unless a player wins two majors (like Harrington) or shreads his knee (like Tiger Woods). Furyk and Retief Goosen both got in by being the top players on a qualifying list, which only includes past major winners. Despite winning but one major, Furyk has played in this event four times. And he's pocketed $1.55 million ' for playing in a made-up event, in paradise, in which 75 percent of the time he shouldn't have been eligible. Not that we're jealous or anything.

MAUI WOWIE: Morgan Pressel birdied the final hole of regulation to edge Suzann Pettersen and win the inaugural Kapalua LPGA Classic. It was Pressel's first win of the season and first since her breakout victory at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Backspin Morgan Pressel, who just so happens to represent the Kapalua Resort in Maui, made a 15-footer from off the green on the 72nd hole to win the inaugural event. She had gone 43 starts without a victory, and hadnt even had a top-10 since June. Meanwhile, Annika Sorenstam, who won earlier in the year in Hawaii, opened in 77 and tied for 25th. It looks like it could be a very disappointing end to a brilliant career.

FOR SALE: The LPGA lost another title sponsor last week, when ADT decided not to renew its contract after 2008 for the tours season-ending event at Trump International. It's the fourth sponsor to abandon the LPGA this year.
Backspin The sports world is not immune from economic hardships. Expect a few 'TBD's when the 2009 LPGA schedule is released. But for this tournament in particular, it shouldn't be hard to find another sponsor as it is one of the most unique events in all of golf. The elite field of 32 is cut in half after Rounds 2 and 3, resulting in an eight-woman Sunday shootout for a cool million.

FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY: American Ben Curtis selected Brandt Snedeker to be his partner for the World Cup (check out the teams), which will be played in China during the week of Thanksgiving.
Backspin Six players turned down Curtis' offer to play for their country; though, Snedeker's not exactly leftovers. He may, however, feel like re-heated turkey by the time he makes it to China. Snedeker, who got married this past weekend, plays the Kiwi Challenge in New Zealand on Oct. 28-29. He's then off to Fiji for his honeymoon, followed by a trip to Japan for the Dunlop Phoenix before meeting up with Curtis.

SUTTON SIGHTING: Hal Sutton made his Champions Tour debut at the Administaff Small Business Classic. He finished his first event in a tie for 23rd after rounds of 71-70-72, nine shots behind winner Bernhard Langer.
Backspin It was no coincidence that Sutton made his first foray onto the senior circuit at The Woodlands Country Club in Texas. Not only was it close to his home in Shreveport, La., but Suttons last PGA Tour victory just happened to come at TPC Woodlands in 2001. And no, he wasn't wearing a cowboy hat when he made his way to the first tee on Friday. Oh, and by the way, Langer won the event for the second consecutive time and moved to the top of the Champions Tour money list.

TRAGEDY FOR VILLEGAS: Camilo Villegas' uncle was shot and killed Saturday during a robbery of his business in Colombia. Ernesto Villegas Zuluaga, 56, was killed when two armed men entered his coffee trading enterprise demanding money and he jumped on one of them, according to senior Caldas state official Henry Murillo.
Backspin It's sad news for Villegas, who was enjoying a great deal of recent success on the course, having won his first two PGA Tour events during the FedEx Cup playoffs. Said the Colombian star, '... I am proud to not only call him my uncle, but also my godfather. I will miss him very much.'

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Natalie Gulbis has been out of action for the last two months while taping episodes of Donald Trump's 'Celebrity Apprentice' ... Mark Calcavecchia underwent athroscopic knee surgery last Tuesday ... Titleist is returning to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., for the first time in seven years ... Golf Channel announced that it will telecast early-hour weekend coverage of 12 PGA Tour events in 2009 ...
Backspin Other 'celebs' include Dennis Rodman, Joan Rivers and a bunch of people we've never heard of. Trump better not fire Natalie early if he wants any ratings ... Calc expects to be back to defend his Merrill Lynch Shootout in December. Geez, Tiger, what's taking you so long to recover? ... This is a big boost for the Merchandise Show, which needs more of the big names to attend ... Don't mean to toot our own horn, but 'Toot.'

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, PART II: Arjun Atwal won the Nationwide Tour's Chattanooga Classic in a playoff ... Scotland claimed the Eisenhower Trophy, beating runner-up United States by nine strokes... Vicky Hurst captured the season-ending Futures Tour event ' the Duramed Invitational ' and for her fifth Futures Tour title of the year.
Backspin Atwal, who was almost charged with vehicular homicide relating to an auto accident in 2007, will now spending time on the PGA Tour in 2009... Not sure what the trophy looks like but it would be cool if it was an actual bronzed head of Eisenhower himself ... Backspin guarantee: Hurst will not win another Futures Tour event ' ever. Her star will from now on be shining on the LPGA.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Justin Timberlake SHC Open
  • Full Coverage ' Senior Administaff Small Business Classic
  • Full Coverage ' Kapalua LPGA Classic
  • Full Coverage ' Portugal Masters
  • Full Coverage ' Chattanooga Classic
  • More Headlines
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    Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

    Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

    “While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

    It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

    “What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

    The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

    “I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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    Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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    Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

    The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

    Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

    Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

    1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

    2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

    3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

    4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

    5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

    6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

    7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

    8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

    9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

    10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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    Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

    By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

    It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

    Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

    "The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

    Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

    That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

    "You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

    "But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."