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
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''