And Thats a Wrap

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 28, 2009, 7:04 pm

Phil Mickelson Tiger Woods Tour Championship

TABLE FOR TWO, PLEASE: Phil Mickelson came from four back Sunday, firing a 5-under 65 at East Lake Golf Club to win the Tour Championship by three shots. It was his third victory of the season, first since March at Doral, and it lofted Lefty back to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods, with six titles on the year including one in the playoffs, fended off several challengers in Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker, Sean O'Hair, and Padraig Harrington to finish solo second with an even-par 70 round, thereby securing the FedEx Cup title (and the cool $10 million) for the second time in three seasons.
Backspin Considering his roller-coaster season both professionally and on the home front, Mickelson's run at East Lake was impressive and compelling. And in that same vein, given Tiger's recovery from reconstructive knee surgery, Woods' run at the entire 2009 season was impressive and consistent. So, it made sense in the end, that both men would garner expensive hardware for their efforts. It was odd, though, to see the sport's biggest stars sharing the same spotlight on the same Sunday. But how else would this wacky year end? After 'no-name' players (at least, to the general golf public) had emerged in the big boy tournaments, all seemed normal again when the world's No. 1 and No. 2 – known just by Tiger and Phil – were left standing when the dust settled... albeit awkwardly, as bookends on either side of a giddy PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.


FedEx Cup Trophy

ONESHINING MOMENT?: In its third year, the FedEx Cup playoff system made a few tweaks and subsequently produced a jam-packed leaderboard of Cup contenders on Sunday at East Lake. Unlike the last two seasons when the trophy was practically signed, sealed and delivered to the winner before the finale even began, this time, the conclusion was far from foregone, coming down to the last few holes. This year, following the BMW Championship, the top 30 players moved on to the 'finals' and points were reset to give everyone in the field some semblance of a chance at the Tour Championship.
Backspin Yes, FedEx Cup 3.0 was better. However, considering its lackluster freshman and sophmore efforts, its junior year merely merited a spot on the varsity squad, not a starting position on a four-majors team. Sure, there were fascinating scenarios in play for an intriguing finish. But the points system was too convoluted to digest. And the Tour taking the week off before the spectacular finish was anticlimactic. While football was power-packed and plentiful and went down easy with a cold beer. Yet, if a remote control happened to have switched from a rare Detroit Lions win Sunday afternoon to the drama unfolding in Atlanta, Finchem may have gained some fans. Watching 'projected winners' trade places after every hole on the TV graphics, was akin to captivating cable news coverage on an a election night – just less Wolf Blitzer-y. At one moment, Georgia was a Kenny Perry Bluegrass state and the next, it was Tiger Red. And all the while, Phil Mickelson was stealth-like in maneuvering around the course and the other candidates: Sean O'Hair, Padraig Harrington, Steve Stricker, Steve Marino, to name a few. Still, the Tour's FedEx dance is far from producing the kind of magical moments like those in, say, a NCAA Men's March Madness. Finchem needs to keep tweaking and polishing that Cup if he wants Tiger Woods to one day find it worthy of kissing.



Tiger Woods Monday Night Footbal

(FOOTBALL) SEASON'S GREETINGS: Speaking of pigskin, a few days before the Tour Championship's first round in Atlanta, FedEx Cup points leader Tiger Woods was spotted on the sidelines of the Colts-Dolphins Monday Night Football game in Miami.
Backspin In the don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it YouTube clip, Peyton Manning comes out of the game and barely even makes 'celebratory contact' with Tiger (in fact, we've seen Stevie Williams connect better, which is saying something). It wasn't that impressive and, honestly, we were hoping for a more, uh, meaningful exchange between the super jocks. What was impressive was Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chad OchoCinco eschewing any kind of VIP pass or a hook-up to hang with the players on the sideline, by sitting in the stands at Joe Robbie Pro Player Land Shark Stadium, like any ordinary fan – and, of course, twittering about it.

Seve Ballesteros

THE SEVE... ER... VIVENDI TROPHY: The biennial tournament between teams representing Great Britain & Ireland and Continental Europe was created in 2000 by five-time major winner Seve Ballesteros as a tune-up for the following year's Ryder Cup matches. This year's took place in Saint-Nom-la-Breteche Golf Club in Paris, France where the GB&I won the trophy for a fifth consecutive time beating Continental Europe 16 1/2-11 1/2. Ballesteros, who has undergone four operations to remove a cancerous brain tumor, had planned to attend the event but stayed home because of fatigue.


The matches turned out to be an audition for young guns who'd give their right arm to play for Team Europe at Celtic Manor in September 2010. Rory McIlroy, 20, relished the opportunity to display his match play mettle in front of captain Colin Montgomerie, taking down No.5 Henrik Stenson on the final green Sunday in Paris. McIlroy's superb play throughout the event prompted Monty to annoint the Northern Ireland prodigy a potential leader for his squad next year. An admitted surprise for Monty was Chris Wood, the 21-year-old Englishman who played brilliantly at the Open Championship at Turnberry in July. Wood was given a Seve Trophy spot after the withdrawal of top players like Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, and is now on Monty's radar screen as a possible wild-card pick. While the European players' eagerness was already evident, still a year out, a lingering heaviness must have hung in the noticeable absence of the matches' namesake. Though Ballesteros could not watch the teams in person, he did send video messages throughout the event, and added postively, that he was looking forward to the seventh edition of the tournament in 2011.


Kenny Perry - Payne Stewart Award

HAIL PERRY: On Tuesday of Tour Championship week, Kenny Perry was named this year's recipient of the Payne Stewart Award, given to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, his commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and his professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct. A few days later, Perry was the third-round leader with a two-shot cushion going into Sunday at East Lake. But with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, et al. all making a charge, he floundered to a final-round 74 leaving him tied for fourth.
BackspinThe 49-year-old's philanthropic contributions to the game are extremely commendable. And Perry seemed genuinely humbled to be there. He acknowledged that there was 'no greater honor for a professional golfer than to receive the Payne Stewart Award,' and that it would 'always be one of his greatest accomplishments.' But after coming so close at Augusta earlier this year, can't help but wonder where a Green Jacket would rank in there... Or even a FedEx Cup or a Tour Championship trophy. One day, we'd like to see KP win a 'Hail Mary' trophy for his ability to close a big tournament.


Colin Montgomerie

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:  Colin Montgomerie was upset with Ian Poulter  – again. Poulter's prospective Ryder Cup captain pointed out the Englishman's absence at the Vivendi Trophy. While many turned down the opportunity to play in the matches, the Scot singled out Poulter for criticism .....Tom Pernice Jr. became the 15th player to win in his Champions Tour debut, holing a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday for a one-stroke victory at the SAS Championship .... Garrett Willis, 35, won the Nationwide Tour's WNB Golf Classic with a final-round 68 at Midland Country Club.

BackspinAh, as certain as death and taxes (or the New England Patriots not losing two games in a row), you can bet that there is always something or someone upsetting Monty. It's Poulter this time, as it has been other times. Though it is predictable, Colin's uncanny curmudgeonry really never gets old. It's best to just enjoy it ... A 30-foot birdie walkoff putt for your maiden victory, Tom Pernice Jr.? That's no way to start one's Champions Tour career. Surely, you realize that after setting the bar so high in such dramatic fashion, it's all downhill after that ....  With his win, the grizzled veteran Willis jumps 13 places to No. 6 on the money list, ensuring him among the top-25 money-winners at the end of the year. Watchyoutalkinbout, Willis? Talkin 'bout a 2010 PGA Tour card.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."