Backspin Classic Beatdown Historic Win

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
ANY MORE QUESTIONS?: Tiger Woods was a shot out of the lead heading into the final round at Firestone, but by the seventh hole Sunday, Tiger had built a comfortable four-stroke advantage. He went on to easily win his third straight WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title -- and his sixth overall -- by a mind-numbing eight strokes.
 
BackspinIn the process of his runaway victory, Tiger became the first player to ever win the same tournament three consecutive times on two different ocassions. Meanwhile, the United States Secretary of Defense has accordingly issued a DEFCON-1 warning to Tiger's peers for this week's PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
 
ANY MORE QUESTIONS? PART II: Lorena Ochoa cruised to a four-shot win at the Women's British Open to finally secure her first career major victory, at historic St. Andrews no less. After she wrestled away the No.1 world ranking from Annika Sorenstam, many felt she would need a major championship to validate such a ranking.
 
BackspinMission accomplished. Her win on Sunday not only answered the critics but will now create an almost Tiger-like gap in the rankings between her and the second-ranked player in the world. And the cherry on top? Ochoa will feel delighted that her name can now be mention with the likes of Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods as players to win a major championship at the home of golf.
 
LONG TIME COMING: There was technically only one winner at St. Andrews, but many of those in the field will tell you that they felt victorious just playing the historic venue. This was the first time St. Andrews held a professional women's event and, despite the Scottish weather, the majority of the ladies will tell you that they could not have enjoyed the experience more.
 
BackspinThe St. Andrews clubhouse, which was opened to women for the first time, is famous for its sign that said, 'No Women or Dogs Allowed.' Perhaps this will be the first of many major championships for the women at St. Andrews. And maybe some other famous courses will soon open their doors to the ladies as well.
 
CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: Once again, Rory Sabbatini got his wish. Just as he had at the Wachovia Championship, Sabbatini entered the final round at Firestone with a one-shot lead over Tiger. And just like at Wachovia, Woods let Rory talk -- and then walked all over him. Sabbatini shot 4-over 74 to ultimately finish nine back of Woods.
 
BackspinSabbatini has now officially become the Joker to Tiger's Batman. Maybe he can join up with Tiger's other arch nemeses -- Phil, Vijay, Ames, Michael Campbell, and anyone else who has dared to speak out against him -- and they can form a Tiger Hater's Club. But give Sabbatini some credit. His bravado is in stark contrast to most players who sheepishly bow down to Tiger. Of course, after this latest beat down, we might not hear a negative word about Tiger come out of Rory's -- or anyone else's -- mouth for a while.
 
IN THE FLES(C)H: Steve Flesch had been struggling all year just to make cuts on the PGA TOUR. But at the Reno-Tahoe Open, Flesch not only made it to the weekend, but became the first wire-to-wire winner on TOUR this season.
 
BackspinFlesch's five-stroke victory was the third of his career and gained him entry into this week's PGA Championship. Floundering all the way down at 132nd on the PGA TOUR money list, the $540,000 winner's check - along with a two-year TOUR exemption - gives the high-strung Flesch a chance to breathe easy and relax.
 
STYLE POINTS: D.A. Weibring fired a 5-under 67 on Sunday to overcome a flawless final-round 9-under 63 by Jay Haas to grab the trophy at the 3M Championship at the TPC of the Twin Cities. It was Weibring's fourth career Champions Tour victory.
 
BackspinTalk about winning in style: Weibring trailed Haas, the Champions Tour's premiere player, by two shots with three holes to play. And then? Birdie at 16. Another birdie at 17. And yes, a birdie at 18 to win by a single stroke. After the win, Weibring announced he was donating a portion of his winnings to the relief efforts of the bridge collapse in the Twin Cities. Stylish and classy.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tadd Fujikawa made his professional debut at the Reno-Tahoe Open but missed the cut by six shots; Annika Sorenstam borrowed her pal Tiger's St. Andrews yardage book for the Women's British Open; Jim Furyk withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational after his back started tightening up early in the week; Chris DiMarco had a solid tie for fourth at Firestone, moving him closer to the top-10 in the Presidents Cup points race.
 
BackspinAfter a opening-round 78 and a poor start on Friday, the 16-year-old Fujikawa could have packed it in - but he didn't. Five birdies on his final 10 holes put a big smile on his face and garnered a lot of respect from his playing partners; Tiger's yardage book is one thing, but that book means nothing if Tiger is not the one hitting the shots; Furyk was coming off a win at the Canadian Open and was in the midst of playing seven events in an eight week stretch - injury or not, rest was needed for the world's No. 2 player; DiMarco has no doubt caught the attention of U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus with his recent form, regardless of where he finishes on the points list.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Bridgestone Invitational
  • Full Coverage - Women's British Open
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.