Backspin Daly Saga Great Scott

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 11, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In our new feature, Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
McDONALD'S HAPPY MEAL: With a smile as wide as a kid getting treated to a Happy Meal, Suzann Pettersen happily raised the trophy over her head late Sunday afternoon at the McDonald's LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock. With seven-time major winner and Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb breathing down her neck on the backstretch, the feisty Norwegian simply put the peddle to the metal, making four back-nine birdies to win by a single stroke. Her emotionally celebrated, clutch birdie putt at the par-3 17th proved to be the difference.
BackspinIt was the first major title in what could possibly turn out to become a very promising career for Pettersen. After her much publicized meltdown at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the win should do wonders for her confidence. In her mind, the fact that she has been in the hunt in the year's first two majors - and come away with a victory in one of them - is huge. And at this point the scoreboard reads: Pettersen - one major; Ochoa, Creamer, Wie and Kerr - none. Look for more fist-pumping coming to a town near you soon.
AUSTIN POWER: Journeyman Woody Austin sat three off the lead heading into Sunday's final round in the Stanford St. Jude Classic. Admittedly hoping for just a top-5 finish that could possibly secure his TOUR card for next season, Austin blistered the TPC at Southwind to the tune of 8-under-par 62 to win with surprising ease. The 43-year-old Austin posted a flawless, bogey-free final round that included six birdies and an eagle to notch his third career PGA TOUR title.
BackspinNot only did the win come against a strong field in Memphis, but it stopped the bleeding on what was slowly turning into a miserable season for the veteran Austin. Fourteen previous starts in 2007 had produced just one top-20 result and five missed cuts. Then came Sunday. Suddenly, with the help of the $1,080,000 first-place check, he's risen from 143rd on the money list to 28th, and perhaps more importantly to him, he finally gets to go back to the Masters for just the second time in his career. To the victor go the spoils.
GREAT SCOTT - NOT!: After holding at least a share of the lead through the first three rounds of the Stanford St. Jude - and a three-stroke lead after 54-holes ' Adam Scott blew a chance for victory with four bogeys and a triple bogey on the inward nine Sunday (Scott's card). He was also in contention two weeks ago at the Memorial before three back-nine bogeys left him three shots back of winner K.J. Choi.
Backspin It says that Scott is ranked fourth in the world. For some reason, it often seems that that is not the case. It's hard to decipher what kind of mojo Scott will take into the U.S. Open. On one hand, he is obviously striking the ball well enough to get into contention. Yet on the other hand, he no doubt has big problems closing out golf tournaments. Even in his win this year at the Shell Houston Open - much like his win at the 2004 PLAYERS Championship - Scott dumped a ball into the water on the 72nd that could have cost him the title. And this doesn't even take into consideration his rather poor results in the majors as he heads to Oakmont.
THE SAGA OF DALY: John Daly claims to be a victim of an assault by my wife. Daly, competing in the Stanford St. Jude Championship on a sponsors exemption, told authorities that his fourth wife, Sherrie, attacked him with a steak knife. He showed up at the course Friday with red marks on his cheeks. He competed in the second round with two body guards and shot 4-over 74. He managed to make the cut ' just his fourth in 12 PGA TOUR starts this season ' and finished next-to-last in the field at 18 over.
BackspinIts been a long, long time since Dalys on-course performance was a topic of conversation ' at least when it didnt involve a missed cut, a withdrawal or a round in the 80s. The last time was when he lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods in the 2004 WGC-American Express Championship, but even that is now overshadowed by the revelation that he blew his $750,000 winnings gambling that night. Its difficult to know whether Daly deserves pity, sympathy, ridicule or no thought whatsoever.
SAY YOU, SAY ME, SE RI: As she tapped in a short putt for par on the 18th hole on Thursday , Se Ri Pak officially became eligible for the World Golf and LPGA Halls of Fame. Pak had long since met the winning conditions to be considered a Hall of Fame member, but she had to officially secure 10 years on tour, which meant she had to start 10 events this season. The completion of her first round at Bulle Rock met that requirement.
BackspinIts only appropriate that Pak became eligible for the Hall of Fame at the McDonalds LPGA. Pak made a name for herself by claiming this event as her first tour title in 1998. She won it again in 2002, and then resurrected her career with a third McDonalds triumph last year. Pak lost her enthusiasm for the game a few years ago, but its back. She has 23 career LPGA wins, including five major titles ' and is still only 29 years old. When people look back on this era in golf, Pak will be considered among the LPGAs Big 3, with Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb.
UNDER THE BIG TOP: Michelle Wie was swinging at only about 80 percent, according to her coach, David Leadbetter, but she still teed it up in the McDonalds LPGA. After a modest opening 1-over 73, Wie bogeyed her final hole Friday to shoot 74 and barely make the cut on the number. She then spiraled out of control on the weekend with rounds of 83-79 (Wie's card) to finish dead last, 35 shots behind the winner and a full 10 shots back of the second-to-last player who made the cut.
BackspinMy, how things have changed in one years time. Last year, Wie had a birdie putt on the 72nd hole that would have gotten her into a playoff at the LPGA Championship. She missed and eventually made bogey on her way to a tie for fifth. At the time, it seemed just a matter of time before she would win a major. Now, who knows what to think? Wie spent the beginning of this past week defending her actions at the Ginn Tribute. She was even called out by Ginn tournament host Annika Sorenstam, who basically said Wie had no class. If her wrist is OK, we'll see her again in three weeks at the U.S. Women's Open at Pine Needles. And then the circus will start all over again.
TICKET TO RIDE: Eighty-three players punched their ticket to Oakmont via U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying last Monday. Among the notable players who made it were: Ryan Moore, Bubba Watson, Sean OHair, Justin Leonard, Steve Elkington, Fred Funk and Boo Weekley. Among the notables who did not make it through were: Mark OMeara, Darren Clarke, Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Lehman and John Daly.
BackspinPerhaps the most impressive performance from sectionals was courtesy Anthony Kim. Kim won an 11-man playoff for one spot at the main Columbus, Ohio site. He had to hole a bunker shot just to stay alive and then parred the third extra hole to qualify for his first major championship. Michael Campbell, in 2005, is the last player over the last decade to win the Open as a sectional qualifier. A player hasnt gone through local and sectional qualifying on his way to the winners circle since Orville Moody in 1969.
IN CASE YOU MISSED: Actor Rob Lowe, who was playing in the Champions Tours Principal Charity Classic Pro-Am in Iowa, accidentally struck and killed a young goldfinch ' the State bird ' in mid-flight with one of his approach shots; Scott Piercy, a mini-tour player who tied for 15th last year at the FBR Open, won the Ultimate Game in Las Vegas along with the $2 million first-place prize; Happy Anniversary to Al Gieberger, who 30 years ago Sunday became the first player to shoot a 59 on the PGA TOUR; Colin Montgomerie and his long-time caddie Alastair McLean have decided to go separate ways; and South Korea's Lee Sung, who was born deaf, won the Asian Tour's Bangkok Airways Open.
BackspinFans who come out on pro-ams days are always thrilled to see famous actors such as Lowe. Birds and other woodland creatures maybe not so much. Piercy, a resident of Las Vegas, apparently took his citys famous slogan to heart - 'What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas' - at least in terms of the prize money; Gieberger's 59 was the first the TOUR had seen, and somewhat surprisingly it has since been duplicated just two more times on TOUR: Chip Beck in 1991 and David Duval in 1999; as for Monty's caddie, he's probably thankful he won't have to go through another U.S. Open meltdown like the one he and Monty suffered though last year at Winged Foot.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - McDonalds LPGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - Stanford St. Jude Championship
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    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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    Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

    The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

    Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

    McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

    McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

    Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

    “When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

    And that was an offseason event.

    “They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

    As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

    So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

    “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”

    Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

    Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

    His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

    It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

    There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

    There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

    While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

    There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.

    Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

    Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

    He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

    Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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    CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

    The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

    Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

    Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

    Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.

    Notables in the field

    Phil Mickelson

    * This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

    * For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

    * He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

    * This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.

    Jon Rahm

    * Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    * In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

    * Last year he finished T-34 in this event.

    Adam Hadwin

    * Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

    * In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    Brian Harman

    * Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

    * Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

    * Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

    Brandt Snedeker

    * Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

    * This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

    * Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.

    Patrick Reed

    * Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

    * This is his first start of 2018.

    * Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

    (Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)