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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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.