Backspin Ecstacy Agony and Woody - COPIED

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 13, 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.
 
ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN: The United States retained possession of the Presidents Cup, defeating the International team 19 1/2 - 14 1/2 at Royal Montreal. Thanks to winning 11 of the 12 foursomes matches, the U.S. took a seven-point lead into Sunday and held on in the singles session.
 
Backspin Many people, American team members included, will say this was a statement victory, that the U.S. is ready to compete in the Ryder Cup. Um ... no. This was a nice victory, but we've been here before (see 2005). They say you can't compare the Presidents Cup to the Ryder Cup, and in this case it is most certainly true. The American's performance in one has nothing to do with their performance in the other. They should just enjoy this one and worry about (or try not to worry about) the Ryder Cup next year.
 
MORAL VICTORY: The Internationals lost the war, but Mike Weir won his battle. Weir delighted the local fans, defeating world No. 1 Tiger Woods, 1-up, in the Sunday singles.
 
Backspin Most of the Canadian crowd probably couldn't have cared less who won the overall competition, as long as their boy played well -- and that he did. A controversial captain's pick, Weir went 3-1-1. His victory over Tiger is like a player for the losing team being named Finals MVP.
 
GOLF'S NEWEST SUPERHERO: Woody Austin went 1-1-3 in his Cup debut, but many people will forever remember his week for one unfortunate moment. At the 14th hole Friday, Austin played a shot out of the greenside water hazard, lost his balance and then took a face-first plunge.
 
Backspin Labeled Aquaman by foursomes partner Phil Mickelson, Austin made light of the moment Sunday, wearing a water mask while walking to the green. What shouldn't be washed away, however, is how well Austin played in his first team event. His record shows only one win, but it doesn't indicate his heart, his effort, and his importance to the 'team' concept.
 
TOO NICE FOR THE TIMES?: On the 18th hole of Austin's and Mickelson's alternate shot match Thursday against Weir and Vijay Singh, the U.S. conceded a 3-4 foot putt to give the Internationals a half point. It was the only scoring the Internationals got on Day 1, falling behind 5 1/2 - 1/2.
 
Backspin Think this would have happened in the Ryder Cup? Think Vijay would have conceded the putt to Phil? The most interesting part was that Phil said 'Captain Jack' called for the concession and Jack said it was Phil's and Woody's decision. The gentlemanly gesture only reinforced the 'too nice' label cast on the Presidents Cup.
 
HANGING CHAD: Chad Campbell captured the Viking Classic, defeating Johnson Wagner by a stroke in Madison, Miss. The win was Campbell's first on TOUR since January 2006.
 
Backspin Campbell was supposed to be a fixture on American 'Cup' teams, but a season of poor play kept him off this most recent roster. As will be the case for most every Fall Series event, Campbell wasn't the only winner. Wagner moved from 123rd to 83rd on the money list to secure playing rights for 2008.
 
HJORTH THE WAIT: Maria Hjorth earned her first LPGA Tour victory since 1999 thanks to a closing 67 Sunday at the Navistar Classic. Hjorth had one eagle, three birdies and no dropped shot en route to beating Stacy Prammanasudh by one and Lorena Ochoa by two. The loss ended Ochoa's four-event winning streak.
 
Backspin For all that she has accomplished this year, Ochoa still has many detractors regarding her closing ability. The women's No. 1-ranked player had a one-shot lead going into the final round, but shot 1-over 73 to finish in third place. For those detractors, here are a couple of other numbers: 6 (wins in 2007); 9 (top-3s in her last 10 starts); 1 (major championship); 1 (as in first in just about every category that matters in women's golf).
 
LOVE HURTS: It was a tough week to be Davis Love III. First, he wasn't able to compete in the Presidents Cup for the first time in his career. Then, he dropped out of the top 50 in the world for the first time since 1990. And finally, it was announced that he tore ligaments in his left ankle when he stepped in a hole playing golf and will miss at least two months after having surgery.
 
Backspin The good news for Love is that, at age 43, there is still a window of opportunity to salvage his legacy. Love is one major championship win away from serious Hall of Fame consideration. Without that second major triumph, however, his career, even by his own admission, has been an underachievement -- not a disappointment, but certainly not satisfactory.
 
BUSINESS MAN: Tiger Woods was listed as the second most powerful man in sports by Business Week. He trailed only NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in 'The Power 100' ranking.
 
BackspinWe already knew Tiger was more powerful than the PGA TOUR commissioner, but guess not even he can beat the NFL. The magazine had '20 distinguished people from the sports and media world' contribute to the ranking, including Brad Faxon.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Great Britain & Ireland defeated Continental Europe to win the Seve Trophy; Marc Warren competed in the Seve Trophy despite receiving stitches in his abdomen due to deep cuts made after breaking a chandelier in his hotel room with a golf club; U.S. amateur champion Colt Knost announced his decision to turn professional and make his debut in this week's Valero Texas Open; Laura Davies won on the Ladies European Tour to earn her 68th career overall title.
 
Backspin Nick Faldo got a little pre-Ryder Cup captaincy experience by leading his GB&I team to victory; Mama told Marc not to practice inside; Knost gave up invitations to the 2008 Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship to turn pro -- a very high price to pay for a chance to make some money; the win doesn't help Davies get any closer to making the World Golf Hall of Fame, but it does end a near 14-month winless drought.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.