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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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''