Backspin Ecstacy Agony and Woody

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 1, 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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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the trophy was out of reach.

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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.