Backspin Faldo Called Out

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 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.
 
SCHOOL'S OUT FOR MCNEILL: George McNeill, the 2006 Q-school medalist, earned his first PGA TOUR win, capturing the Frys.com Open in Las Vegas by four shots. McNeill shot no worse than 5-under 67 all week in reaching 23 under par.
 
Backspin Until this past week, only proven TOUR winners had claimed Fall Series titles: Steve Flesch (Turning Stone); Chad Campbell (Viking Classic); and Justin Leonard (Texas Open). McNeiil became the first player to earn more than a moral victory (moving from 122nd to 59th on the money list); he earned his first TOUR title and won't have to worry about Q-school for at least two more years.
 
PARTING GIFTS: There were, however, a few moral victories claimed in Vegas. D.J. Trahan finished runner-up to McNeill, and in the process went from 126th in earnings to 81st. Cameron Beckman finished third, going from 147th to 128th. Kent Jones jumped up 11 spots to 141st, but it could have been much better for a guy who annually languishes around the financial cut line. Jones, who at one point in the final round was in third place, triple-bogeyed the par-5 16th to finish tied for 10th.
 
Backspin The Fall Series doesn't have the star power of the FedExCup, but compelling stories -- for the hard-core golf fan -- are far more plentiful. For a number of players, it's like Q-school every week, so that they can avoid the real deal next month.
 
NO SHOCK; PLENTY OF AWE: One week after losing to Suzann Pettersen in a playoff, Lorena Ochoa defeated her rival -- and 18 other elite players -- in the Samsung World Championship. Ochoa was tied with Pettersen entering the final round, but shot 66 to the Norwegian's 72, to earn a repeat victory in the event.
 
Backspin Few players can handle the pressure of being No. 1. Ochoa is one of them. This was her seventh win of the season and her ninth consecutive top-3 finish on the LPGA. Thanks to past performances by Tiger and Annika, these numbers don't seem shocking, but they should inspire awe.
 
MORE WOE FOR WIE: Meanwhile, down near the bottom of the leaderboard was Michelle Wie. Playing on her final sponsor's exemption of the year, Wie opened in 79 -- on her 18th birthday -- and concluded with rounds of 79-77-71 to finish one shot out of last place in the field of 20.
 
Backspin Wie said at the beginning of the week that she wished she hadn't played at all this year. Actually, she could have gotten her wish had she not withdrawn late in first round at the Ginn Tribute, where she was on the verge of posting 88 and being banned from LPGA events for the remainder of the season. But play she did, 21 official rounds on the PGA and LPGA tours, with a stroke average of 76.7. If this golf thing doesn't work out, at least she should have a degree from Stanford, in a few years, to fall back on.
 
RYDERS ON A STORM OF CONTROVERSY: Bernard Gallacher, a former victorious European Ryder Cup captain, called out Nick Faldo, saying the current European skipper should not have gone public with his recent criticism of Colin Montgomerie. Faldo, who captained the winning Great Britain and Ireland squad at the Seve Trophy, said in an interview with The Times that he was disappointed in Monty for only going to two of the five team meetings and not sufficiently rooting on his teammates at the end of the competition.
 
Backspin Basically, Gallacher called Faldo a hypocrite, saying in various European newspaper reports, 'I never felt Nick was a real team player but I accepted that as a captain because he gave you points.' The Ryder Cup is now like the Super Bowl, in that the lead-up to the event is far more entertaining than the competition itself.
 
FUN AND GAMES?: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger told GOLF CHANNEL's Rich Lerner in a phone interview last week that the laid back attitude that the Americans present at the Presidents Cup doesn't translate to the other biennial competition. It doesnt work that way at the Ryder Cup,' Azinger said. 'If you win you won and broke the drought. Lose and you didnt just lose, you lost AGAIN and you #@%*#!
 
Backspin Did we mention that the lead-up to the Ryder Cup is better than the event itself? With Azinger and Faldo as the captains, the 2008 edition could be the most compelling ever -- at least until they actually play.
 
THE KING OF WETWORTH: Ernie Els won his seventh career title at the HSBC World Match Play Championship, defeating reigning U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, 6 and 4, in the finals at Wentworth Club.
 
Backspin Cabrera called Els 'The king of Wentworth,' and well he is. But where does he go from here? Els has long dominated, not only this event, but competition outside of the U.S. We won't know if there is any significance to this victory until he plays again on the PGA TOUR -- which isn't expected to be until the TOUR nears Florida in 2008.
 
HEY, ROOKIE: John Cook made his Champions Tour debut this past week in the Administaff Small Business Classic, modestly tying for 39th. It was a good week for several past TOUR notables, as the top 20 included the names of O'Meara, Kite, Haas, Crenshaw, Bean, Sluman, Beck, Funk and Zoeller.
 
Backspin But it was a great week for Bernhard Langer. Playing at Augusta Pines Golf Club, no less, the two-time Masters champion opened in 10-under 62. He cruised from there to an eight-shot victory in just his fourth start on the senior circuit.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Associated Press reported that Tiger Woods' caddie Steve Williams has donated more than $1 million to a New Zealand hospital to help fund the rebuilding and expansion of its oncology and hematology wards; Greg Norman, who was last Thursday inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, will pay for World Golf Hall of Fame chief executive Jack Peter to travel to Sydney to perform compatriot Kel Nagle's induction on Dec.15; David Duval plans to play in the Del Webb Father-Son Challenge with his wife's son, Deano, a senior in high school.
 
Backspin Nice to see someone as financially fortunate as Williams giving back; Same can be said for Norman, as the 87-year-old Nagle is unable to travel to the U.S. for the official induction ceremony in November; Getting to play in the Father-Son is one of the little-known perks to being a major champion.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Frys.com Open in Las Vegas
  • Full Coverage - Samsung Wolrd Championship
  • Full Coverage - HSBC World Match Play Championship
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  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: