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.
 
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    Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

    The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

    Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

    The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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    Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

    The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

    England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

    The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.


    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


    ''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

    Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

    That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

    ''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

    The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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    J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

    ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

    The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

    Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

    Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

    Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.


    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


    "I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

    "It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

    South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

    Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

    "It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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    Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

    LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

    Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

    He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

    ''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

    Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

    They were at 7-under 135.

    Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

    Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.


    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

    ''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

    He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

    McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

    ''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

    Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.