Backspin Good for Daly Woe is Wie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In our new feature, Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
MAJOR RELIEF: Cristie Kerr played bogey-free golf over the final nine holes Sunday at Pine Needles, and made one clutch birdie to win her first major championship. Kerr's birdie on the par-4 14th gave her a one-shot lead, which she turned into a two-stroke victory at the U.S. Women's Open.
 
BackspinWith all of the talk surrounding Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie and so many more on the LPGA Tour, Kerr has been overlooked over the last couple of years. That should change, as Kerr will most certainly enjoy reminding everyone - should they forget - that she is now a major champion.
 
MAJOR HEADACHE: Ochoa was just one shot back with two holes to play, but a bogey at the par-4 17th dropped her out of contention for her first major title. She finished tied for second with 18-year-old rookie Angela Park.
 
BackspinOchoa may be No. 1 in the world, but she is now 0-for-22 in majors played. The worst part about her play on Sunday was not that she didn't win, but that she didn't look very steady coming down the stretch.
 
WOE IS WIE: For the second time in three tournaments, Michelle Wie withdrew, citing an injury to her left wrist. Wie dropped out after nine holes of her second round in the U.S. Women's Open. She was 17 over for the tournament at the time of her withdrawal, having opened in 11-over 82.
 
BackspinAfter walking off the course, a teary-eyed Wie said she was uncertain about her future. She might as well have been speaking for everyone else. It could be a while before we see her again, and it could be even longer before she plays like her old self again.
 
JOURNEYMAN FINDS HIS WAY: Brian Bateman made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to secure a one-stroke victory at the Buick Open, his first PGA TOUR win. The $882,000 he earned moved him from 204th on the money list to 68th.
 
BackspinAround the time the leaders made the turn on Sunday, there were no fewer than 25 players tied or within three strokes of the lead. And who should emerge but a 34-year-old Q-school regular. Goes to show the depth of talent on TOUR.
 
FINALLY, SOME GOOD NEWS: Fifteen players managed to finish inside the top 10 at the Buick. Just on the outskirts was John Daly. Daly shot four rounds under par at Warwick Hills to tie for 16th, his first top-20 finish of the year.
 
BackspinFor once, Daly gets a Backspin mention based on his play. Prior to the Buick, Daly had played 12 events with no top-20s, five missed cuts and three withdrawals. Other players, like Jason Gore (T2), Justin Leonard (T2), Marco Dawson (T5) and Steve Elkington (T5) also enoyed their best finishes of the season. And that Bateman guy, too.
 
UNHAPPY RETURN: Karrie Webb won the U.S.Women's Open at Pine Needles in 2001. Six years later, upon her return, she missed the cut. Webb shot 12-over 83 in the first round, the highest score in her career. She followed with a 71 and missed the cut by six strokes.
 
BackspinWhile Webb was the biggest surprise to miss the cut, she wasn't the only big name on that list. Two-time Open champion Juli Inkster and LPGA Championship winner Suzann Pettersen were also notable absentees over the final two rounds.
 
WEATHER WORRIES: Most of the first two rounds of the Women's Open was plagued by inclement weather. The first round carried over into Friday, which pushed Round 2 into Saturday and Round 3 into Sunday. The rain and lightning subsided over the weekend, however, to allow the tournament to finish on schedule
 
BackspinThis year's Open had a Wimbledon-like feel -- with all of the weather delays, you never really knew who was in what round on what day. Perhaps the worst part of it was that fans were relegated to watching tape-delayed action or no action at all on Saturday, as NBC ended its coverage at 6:00 p.m.
 
ACTING LIKE A 12-YEAR-OLD: Alexis Thompson, 12, was the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. She wasn't able to make the cut, however, shooting 76-82 to miss the mark by 11 strokes.
 
BackspinThompson may not have played the final two rounds, but she did make it to the weekend as her second round was postponed into Saturday. While she would have liked to have played better, Thompson was thrilled with the experience, providing the perfect example of someone who plays for the love of the game.
 
TIGER AND PHIL: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both announced last Wednesday that they will be competing in this week's AT&T National, which is hosted by Woods. Neither man has competed since the U.S. Open. Woods has been busy being a father, while Mickelson has been nursing an injured left wrist.
 
BackspinThe last two weeks on TOUR might have been competitive, but there is nothing like the excitement and anticipation produced when the top 2 players in the world are in the same field. Tiger's pre-tournament press conference might be the most compelling this week, but Phil will have the most questions to answer on the course.
 
NEARLY GATOR BAIT: A Tennessee man who lost his ball in a golf course pond nearly lost a limb when an 11-foot alligator latched onto his arm and pulled him in, authorities said. Bruce Burger, 50, was trying to retrieve his ball from a pond on the sixth hole at the Lake Venice Golf Club in Venice, Fla., when the gator attacked. Burger managed to beat off the reptile and escape without being seriously injured.
 
BackspinIf you see a sign ... near a pond ... warning about alligators ... stay away. Leave the Pro-V1 behind. Really. Seriously.
 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Colin Montgomerie coughed up the final-round lead coming down the stretch in Paris; Bruce Vaughan, a Champions Tour rookie, made two aces in two days before the start of the Commerece Bank Championship; Lonnie Nielsen won the Commerce Bank for his first Champions win; Ochoa finally signed an endorsement deal with Ping; the USGA announced that the U.S. Women's Open is headed to Pebble Beach in 2014; a beachside guest house owned by Tiger Woods on his recently purchased compound in Jupiter, Fla., was destroyed by fire on Friday.
 
BackspinMontys stumble was complete with, you guessed it, problems with the gallery; Unfortunately for Vaughan, the aces came during practice rounds; An endorsement deal for the worlds top-ranked player? You think?; Not only are the women finally getting to play legendary Pebble Beach, but also are heading to storied St. Andrews for this year's Womens British Open; Luckily for Tiger, he still lives in Orlando.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
  • Full Coverage - Buick Open
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x