Backspin Just Looking

By Dena DavisMay 4, 2009, 4:00 pm
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FROM THERE TO O'HAIR: Five weeks after blowing a five-shot lead at Bay Hill against Tiger Woods, Sean O'Hair was able to clinch a victory ' and perhaps some redemption ' over the world No. 1 at the Quail Hollow Championship. O'Hair rallied from a three-shot deficit Sunday for a one-shot victory over Lucas Glover and Bubba Watson. Woods finished two back.
Backspin The kid with a history of folding, made back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes and kept his hands (and his head) steady at 10-and-2 to charter the green mile and cross the finish line first ' and all with you-know-who looming behind him as an Object That May Appear Closer Than It Is. OHair's come a long way in the last few years, and even in the last few weeks. After starting the season as No. 59 in the world and now at a career-high 12th, the 26-year-old suddenly appears closer to a major champion candidate than some ahead of him in those rankings.

I'M A LOSER, BABY...: As David Feherty pointed out, Tiger Woods was not a champion Sunday. 'Its difficult to think of you as a loser, Feherty said in his post-round interview with Woods, but hey, youre a loser.' Entering the final round, just two shots out of the lead, Woods wasted several birdie chances and an eagle opportunity (when he drove the green on the par-4 14th and almost four-putted), closing with 10 straight pars for a 72. While, on Thursday, Woods did card a back-nine 30 (he started on No. 10), on Friday, he bogeyed 16 and 18 to finish even par. And on Saturday, bogeys at Nos. 17 and 18 gave him a disappointing 70.
Backspin Years ago, Tiger once (maybe more) said firmly, 'Losing sucks.' On Sunday at Quail Hollow, however, he was a lot more jovial about his loss with Feherty: I was (a loser). And not even first loser, either. Tiger freakin' Woods doesnt stumble down the stretch and Tiger freakin' Woods doesn't joke around about losing afterward. But as we saw on Masters Sunday, Tiger has had problems shutting the proverbial door in crucial moments lately, seeming more pedestrian than herculean when a victory was within reach. What has happened to the Tiger we know ' or used to know? The red-caped crusader used to be robotic, methodical and predatory. In Charlotte he was a friendly goldfish in a kiddie pool rather than a ruthless shark in dark waters. Barely recognized the dude. Perhaps, after the 9-month layoff and with another baby in tow, that distinct killer instinct is little less killer. We can't remember a time when, on a Tiger Blood-In-the-Waters-Red Sunday, we saw the him hang around after losing, to spend time with the guy who bettered him. It's still TBD on whether this new Eldrick is here to stay, but this softer side of him is indeed curious. One upside, though, might be something Cup captains might want to utilize in team competition ' where camaraderie and chemistry help a team flourish. Playful Tiger seems more and more like a candidate for Team USA.

PANTS PARTY USA: John Daly returned to the golf scene this week ' while still serving the six-month suspension from the PGA Tour ' and not without some fanfare. But how else would you expect Long John to re-enter the little white dimpled sphere stratosphere? Armed ' or panted ' with a new wardrobe (thanks to Loudmouth Golf), a more svelte look (thanks to lap-band surgery), and a new social media life (thanks to Twitter), the fan favorite 43-year-old posted scores of 70-72-74-69.
Backspin For awhile there, we were worried JDs pants and tweets would get more attention than his play on the course. Err, well, maybe they did. Thanks to his studious, daily tweeting, we learned that Daly's many things, including that his stomach surgery doesn't stop him from craving white cheddar popcorn and Olive Garden breadsticks. While he's gone low on the poundage, not so much with his golf score. However, there's hope. One highlight was his Sunday in Spain where he closed with a 69 to tie for 31st ' and that is certainly laudable. Its just that we couldnt hear it over his pants calling audibles. As much as JD's personality is fun for the game, seeing the two-time major winner actually win a tournament again, would be even more fun.

IN THE PINK: Eight-time LPGA winner Paula Creamer has been dealing with a mysterious stomach ailment for over five months. And doctors and specialists have no answer for it. Creamer has played through the pain and discomfort, though, with six starts on tour this season and her best performances coming back-to-back with third-place finishes. She had to withdraw from the Phoenix tournament, however, because the malady had gotten the better of her that week.
Backspin Willis Reed?, Kirk Gibson? Tiger Woods? Wimps. Creamer might be the LPGA version of the Game 5, 1997 NBA Finals Michael Jordan, except for more than one game, try several tournaments. Hyperbole aside, we realize the 22-year-old hasn't put a 'W' in the win column, but the Pink Panther has still put herself into contention a few times in 2009, for a tenacious 'E' in the effort column. The young LPGA star is a great talent with a great personality ' fiery, competitive, and heart-on-her-sleeve passionate. We hate to see this sickness drain the color from her cheeks. The color pink misses her at her best, and so do we.

DOUBTING THOMAS(ES): Thomas Levet shot a 4-under 68 Sunday at that one tournament where John Daly was playing, for a two-stroke victory to become the first Frenchman to win five European Tour titles. Why does his name sound familiar?
BackspinYou may remember Levet from 2002 at Muirfield where he finished second at the Open Championship after blowing a chance to win by bogeying the final hole of the four-hole playoff to fall into sudden death with Ernie Els, where he again bogeyed to lose. Levet suffers from severe vertigo, which almost forced him out of the game. So it's a heart-warming story to see him overcome that obstacle to notch a victory at the Spanish Open and continue to have a solid career, rather than disappear into obscurity as many have after such hardships. Which made us wonder about another Thomas ... Thomas Bjorn. Bjorn also came close to winning a major title ' twice ' at the 2003 Open Championship and at the 2005 PGA Championship, both times finishing as a runner-up. Where the heck has the Dane been? Welp, he was right there on the leaderboard in Girona, Spain, finishing four shots back of his namesake. Surely, print and web editors around the sporting world are now rooting for his full career comeback, if only for 'Bjorn Again,' to be put into bold headlines.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods were paired Wednesday in the Quail Hollow pro-am ... Sergio Garcia missed the cut in Charlotte after posting a 71-78 Seve Ballesteros, who is currently undergoing his fourth round of chemotherapy, made his first public appearance since undergoing four separate surgeries to remove a cancerous brain tumor. He attended a Spanish league match and received a standing ovation from the fans.
Backspin Remember when we mentioned Jordan above? Peyton Manning, you sir are no MJ. Get his Airness back on the links with Tiger to Cut. That. Meat. ... Your 2008 Players champion would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Tiger for not playing last year because now it seems El Nino may never win a big tournament again. Odd that Woods and Garcia have more in common now than before: Both don't seem like their old selves ' and neither can seem to make a clutch putt down the stretch ... It's really good to see Seve, the five-time major champion, again. After reading an old golf magazine from the 70s, in which the author questioned whether the Spaniard could be a star in golf being so wild off the tee, it's sweet to know he hit it right down the middle of the fairway of life with a memorable, Hall-of-Fame golf career, with a memorable, Hall-of-Fame spirit to match. When you've seen a loved one suffer through similar circumstances as Seve's, you cannot underestimate how valuable even these ordinary moments ' like attending a soccer match ' can be for lifting everyone's spirits.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Quail Hollow Championship
  • Full Coverage ' Open de Espana
  • Complete News Headlines
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."