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
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    Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

    By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

    One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

    Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

    "I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

    Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

    "I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

    Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

    "Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm