Backspin Leftys Clubs and Mouth Do the Talking

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 4, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
LABOR DAY FIREWORKS: Phil Mickelson beat Tiger Woods head-to-head Monday in Boston to win the Deutsche Bank Championship. The victory -- just his second ever on TOUR after the month of August -- vaulted Mickelson to No. 1 in the FedExCup Playoffs.
BackspinNo offense to Brett Wetterich or Arron Oberholser -- two other Deutsche Bank principals -- or even last week's winner Steve Stricker, but the Playoffs need the best players in the world going head-to-head against one another. That's what 'playoffs' are all about -- the best against the best. That's what we got this past week. And that's just what these inaugural Playoffs needed.
OH, NO HE DIDN'T: In his post-victory comments on live televsion, Mickelson said that he was undecided on whether or not he was going to play in this week's BMW Championship outside of Chicago. Mickelson blamed his indecision on PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem, saying Finchem didn't follow through on some Mickelson requests, and that because of Finchem's actions -- or lack thereof -- he wouldn't feel guilty for skipping Playoff Week No. 3.
BackspinMaybe Mickelson was feeling 10 feet tall and bullet-proof after his Tiger taming. Whatever his motivation, Mickelson's comments -- at least in the docile world of golf -- were boarderline scandalous. Heading to Cog Hill, these Playoff have an intrigue factor of 10, about double what they had after Week 1. But Phil, and not the TOUR, may be the ultimate victim if Mickelson decides to skip. This could prove to be a $10 million point he is trying to make.
HARD LUCK BOSTON STORY: Steve Flesch had a miserable Labor Day Monday, shooting 7-over 78 to fall from 70th in the FedExCup points standings to 71st, thus missing the cut for this week's BMW Championship. Peter Lonard also missed out, falling from 69th to 72nd after missing the Deutsche Bank cut.
BackspinInstead of feeling sorry for Flesch and Lonard, we can feel happy for Bo Van Pelt and John Mallinger, both of who played well enough to crack the top 70 and move on. Isn't it odd, however, that only two players each of the first two playoff weeks have been able to play their way into the following tournament. We smell a tweak for 2008.
FROM CHUMPS TO CHAMPS: Even before this round of The Playoffs concluded with Phil out-dueling Tiger, it began with the hype of Phil and Tiger playing together -- along with Vijay Singh. The marquee threesome -- ordered by their positions on the FedExCup points list -- played alongside one another over the first two rounds. Friday they combined to shoot 3 over. Saturday it was 19 under.
BackspinThe grouping of these three looked to be the perfect remedy to Playoff malaise for Finchem and Co. It started with a thud, literally, with Singh four-putting the opening hole. But in Rd. 2 on Saturday, the trio set off fireworks - Woods and Mickelson shooting the low rounds of the day (7-under 64s) and Singh not far behind with a round of 65. And then, of course, there was the Monday excitement. Playoff fever! Catch it!
THESE GIRLS ROCK: Sherri Steinhauer held off a hard-charging Christina Kim to win the State Farm Classic. Holding a one-shot lead coming to the 18th, Steinhauer almost gave away the tournament before miraculously holing a putt from off the green to save par and win her sixth career title.
BackspinKim, who felt slighted from being left off this year's Solheim Cup team, let her clubs do the talking on Sunday, closing with three straight birdies - two from off the green - to put the heat on Steinhauer. And after the heroics on the final green, Kim turned from competitor to cheerleader, celebrating Steinhauer's clutch winning putt with class.
THE GOOD DOCTOR: Dr. Gil Morgan began the final round of the Wal-Mart First Tee Open tied with Hale Irwin and proceeded to shoot a flawless 5-under 67 to capture his 25th career Champions Tour title at none other than famed Pebble Beach.
BackspinIt didn't quite make up for what happened to Morgan in the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach -- where he became the first player ever to reach double digits under par in an Open, only to let it all slide away -- but it was a very satisfying victory. And beating old nemesis Hale Irwin was icing on the cake.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES': Tim Finchem announced in a press conference that a new drug testing program will be in place for the PGA TOUR during the 2008 season.
Backspin Obviously pressed into action by the scandals befalling Major League Baseball, the NFL, track and field, cycling and others, PGA TOUR headquarters had to do something. Whether or not this new policy unearths any wrongdoings by the players, it should at least help ease the minds of conspiracy theorists. And perhaps more importantly, make Finchem look like the anti-Bud Selig.
A TOAST TO VICTORY: Scotland's very own Marc Warren became the first countryman to win the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland (which happens to be the site of the 2014 Ryder Cup matches). Warren's birdie putt on the 72nd hole got him into a playoff with Simon Wakefield.
BackspinWarren now has two career European Tour titles to his credit. Both of those victories have come in playoffs. And strangely enough, both wins were decided on the second playoff hole. The way he played on Sunday -- check out his scorecard -- Warren could have won easily or finished outside the top 10.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The R&A announced that the Mark H. McCormack Medal will be presented annually to the leading player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking; Bernhard Langer made his Champions Tour debut this past week at Pebble Beach; Colin Montgomerie confirmed that he is engaged to Gaynor Knowles.
BackspinMcCormack is the founder of IMG, his first client being none other than Arnold Palmer; Rookie Langer found out just how tough those old buggers are, finishing in a tie for 10th; Here's hoping Monty's soon-to-be wife is a soft talker.
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