Backspin Sergio Steroids and Seve

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 23, 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.
IRISH FOLKLORE Padraig Harrington somehow survived a possible career-defining meltdown to win the dramatic 136th Open Championship at Carnoustie in a playoff over Sergio Garcia. His double-bogey on the 72nd hole was quickly washed away with a birdie on the first extra hole, en route to his first major championship.
BackspinThe wildly popular and likable Harrington finally ended Europe's winless drought in majors, which dated, ironically, back to Carnoustie in 1999. But perhaps the most telling image of the day was the smile on Harrington's face when - after possibly throwing away his first major title - his little boy ran onto the green to greet him following his play in regulation. His Irish eyes are always smiling.
EXPLOSIVE: HANDLE WITH CARE Sergio Garcia blew a three-shot overnight lead Sunday, but reclaimed a one-stroke advantage on the last hole after Harrington made double-bogey. Garcia tried to play the 18th conservatively, laying up off the tee with an iron, but still made bogey. He then bogeyed the first extra hole and lost by one in the four-hole cumulative playoff.
BackspinThis one will hurt. For a very long time. In his post-tournament press conference, Garcia seemed to feel conspired against by fate. If he hated talking about why he hasn't won a major before this past week, he may never talk to the media again after it.
THREE DOWN, ONE TO GO Tiger Woods was trying to accomplish something that hadnt been done in over 50 years ' win three consecutive Open Championships. Alas, he finished in a tie for 12th, five removed from the playoff.
BackspinTiger defines success based on his major titles won. And this is quickly becoming a disappointing campaign. Woods has gone winless in the majors only three times in 10 previous full seasons on TOUR. He still has the PGA Championship left, but he tied for 29th the last time Southern Hills hosted a major, the 2001 U.S. Open.
CAR-NASTY NO MORE! Harrington wasnt the only winner at this years Open. After being criticized for its set-up in 1999, Carnoustie received much more favorable reviews this time around. The winning score was 7 under, as opposed to 6 over, eight years ago.
BackspinSome pundits actually thought the course was too easy ' but dont tell that to those who had to play it. While scores were much lower, the closing holes were as devilish in 07 as they were in 99. Once again, what transpired on 17 and 18 will forever define this Open at Carnoustie.
GARY BEING GARY Gary Player created quite an uproar in his Tuesday Open Championship press conference when he stated that he knew of at least one player who had taken performance-enhancing drugs. He would not reveal the players name, but added that he believed no fewer than 10 players from around the world were using performance-enhancing drugs in the professional ranks.
BackspinIt is not uncommon for the 71-year-old Player to want to re-direct the spotlight his way. He received quite a bit of criticism from the media, tour officials, fans and players ' some of who will be a part of his International Presidents Cup team in September. The problem most had with Players comments was that he didnt name names. Expect this issue to create a lot of headlines over the next few months.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES Seve Ballesteros officially announced his retirement from competitive golf Monday at Carnoustie, site of his first Open Championship appearance in 1975. The five-time major champion said he would still play golf with family and friends, but would focus professionally on his golf course design business.
BackspinThe rise and fall of Ballesteros is mind boggling. He was one of the rare players about whom you can truly say, There will never be another. But there was no steady decline in his career. He reached the top of the mountain and then fell over the edge. Being that hes only 50, it will be interesting to see if pride factors into a return after a couple of years.
ALMOST A MIRACLE In the wake of Argentine Angel Cabrera's surprise win at the U.S. Open at Oakmont last month, little-known fellow countryman Andres Romero was at one point alone in the lead -- by two -- coming down the stretch at Carnoustie. He ultimately finished third after a double bogey-bogey finish that included a botched 2-iron approach shot from the rough at 17 which carmoed off a burn wall and out-of-bounds.
BackspinRomero's scorecard was a sight to behold, as he played the final 11 holes without a single par on his card. In all, Romero posted 10 birdies, a bogey and a pair of costly double-bogeys that cost him an improbable victory. Somewhere, Phil Mickelson must have been nodding with an understanding of Romero's wild ride.
IT'S OGILVIE, NOT OGILVY Joe Ogilvie won the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee for his first-ever PGA TOUR win. The 33-year-old Ogilvie played the final six holes in 4 under par, which turned out to be his margin of victory over Tim Clark, Tim Herron and Charlie Wi.
BackspinFor Ogilvie, the win came with not only a robust $720,000 first-place check, but also entries into the Masters and the PGA Championship. And perhaps most importantly, he will start to chip away at the label of being called the 'other Ogilvie,' in reference to U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy.
IF A TREE FALLS IN THE WOODS... South Koreas Seon Hwa Lee beat Japans Ai Miyazato, 2-up, to win the LPGA Tours HSBC Womens World Match Play Championship in New York. Along the way Lee defeated the likes of Janice Moodie, Laura Davies and Mi Hyun Kim for her second LPGA Tour title.
BackspinLee, last years rookie of the year, was going through somewhat of a sophomore slump with just three top-10 finishes in 07, but her victory Sunday will assuredly be the right tonic to regain her confidence. Too bad, however, that her march to the winners circle - in what should be a premiere event for the LPGA - was overshadowed due to being scheduled the same week as the British Open. It also didn't help the tournament that all of the top seeds were gone after two rounds.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT Daniel Summerhays, who became the first amateur to ever win a Nationwide Tour event two weeks ago, announced he was going to turn professional; Tom Scherrer won the Nationwide Tour's Price Cutter Charity Championship; The three players who were in the playoff at Carnoustie in 1999 didn't even make it to the weekend this time around.
BackspinSummerhays, who would have been a senior at Brigham Young, must have still been fuming that he wasn't able to collect the $126,000 check for his Nationwide win; The 37-year-old Scherrer stormed into the lead on Friday on the strength of a sizzling 63, which included a hole-in-one. And did we mention it happened to be his birthday as well?; Van de Velde didn't even play in the event and Paul Lawrie and Justin Leonard missed the cut.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 136th Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

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

    Former 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 Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted 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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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?

    Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    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