Backspin Start of Fall End for Norman

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
IN THE FLES(C)H!: Steve Flesch won for the second time this year at the inaugural Turning Stone Resort Championship. Flesch used rounds of 66-65-66 to take a four-stroke lead into Sunday and then held on with a 1-over 73.
 
BackspinThis is the second win in eight weeks for Flesch. Ironically, neither victory qualifies him for the Masters, as Augusta National doesn't recognize Fall Series events as qualifiers to their tournament, nor opposite field events (one of which, Reno-Tahoe, was also won by Flesch). No worries, though, as the left-hander is now 25th on the money list, with the top 30 at season's end getting into the first major of 2008. And even if he doesn't, for some reason, get into that event, he'll have plenty of other places to play for the next three years.
 
AUTUMN IS HERE: On the heels of the inaugural FedExCup Playoffs, the PGA TOURs inaugural 'Fall Series' got underway in New York with the first-ever Turning Stone Resort Championship. As mentioned, Flesch walked away with the first-place prize -- but he wasn't the only winner.
 
BackspinThis seven-week chase is more than just about who wins and loses each week, and in that way can make it far more compelling than its Cup predecessor. Just ask Michael Allen. The Q-school regular wrangled a second-place showing at Turning Stone and thus secured a place to play in '08. Expect storylines like this one on a weekly basis.
 
THE STRAIGHT DOPE: The leading governing bodies of the world of golf - the PGA TOUR, European Tour, LPGA Tour, the U.S.G.A, Royal & Ancient Golf Club, Augusta National Golf Club and the PGA of America ' all signed off on an anti-doping policy to take effect some time in 2008.
 
BackspinIn a sport where players are routinely praised for calling penalties on themselves during competition, the governing bodies apparently decided that the players might not be calling every infraction on themselves off the course. On one hand, its foolish to remain nave about sports-enhancing drugs in todays world, but on the other hand lets hope the sport is as squeaky clean as its public image has always been. Somewhere Barry Bonds is wishing he'd had taken up hitting golf balls and not baseballs. Or maybe not.
 
AUGUSTA IN '96? GOOD TIMES: Greg Norman and his now former wife Laura have reportedly settled their much public and very contentious divorce. Their marriage lasted 25 years.
 
BackspinThere are, however, a few points still needing to be settled, such as determining how they will split the tax liability on Norman's jet. Norman is now a business man, and perhaps even better at making money than he was at winning golf tournaments. We can only wonder which hurts more: Losing major money or losing major championships.
 
REMEMBER ME?: Lee Westwood won the British Masters over the weekend, closing the tournament with a 7-under 65 that included a 40-foot putt for birdie on the 16th hole and a 30-footer for eagle at the 17th. It was his second win this year.
 
BackspinWestwood was a shooting star in the golf world from 1998-2000, winning an astounding 18 times on the European Tour during that stretch. He then experienced a David Duval-like fall from grace, at times not sure if he would continue to play the game. As to be expected, his big win quickly went to his big head, as he said: 'I'd like to get back into the top-5 (in the world rankings).' Slow down Lee; no need to make Tiger's ears perk up.
 
FIRST TIME'S A CHARM: Playing in his first event on the Champions Tour, Mark Wiebe shot 18 under par to capture the SAS Championship. He became the 12th player to win in his debut on the senior circuit.
 
BackspinWith all the hype surrounding the arrivals of Nick Price, Mark O'Meara, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Jeff Sluman this year on the Champions Tour, it's the little known Wiebe who has the only title among this group. Wiebe, who's last TOUR-related win came in 1986, might not sell tickets at the gate, but he's going to be taking home some serious money on the senior set.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: John Daly withdrew from the Turning Stone event in the first round due to 'flu-like symptoms;' Hawaiian teen Tadd Fujikawa again missed a cut - his third straight MC as a professional, this time coming on the Nationwide Tour; The U.S. won the PGA Cup, an event which pits American club professionals against their European counterparts, 13 1/2 -12 1/2; And finally, The Ginn sur Mer Classic has offered exemptions to twins Derek and Daryl Fathauer for next month's event in Florida.
 
Backspin Daly had talked just prior to the start of the event about how he was looking forward to finishing the season strong. Again, he talked about a strong finish; The 16-year-old Fujikawa didn't make it to the weekend, but he did provide some highlights as he became the youngest player in N'Wide Tour history to record an ace; The U.S. win sets up a possible clean sweep for America in recent 'Cup' play - Walker Cup, Solheim Cup, PGA, and now, perhaps, this week's Presidents Cup; This will mark the first time identical twins have played in the same PGA TOUR event since Curtis and Allen Strange in the 1981 Texas Open. Here's wondering which of the two Fathauer boys will become Curtis and which will become Allen?
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Turning Stone Resort Championship
  • Norman's Divorce
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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the trophy was out of reach.

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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.