Backspin Take the Money and Run

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 5, 2007, 5:00 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.
I'M GOING TO DISNEY... WAIT, I'M ALREADY HERE: Stephen Ames claimed the final PGA TOUR title this season, winning the Children's Miracle Network Classic by one stroke over Tim Clark. Ames shot 4-under 68 in the final round to claim his first victory of the season and the third of his career.
Backspin Ames entered the Disney event trying to work on his swing. He left with a trophy. He said that he was planning on going to Maui for Christmas ... now he can just stay in Hawaii for a little longer since he'll be playing in the Mercedes-Benz Championships. Not a bad way to enter -- and spend -- the holiday season.
BUBBLE BOYS: This, of course, was the final shuffle before TOUR cards were secured for next year. The biggest winner in that department was Kevin Stadler, who tied for 15th to move from 127th to 124th on the money list. Mathias Gronberg held the final spot thanks to a tie for 37th.
Backspin On the opposite end was Ted Purdy, who entered Disney at No. 125, missed the cut and left No. 127. Other numbers of importance: Justin Leonard failed to crack the top 30 and earn a Masters invivte next year, while Heath Slocum bumped David Toms out of the top 30; Robert Gamez and Jeff Gove moved into the top 150 to gain a spot in the finals of Q-school and conditional status next season; and Tripp Isenhour didn't make a birdie Sunday en route to missing out on the top 150.
IN FULL BLOOM: Justin Rose won the Volvo Masters in Spain on the second hole of a three-man playoff. It was Rose's second win of the season on the European Tour and seventh top-10 in only 12 starts.
Backspin Talk about coming out smelling like a rose. The 27-year-old Englishman not only started his week with a hole-in-one in the first round, but he finished in grand style, draining a 12-foot birdie putt for the victory and with it earning the prestigous Order of Merit title. The victory also vaulted Rose to seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking. That is one helluva week.
THERE'S A REASON THEY CALL THEM 'APPEARANCE FEES': Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, the No. 2 and 4 players in the world rankings, traveled halfway around the world to play in the Singapore Open. A closing 79 left Mickelson 16 strokes adrift of winner Angel Cabreara, while Els couldn't even make the cut.
Backspin Nothing screams 'Show me the money!' more than this trip for the two superstars. Mickleson often says he wants a shorter PGA TOUR season to have time to relax in the off-season. So he then travels to Asia to play. As for Els ... well, we'll get to him in a second. They would both make Rod Tidwell (Jerry Maguire) very proud.
ERNIE'S WEEK TO FORGET: Els skipped the European Tour's season-ending Volvo Masters to play in the Barclays Singapore Open, in which he bogeyed almost half the holes he played in the second round in missing the cut.
Backspin In what was a week to truly forget, Els first had to deal with a war with words between he and the Euro Tour, and then he and Colin Montgomerie over his decision to miss the Volvo Masters. Then he contracted food poisoning. Then he missed the cut by a mile in Singapore. Then he lost the Order of Merit title when Justin Rose finished first in Spain. Not a good week for the Big Easy. But, at least he got paid for just being Ernie.
THE HALL WILL HAVE TO WAIT: Laura Davies, who held at least a share of the lead for the first two rounds, could only muster an even-par round on Sunday to finish well back of winner Momoko Ueda at the Mizuno Classic in Japan.
Backspin Davies, who is just two points (one major victory or two regular season wins) shy of qualifying for the Hall of Fame, missed yet another golden opportunity to inch closer to the Hall. The 44-year-old has 68 wins worldwide, which include 20 on the LPGA Tour, and four majors to her credit. She will no doubt be voted in by the veterans committee some day, but here's hoping she can get into the Hall on her own two feet.
NATIONWIDE IS ON YOUR SIDE: Richard Johnson established a new tournament record, winning the Nationwide Tour Championship in 20-under-par 264, breaking the old mark by six strokes. Johnson's victory was his second of the season and placed him first on the final money list.
Backspin Twenty-five players earned their PGA TOUR cards for 2008 thanks to their monetary performances. Tom Scherrer and Matthew Letzig moved into the top 25 via their results in the Tour Championship. TOUR veteran Skip Kendall and David MacKenzie fell by the wayside.
KANN NOT DELIVER A VICTORY: Kraig Kann, the anchor on GOLF CHANNEL'S Sprint Post Game Show, had the privilage of caddying for good friend and PGA TOUR professional Jay Williamson at the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Classic. The ride at Disney, however, was short lived as Williamson failed to the make the cut.
Backspin Kann had previously caddied for Steve Flesch in the Wednesday pro-am of the 2004 Colonial, an event in which Flesch went on to win. This time. however, Kann's magical touch apparently ran out of juice. The silver lining? Kann was then able to focus on his beloved Missouri Tigers football win the following day.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tiger Woods has completed three holes on his first course design project in Dubai; The USGA and R&A announced a new rules change which will allow a golfer to lift a ball for identification in a bunker or water hazard; Michael Letzig flirted with a 59 in the first round of the Nationwide Tour Championship.
Backspin It was no doubt a small case of hyperbole when Abdulla Al Gurg, the project director for Tiger's course in Dubai, stated that it has already set 'a different benchmark in the golfing industry.' Take that Pete Dye and Robet Trent Jones Jr.; No word yet from the USGA, however, that a mulligan on the first tee will become an official rule; The only problem with shooting a 60 in the first round like Letzig did, is that you pretty much know there's no where to go but backwards.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Children's Miracle Network Classic
  • Full Coverage - Volvo Masters
  • Kraig Kann's Archive
  • More Headlines
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''