Backspin Taking Out No 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 8, 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.
HAT TRICK OF SORTS:: Justin Leonard fought back from a four-shot deficit at the start of the day and outlasted Jesper Parnevik in a three-hole playoff to claim the Valero Texas Open. It was the Texans first PGA TOUR victory since his two-win season back in 2005 and his third overall at this event. He joined Arnold Palmer as the only men to win the Texas Open three times.
BackspinLeonard not only had to deal with his own nerves coming down the stretch, but also with all the rabbits Parnevik kept pulling out of his stylish, little top hat. The Swede, whose own victory drought dates back to 2001, several times recovered from spots that should have handed over the title to Leonard, only to survive regulation and to extend the playoff three holes. Hats off to Leonard, and well, we'll just let Jesper keep his funny little hat on.
ROCKIN' ROBERTS: Loren Roberts came into the Champions Tour's final major of the season with a close-but-no-cigar feel. He was third at the U.S. Senior Open, fourth at the Senior British, and fourth at the JELD-WEN Tradition. But he put that to rest with an overwhelming victory in Maryland, lapping the field to win the Senior Players Championship in Maryland.
BackspinRoberts, commonly known as the 'Boss of the Moss,' indeed lived up to that billing last week, finishing No. 1 in putts per GIR en route to his win. The 52-year-old Roberts has now won a major in each of his first three seasons on the Champions Tour and his victory moved him past Jay Haas in the Charles Schwab Cup points race with just three events left in the season.
LORENA WHO?: Suzann Pettersen stared down world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, topping the Mexican star on the second hole of a playoff to win the Longs Drug Challenge. It was Pettersen's third win of the season and established her as Ochoa's most formidable rival in the near future.
Backspin This was the second straight week that Ochoa either lost at the buzzer or in overtime. She has now finished inside the top 3 in 10 of her last 11 starts, and in the last eight straight. As for Pettersen, she is now second on the tour in wins and second on the tour in money. She may well be second on the tour in terms of talent, too (and she just beat No. 1).
LITTLE NICKY: Nick Dougherty, long known as 'Little Nicky' due to the tutelage from his childhood idle Nick Faldo, won for the second time in his young career, capturing the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by two strokes in Scotland.
BackspinDougherty's victory on the European Tour was no small feat, especially considering the elite field that was assembled in Scotland. The names Dougherty beat out included Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Paul Casey. Thus the question now becomes, after his second career tour victory, when will he earn the right to lose the 'Little Nicky' nickname? Maybe when he wins his seventh career major championship - one more than Hall of Famer Faldo.

OFF AND RUNNING: Newly minted professionals Colt Knost - the current U.S. Amateur champion - and Rory McIlroy - he of breakout British Open fame - had rather good weeks on their respective tours. Knost made the cut - on the number - in his rookie debut, and McIlroy was even better, finishing alone in third in the star-laden Dunhill Links Championship.
BackspinKnost, who famously, or in some eyes foolishly, gave up automatic invites to the Masters, U.S. and British Opens by way of his U.S. Am victory, finished T-49 in Texas to earn a paycheck in his first start; McIlroy not only topped Els and Harrington, to name a few, but in the process earned his tour card for next season in just his second event. Even Tiger didn't do it that fast.
MASTERS TRIP FOR TRIP: Trip Kuehne routed Dan Whitaker, 9 and 7, in the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. The victory was not only the 35-year-old Kuhnes first in a USGA event, but also earned him an invite to the 2008 Masters.
Backspin Kuehne, brother to Hank and Kelli, is perhaps most famous for losing to Tiger Woods in the 1994 U.S. Amateur. Hes also well known for being a career amateur. He has played in the U.S. Open three times ' making the cut in 2003 ' but this will be his first trip as a competitor at Augusta National.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The LPGA unveiled a new logo for the their tour; Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National, announced several changes that will be in place for the 2008 Masters; Richard Johnson birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Jeremy Anderson and Matthew Jones to win the Mark Christopher Charity Classic.
BackspinThe LPGA's new logo is indeed quite bold and sassy, pretty much like a lot of the young players that have burst onto the scene the last several years; Chairman Payne denied accusations that the changes were made to Zach-proof the course; Talk about exorcising some demons, this was the fifth time this season that Johnson was in the final group in the final round, but this was the first time he finally experienced a happy ending.
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.