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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  • 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.''