Backspin Things Getting Silly

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 12, 2007, 5:00 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.
 
LEFTY BEING LEFTY: Phil Mickelson finished his two-week stay in Asia with a wild, Mickelson-like final round that resulted in a playoff win in the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai. It marked just the second win for Mickelson outside the United States.
 
Backspin After finishing 16 shots back of the winner last week, it appeared Lefty had traveled outside the comfy confines of the U.S. solely to accept the huge appearance fees that he commands. But like usual, Mickelson had a few tricks up his sleeve, including blowing a five-stroke lead with nine holes to play. A birdie on the second playoff hole gave Lefty the victory and led him to say, 'It's a funny game, golf.' No, Phil, the game isn't really all that funny; it's you that makes it seem that way.
 
CREAMING THE COMPETITION: Paula Creamer 'held on' to win the Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions in Alabama, edging Birdie Kim by a mere eight strokes. It was the Pink Panther's second win of the season, and her first since the first event of 2007.
 
Backspin After starting the tournament 2 over par following the first nine holes, Creamer put the pedal to the metal and blitzed her fellow competitors. The turning point was a sensational run at the end of her first round where the 21-year-old rang up seven straight birdies to climb into early contention. She then went bogey-free the rest of the way - until the 72nd hole - to capture her fourth career title.
 
PETTERSEN VERSUS TELEVISION: Suzann Pettersen was penalized two strokes following her round Friday at the Tournament of Champions. Her par on the par-5 13th turned out to be a double-bogey 7, dropping her eight off the pace after 36 holes.
 
Backspin In a sport that constantly repeats how players honor the game by calling penalties on themselves, this time it was instead a TV camera calling the shots. The Norwegian attempted to move some branches following a wayward drive, and, somehow unbeknownst to her and her caddie, ended up causing the ball to move ever-so-slightly. She then proceeded to hit from the wrong spot, resulting in a two-shot penalty and in the process putting an end to her recent hot streak.
 
NOT A BAD START: The European Tour got off to pretty good start to its 2008 season with a strong field and a wild finish at the abovementioned HSBC Champions tournament. One event down; 50 to go.
 
Backspin Granted, the tour started their season in China and not in Europe, and the fact that it just finished its 2007 season the week before, and yes, that it's not even close to 2008 yet, but nevertheless it was a fantastic beginning. The Sunday leaderboard was dotted with names like Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Vijay Singh and Lee Westwood. Throw in a final round roller-coaster ride by Phil the Thrill and you've got the makings of a beautiful beginning.
 
SILLY, HAPPY TIME: Natalie Gulbis and John Elway teamed to win the Golf Skills Challenge at the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort and Club last Monday. The event featured the teams of Dan Marino and Bubba Watson; Roger Clemens and Greg Norman; and Jerry Rice and Peter Jacobsen.
 
Backspin The hottie and Hall of Famer made for quite a team ' and picked up quite a paycheck. Gulbis and Elway split $310,000. Silly Season commissioner Gordon Gekko is thrilled with the way his campaign has kicked off.
 
THE LITTLEIST CAPTAIN: Englands Alison Nicholas was named 2009 European Solheim Cup captain. The 1997 U.S. Womens Open champion has competed in six Cup Matches and was twice on the winning team.
 
Backspin Nicholas will be trying to end a two Cup winning streak by the Americans, and will be trying to lead the Euros to their first-ever win in the U.S. Maybe the Yanks will employ Nancy Lopez once again as captain just to give her a chance to extract a little revenge for the 97 Open loss.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Vicky Hurst won the Duramed Futures Tour's qualifying tournament last Friday; Tadd Fujikawa received a sponsor's exemption to play in next year's Sony Open; Greg Norman announced on Tuesday the pairings for this year's Merrill Lynch Shootout to be held at Tiburon Golf Club and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.
 
Backspin Hurst, not sure if she will turn pro or elect to go to college, has already been named the AJGA's 2007 Rolex Junior Player of the Year with three tournament wins; The 16-year-old Fujikawa can only hope to have another run like he did at last year's Sony, where he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA TOUR; Yes it is the Silly Season, but the chance to see Norman - not to mention Couples, Daly, Price, Funk and Woody, amongst others - back out roaming the fairways is a treat in our books.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - HSBC Champions
  • Full Coverage - LPGA Tournament of Champions
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    Watch: Birds attack JT during post-round interview

    By Grill Room TeamFebruary 17, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Justin Thomas may have carded five birdies and an eagle on Saturday at the Genesis Open, but it was the two birds he encountered after his round that made for the biggest highlight.

    Fresh off a third-round 67 that put him in the mix at Riviera Country Club through 54 holes, Thomas' post-round interview was interrupted by a couple of birds. Luckily, JT and CBS' Amanda Balionis were able to escape unscathed and with smiles on their faces.

    Thomas will need to do a little worse at dodging birdies in the final round if he wants to catch the leaders on Sunday.

    Getty Images

    Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

    The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

    Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

    The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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    Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

    The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

    England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

    The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.


    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


    ''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

    Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

    That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

    ''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

    The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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    J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

    ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

    The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

    Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

    Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

    Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.


    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


    "I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

    "It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

    South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

    Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

    "It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."