Backspin Tiger Cub Playoff Thrills

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In our new feature, Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
TIGER CUB: Just hours after falling short of winning his third U.S. Open, Tiger Woods joined his wife in an Orlando hospital to welcome their first child into the world. Born Sam Alexis Woods, the baby girl was delivered about a month before the due date, when it was speculated Tiger would miss his title defense of the British Open.
 
BackspinSpeculation on how fatherhood will effect Tiger and his winning ways have come from every corner of the earth, from seemingly every pundit; even from his fellow peers and from the likes of Nicklaus and Palmer. Of course, we will all just have to wait and see, but odds are it shouldn't curtail Tiger from getting into the winner's circle with his usual regularity. And speaking of odds, Ladbrokes in London had odds on little Sam Alexis playing on the LPGA Tour sometime in the future at 50-1.
 
Michelle Wie
At least Michelle Wie won't have to go through this mess again. (Getty Images)
NO MORE HEAT EXHAUSTION: Michelle Wie announced that she would be pulling out of the John Deere Classic in mid-July, citing her lack of strength - due to her long layoff from regular golf workouts - would be too tough to overcome on a lengthy PGA TOUR course.
 
BackspinWie and her handlers appear to have finally come to their senses as the 17-year-old Hawaiian will bypass her yearly go-around at the 7,193-yard, par-71 TPC at Deere Run. Although it seems it couldn't have gotten worse than last year's strange episode at the John Deere, in which she withdrew after nine holes of the second round due to heat exhaustion, it very easily could have considering the 80s she's been putting up lately playing alongside the ladies. The bigger question is: How will she fare at this week's U.S. Women's Open.
 
GOING THROUGH WITHDRAWALS: Speaking of Wie and her withdrawal, she was joined by a quite a few other big names who announced similar plans this past week. Lefty pulled out of the Travelers due to his on-going wrist injury; Tiger opted out of his title defense this week at the Buick Open; Angel Cabrera will stay put in Argentina and miss the Open de France; and former British Open winner David Duval announced his pull-out of this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.
 
BackspinEveryone pretty much knew that there was a less than zero percent chance that Phil was actually going to play last week after his troubles at Oakmont, and ditto for Tiger, with a about the same probability that he was going to be defending his title at the Buick Open this week with little Sam Alexis just a few days old. Cabrera excuse? Well, he's not as young as he used to be; therefore, we imagine U.S. Open hangovers take a bit longer to get over. And as for Duval, it's assumed he pulled out to be with his wife, who is having a difficult pregnancy and is on bed rest with their second child on the way.
 
DRUG TESTING: PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem spoke last week about how the TOUR is getting closer to making rules on performance-enhancing drugs and inching closer to implementing testing. With Tiger Woods stating that he would like to see drug-testing put into action ASAP, the commissioner is hardly alone on an island in bringing this to reality.
 
BackspinDespite admitting that he doesn't feel that the TOUR has a problem with illegal drugs in any way, Finchem realized that getting a plan in place would be in the best interest of the TOUR. And it only makes sense, especially after seeing the bombshells that other sports have had to suffer through, most notably baseball's seemingly never-ending saga. That, and Tiger said so.
 
ROOKIE MEET WORLD NO. 1: Rookie In-Kyung Kim played alongside Lorena Ochoa in the final round of the Wegmans LPGA and trailed by one entering Sunday's play. It seemed a long shot for a rookie to overtake the world's top-ranked player, but that's indeed what the teenager from South Korea did. In fact, she held a three-shot lead standing on the 17th hole late in the day. Yet, four holes later - two in regulation and two playoff holes, it was Ochoa lofting the trophy.
 
BackspinEven if Kim had held on for the win, the story would have still been focused on Ochoa and her lack of closing out tournaments. And on the eve of the LPGA's third major of the year, the world No. 1 would have hated to have those kinds of questions swirling around when she is still in pursuit of her first career major championship. Now, however, she goes to Pine Needles with an extra boost of confidence - and the fact that she finally notched her first playoff win in five tries.
 
HUNTING SEASON: A year after finishing second in this event, Hunter Mahan got things started in fine fashion by posting an 8-under 62 in Thursday's opening round at the Travelers. He then finished what he started in dramatic fashion, stuffing his approach shot on the first hole of a playoff to within a foot for his first PGA TOUR win.
 
Backspin Although the crowd was behind local fan favorite Jay Williamson, Mahan came up big despite almost giving away the tournament late in his round. Three-putt bogeys at the 16th and 17th gave away his two-shot lead and he came to the 18th needing birdie to force the playoff. He knocked his a approach to 7 feet and rolled in the birdie much to the chagrin of Williamson. He now finds himself with a trip to Hawaii to start the 2008 season at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
EMOTIONAL VICTORY: Virginia Tech student Drew Weaver defeated Australia's Tim Stewart, 2 and 1, to become the first American to win the British Amateur tournament since 1979. With the victory, the 20-year-old earned an invitation to the British Open at Carnoustie in Scotland next month and will also be teeing it up in next year's Masters Tournament.
 
BackspinFollowing his emotional win, Weaver promptly dedicated his victory to the 32 victims who lost their lives on the Blacksburg, Va., campus back in April, in what was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Said Weaver of his win, 'I've been proud to represent the college here this week and to give them something positive.' Pretty heady stuff for a 20-year-old amateur.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The head greenskeeper at Carnoustie, criticized by some golfers at the 1999 British Open for the outrageously difficult course set-up, was recently suspended from his duties; John Daly won the Telus World Skins event for the second straight year; Stewart Cink and J.J. Henry reeled off six consecutive birdies on the back nine Tuesday en route to a one-stroke victory over Brad Faxon and Zach Johnson in the CVS Caremark Charity Classic in the Rhode Island; and Angel Cabrera returned to wild celebrations in his native Argentina following the country's first major victory in 40 years.
 
BackspinHere's betting that most players hope Carnoustie greenskeeper John Philp's suspension lasts through July 22nd; Daly's played in 12 PGA TOUR events this season and has managed to win a mere $117, 728. His haul in the Skins game was $220,000; While Cink and Henry took the top prize, the all-ladies team of Juli Inkster and Natalie Gublis finished ninth in the 10-team field; Cabrera was last seen sticking his mug and the U.S. Open trophy through a sunroof while driving throught the streets of Buenos Aires.
 
Related Links:
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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.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.