Backspin Tigers Romp Davies Dig

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 17, 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.
OH, NO HE DIDN'T?: Oh, yes he did. Tiger Woods won the the TOUR Championship in predictably easy fashion, pretty much lapping the field en route to a record-breaking eight-stroke win at East Lake. It was Tiger's second win at the TOUR Championship, his last coming in 1999.
BackspinAlthough it is somewhat surprising that Tiger has only won this premiere PGA TOUR event only twice in his career, not surprising is how he completely beat down this elite field. He beat the Masters champion, Zach Johnson, by eight strokes; British Open champ Padraig Harrington by 16 strokes; and world No. 2 Phil Mickelson by a whopping 18 strokes. Tiger eats 'elite' for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
FEDEXCUP: THE CURTAIN COMES DOWN: Tiger, who caused quite a stir by skipping the first-ever Playoff event at The Barclays at Westchester, ultimately made that a mute point by finishing off the inaugural FedExCup Playoffs atop the points list - by a wide, Tiger-like margin over runner-up Steve Stricker.
BackspinAll the talk. All the promotion. All the hype. And all the bickering. And all for no reason. In the three events Tiger played, he finished first, second and first, thank you very much. Sure there will be tweaks to the Playoff format, even though it did well in providing much needed excitement to the end of the PGA TOUR's 'regular season.' But like Micheal Jordan back in his heyday, the only tweak the TOUR can't make involves the inevitability of Tiger kissing the trophy.
SINGULARLY SENSATIONAL: The U.S. Solheim Cup team won going away on Sunday, coming from behind on the final day to make the final victory margin 16-12. It marked just their second-ever victory on foreign soil.
BackspinComing into the matches, the U.S. squad, like their Ryder Cup brethren back in the day, looked like the easy favorites on paper. And much like their Ryder Cup peers (back in the day and currently), they struggled with the foursomes and four-ball matches, trailing the competition going into the singles. But lo and behold, the ladies thoroughly enjoyed their American-style singles expertise in typical fashion, winning eight of the 12 singles matches on the final day.
NAME TAG PLEASE: England's Laura Davies, stirred the pot a bit prior to the opening matches in response to a question about how she tried to get fired up playing against the American team. Said the affable Davies, 'We're all good friends now. Except for maybe that one.'
BackspinHmmm. Thanks, Laura. The fact that she declined to name a name left the rest of us to go down the roster to try out figure out this mystery. She did get us started on the man, er, woman hunt by saying that it wasn't her elder, Juli Inkster. It makes for a good board game however - give it a shot by going through the American team to see who you think 'that one' could be. Fun for all ages!
NO SERIOUSLY, THESE GUYS ARE GOOD!: The facts and stats: Lee Westwood shot a 61 in Germany on Thursday; R.W. Eaks fired a 63 in his opening round on the Champions Tour; Zach Johnson posted an eye-popping 10-under 60 on Saturday in Atlanta; and then, of course, there are Tiger's scorecards for the week: 64, 63, 64, 66 - breaking the TOUR Championship record by six shots.
BackspinYikes! Just when you finally break 90 for the first time at your local muni, you look up at the TV in the clubhouse and see these insane numbers on the screen. Quickly, and rightfully so, your dreams of making it to the PGA TOUR or Champions Tour are smashed. Seriously, believe the commercials - these guys are good!
AN HONOR THAT'S AN HONOR: Hal Sutton was honored on Wednesday as the recipient of the the Payne Stewart Award, given annually to the player who reflects Stewart's respect for golf traditions, his charitable work and presentation in dress.
Backspin Sutton, winner of 14 PGA TOUR career events, joins the esteemed company of past winners Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (2000); Ben Crenshaw (2001); Nick Price (2002); Tom Watson (2003); Jay Haas (2004); Brad Faxon (2005); and Gary Player (2006). Sutton, who has drifted away from the bright lights emitted from TOUR life, no doubt considers this one of the greatest awards in his lifetime.
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED: Soarin' Soren Hansen eagled two of his final nine holes in Germany to win the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Cologne, Germany. It was Hansen's second career tour victory.
BackspinThe field this past week was limited to just 78 players and it included the likes of Retief Goosen, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Michael Campbell, John Daly and a host of notable Ryder Cup players. And, of course, none of them won. Perhaps now with the PGA TOUR's FedExCup in the books, the light will shine a little more on the European side. And maybe one of its stars will actually get a win.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: R.W. Eaks won for the second time on the Champions Tour this past week, holding off none other than 2006 Player of the Year Jay Haas; Phil Mickelson announced the first project of his newly formed golf course design company; Kyle Thompson won for the second time on the Nationwide Tour.
Backspin It didn't take long for Eaks to play the greedy card, saying, 'Winning earlier this year, I still didn't believe I could win. Now that I've won twice, I can't wait to win a third time.' But that's just R Dub being R Dub; Oh, and the site for Mickelson's new course? Just a mere 90 miles away from Tiger's own first American course in N.C.; This gives Thompson six more events to join Nick Flanagan as a winner of the PGA TOUR's 'Battlefield Promotion.'
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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.