Backspin Wedding Bells for Annika

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 27, 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.
STRICKLY BUSINESS: Steve Stricker finally capitalized on a big chance to win a big tournament, rallying late Sunday to capture The Barclays. A 54-hole leader for the first time in nine years, Stricker birdied four of his final five holes to lock up the first PGA TOUR Playoffs event, and move into first place in the race for the $10 million bonus prize.
BackspinA great finish and great result for one of the TOUR's great guys. Stricker went through a hellish time in his career and often wondered if he would ever win again. He had a few chances earlier this year -- two of them at majors -- but played poorly on Sunday every time. This time, though, he came through. And it could pay off in a really big way.
MEET ME IN BOSTON: There was a story within the story at The Barclays. While Steve Stricker was busy taking over first place in the FedExCup standings, others were just trying to stay alive for the upcoming Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston. Rich Beem and Doug LaBelle II were the only two players who moved from the outside, into the top 120 to qualify for the second Playoff event.
BackspinCongratulations to both, but Doug LaBelle? He's had one top-10 all year and that came in his first event, at the Sony Open. How is he even in the 'playoffs,' let alone advancing into Round 2?
ROMANCING THE SWEDE: Annika Sorenstam this past weekend accepted the wedding proposal of Mike McGee, who also happens to be the Managing Director for the ANNIKA brand of businesses. It will be Sorenstam's second marriage.
Backspin A wedding date has not been set, but you can rule out four weeks in 2008; eight weeks if she plans on pal Eldrick attending. No word yet on if Callaway will start printing Mrs. 59 on Annika's personal golf balls instead of Ms. 59.
USA! USA! USA!: Team USA was finalized Sunday night after the Safeway Classic as Solheim Cup team captain Betsy King chose Laura Diaz and Nicole Castrale as her two additional picks for this year's match in Sweden.
BackspinThough only dating back to 1990, the Solheim Cup has quickly gained in popularity and usually provides the potential for a couple of cat fights between the teams. Adding the fiery Morgan Pressel, a rookie who qualified for the U.S. team, certainly won't douse the flames in any way. A bit of combustion might be a good thing this year -- in terms of attracting some extra eyes -- as the event is being contested opposite the TOUR Championship.
DOING IT THE SAFE WAY: Lorena Ochoa won the Safeway Classic on Sunday, her third straight win and sixth on the season. Ochoa got off to a rough start in the final round, but four birdies in a seven-hole stretch during the middle part gave her the cushion she needed.
BackspinOchoa's rise to power had been a steady burn, slowly gaining on and then finally surpassing Annika the Great. But now it has become a wildfire seemingly out of control. The question now is, Will she lose again in 2007? And, Will she be invited to the McGee-Sorenstam wedding?
NOT SO FUNNY: Bill Murray, star of 'Caddyshack' and the annual AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, was picked up by police in Stockholm for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol while riding around in a golf cart.
BackspinAlcohol? Not marijuana? Surprising coming from our old friend Carl Spackler, who once offered this little gem - 'This is a hybrid. This is a cross, ah, of Bluegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Featherbed Bent, and Northern California Sensemilia. The amazing stuff about this is, that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus-belt that night on this stuff.'
LIKE FATHER, LIKE... WELL, MAYBE NOT: Stefan Langer accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in The KLM Open in the Netherlands and shot an opening-round 98. His father, Bernhard, posted a 3-under 67, a difference of 31 shots.
Backspin The elder Langer skipped out on The Barclays, for which he had qualified, to play at the same event as his son. What was supposed to unfold into a feel good story of a legendary, two-time Masters champion and his son playing alongside each other, instead turned into feel awful story about a legendary, two-time Masters champion and his son playing alongside each other.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Andrew Coltart fired a back-nine 27 in Rd. 1 of the KLM Open; Denis Watson won for the second time on the Champions Tour, doing so in a 7-man playoff; Michelle Wie missed another cut - her fourth MC in five attempts this year on the LPGA; Colt Knost won the U.S. Amateur to go along with his U.S. Publinx title he captured earlier in the summer; And Peter Jacobsen offered a $5,000 reward for the return of golf clubs that were stolen out of his garage.
Backspin While Coltart's scorecard was a thing of beauty, couldn't he have dug a little deeper and birdied the last two holes - hack!; Watson went birdie-birdie in the playoff to beat some big-time Senior names; The Big Wiesy has officially become the Big Uneasy; Who knew the U.S. Am was even being played this week?; And instead of $5K, Jake should offer up a free round with him impersonating Craig Stadler and Stadler himself. Oh, what fun! Especially after Stadler just lost in a seven-man playoff.
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  • Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

    A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

    In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

    “I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

    Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    “I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

    Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

    “We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

    How does she feel?

    “I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

    Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

    New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

    Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

    She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

    “I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

    Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

    Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

    Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

    “Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

    Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

    “I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

    You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

    By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

    Race to the CME Globe

    Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

    Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

    The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

    Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

    Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

    So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

    Rolex Player of the Year

    The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

    Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

    Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

    Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

    It’s simple math.

    The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

    1st - 30 points

    2nd – 12 points

    3rd – 9 points

    4th – 7 points

    5th – 6 points

    6th – 5 points

    7rd – 4 points

    8th – 3 points

    9th – 2 points

    10th – 1 point

    Vare Trophy

    Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

    Money-winning title

    Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking

    World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

    Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

    At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

    Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

    By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

    Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

    ''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

    Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

    ''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

    Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

    ''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

    ''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour.

    ''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

    He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

    ''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

    Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

    ''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''