The Big Picture for Big Easy

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 10, 2008, 4:00 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.
 
BIG EASY'S BIG REVELATION: A week after a dramatic high in notching his first win in over 3 years on the PGA TOUR, Ernie Els revealed to GOLF CHANNEL's Rich Lerner that his 5-year-old son, Ben, is suffering from autism.
 
Backspin Els didn't make the cut at Innisbrook, but as Lerner aptly pointed out in his story, by going public with such a extremely personal family matter, 'Ernie had struck perhaps the most important shot of his life.' All the tough losses to Tiger in the past hardly seem too important to worry about at this point and time. As Els said, Its (autism) a change of life, a change of priorities.' And it surely is a cause his peers will likely rally around.
 
BAD COURSE MANAGEMENT: Current Nationwide Tour player Tripp Isenhour was charged last Wednesday with cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird. The charge stems from an incident in which Isenhour repeatedly took aim at the bird while trying to film a golf video.
 
Backspin Like pretty much everything in society, people are lining up on both sides of this issue. On one side, here is a quote from Mark Calcavecchia, 'It's a bad break for the bird, but it sounds like there are a lot of other things people should be worried about.' And the other side of the issue, Humane Society executive vice president Michael Markarian, 'Americans have no tolerance for cruelty to animals. Such a petty, mean spirited act against a wild bird is inexcusable and prosecutors are right to hold Isenhour accountable to the law.' With criminal charges being pressed expect this story to stick around for a while.
 

PODS PERSON: Sean O'Hair posted a final-round 2-under 69 Sunday at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club and it was good enough to earn him his second career PGA TOUR title. Stewart Cink, the 54-hole leader, collapsed coming down the stretch with a pair of bogeys and a double bogey, late.
 
Backspin It seems the last time we saw much of O'Hair was when he was paired with Phil Mickelson in the final group at last year's PLAYERS Championship - and the resulting two shots into the water at 17 that led to a quadruple-bogey 7. Ahhh, but time heals all wounds. And a $954,000 first-place check can also help the healing process. Probably even better than time.
 

YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!: Bernhard Langer won his second Champions Tour event at the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, Calif. Langer needed seven extra holes to outlast Jay Haas in a memorable playoff that has become the norm on the senior circuit.
 
Backspin As has been mentioned every single week in this space, the Champions Tour is quite honestly the most exciting sporting event week in and week out in the sporting world - granted, if you are a golf lover. This past week? A mind-boggling seven-hole playoff! Do yourself a favor and make the Champions Tour a part of your 'Must See TV.' You will not be disappointed. Just check out the previous 2008 events if you doubt it.
 

BETTER DAYS?: Indias Arjun Atwal bettered Peter Hedblom on the second hole of a playoff to win the Malaysian Open. Atwal had gone five years since his last win, which actually came in 2003 at this very same tournament.
 
Backspin Atwals win came courtesy of a stellar final-round score of 8-under-par 64 to finish at 18 under. Atwals victory comes a few weeks after he was reportedly cleared over an alleged high-speed car race that left one driver dead, and it couldnt have come any sooner. However, a recent report from Sports Illustrated says Atwal has not been cleared. Stay tuned.
 

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU FLIRT WITH:England's Nick Dougherty started his first round at the Malaysian Open by posting nine birdies in his first 13 holes and nearly ended up shooting 59. Dougherty parred the last five holes and ended up with a 62.
 
BackspinDespite his great opening round, Dougherty ended up losing, and losing by quite a large margin - seven strokes. It isnt everyday you see a player shoot a 62 in the first round of a tournament, not have any rounds over par, and still lose by more than a six pack; but hey, thats golf. And a cruel mistress indeed.
 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: John Daly, playing in the PODS Championship on a sponsors exemption, used Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach John Gruden as his caddie in the first round of the tournament; U.S. Solheim Cup captain Beth Daniel named Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins as her assistants for the 2009 matches outside Chicago.
 
BackspinWhile the fans in Tampa no doubt enjoyed seeing their NFL coach between the ropes, Chucky couldnt keep J.D. from again missing another cut; Mallon and Robbins, both major champions, have combined to play in 14 Solheim Cups and are good friends with Daniel - an easy and smart choices for the captain.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PODS Championship
  • Full Coverage - Toshiba Classic
  • Full Coverage - Malaysian Open
  • More Headlines
  • 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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.''