Big wins bigger money

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.
ALL REAVVED UP: Chez Reavie captured his first PGA TOUR crown, winning the RBC Canadian Open by a solid three strokes. The win gets Reavie, a former U.S. Public Links champion, an invitation to the upcoming PGA Championship.
Backspin Reavie's win was surprising, but not as unexpected as Anthony Kim's defeat. Kim, who was looking for his third win of the season, was just one back to begin the final round. But a five-bogey, one-birdie 75 in the final round placed him in a tie for eighth.

ALFIE!: Helen Alfredsson shot 63 on Friday and 67 on Sunday, then outlasted a pair of other players to capture the Evian Masters outside of Paris, France. The win was Alfredssons sixth on the LPGA and first since 2003.
Backspin The veteran birdied her final two holes to get into a playoff with Angela Park and Na Yeon Choi. In the extra session, she birdied the third extra hole for the win. Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr all finished inside the top 10, while Annika Sorenstam shot her best round of the week on Sunday ' all good news as the ladies enter the final major of their season, the Ricoh Womens British Open.

THEY CALL ME BRUCE: Bruce Vaughan defeated John Cook on the first hole of sudden death to win the Senior Open Championship at Royal Troon. The victory was Vaughans first on the 50-and-over circuit.
Backspin Vaughan not only beat Cook, but held off Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman and Tom Watson ' players who combined for 12 majors on the regular tour. Thats great news for Vaughan, but not necessarily for the Champions Tour, who was denied a big name winner in a big name event.

DRINK AND BE MERRY: Padraig Harrington met with the media Monday and revealed that he and company partied until 4 a.m. following his second consecutive Open Championship victory. The first choice of drink out of the claret jug? The same as it was last year: John Smiths Smooth Bitter.
Backspin Harrington also revealed that he now has his sights set on joining the greats of the game by adding a third major title to his resume, possibly something other than the Open Championship. With 13 European Tour victories, two PGA TOUR titles, two major championship triumphs, and one Order of Merit crown, the Irishman is moving in a positive direction towards the World Golf Hall of Fame.

JUST CANT GET ENOUGH: It was announced Monday that Michelle Wie will compete once again on the PGA TOUR in the upcoming Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, which will be contested opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Backspin Apparently three good rounds on the LPGA warrant an invite to the PGA TOUR. We have to admit, we didnt see this one coming. We figured there was no way Wie would play on the PGA TOUR this year; and no way anyone would offer her an exemption. But we were wrong. Or is it: Wie is wrong? Either way, it doesnt seem right.

DONT FORGET YOUR SUNGLASSES: David Duval will join Wie in Reno. Its his first appearance in the event since 2005, when he shot 82-77 to miss the cut. This will be Duvals 14th event of the season. He has made two cuts.
Backspin Yes, but those two cuts have come over his last three starts. Duval played solidly for three rounds of the Open Championship. A third-round 83, however, in gale force winds, ultimately relegated him to a tie for 39th. Still, he did get to play four rounds. The more he plays, it would seem, the better he will one day become ' or re-become (is that a word?).

DOLLARS AND NON-SENSE: Forbes published its list of top money-making female athletes this past week. The top 4 athletes were from the world of tennis, while No. 5 was from golf ' Michelle Wie.
Backspin Wie was said to earn $12 million annually ' pretty much exclusively from her endorsements, which include Nike and Sony. Annika Sorenstam was No. 6 with $11 million; Lorena Ochoa No. 7 with $10 million; and Paula Creamer was No. 10 with $6 million. This is like the rookie pay scale in the NFL, where players who have achieved nothing professionally get paid extensively more than those far more accomplished.

NOW ILL BE AN AMATEUR FOREVER: The son of former New York City major Rudy Giuliani is suing Duke University, claiming he was wrongfully kicked off the team. Giuliani says that because he was cut from the team, his chances of becoming a professional golfer were hurt.
Backspin Um, usually when youre cut from a team it means you werent good enough to be on that team. Still, its not like he got kicked off the basketball team, and therefore it hurt his chances of being drafted. Its golf, for Petes sake. You can turn pro whenever you want. Look, I just did it!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Cameron Peck defeated fellow 17-year-old Evan Beck to win the U.S. Junior Amateur title 13-year-old Alexis Thompson captured the Girls Junior Amateur crown Mikael Lundberg won his second Russian Open title on the European Tour.
Backspin Peck crushed Beck, 10 and 8, the largest margin of victory since the event moved to a 36-hole final four years ago Thompson was the second-youngest winner in the history of the tournament Nice win by Lundberg, but even more impressive were the bikini-clad caddies.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' RBC Canadian Open
  • Full Coverage ' Evian Masters
  • Full Coverage ' Senior Open Championship
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    G-Mac has Ryder Cup on mind with Genesis in grasp

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 2:12 am

    LOS ANGELES – Graeme McDowell is four years removed from his last start in a Ryder Cup and golf is more than seven months away from this year’s matches, but then it’s never too early to start daydreaming.

    Following a third-round 70 that left him tied for third place and just two strokes off the lead at the Genesis Open, McDowell was asked if the matches are on his mind.

    “I feel like I've got a lot of things to do between now and getting on that team,” he said. “Standing here right now it's probably not a realistic goal, but if I continue to play the way I'm playing for the next few months, it may start to become a realistic goal.”

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    McDowell began his week at Riviera Country Club fresh off four consecutive missed cuts and has drifted to 219th in the Official World Golf Ranking. But his play this week has been encouraging and the Northern Irishman has always relished the opportunity to play for Europe.

    “Deep down I know I'm good enough, but I've got to show, I've got to put some results on the board, I've got to take care of my business,” he said. “The greatest experience of my career bar none, and I would love to play another couple Ryder Cup matches before it's all said and done.”

    McDowell does have a potential advantage this year having won the French Open twice at Le Golf National, site of this year’s matches.

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    Bubba on McGrady block: 'Just trying not to get hurt'

    By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:56 am

    LOS ANGELES – A detour to the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game didn’t keep Bubba Watson from leading this week’s Genesis Open, although an on-court brush with Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady nearly derailed his chances for a third tournament win.

    Watson enters the final round at Riviera with a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay after firing a 6-under 65 in the third round. The day before, the southpaw left the course around lunch time and headed across town to participate in the All-Star festivities, where during the celebrity game he tried to score 1-on-1 over McGrady.

    Watson’s move into the lane went about as well as you’d expect given their five-inch height disparity, with McGrady easily blocking the ball into the stands. According to Watson, he had only one thought as McGrady came barreling towards him across the lane.

    “When I saw him, all I saw was, ‘This is my moment to get hurt,’” Watson said. “This big tank is about to hit me, and I was like, ‘Just knock it into the stands. Just don’t touch me.’ So it worked out, he didn’t touch me so it was good.”

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Watson’s attempt went against his wife Angie’s advice to avoid the paint area, but it provided a fun moment for a player used to carving up fairways and greens – not to mention the guy who played 15 seasons in the NBA.

    “Well, he’s got like just under 800 blocks for his career, so I gave him one more, you know?” Watson said. “It was just, it was a blast. I wanted to see how good he was, see if he could miss it. He hasn’t played in a while.”

    Watson took some heat on Twitter from his PGA Tour peers for the rejection, but few were still laughing as he rocketed up the leaderboard Saturday with five birdies and an eagle. Now he has a chance to win this event for the third time since 2014 – even if he doesn’t plan to go toe-to-toe with McGrady again anytime soon.

    “Some guys wanted to try to win MVP, so I was trying to pass it and let them have their fun and their moment,” Watson said. “I was just trying not to get hurt.”

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    Spieth on third-round 69: 'Putter saved me'

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:37 am

    LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth has spent the last few weeks talking about his putting for all the wrong reasons.

    Two weeks ago when he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open he lost 3.76 shots to the field in strokes-gained putting, and last week he wasn’t much better.

    It looked like more of the same at the Genesis Open when he lost about a half stroke to the field on Day 1 with 29 putts, but since then his fortunes on the greens have gotten progressively better.

    “I thought each day last week I progressed,” said Spieth, who needed just 24 putts on Friday and moved into a tie for 20th after taking 26 putts on Day 3.

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Spieth said he started to feel things turn around at Pebble Beach after working with his swing coach Cameron McCormick and Steve Stricker, who has become something of a putting sounding board for players on Tour.

    “I got set up really nice. I got really comfortable on the greens even though they were very difficult to putt last week and this week,” said Spieth, who rolled in a birdie putt of 14 feet at No. 12 and a par putt of 35 feet at No. 14. “Any putt, I either made it or I left it just short today. It was one of those days that with the way I struck the ball, it was an off day, but that putter saved me and allowed me to shoot the lowest score so far this week.”

    Spieth’s third-round 69 is his best of the week and moved him to within seven strokes of the lead, which is held by Bubba Watson.

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    Bouncing back: Watson seeks a third Riviera win

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:25 am

    LOS ANGELES – Yeah, but can Tracy McGrady smoke a 7-iron from 203 yards to kick-in range for eagle on Riviera Country Club’s opening hole?

    The way Bubba Watson’s mind drifts there’s no telling if, as he began his day at the Genesis Open, he revisited his play from Friday night at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. If he did, it would have been an apropos conclusion after McGrady sent his weak floater into the cheap seats midway through the second quarter.

    Either way, Watson made it clear playtime was over on Saturday. The eagle at the opening par 4 ½ sent Watson on his way to a third-round 65 and the outright lead at the Left Coast event that’s starting to feel like a second home for the lefthander.

    In 11 starts at Riviera, Watson already has two victories. A third on Sunday could get folks talking about renaming the layout Bubba’s Alley. Or not.

    What is certain is that Watson has emerged from a funk that sent him tumbling outside the top 100 in the world ranking and he’s done it in quintessential Bubba style.

    If Friday’s detour to the celebrity game received worldwide attention it was only a snapshot of Watson’s Tinseltown itinerary. He taped a segment for Jay Leno’s Garage show, visited with Ellen DeGeneres and watched a taping of The Big Bang Theory. You know, L.A. stuff.

    Oh, and he’s curved and carved his way around Riviera with signature abandon.

    “You've got to hit shots from every different angle, you've got to move it right to left and left to right, so it's just fun,” said Watson, who also led by one stroke when he won here in 2016, his last victory on the PGA Tour. “Then the greens are the equalizer so it makes me look like I putt as good as the other guys.”

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    He “hammered” a 7-iron from 203 yards at the first to 1 ½ feet for his opening eagle, chipped in at the sixth to begin a run of four birdies in five holes and played the three par 5s in 3 under to move into a familiar spot after enduring his worst season on Tour in 2017 when he failed to advance past the second playoff event.

    That he’s turned the tide in Los Angeles is as predictable as it is peculiar. Despite Watson’s record at the Genesis Open, Riviera wouldn’t seem to be the tonic for all that ails Bubba.

    Ask a player - any player will do - the keys to playing Riviera and the answers range wildly from it being a bomber’s course to the need for ball-striking precision. But the word that comes up with regularity is "patience."

    “Patience and pretty much just not being stupid, to be honest,” Justin Thomas said when asked the key to his third-round 67 that left him tied for eighth place. “Just stop trying to hit at pins with 5-irons and 6-irons, and when I hit in the rough, realize just try to make a par. When I get in places, when I'm out of position, realize that sometimes even bogey is what I need to make.”

    While that thought dovetails with conventional wisdom, Watson’s not exactly known for his patience.

    “Oh, for sure I do. Haven't you seen me in the last 12 years?” Watson laughed when asked if he had patience on the course. “The tougher the golf course, the more focus I have. The tougher the shot, I've been able to focus better. When I get my mind on something, I can focus and do pretty well at the game of golf.”

    While Bubba drifts between artist and antagonist with ease, both on and off the golf course, his primary challenge on Sunday is the picture of thoughtful composure.

    Patrick Cantlay, who returned to the Tour last season after struggling with back issues for years, began the third round with a share of the lead but quickly faded on the front nine. He rallied on the closing loop with birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 18, where he capped his day with a 54-footer that assured him a spot in Sunday’s final threesome. Although he’s just 25 and playing his first full season on Tour, Cantlay’s approach to the game is patently different from Watson’s.

    “I feel like if I can just engage and not worry about where I am on a particular hole or what's going on and I just engage and stay present in whatever I'm doing at that particular time, it all turns out better than what you would expect,” explained Cantlay, who attended nearby UCLA and played dozens of practice rounds at Riviera. “Making sure you stay present and having that confidence in yourself that if you just click in and focus, it all will be good and that's kind of the head space I'm in.”

    It will be a clash of wildly contrasting styles on Sunday – Watson, who admitted he “(doesn’t) focus very well,” and Cantlay, whose approach to the mental side of the game borders on the clinical.

    One player relishes the challenge of hyper-focus, the other is Bubba, but that’s not to say Watson is void of patience, only that he needs to be properly motivated.

    “Like last night when Tracy McGrady was coming at me, I was focused on not getting hurt and I didn't, so it worked out,” Watson smiled.

    And besides, T-Mac can’t bomb it like Bubba.