Dont Count em Out

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2008, 5:00 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.
WE'VE MISSED YOU: Annika Sorenstam held off a slew of pursuers and posted a gritty 3-under 69 in the final round to win the LPGA Tour's season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay. The victory marked the 70th of her career, and more importantly, her first win in 17 injury-prone months.
Backspin What a way for the LPGA to start the season, with Annika back in the winner's circle. Not sure which was a more dramatic turn of events from last year - Lorena Ochoa's meteoric rise to the top or Annika's almost unfathomable fall from her perch atop the women's game. But just one event into 2008, Sorenstam served notice to Ochoa and golf fans everywhere that she is still a driving force in the game. Game on!

RIVIERA RE-DO: Phil Mickelson withstood a strong challenge from Jeff Quinney in Sunday's final round to hang on and win the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. With his 33rd PGA TOUR victory, Lefty moved into the 13th spot on the TOUR's all-time career win list.
Backspin Where do we begin? The fact that Phil lost in a playoff here at Riviera last year and was able to come back and make amends? The fact that just last week he took an 11 on the 14th on Friday at Pebble Beach which caused him to miss the cut? Or the fact that in three straight weeks his line reads like this - playoff runner-up at FBR; MC at Pebble; first-ever win at famed Riviera? 'What Will Phil Do Next?' is still the greatest television commercial concept ever.

MATCH PLAY MATCH UPS: The WGC-Match Play Championship field and first-round pairings were officially announced Sunday evening. This is the 10th year of the tournament and Tiger Woods goes in as the event's overall No. 1 seed. Mickelson is the second seed, Steve Stricker the third and Ernie Els the No. 4.
Backspin A quick glance at the bracket offers up quite a few intriguing first round match-ups: the first and foremost involving Tiger and J.B. Holmes, who is coming off a big win in a playoff over world No. 2 Mickelson in Scottsdale; Jim Furyk and Ryder Cup match play extraordinaire Colin Montgomerie; Luke Donald and Nick Dougherty - two of England's brightest young stars; 2006 Match Play champ Geoff Ogilvy and 2005 Match Play champ David Toms; and finally, Sweden's Niclas Fasth up against Australia's Richard Sterne. OK, just kidding about the last one. No offense Niclas and Richard.

NEW SENIOR KING?: Scott Hoch drained a birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to get himself into a four-man playoff at Champions Tour's The ACE Group Classic . He then drained another birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win for the second straight week.
Backspin As stated last week right here in Backspin, the Champions Tour is flat out in the business of exciting finishes. A four-man playoff? Why not? Truth is, it would have been a five-man playoff if not for three-time major champion Nick Price just missing a birdie putt on 18 that would have gotten him into the mix. As for Hoch, a few more back-to-back wins like this will forever make people forgot that awful nickname he earned from the 1989 Masters. No, no it won't.

HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD: Felipe Aguilar of Chile won the European Tour's Indonesian Open - his first career win - with a birdie on the 72nd hole. Finishing runner-up was India's Jeev Milka Singh, who had a one-stroke lead heading to the 18th before a bogey handed to trophy over to Aguilar.
Backspin This was the second straight week that a virtual unknown has won on the European Tour, following S.S.P. Chowrasia's breakthrough victory last week in India. These two winners are coming off the heels of back-to-back weeks that the Euro Tour saw Adam Scott win in Qatar and world No. 1 Tiger Woods crowned champion in Dubai. Some tournament organizers just don't have the luck or timing that other organizers do.

RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY...: Darron Stiles birdied the final hole to win by a stroke at the rain-soaked New Zealand PGA. The American tallied a 36-hole score of 10 under as inclement weather wiped out both the second and third rounds of play. Due to this fact organizers said that the victory would not be recognized as an official tour win, although Stiles did collect first-place prize money.
Backspin Why it was determined that Darron Stiles triumph Sunday was not an official win seems somewhat silly. Last we checked, Stiles doesnt control the weather, and on top of that, he had to travel halfway around the world to play in the event. But the American didnt let that rain on his parade, stating, 'It may have been just the second round but today felt every bit as pressure packed as in a normal fourth round Sunday.'

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Mickelson again made headlines by his mode of transportation to Riviera Country Club in L.A., choosing to fly instead of drive from his home in Rancho Santa Fe; John Daly, in on yet another sponsor's exemption, actually played all four rounds of a tournament for the first time in his last seven starts.
Backspin Phil's flights of fancy were perhaps unorthodox, but who knows, maybe he's just trying to rack up on the frequent flyer miles so he can get a few extra free flights to scout out Augusta in the upcoming months; Big John may have made it all four rounds, but that didn't turn out to be a good thing, as he bogeyed six of his first nine holes on Sunday en route to a 5-over-par 76 and a tie for second to last place.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Northern Trust Open
  • Full Coverage - SBS Open
  • Full Coverage - The ACE Group Classic
  • More Headlines
  • Getty Images

    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

    Masters victory

    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

    Man of the people

    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

    Departure from TaylorMade

    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

    Victory at Valderrama

    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.