Moody and Blue

By Mercer BaggsMay 11, 2009, 4:00 pm
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HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, DADDY: Henrik Stenson emerged from the pack Sunday at The Players to become just the third European-born golfer to win the prestigious event. With most everyone cracking in the final round heat, the Swede shot a bogey-free, 6-under 66 to win by four over Englishman Ian Poulter.
Backspin Before Padraig Harrington enjoyed major stature, Stenson was regarded by many as the top European player. He still doesn't have a major title to his credit but he does have a very impressive resume: one Players title; one WGC-Match Play title; five European Tour victories; and two Ryder Cup appearances. He now also has a three-year exemption into the Masters and a five-year PGA Tour exemption, should he choose to accept it (he's not currently a Tour member).


THE AGONY OF DEFEAT: Alex Cejka began the final round at TPC Sawgrass with a five-shot lead and saw it evaporate by the fourth hole. The Czech-born German finished with an 7-over 79 to tie for ninth.
Backspin It was evident on the very first hole Sunday that Cejka could have be leading by 10 and would have struggled to hold on. The pressure of trying to win The Players, playing alongside Tiger Woods ' whatever it was, he unraveled early and never, um, raveled back up. There will be better days for Cejka. There will have to be.


I FEEL YOU, ALEX: Tiger Woods started the final round five back of Cejka, watched his playing companion crumble like a Ritz cracker before his eyes, and still couldn't mount a charge. Woods shot 1-over 73 to finish in solo eighth place, seven back of Stenson (one ahead of Cejka).
Backspin Apparently Tiger Woods had his knee surgery in the same Crystal Chamber that sapped Superman's powers. For the second week in a row, Woods had a chance to win on Sunday and was less threatening than a Sinbad comedy routine. Here's an idea for Tiger: play more tournaments. Get in some extra competitive reps before Bethpage. We know you're not listening.


WOE IS ME: Defending champion Sergio Garcia made the cut on the number and then shot 73-69 over the weekend to tie for 22nd. No one has ever repeated as champion of The Players.
Backspin Listening to Sergio talk in his press conferences ' before and during the tournament ' was more depressing than reading Sylvia Plath. Good Lord, man: you're 29, a multi-millionaire, Ricardo Montalban with the ladies, and play golf for a living. Lighten up, Francis.


WOE IS US: Garcia wasn't the only big name who endured big disappointment at The Players. Phil Mickelson finished T-55; Ernie Els T-45; Padraig Harrington T-49; and Adam Scott missed yet another cut.
Backspin Perhaps the biggest disappointment ' save for Cejka ' came courtesy Retief Goosen. The two-time U.S. Open champion shared the lead at one point in the final round, but played his final six holes in 5 over to tie for 22nd. Goosen's days of being a 'major' factor may have come to a screeching halt at Pinehurst in 2005.


HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU: Kenny Perry played the first two rounds in a group with Angel Cabrera, the man who beat him in a playoff at this year's Masters. Perry, who admitted it was very difficult to concentrate, shot 73-71 to barely survive the even-par cut. Cabrera, meanwhile, opened in 72-65 to challenge for the lead. Once the two were separated, however, Perry shot 68-74 to Cabrera's 77-71. Ultimately, Perry finished one shot back of his Augusta nemesis.
Backspin Groupings over the first two rounds of PGA Tour events are 'randomly 'selected by a computer. Raymond Babbitt's television viewing habits are more random than this. We get that the Tour wants to create cute pairings for their 'major' like the PGA Championship does. But this isn't a major and it wasn't cute. It was actually kind of mean. Or, as Perry put it, 'Just sad.'


HOORAY, BEER: Cristie Kerr claimed her 12th career LPGA title at the Michelob Ultra Open. Kerr, the 2005 winner of this event, birdied the 15th hole to break away from the competition. She finished with a closing 1-under 70 and a two-shot win over In-Kyung Kim.
Backspin Meanwhile, Lorena Ochoa led by three shots through two rounds, before shooting back-to-back 74s to finish in 10th place. That was the second most bizarre thing of the week at Kingsmill. The first? Watching Kerr celebrate by pouring beer over her own head. Who does that?


PSYCHEDELIC SECOND: John Daly shot four rounds in the 60s, with his closing performance his best score of the week, a 6-under 66, to finish co-runner-up at the Italian Open. The finish was his best on any tour since he lost the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship in a playoff to Tiger Woods.
Backspin First of all, that's great news for JD and his supporters. Secondly, let's hope there weren't any $5,000 slot machines near the course. And thirdly, let's hope he can bring this kind of game back to the States ' and keep those Abbie Hoffman pants in Europe.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Skins Game officials announced that they would not contest an event this year due to the ailing economy. ... SBS has taken over as title sponsor of the PGA Tour's season-opening event. ... Daniel Vancsik won the Italian Open by six over Daly and two others, if you were interested. ... CBS Sports golf analyst David Feherty apologized for morbid comments he made in a magazine about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Backspin Was it the economy or the fact that last year's edition included K.J. Choi, Stephen Ames, Rocco Mediate and Phil Mickelson? Might as well kill it for good. ...The Tour let Mercedes-Benz out of its contract a year early, and got SBS for a decade. ... We didn't think you were. ... It's actually amazing that this is the first time we can remember Feherty getting in trouble for something he said.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' The Players
  • Full Coverage ' Michelob Ultra Championship
  • Complete News Headlines
  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.