One Big Rollercoaster Ride

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 5, 2008, 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.
COUNTRY SONG: John Daly's week started with the now widely viewed round of golf he played at his home course in Arkansas without wearing a shirt. Then came the war of words with famed instructor Butch Harmon. Soon thereafter, it was reported that Roger Clemens and one of Daly's exes, Paulette, had been involved in some kind of relationship. And to top off the week, JD flew all the way across the Atlantic to miss the cut at the Spanish Open.
Backspin Daly making news headlines is nothing new, but this past week was a banner week even for Big John. The playing golf while shirtless incident for some reason ignited quite a few people to become very upset and angry, while the rest of the golf fans just thought it was kind of comical and didn't get bent out of shape. As for the Harmon brouhaha, not sure why the swing guru was so intent on making sure everyone knew that he never offered an apology - as if saying 'I'm sorry' to someone is one of the worst things in the world to do. With the Clemens/Paulette Dean story, this one even John didn't have anything to do with - he was just an innocent bystander and got swept up by the now runaway Rocket Express. And lastly, missing the cut at a golf event? Well, we guess that doesn't really amount to news these days when it comes to his golf game. Perhaps the bright side of all this for Daly? The past week has given him an entire country album worth of material. Sing it JD!

THE FUTURE IS NOW: Anthony Kim waltzed to a five-shot win at the Wachovia Championship, and in the process became the youngest player to win on the PGA TOUR since Sergio Garcia back in 2002.
Backspin At just 22 years of age, Kim has now made good on what many people have been predicting for the former Oklahoma University golfing star. And the style in which he did it shouldn't go unnoticed, as he shattered the tournament scoring record by three shots - previously held by a guy named Eldrick Woods. And speaking of style, did you get a look at that belt buckle of his? Fancy-schmancy for sure. Which begs the question - is Rory Sabbatini happy that he crushed Tiger's tournament scoring record or is he ticked that now he has stiff competition in the belt buckle department?

NOT THIS TIME: Paula Creamer held a two-stroke lead heading into the 72nd hole of the SemGroup Championship before a bogey - and a clutch Juli Inkster birdie - forced a playoff. Creamer rebounded, however, and drained an 8-footer on the second playoff hole for her sixth career LPGA Tour title.
Backspin Kudos for Creamer for conquering the demons that were no doubt swirling in her head after what had happened the week prior in her battle with Annika. All the greats speak of learning from tough losses and the Pink Panther bounced back quicker than most would have suspected. And not a bad run for the LPGA Tour either - world No.1 Lorena Ochoa winning two weeks ago, then world No. 2 Annika winning last week and now Creamer, the newly-minted world No. 3. That's probably some kind of record or something and no doubt has tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens smiling ear to ear.

SORENSTAM, LOPEZ AND...NOBODY ELSE: Lorena Ochoa winning streak came to screeching halt this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ochoas difficulties started early, as the worlds No. 1 struggled to just make the cut before rallying to finish in a tie for fifth, five strokes behind Creamer.
Backspin Well, she cant win em all. Much like we saw with Tiger, sooner or later in golf there will be days where the magic just isnt there. Ochoa was vying for a record tying fifth straight LPGA Tour victory, a record set by Nancy Lopez (1978) and matched by Annika Sorenstam (2004-05). In the end, it was a remarkable run for Ochoa, one that was arguably better than Tigers since it was highlighted with a major championship victory.

PRICE GOUGING: Denis Watson took advantage of a late Nick Price collapse and birdied the final hole to win the Kinko's FedEx Classic by a stroke over Price, Scott Hoch and Tim Simpson.
Backspin A ruthless competitor and closer - albeit commonly referred to as the nicest guy on TOUR - back in his heydays on the PGA TOUR in the early 90s, Price inexplicably folded down the stretch. Searching for his first-ever Champions Tour win, Price double bogeyed both the 15th and 16th holes late Sunday afternoon and couldn't recover from the meltdown. Stating the obvious, the obviously stunned South African said afterwards, 'This is such a crazy game.' Thanks Nick, but tell us something we don't know.

EURO: Peter Lawrie defeated Ignacio Garrido on the second playoff hole to win the Spanish Open on Sunday. Lawrie shot a final round 67, erasing a five stroke deficit to capture his first European Tour title.
Backspin It took six years and 175 events for the Irishman Lawrie to get his maiden victory on the European Tour. And as one might expect, a great moment like this in the 34-year-olds career, he said, Im not a party person, but I will enjoy this. Come on Peter, a little bubbly, er Guinness, is in order after six long years.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Juli Inkster announced this week that she will be opting out of the LPGA's second major of the season, the McDonald's LPGA Championship in early June; Phil Harison, who called out the names of Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Player, Nicklaus, Ballesteros and Tiger Woods as the official starter on the first tee of the Masters, died at the age 82.
Backspin Inkster's no-show, due to her daughter's graduation fro grade school, will mark an end to an amazing 56 straight major championships played in. No word yet if the grade school will push back its graduation date after seeing her gutsy performance from this past week in Tulsa; Harison's indelible words on the first tee will forever be remembered by Masters patrons - 'Fore please.'
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Wachovia Championship
  • Full Coverage - SemGroup Championship
  • Full Coverage - FedEx Kinko's Classic
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  • 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 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 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.''