The week that almost was

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 4, 2008, 4:00 pm
In Backspin, GolfChannel.com takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.
 

ANNIKA'S FAREWELL: Annika Sorenstam completed her last major championship with a 10-foot birdie putt for a final round 4-under 68 at the Womens British Open. The 37-year-old Sorenstam tied for 24th at 6-under 282, 12-strokes behind winner Ji-Yai Shin.
 
Backspin The 10-footer for birdie to close out her British Open career wasn't exactly the 6-iron hole-out from the fairway that finished her 2008 U.S. Open, but it was fitting nonetheless. After her round, the 10-time major champion said, To finish with a birdie was special. There didnt seem to be any doubt it was going in.
 

V IS FOR VICTORY, L IS FOR...: Vijay Singh survived a balky putter and closed out his first-ever WGC title with a 3-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to beat Lee Westwood and Stuart Appleby by a stroke at Firestone CC. Phil Mickelson bogeyed three of his last four holes to fall two off the pace.
 
Backspin The victory was huge for Singh ' evident by the beaming smile on his face during a post-round TV interview ' and was his first win on TOUR this year. As for Lefty, it was another sloppy stretch of golf that we have now come to expect. If youre a Phil fan, you learn to take the good with the bad. Although it's tough trying to figure out why there's always so much bad from the No. 2 player in the world.
 

WIE BE GONE: Michelle Wie had yet another go at the PGA TOUR this past week in the Reno-Tahoe Open. After raising hopes following a 1-over 73 in the opening round, Wie crapped out with a second-round 80 to miss the cut.
 
Backspin Wie, whose nickname should now be 'Lightning Rod' instead of the once whimsical 'Big Wiesy,' will again be crucified by the press and fans for yet another missed cut. It should be noted, however, that she is an 18-year-old Stanford sophomore, doesn't run afoul of the law, and is a smart and talented kid. The vast majority of 'haters' have never even dared tried the things Wie has attempted. Here's a sensible and rational vote of confidence that things will straighten themselves out for 'Lightning Rod.' Hopefully sooner, rather than later.
 

NORMAN OUT OF GAS?: Playing in his third major championship in as many weeks, Greg Norman finished in fourth place at the U.S. Senior Open, six shots behind winner Eduardo Romero. Before the tournament started Norman had announced that he would not accept an invitation from the PGA of America to play in this week's PGA Championship.
 
BackspinEven though the Shark had another respectable finish, you cannot blame the man for declining to play in the PGA Championship. The 53-year-old's whirlwind tour around the world of golf was impressive, but Norman has to be running on fumes. Not to mention that with a new wife and a booming business, golf is no longer a top priority for the former world No. 1.
 

WIE'LL ALWAYS HAVE RENO...: Peter McLachlin routed the field at the Reno-Tahoe Open, cruising to a seven-shot victory for his maiden PGA TOUR triumph.
 
Backspin Wie got the headlines; McLachlin got the trophy. He took control of the tournament with a second-round 62, and added a 66 on top of that in Rd. 3. Even a closing 74 couldnt deny him win No. 1.
 

OLD GUY'S OPEN: Argentine's Eduardo Romero won the U.S. Senior Open by four shots over Fred Funk, becoming the second Argentine to win the senior title. He follows fellow countryman Roberto De Vicenzo's win 28 years ago.
 
Backspin If you didnt see the final 18 holes of this one, consider yourself fortunate ' for your game might never have recovered. This was U-G-L-Y ugly. Romero had a stretch of four consecutive bogeys on the back nine. Funk shot 75, complete with a triple-bogey on 13. And John Cook carded a closing 7-bogey, no-birdie 77.
 

ASIAN DOMINATION: The LPGA wrapped up its major season at the Women's British Open at Sunningdale with 20-year-old South Korean Ji-Yai Shin rolling to a three-stroke win over Japan's Yuri Fudoh. American Cristie Kerr was sixth and world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa tied for seventh.
 
Backspin The year started with people thinking that all four majors would belong to Mexico. It ended with Asia winning three of the four majors and perhaps forever changing the landscape of women's golf. Said seven-time major champion Juli Inkster, 'Asians. And its not stopping either. Theyre all coming. It certainly doesn't help U.S. TV ratings, but golf is without a doubt a global game at this point.
 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Ryan Hietala won the Cox Classic in Omaha, topping David Branshaw on the first playoff hole Purdue University researchers report that golfers who play well are more likely to see the hole as larger than those who play poorly A black bear made its way out onto the course at the U.S. Senior Open before wandering back into the wilderness. No spectators were injured.
 
Backspin Hietala earned his first victory since 2005. 'God, what a struggle. What a feeling,' Hietala said With gas prices through the roof and plenty of diseases yet to be cured, we can't help but wonder if the people over at Purdue couldn't have found something more productive, and less obvious, on which to focus their research Since the 'Golden Bear' Jack Nicklaus wasn't playing last week in Colorado, maybe the USGA improvised with the next best thing, a black one.
 
Editor's note: No bears were harmed in the writing of this Backspin.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage -- U.S. Senior Open
  • Full Coverage -- Legend's Reno-Tahoe Open
  • Full Coverage -- WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
  • Full Coverage - Ricoh Women's British Open
  • More Headlines
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

    Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."