To the Victor Go the Spoils

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 6, 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.
 

RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE: Winning Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger was honored by his hometown of Tampa, Fla., by throwing out the first pitch before the second game of the Tampa Bay Rays playoff series against the Chicago White Sox.
 
Backspin Said Azinger of the tribute: 'This is very special for me. Ive been a Rays fan since the inception of the franchise and attend games at Tropicana Field as often as I can. This years Rays club shows what a team with talent, character and faith can do. In other news, Welwyn Garden City, England, the hometown of losing Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo, had a similar honor, but with a twist ' they actually threw him out. Oh, we love to kid.
 

TOUR HAS HEART: Erik Compton, who four months ago underwent a second heart transplant, has been granted the right to use a cart during PGA Tour Q-School.
 
Backspin The Tour let Casey Martin use a cart during Q-School in 1997, but got all bent out of shape when he actually made it through to the Nationwide Tour, and eventually the PGA Tour. It will be interesting to see what the Tour decides if Compton should make it to the final stage.
 

CALIFORNIA DREAMER: Paula Creamer withstood a small, but strong field, rolling in a putt to win on the 72nd hole at the Samsung World Championship. It was the fourth victory of the year for the 22-year-old Creamer and eighth of her career.
 
Backspin With the win, the California native became the first American to win four or more times in a season since Juli Inkster had five victories in 1999. The LPGA is probably doing cartwheels over this fact ' like Creamer at last years Womens British Open.
 

SINGH SIDELINED: Vijay Singh announced this past week that he will put his clubs on the shelf for at least two months to rest an ailing left forearm. Singh has dealt with tendinitis for a good part of the 2008 season and was instructed by doctors to take off some time in order to be fit for 2009.
 
Backspin Singh not playing golf? Singh not even practicing? It just doesnt seem natural. Here are some suggestions for your time off, Vijay: 1) Create your own language and give all press conferences in this tongue. 2) Go to Tigers house and ask him if hed mind if you two hung out for a while. 3) Spend some of that $10 million FedEx Cup bonus money on the Backspin staff.
 

TURNING POINT: PGA Tour rookie Dustin Johnson picked up his first career victory at the Turning Stone Championship with birdies on the final two holes to top Robert Allenby by one stroke.
 
Backspin The victory, while perhaps lost on many people in this football-crazed country, was no doubt huge for Johnson, who erased a two-shot deficit entering the final round. The South Carolina native stunned the Aussie Allenby, whose birdie chance at the last came up inches short. 'Dusty' ' as we're sure Tiger would call him ' has now locked up his Tour card for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. No doubt Dusty loves the PGA Tour Fall Series.
 

FIELD OF DREAMERS: Tiger Woods announced the field for his Chevron World Challenge. It includes: Singh, Padraig Harrington, Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, K.J. Choi, Kenny Perry, Justin Leonard, Mike Weir, Luke Donald, Stephen Ames, Hunter Mahan, Boo Weekley, Paul Casey and Fred Couples.
 
Backspin Of course, the field wont include the tournament host. Tiger reiterated during his press conference that he has no timetable for a return. Somehow we dont think that anyone he invited to play in his event is anxiously awaiting his return.
 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: John Daly said he is entertaining the thoughts of playing more on the European Tour in the 2009 season Boo Weekley made a guest appearance on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' on Friday evening ... Robert Karlsson won a three-man playoff to capture the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
 
BackspinSaid Daly: I saw guys hitting it by me that never hit it by me before. I was like, theres definitely something wrong here. Showing he has the moxie to keep up with JD in the weird department, Boo told the national late night audience a story about fishing his keys out of a toilet The tall, quiet Swede is not-so-quietly becoming one of the best players in the world. His win moved him past Harrington on the European Tour's Order of Merit list.
 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, PART DEUX: The Open Championship will exempt the top 30 from the FedEx Cup standings and top 30 from the European Tours money list According to the Associated Press, Official World Golf ranking points will be given to players who compete in Tiger Woods year-end World Challenge event beginning next year . The European Tour will make players compete in a minimum of 12 tournaments to earn tour membership, beginning in 2009
 
BackspinThe criteria used to be top 20 on both tours money lists Tiger wants something; Tiger gets something. Its that easy The lucrative Race to Dubai is grabbing players attention across the world. This will require those who want a shot at the millions on offer to play one more event on the European Tour.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Turning Stone Resort Championship
  • Full Coverage ' Samsung World Championship
  • Full Coverage ' Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
  • More Headlines
  • Day finishes strong, leads Aussie Open by one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 6:12 am

    Jason Day birdied three of his final five holes to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand in Sydney:

    Leaderboard: Day (-10), Lucas Herbert (-9), Jonas Blixt (-7), Matt Jones (-7), Cameron Smith (-6), Rhein Gibson (-5), Anthony Quayle (-5)

    What it means: Day has a great shot at his first victory – in his final start – in 2017. It’s been a frustrating campaign for Day, who has dropped to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. A win this week, in his native Open, would be a huge boost as he embarks on the 2018 season.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Day’s 2-under 69 wasn’t the lowest of the day, but it was the most important. Day parred his first 13 holes before birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. He bogeyed the 17th, but finished with a birdie at the par-5 18th for the outright lead.

    Best of the rest: Blixt’s 66 put him in position to win. Meanwhile, Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya shot the low round of the day, a 6-under 65, to reach 4 under for the tournament.

    Biggest disappointment: No one really blew it on Saturday, but Jordan Spieth was unable to make a move. His 1-under 70 has him eight shots off the lead. Herbert managed an even-par 71 but he had a two-stroke lead until an errant tee shot at the par-3 11th. Speaking of which …

    Shot of the day: Not every Shot of the Day is a great shot. Herbert made a long birdie putt on the eighth and was two clear of the field through 10 holes. But he hit his tee shot long at the 11th and was not able to find it. He had to re-tee, made double bogey and lost his advantage. He’s now chasing a major champion in the final round.

    Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

    Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

    Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

    “I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

    Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

    “Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

    Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

    “Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

    South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

    By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

    South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

    Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

    Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

    So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

    Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

    The fourball results:

    LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

    LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

    KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

    LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

    NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

     

    Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “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,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.