THE HITS KEEP ON COMING: Zach Johnson shocked the world just over a month ago when he stepped out on golf's biggest stage and captured the Masters Tournament. As time goes by that win in Augusta may start to seem a little less shocking if Johnson continues to notch PGA TOUR victories like the one this past week in the AT&T Classic at the TPC Sugarloaf. Next up on Johnson's to-do list: try and get a win outside the state of Georgia.
VALIDATION STATION: Since supplanting all-time great Annika Sorenstam last month as the women's world No. 1 player, Lorena Ochoa hasn't had the results for which she was looking. Until Sunday that is, when the Mexican star shot a bogey-free 4-under 68 in the final round of the Sybase Classic to overcome rising star Sarah Lee. In addition to it being her first victory as the No. 1 player in the Rolex rankings, it also marked Ochoa's first-ever career title defense.
THE FAMINE IS FINALLY OVER: Not since John O'Leary back in 1982 had an Irishman won their national open. But lo and behold, Ireland's favorite golfing son, Padraig Harrington, finally came through in a big way on Sunday when he won the Irish Open in a playoff, ending the 25-year drought. The 35-year-old Harrington had twice finished runner-up in the event before finally hoisting the crystal trophy, much to the delight of the thousands of fans in attendance.
WARNING: DIRTY MATERIAL: Well, in nickname only, as Brad Bryant survived a wild shootout at the The Regions Charity Classic at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge. Bryant, affectionly known as 'Dr. Dirt' due to his reputation for hitting a lot balls on the range, fired a closing-round 7-under 65 to repeat as champion. Included in the win was a tense three-hole playoff with R.W. Eaks, when Dr. Dirt rolled in a 12-footer for birdie to seal the deal.
SEEING GREEN: As good as it gets when it comes to hosting a tournament - and it being the Masters no less - Augusta National Golf Club also does a fine job of giving back to charitable causes. Club chairman Billy Payne annouced last week that the club will be donating over $3 million to charitable foundations, including The First Tee national youth development program, which will receive $1 million; and the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area, which will receive $1.25 million.
STAR POWER: This weeks Nationwide Tour event was a major of sorts with the fifth-largest purse for an event this season at $650,000. It also had a major caliber field ' at least in the amateur portion on the pro-am. The celebrities included sports stars Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, John Elway and Sterling Sharpe; comedians Cheech Marin and George Lopez; and actor Kevin Costner. Oh, and a couple model/actresses in Catherine Bell and Joanna Krupa.
OPTIMISTIC BULLDOG: Corey Pavin isnt yet qualified for this years Open Championship ' not that it matters. Pavin will not be in Carnoustie for the seasons third major. Instead, he will be defending his title at the U.S. Bank Championship. People that aren't going to play the British Open have a very nice alternative to come here and play, Pavin said.
DADDY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES!: It was just a matter of time before the poker craze hit the golf course. The inaugural World Series of Golf was held this week outside of Las Vegas. The event, which used poker-style betting in place of traditional scoring, was won by Mark Ewing, a 31-year-old entrepreneur and day trader. The 10-handicapper from Newport Beach, Calif., knocked out two professional poker players, an electrician and a former railroad conductor at the end of the three-day tournament for the $250,000 first-place prize.
PLAYOFFS? WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE PLAYOFFS?: Mr. Harrington and Mr. Bradley Dredge got things going Sunday when the two went into extra holes at the Irish Open. Brad Bryant and R.W. Eaks then got involved in a three-hole tango on the Champions Tour. Next up, Zach Johnson and Ryuji Imada figured 72 holes weren't enough, so into a playoff they went. The Duramed FUTURES Tour? Playoff. The Ladies European Tour? Playoff. Somewhere, Jim Mora must have been rolling over on a couch. But for golf fans, there's nothing better than playoff drama.
RHYMES WITH...: Scott Hoch, poor Scott Hoch. Infamously remembered for his missed 2-footer that allowed Nick Faldo to win the 1989 Masters, again saw the short putt demons creep back into his head. Holding a two-shot lead around the time he was making the turn in Alabama, Hoch missed a handful a short putts that became, lets say, very uncomfortable to watch. After one short miss late in the round, Hoch apparently had enough as he tossed his putter toward his golf bag and mumbled, 'Next week.'
BITTER TASTE - PART I: Michelle Wie hasnt played a womens event all year, but she has some ladies all riled up over a potential tournament in which she may be competing in October. Wie has accepted an invitation to play in the Samsung World Championship, which begins on her 18th birthday, Oct. 11. The field is limited to only 20 players and it has some quite upset about her inclusion. People aren't very happy,' Brittany Lincicome said in The Star-Ledger. 'It's tough to accept. We're out here working our butts off to get a spot in that tournament and it's just handed to her.
BITTER TASTE - PART II: For the second week in a row, Korea's Sarah Lee held the 36-hole lead at an LPGA event. And, for the second week in a row, Lee couldn't hang on for her break-out victory. Two weeks ago at the Michelob Ultra Open, Lee posted an over-par score on Sunday that left her out of a playoff and this past week she again shot an over-par final round that let Ochoa pass her by and get the win. But if she can keep getting herself in contention, perhaps a certain well-known company may give her an endorsement offer.
1988 WAS A LONG TIME AGO: Despite closing with a respectable 1-over 73, Seve Ballesteros, whose last major came at the 1988 British Open, couldn't overcome a horrendous start in his Champions Tour debut. He opened with a 78 and followed that with a dreadful 9-over 81 that eventually left him tied with Lee Trevino at the bottom of the 78-player field at 16-over 216. 'My game is not there,' said a disappointed Ballesteros. 'I'm very disappointed with my performance.'
DARK SIDE OF THE MOONEY: Northern Irishman Damian Mooney had what can only be described as an unpleastant first round at the European Tour's Irish Open. In a round that saw him make more bogeys or worse than pars, Mooney shot 92 and hit for the cycle and then some. His scorecard showed a bogey, a double, a triple, a quad, and a quintuple bogey - and possibly ruining any chances of him starring in any of the PGA TOUR's future 'These Guy are Good' commercials.
BAD STREAK, GOOD GUY: For the third straight week, Darren Clarke had to withdraw from an event. This time he was forced to do so from the Irish Open. Clarke pulled out of his national Open due to a hamstring injury that isnt healing properly. He also had to withdraw from the PGA TOURs Wachovia Championship and THE PLAYERS Championship. He hopes to return for this week's BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event on the European Tour.
BAD KARMA?: On the eve of hosting the Champions Tour's first major of the year, the $22 million new clubhouse at Kiawah Island Golf Resort was rocked by a gas explosion inside the kitchen, resulting in four construction workers being injured, two of whom were taken by helicopter to a hospital burn unit in Augusta, Ga. The Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course already has a reputation as being unfair, now it looks as if the clubhouse may be viewed the same way.
A COURSE WITH A VIEW: The field for the Barclays Classic will get a good view of Manhattan when the PGA TOUR moves the tournament to Jersey Citys Liberty National Golf Club in 2009. The tournament has been held at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y. since its inception in 1967 and is currently the first event in the PGA TOURs playoff series. Not everyone, however, is a fan of the move. 'TOUR players don't care about the views,' said Joey Sindelar to The Journal News.
TOO BAD FOR TWO GLOVES: The Big Break's Tommy Gainey has been making news the last couple of weeks and for several different reasons. First, he Monday qualified for the Wachovia Championship but failed to make the cut. He also made it to the finals of The Big Break VII: Reunion in an episode that aired last week. But that paled in comparison to what transpired in the BMW Charity Pro-Am at the Cliffs. Gainey, who got into the event on a sponsor's exemption, held a share of the lead after 36 holes and was just a shot back heading into Sunday. But the fairtale run unfortunately ended there; a 5-over 77 on Sunday dropped Gainey all the way down into a tie for 30th, with the top 25 getting into the following week's field.