The Highs and Lows in Golf

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Editor's Note: In Front 9 and Back 9, our staff will showcase the highs and lows from the world of golf. We start with the Front 9, which offers up the top moments and stories from this previous week, and then make the turn for the lowlights.
 
Front 9 Hole 1
TWO THE HARD WAY: Boo Weekley is a PGA TOUR winner. Not that it came easily. Six weeks ago, he missed a 3-foot putt which would have won him The Honda Classic. He ended up falling in a playoff. Monday at the wind-delayed Verizon Heritage, he was 3-up with three holes to play, but bogeyed 16, chipped-in for par on 17, and chipped-in for par once again on 18. The two par saves gave him a one-stroke victory over Ernie Els.
 
Hole 2
TICKET TO AUGUSTA, PLEASE: Weekley's win was worth more than just a measure of redemption and a big, fat paycheck ($972,000 to be precise); it also got him a spot into next year's Masters field. With the announcement that all TOUR winners will once again be invited to compete at Augusta National, Weekley becomes the first player to reap the rewards of that decision. It will be his first Masters appearance.
 
Hole 3
WHO'S YOUR CADDY?: The Verizon Heritage marked the first week this year where the charitable foundation Caddy for a Cure was in action. The foundation, which was founded by Russ Holden (former caddy for Bernhard Langer) and benefits the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, lets the highest bidding golf fan caddy for a PGA TOUR player during a practice round. They have raised more than $75,000 in three years and have secured the services of big names such as Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Luke Donald for events in 2007.
 
Hole 4
ORDER THANK YOU CARDS: Starting the final round four shots behind Laura Davies and Lorena Ochoa, Brittany Lincicome survived extremely windy conditions to shoot an ever-par 72 to win her second LPGA Tour event. Only one person broke par on the day and Lincicome even bogeyed the last hole, but watched as her playing partners, Davies and Ochoa, each played their last six holes in 6 over par. The 21-year-old Lincicome picked up $390,000 for the victory.
 
Hole 5
SHOTS OF THE WEEK: Jerry Kelly hit a 'perfect' 4-iron at the par-3 fourth Saturday and watched as it hit the green, bounced and rolled into the cup for a hole-in-one. The shot garnered a high-five from playing partner Ernie Els and helped carry him to the 54-hole lead. Unfortunately, it did not lead to victory, nor was it even the shot of the week, or even the second best shot of the week. Runner-up in that category went to Aussie Nathan Green, who holed his approach at the par-5 second on Friday for a double-eagle 2, better known to golfers as the rarest of all birds - an albatross. And the winner is ... the aforementioned chip-in(s) for the win by Weekley.
 
Hole 6
WE'VE GOT DRAMA: Despite being hampered by the huge storm that affected areas all over the East Coast, both the LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR staged dramatic finishes in each of their events in Orlando and Hilton Head, respectively. At the Ginn Open, Ochoa and Lincicome came to the 18th tied for the lead, Davies one back, and a possibilty of a three-way playoff looming. It didn't pan out, but it was an exciting finish nonetheless. On Monday at the Heritage, in addition to Weekley's chipping display, Ernie Els nearly provided some fireworks. Standing in the fairway needing to jar his approach to force a playoff, Els hit a cut shot into the wind that nearly went into the hole for an eagle-2. Makes you wonder what will unfold next week?
 
Hole 7
THE BLACK KNIGHT: After playing in his record-tying 50th Masters two weeks ago, the World Golf Hall of Fame kicked-off a featured exhibition on Friday titled 'Gary Player: A Global Journey.' Among the many items in the display will be the all-black outfit he wore in his opening round of this year's Masters Tournament.
 
Hole 8
STILL NO. 1 ... FOR NOW: All in all, it wasn't the best week to be Annika Sorenstam -- what with the possibility of being sidelined for a month due to a back injury. But, while she didn't get to compete in the Ginn Open, she did get a consolation prize Sunday afternoon. Ochoa's collapse allowed Sorenstam to maintain her position atop the women's world golf rankings, if only for a few more weeks.
 
Hole 9
SEE ZACH WIN; SEE ZACH GO, GO, GO: A week ago Sunday, Zach Johnson held off Tiger Woods to win the Masters and don the green jacket. Monday, Zach chatted with Presidential candidate Barack Obama, met Halle Berry and made fun of himself on the 'Late Show with David Letterman.' Tuesday, Zach appeared on 'Live with Regis and Kelly,' and did a slew of other national media requests. Thursday, Zach teed it up in the Verizon Heritage where he was, for the first time, introduced as Masters champion. Despite the hectic week, Zach still managed to finish sixth. It's good to be Zach.
 
Back 9 Hole 10
NO SUBSTITUTE: Unlike Johnson, Morgan Pressel didn't perform very well in her first start since being crowned a major champion. The Kraft Nabisco winner had to play the Ginn Open with a new set of clubs, as the ones she used en route to the biggest win of her career were lost by an airline. Apparently, they will take a little getting used to; Pressel missed the cut by a stroke.
 
Hole 11
A FINE MESS: We've already mentioned Ochoa's and Davies' poor play down the stretch which cost them both a chance to win this past week. But, given what was at stake, it's worth another mention. Ochoa could have become the first player not named Annika to be ranked No. 1 in the world since the ranking's inception in February 2006. Instead, she made two double-bogeys and two bogeys over her final six holes -- and looked nothing like the best player in the world in the process. Meanwhile, Davies could have won for the first time on tour in six years and gotten within one point of automatic entry into the LPGA and World Golf halls of fame. Instead, leading by one with two holes to play, she finished double-bogey, triple-bogey.
 
Hole 12
NOT EXACTLY WHAT I HAD PLANNED: After being inspired by captaining the U.S. team to a win in the 2005 Solheim Cup, Nancy Lopez earmarked the Ginn Open as the place to begin her LPGA comeback in earnest. But who said comebacks can be easy? Thursday and Friday rounds of 83-80 placed her dead last in the field. It was the first time in her long and prosperous career that she has shot back-to-back rounds in the 80s in the same event.
 
Hole 13
SOUTHERN DIS-COMFORT: The PGA and LPGA tours both held events in southern states this past week. And thanks to the '20-Year Storm,' as some called it, both experienced weather problems on Sunday. The PGA TOUR's Verizon Heritage was suspended due to high winds which blew steadily from 25-35 mph and gusted up to 50 mph, and play was wrapped up Monday. The LPGA's Ginn Open had two weather delays totaling two hours and 40 minutes and wind gusts up to 40 mph. Thirty-five mph wind gusts also greeted the Nationwide Tour field on Sunday, which only made a very, very long course play that much more difficult.
 
Hole 14
CAN WE AT LEAST GET A CART?: This past week's event on the Nationwide Tour was held on the Davis Love III-designed Kinderlou Forest course -- a 7,781-yard layout, the longest ever to host a TOUR-sanctioned event. Unfortunately for the field, the course is in Valdosta, Ga., which isn't exactly at mile-high elevation.
 
Hole 15
COME CRASHING BACK DOWN: The aforementioned Kelly started Monday's play with a one-stroke lead and then promptly eagled the par-5 second. He then proceeded to make six bogeys and one double-bogey en route to a 6-over 77 He tied for eighth to remain winless on TOUR since 2002. Stephen Leaney also got off to a torrid start, going 6 under through six holes. He led at one point on the back nine, but bogeyed the par-5 15th and doubled the par-4 16th on his way to a solo third finish.
 
Hole 16
BUSINESS ... BUT PERSONAL: The rumors continue to swirl that Phil Mickelson will sack longtime friend and swing coach Rick Smith for Butch Harmon, Tiger Woods' former swing coach. A story in Golf World says that Mickelson is struggling with the decision because of his relationship with Smith. It also quotes Smith as saying: 'Butch probably wants to get back at Tiger and maybe he thinks he can do that through Phil.'
 
Hole 17
WAR OF THE ROSE: One week after contending for the Masters title, Justin Rose was forced to withdraw from the Verizon Heritage due to a reoccuring back injury. It's the same ailment which forced the Englishman to skip, among others, the WGC-CA Championship at Doral. Now a war of words is brewing. According to the Daily Mail, Rose's old swing coach, David Leadbetter, is claiming the changes his new coach, Nick Bradley, has implemented are causing harm to Rose's body. Bradley, a one-time Leadbetter apprentice, has dismissed the claim.
 
Hole 18
WELCOME BACK: Natalie Gulbis is becoming an all-too-frequent contributor to the Back 9. She started the weekend three off the lead, was four back after Saturday, and then started Sunday with five bogeys over her first nine holes. She dropped three more strokes on the back nine on her way to an 8-over 80. In the three tour events in which she has made the cut this year, her final-round scoring average is 76.7.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Verizon Heritage
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Open
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