WHAT AN ADVENTURE: The PGA Tours 2008 season wrapped up Sunday at Disney and so did D.J. Gregorys magical run or walk. Gregory made it to every Tour stop this year, walking every course.
Thats nearly 1,000 miles and well over 3,000 holes. If that doesnt impress you, consider that Gregory suffers from cerebral palsy and every step he takes is done so with considerable labor. The 30-year-old may have fallen, by his count, 29 times over the course of the year, but his inspiration was 10 fold that number.
PHIL THE FLIRT: Phil Mickelson, in China for the European Tours season-opening HSBC Champions, spoke with reporters early in the week about possibly joining the tour, mainly due to the lure of the cash being thrown around for the Race to Dubai.
While Mickelson ultimately said he would pass on becoming a member this season, he did intimate the chances are good for him doing so in the future. Said Mickelson: I think the biggest growth opportunity for the game of golf is internationally. Perhaps those are his sponsors talking, who would no doubt like him to spread their 'global footprint,' especially considering that his big four ' Barclays, Callaway Golf, accounting company KPMG and Exxon Mobile ' are trying to raise their profile all over the world. This, and because Phil also just likes to talk a lot.
AND THEY'RE OFF!: One week after the conclusion of their 2008 season, the European Tour commenced their 2009 edition with the HSBC Champions in China. Sergio Garcia survived five days worth of play, brought on by repeated inclement weather. In the process, the Spaniard passed Mickelson for No. 2 in the world.
This is the most anticipated season in tour history ' and not just because they have a fancy new logo. The Race to Dubai should provide year-long drama (most of the year, anyway). One of the big problems the tour has faced over recent years is a lack of big name players competing and winning. Garcia got the revitalized tour off to a great start ' even if its not really 2009 yet.
THAT'S A WRAP: The PGA Tour's Fall Series came to a close with Davis Love III winning the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Classic. Love closed with a bogey-free 8-under 64 to hold off Tommy Gainey by a single stroke.
It was strange to see a Hall of Fame candidate grinding it out during the Fall Series, but thats what Love said he needed to do. After undergoing ankle surgery 13 months ago, Love said the Fall Series was his chance to get back into a good rhythm ' and also to secure his card for the 2009 season. He did that and more. By securing his 20th Tour title, he is now a life-time member. As for runner-up Gainey, the tight finish almost became the biggest big break of his life. Needing a win to keep his card, he left nothing out on the course, making six back-nine birdies. And even though he fell short, the $496,800 second-place check was good enough to get him conditional status on tour for next season.
CART PATH ONLY: Erik Compton, granted the use of a golf cart for this past weeks event at Disney, made the cut before eventually settling into a tie for 60th.
Compton finished the event with a triple bogey-8 on the 72nd hole, but that was probably the only disappointment for the young man. Most golf fans are by now familiar with the fact that Compton is just six months removed from his second heart transplant and is in the midst of trying to make his way back to the PGA Tour. Admittedly emotionally and physically drained, Compton has little time for rest as he makes his way to the second stage of Q-School later this week.
CHANGES AT AUGUSTA!: Chairman Billy Payne announced this past week that there were changes being made at Augusta National. Turns out the changes were very minor, trimming just 10 yards from the course length.
Like it does every year, the course is evaluated and adjustments are made to ensure what the club believes will make for the best possible playing conditions. Most of the changes, albeit minor, were mainly made to give the club flexibility to move the tees in case of bad weather conditions. Recall that Trevor Immelman ' the winner this year ' shot a final-round 75 in very windy conditions.
PGA TOUR, HERE WE COME: The Nationwide Tour also wrapped up its season with Matt Bettencourt winning the Tour Championship with a birdie on the 72nd hole of regulation.
Not a bad ending for someone whose week began with kidney stones and a trip to the hospital. Not only did he win the tournament ' and its $180,000 first-place check ' but he also finished atop the tour's money list and earned his PGA Tour card for the upcoming season. We at Backspin know about kidney stones ' and will say the relief of passing one may be as great as earning your PGA Tour card.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The PGA of America announced that they were in no hurry to name the 2010 Ryder Cup captain ... Greg Norman and his son Greg Jr. won the ADT Golf Skills Challenge ... Ji-Yai Shin won the LPGA's Mizuno Classic in Japan.
Lately, the PGA of America had been in a hurry to name a new captain in part to get the bad taste out of their mouths and get the focus on the next Ryder Cup. With the recent U.S. victory, they apparently plan on savoring this one a little while ... Norman's son sealed the deal with a clutch shot on the final skills challenge for the win. Did we use the words 'clutch' and Norman' in the same sentence? ... You say you don't recognize the name Shin? Shame on you; she is this year's Women's British Open winner.