AWAITING WORD: Seve Ballesteros underwent brain surgery last Tuesday to remove a tumor and was listed in stable condition before doctors discovered complications that required the removal of part of his skull to relieve swelling of the brain.
There was no new news coming from Spain over the weekend, leaving the golfing world on pins and needles. No matter what we hear next this much is clear – the outpouring of love from golf fans has been felt by Seve. Said Paul Azinger, “We had an intense rivalry, but you reach beyond that. Rivalries can be healthy, and maybe they cross the line on occasion. But when real life things happen, people reach out to each other.” Well said, Paul.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Marc Turnesa completed a wire-to-wire win in Las Vegas at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He became the eighth rookie to win on the PGA Tour this season and wrapped up his Tour card for the next two seasons.
It should come as no surprise that Turnesa won a PGA Tour event. The family history in the golf business is pretty impressive: his great-uncle Jim won the 1952 PGA Championship and his late grandfather captured six Tour events and finished second to Ben Hogan in the 1948 PGA Championship. Hogan was always quoted as saying the secret is, “in the dirt.” We here at Backspin say, “it's in the genes.”
AIN'T LIFE GRAND?: Jim Furyk won the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, eagling the first playoff hole to defeat Padraig Harrington. Furyk earned $600,000 for the win, which took place on the Mid Ocean Club course in Bermuda.
This tournament is reserved for the year's major champions. Unless a player wins two majors (like Harrington) or shreads his knee (like Tiger Woods). Furyk and Retief Goosen both got in by being the top players on a qualifying list, which only includes past major winners. Despite winning but one major, Furyk has played in this event four times. And he's pocketed $1.55 million – for playing in a made-up event, in paradise, in which 75 percent of the time he shouldn't have been eligible. Not that we're jealous or anything.
MAUI WOWIE: Morgan Pressel birdied the final hole of regulation to edge Suzann Pettersen and win the inaugural Kapalua LPGA Classic. It was Pressel's first win of the season and first since her breakout victory at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Morgan Pressel, who just so happens to represent the Kapalua Resort in Maui, made a 15-footer from off the green on the 72nd hole to win the inaugural event. She had gone 43 starts without a victory, and hadn’t even had a top-10 since June. Meanwhile, Annika Sorenstam, who won earlier in the year in Hawaii, opened in 77 and tied for 25th. It looks like it could be a very disappointing end to a brilliant career.
FOR SALE: The LPGA lost another title sponsor last week, when ADT decided not to renew its contract after 2008 for the tour’s season-ending event at Trump International. It's the fourth sponsor to abandon the LPGA this year.
The sports world is not immune from economic hardships. Expect a few 'TBD's when the 2009 LPGA schedule is released. But for this tournament in particular, it shouldn't be hard to find another sponsor as it is one of the most unique events in all of golf. The elite field of 32 is cut in half after Rounds 2 and 3, resulting in an eight-woman Sunday shootout for a cool million.
FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY: American Ben Curtis selected Brandt Snedeker to be his partner for the World Cup (check out the teams), which will be played in China during the week of Thanksgiving.
Six players turned down Curtis' offer to play for their country; though, Snedeker's not exactly leftovers. He may, however, feel like re-heated turkey by the time he makes it to China. Snedeker, who got married this past weekend, plays the Kiwi Challenge in New Zealand on Oct. 28-29. He's then off to Fiji for his honeymoon, followed by a trip to Japan for the Dunlop Phoenix before meeting up with Curtis.
SUTTON SIGHTING: Hal Sutton made his Champions Tour debut at the Administaff Small Business Classic. He finished his first event in a tie for 23rd after rounds of 71-70-72, nine shots behind winner Bernhard Langer.
It was no coincidence that Sutton made his first foray onto the senior circuit at The Woodlands Country Club in Texas. Not only was it close to his home in Shreveport, La., but Sutton’s last PGA Tour victory just happened to come at TPC Woodlands in 2001. And no, he wasn't wearing a cowboy hat when he made his way to the first tee on Friday. Oh, and by the way, Langer won the event for the second consecutive time and moved to the top of the Champions Tour money list.
TRAGEDY FOR VILLEGAS: Camilo Villegas' uncle was shot and killed Saturday during a robbery of his business in Colombia. Ernesto Villegas Zuluaga, 56, was killed when two armed men entered his coffee trading enterprise demanding money and he jumped on one of them, according to senior Caldas state official Henry Murillo.
It's sad news for Villegas, who was enjoying a great deal of recent success on the course, having won his first two PGA Tour events during the FedEx Cup playoffs. Said the Colombian star, "... I am proud to not only call him my uncle, but also my godfather. I will miss him very much."
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Natalie Gulbis has been out of action for the last two months while taping episodes of Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" ... Mark Calcavecchia underwent athroscopic knee surgery last Tuesday ... Titleist is returning to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., for the first time in seven years ... Golf Channel announced that it will telecast early-hour weekend coverage of 12 PGA Tour events in 2009 ...
Other "celebs" include Dennis Rodman, Joan Rivers and a bunch of people we've never heard of. Trump better not fire Natalie early if he wants any ratings ... Calc expects to be back to defend his Merrill Lynch Shootout in December. Geez, Tiger, what's taking you so long to recover? ... This is a big boost for the Merchandise Show, which needs more of the big names to attend ... Don't mean to toot our own horn, but 'Toot.'
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, PART II: Arjun Atwal won the Nationwide Tour's Chattanooga Classic in a playoff ... Scotland claimed the Eisenhower Trophy, beating runner-up United States by nine strokes... Vicky Hurst captured the season-ending Futures Tour event – the Duramed Invitational – and for her fifth Futures Tour title of the year.
Atwal, who was almost charged with vehicular homicide relating to an auto accident in 2007, will now spending time on the PGA Tour in 2009... Not sure what the trophy looks like but it would be cool if it was an actual bronzed head of Eisenhower himself ... Backspin guarantee: Hurst will not win another Futures Tour event – ever. Her star will from now on be shining on the LPGA.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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