McDONALD'S HAPPY MEAL: With a smile as wide as a kid getting treated to a Happy Meal, Suzann Pettersen happily raised the trophy over her head late Sunday afternoon at the McDonald's LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock. With seven-time major winner and Hall of Fame member Karrie Webb breathing down her neck on the backstretch, the feisty Norwegian simply put the peddle to the metal, making four back-nine birdies to win by a single stroke. Her emotionally celebrated, clutch birdie putt at the par-3 17th proved to be the difference.
It was the first major title in what could possibly turn out to become a very promising career for Pettersen. After her much publicized meltdown at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the win should do wonders for her confidence. In her mind, the fact that she has been in the hunt in the year's first two majors - and come away with a victory in one of them - is huge. And at this point the scoreboard reads: Pettersen - one major; Ochoa, Creamer, Wie and Kerr - none. Look for more fist-pumping coming to a town near you soon.
AUSTIN POWER: Journeyman Woody Austin sat three off the lead heading into Sunday's final round in the Stanford St. Jude Classic. Admittedly hoping for just a top-5 finish that could possibly secure his TOUR card for next season, Austin blistered the TPC at Southwind to the tune of 8-under-par 62 to win with surprising ease. The 43-year-old Austin posted a flawless, bogey-free final round that included six birdies and an eagle to notch his third career PGA TOUR title.
Not only did the win come against a strong field in Memphis, but it stopped the bleeding on what was slowly turning into a miserable season for the veteran Austin. Fourteen previous starts in 2007 had produced just one top-20 result and five missed cuts. Then came Sunday. Suddenly, with the help of the $1,080,000 first-place check, he's risen from 143rd on the money list to 28th, and perhaps more importantly to him, he finally gets to go back to the Masters for just the second time in his career. To the victor go the spoils.
GREAT SCOTT - NOT!: After holding at least a share of the lead through the first three rounds of the Stanford St. Jude - and a three-stroke lead after 54-holes ' Adam Scott blew a chance for victory with four bogeys and a triple bogey on the inward nine Sunday (Scott's card). He was also in contention two weeks ago at the Memorial before three back-nine bogeys left him three shots back of winner K.J. Choi.
It says that Scott is ranked fourth in the world. For some reason, it often seems that that is not the case. It's hard to decipher what kind of mojo Scott will take into the U.S. Open. On one hand, he is obviously striking the ball well enough to get into contention. Yet on the other hand, he no doubt has big problems closing out golf tournaments. Even in his win this year at the Shell Houston Open - much like his win at the 2004 PLAYERS Championship - Scott dumped a ball into the water on the 72nd that could have cost him the title. And this doesn't even take into consideration his rather poor results in the majors as he heads to Oakmont.
THE SAGA OF DALY: John Daly claims to be a victim of an assault by my wife. Daly, competing in the Stanford St. Jude Championship on a sponsors exemption, told authorities that his fourth wife, Sherrie, attacked him with a steak knife. He showed up at the course Friday with red marks on his cheeks. He competed in the second round with two body guards and shot 4-over 74. He managed to make the cut ' just his fourth in 12 PGA TOUR starts this season ' and finished next-to-last in the field at 18 over.
Its been a long, long time since Dalys on-course performance was a topic of conversation ' at least when it didnt involve a missed cut, a withdrawal or a round in the 80s. The last time was when he lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods in the 2004 WGC-American Express Championship, but even that is now overshadowed by the revelation that he blew his $750,000 winnings gambling that night. Its difficult to know whether Daly deserves pity, sympathy, ridicule or no thought whatsoever.
SAY YOU, SAY ME, SE RI: As she tapped in a short putt for par on the 18th hole on Thursday , Se Ri Pak officially became eligible for the World Golf and LPGA Halls of Fame. Pak had long since met the winning conditions to be considered a Hall of Fame member, but she had to officially secure 10 years on tour, which meant she had to start 10 events this season. The completion of her first round at Bulle Rock met that requirement.
Its only appropriate that Pak became eligible for the Hall of Fame at the McDonalds LPGA. Pak made a name for herself by claiming this event as her first tour title in 1998. She won it again in 2002, and then resurrected her career with a third McDonalds triumph last year. Pak lost her enthusiasm for the game a few years ago, but its back. She has 23 career LPGA wins, including five major titles ' and is still only 29 years old. When people look back on this era in golf, Pak will be considered among the LPGAs Big 3, with Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb.
UNDER THE BIG TOP: Michelle Wie was swinging at only about 80 percent, according to her coach, David Leadbetter, but she still teed it up in the McDonalds LPGA. After a modest opening 1-over 73, Wie bogeyed her final hole Friday to shoot 74 and barely make the cut on the number. She then spiraled out of control on the weekend with rounds of 83-79 (Wie's card) to finish dead last, 35 shots behind the winner and a full 10 shots back of the second-to-last player who made the cut.
My, how things have changed in one years time. Last year, Wie had a birdie putt on the 72nd hole that would have gotten her into a playoff at the LPGA Championship. She missed and eventually made bogey on her way to a tie for fifth. At the time, it seemed just a matter of time before she would win a major. Now, who knows what to think? Wie spent the beginning of this past week defending her actions at the Ginn Tribute. She was even called out by Ginn tournament host Annika Sorenstam, who basically said Wie had no class. If her wrist is OK, we'll see her again in three weeks at the U.S. Women's Open at Pine Needles. And then the circus will start all over again.
TICKET TO RIDE: Eighty-three players punched their ticket to Oakmont via U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying last Monday. Among the notable players who made it were: Ryan Moore, Bubba Watson, Sean OHair, Justin Leonard, Steve Elkington, Fred Funk and Boo Weekley. Among the notables who did not make it through were: Mark OMeara, Darren Clarke, Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Lehman and John Daly.
Perhaps the most impressive performance from sectionals was courtesy Anthony Kim. Kim won an 11-man playoff for one spot at the main Columbus, Ohio site. He had to hole a bunker shot just to stay alive and then parred the third extra hole to qualify for his first major championship. Michael Campbell, in 2005, is the last player over the last decade to win the Open as a sectional qualifier. A player hasnt gone through local and sectional qualifying on his way to the winners circle since Orville Moody in 1969.
IN CASE YOU MISSED: Actor Rob Lowe, who was playing in the Champions Tours Principal Charity Classic Pro-Am in Iowa, accidentally struck and killed a young goldfinch ' the State bird ' in mid-flight with one of his approach shots; Scott Piercy, a mini-tour player who tied for 15th last year at the FBR Open, won the Ultimate Game in Las Vegas along with the $2 million first-place prize; Happy Anniversary to Al Gieberger, who 30 years ago Sunday became the first player to shoot a 59 on the PGA TOUR; Colin Montgomerie and his long-time caddie Alastair McLean have decided to go separate ways; and South Korea's Lee Sung, who was born deaf, won the Asian Tour's Bangkok Airways Open.
Fans who come out on pro-ams days are always thrilled to see famous actors such as Lowe. Birds and other woodland creatures maybe not so much. Piercy, a resident of Las Vegas, apparently took his citys famous slogan to heart - 'What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas' - at least in terms of the prize money; Gieberger's 59 was the first the TOUR had seen, and somewhat surprisingly it has since been duplicated just two more times on TOUR: Chip Beck in 1991 and David Duval in 1999; as for Monty's caddie, he's probably thankful he won't have to go through another U.S. Open meltdown like the one he and Monty suffered though last year at Winged Foot.