HAT TRICK OF SORTS:: Justin Leonard fought back from a four-shot deficit at the start of the day and outlasted Jesper Parnevik in a three-hole playoff to claim the Valero Texas Open. It was the Texans first PGA TOUR victory since his two-win season back in 2005 and his third overall at this event. He joined Arnold Palmer as the only men to win the Texas Open three times.
Leonard not only had to deal with his own nerves coming down the stretch, but also with all the rabbits Parnevik kept pulling out of his stylish, little top hat. The Swede, whose own victory drought dates back to 2001, several times recovered from spots that should have handed over the title to Leonard, only to survive regulation and to extend the playoff three holes. Hats off to Leonard, and well, we'll just let Jesper keep his funny little hat on.
ROCKIN' ROBERTS: Loren Roberts came into the Champions Tour's final major of the season with a close-but-no-cigar feel. He was third at the U.S. Senior Open, fourth at the Senior British, and fourth at the JELD-WEN Tradition. But he put that to rest with an overwhelming victory in Maryland, lapping the field to win the Senior Players Championship in Maryland.
Roberts, commonly known as the 'Boss of the Moss,' indeed lived up to that billing last week, finishing No. 1 in putts per GIR en route to his win. The 52-year-old Roberts has now won a major in each of his first three seasons on the Champions Tour and his victory moved him past Jay Haas in the Charles Schwab Cup points race with just three events left in the season.
LORENA WHO?: Suzann Pettersen stared down world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, topping the Mexican star on the second hole of a playoff to win the Longs Drug Challenge. It was Pettersen's third win of the season and established her as Ochoa's most formidable rival in the near future.
This was the second straight week that Ochoa either lost at the buzzer or in overtime. She has now finished inside the top 3 in 10 of her last 11 starts, and in the last eight straight. As for Pettersen, she is now second on the tour in wins and second on the tour in money. She may well be second on the tour in terms of talent, too (and she just beat No. 1).
LITTLE NICKY: Nick Dougherty, long known as 'Little Nicky' due to the tutelage from his childhood idle Nick Faldo, won for the second time in his young career, capturing the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by two strokes in Scotland.
Dougherty's victory on the European Tour was no small feat, especially considering the elite field that was assembled in Scotland. The names Dougherty beat out included Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Paul Casey. Thus the question now becomes, after his second career tour victory, when will he earn the right to lose the 'Little Nicky' nickname? Maybe when he wins his seventh career major championship - one more than Hall of Famer Faldo.
OFF AND RUNNING: Newly minted professionals Colt Knost - the current U.S. Amateur champion - and Rory McIlroy - he of breakout British Open fame - had rather good weeks on their respective tours. Knost made the cut - on the number - in his rookie debut, and McIlroy was even better, finishing alone in third in the star-laden Dunhill Links Championship.
Knost, who famously, or in some eyes foolishly, gave up automatic invites to the Masters, U.S. and British Opens by way of his U.S. Am victory, finished T-49 in Texas to earn a paycheck in his first start; McIlroy not only topped Els and Harrington, to name a few, but in the process earned his tour card for next season in just his second event. Even Tiger didn't do it that fast.
MASTERS TRIP FOR TRIP: Trip Kuehne routed Dan Whitaker, 9 and 7, in the U.S. Mid-Amateur at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. The victory was not only the 35-year-old Kuhne’s first in a USGA event, but also earned him an invite to the 2008 Masters.
Kuehne, brother to Hank and Kelli, is perhaps most famous for losing to Tiger Woods in the 1994 U.S. Amateur. He’s also well known for being a career amateur. He has played in the U.S. Open three times – making the cut in 2003 – but this will be his first trip as a competitor at Augusta National.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The LPGA unveiled a new logo for the their tour; Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National, announced several changes that will be in place for the 2008 Masters; Richard Johnson birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Jeremy Anderson and Matthew Jones to win the Mark Christopher Charity Classic.
The LPGA's new logo is indeed quite bold and sassy, pretty much like a lot of the young players that have burst onto the scene the last several years; Chairman Payne denied accusations that the changes were made to Zach-proof the course; Talk about exorcising some demons, this was the fifth time this season that Johnson was in the final group in the final round, but this was the first time he finally experienced a happy ending.
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