LEFTY BEING LEFTY: Phil Mickelson finished his two-week stay in Asia with a wild, Mickelson-like final round that resulted in a playoff win in the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai. It marked just the second win for Mickelson outside the United States.
After finishing 16 shots back of the winner last week, it appeared Lefty had traveled outside the comfy confines of the U.S. solely to accept the huge appearance fees that he commands. But like usual, Mickelson had a few tricks up his sleeve, including blowing a five-stroke lead with nine holes to play. A birdie on the second playoff hole gave Lefty the victory and led him to say, 'It's a funny game, golf.' No, Phil, the game isn't really all that funny; it's you that makes it seem that way.
CREAMING THE COMPETITION: Paula Creamer 'held on' to win the Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions in Alabama, edging Birdie Kim by a mere eight strokes. It was the Pink Panther's second win of the season, and her first since the first event of 2007.
After starting the tournament 2 over par following the first nine holes, Creamer put the pedal to the metal and blitzed her fellow competitors. The turning point was a sensational run at the end of her first round where the 21-year-old rang up seven straight birdies to climb into early contention. She then went bogey-free the rest of the way - until the 72nd hole - to capture her fourth career title.
PETTERSEN VERSUS TELEVISION: Suzann Pettersen was penalized two strokes following her round Friday at the Tournament of Champions. Her par on the par-5 13th turned out to be a double-bogey 7, dropping her eight off the pace after 36 holes.
In a sport that constantly repeats how players honor the game by calling penalties on themselves, this time it was instead a TV camera calling the shots. The Norwegian attempted to move some branches following a wayward drive, and, somehow unbeknownst to her and her caddie, ended up causing the ball to move ever-so-slightly. She then proceeded to hit from the wrong spot, resulting in a two-shot penalty and in the process putting an end to her recent hot streak.
NOT A BAD START: The European Tour got off to pretty good start to its 2008 season with a strong field and a wild finish at the abovementioned HSBC Champions tournament. One event down; 50 to go.
Granted, the tour started their season in China and not in Europe, and the fact that it just finished its 2007 season the week before, and yes, that it's not even close to 2008 yet, but nevertheless it was a fantastic beginning. The Sunday leaderboard was dotted with names like Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson, Vijay Singh and Lee Westwood. Throw in a final round roller-coaster ride by Phil the Thrill and you've got the makings of a beautiful beginning.
SILLY, HAPPY TIME: Natalie Gulbis and John Elway teamed to win the Golf Skills Challenge at the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort and Club last Monday. The event featured the teams of Dan Marino and Bubba Watson; Roger Clemens and Greg Norman; and Jerry Rice and Peter Jacobsen.
The hottie and Hall of Famer made for quite a team ' and picked up quite a paycheck. Gulbis and Elway split $310,000. Silly Season commissioner Gordon Gekko is thrilled with the way his campaign has kicked off.
THE LITTLEIST CAPTAIN: Englands Alison Nicholas was named 2009 European Solheim Cup captain. The 1997 U.S. Womens Open champion has competed in six Cup Matches and was twice on the winning team.
Nicholas will be trying to end a two Cup winning streak by the Americans, and will be trying to lead the Euros to their first-ever win in the U.S. Maybe the Yanks will employ Nancy Lopez once again as captain just to give her a chance to extract a little revenge for the 97 Open loss.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Vicky Hurst won the Duramed Futures Tour's qualifying tournament last Friday; Tadd Fujikawa received a sponsor's exemption to play in next year's Sony Open; Greg Norman announced on Tuesday the pairings for this year's Merrill Lynch Shootout to be held at Tiburon Golf Club and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.
Hurst, not sure if she will turn pro or elect to go to college, has already been named the AJGA's 2007 Rolex Junior Player of the Year with three tournament wins; The 16-year-old Fujikawa can only hope to have another run like he did at last year's Sony, where he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut on the PGA TOUR; Yes it is the Silly Season, but the chance to see Norman - not to mention Couples, Daly, Price, Funk and Woody, amongst others - back out roaming the fairways is a treat in our books.