TIGER CUB: Just hours after falling short of winning his third U.S. Open, Tiger Woods joined his wife in an Orlando hospital to welcome their first child into the world. Born Sam Alexis Woods, the baby girl was delivered about a month before the due date, when it was speculated Tiger would miss his title defense of the British Open.
Speculation on how fatherhood will effect Tiger and his winning ways have come from every corner of the earth, from seemingly every pundit; even from his fellow peers and from the likes of Nicklaus and Palmer. Of course, we will all just have to wait and see, but odds are it shouldn't curtail Tiger from getting into the winner's circle with his usual regularity. And speaking of odds, Ladbrokes in London had odds on little Sam Alexis playing on the LPGA Tour sometime in the future at 50-1.
Wie and her handlers appear to have finally come to their senses as the 17-year-old Hawaiian will bypass her yearly go-around at the 7,193-yard, par-71 TPC at Deere Run. Although it seems it couldn't have gotten worse than last year's strange episode at the John Deere, in which she withdrew after nine holes of the second round due to heat exhaustion, it very easily could have considering the 80s she's been putting up lately playing alongside the ladies. The bigger question is: How will she fare at this week's U.S. Women's Open.
GOING THROUGH WITHDRAWALS: Speaking of Wie and her withdrawal, she was joined by a quite a few other big names who announced similar plans this past week. Lefty pulled out of the Travelers due to his on-going wrist injury; Tiger opted out of his title defense this week at the Buick Open; Angel Cabrera will stay put in Argentina and miss the Open de France; and former British Open winner David Duval announced his pull-out of this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Everyone pretty much knew that there was a less than zero percent chance that Phil was actually going to play last week after his troubles at Oakmont, and ditto for Tiger, with a about the same probability that he was going to be defending his title at the Buick Open this week with little Sam Alexis just a few days old. Cabrera excuse? Well, he's not as young as he used to be; therefore, we imagine U.S. Open hangovers take a bit longer to get over. And as for Duval, it's assumed he pulled out to be with his wife, who is having a difficult pregnancy and is on bed rest with their second child on the way.
DRUG TESTING: PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem spoke last week about how the TOUR is getting closer to making rules on performance-enhancing drugs and inching closer to implementing testing. With Tiger Woods stating that he would like to see drug-testing put into action ASAP, the commissioner is hardly alone on an island in bringing this to reality.
Despite admitting that he doesn't feel that the TOUR has a problem with illegal drugs in any way, Finchem realized that getting a plan in place would be in the best interest of the TOUR. And it only makes sense, especially after seeing the bombshells that other sports have had to suffer through, most notably baseball's seemingly never-ending saga. That, and Tiger said so.
ROOKIE MEET WORLD NO. 1: Rookie In-Kyung Kim played alongside Lorena Ochoa in the final round of the Wegmans LPGA and trailed by one entering Sunday's play. It seemed a long shot for a rookie to overtake the world's top-ranked player, but that's indeed what the teenager from South Korea did. In fact, she held a three-shot lead standing on the 17th hole late in the day. Yet, four holes later - two in regulation and two playoff holes, it was Ochoa lofting the trophy.
Even if Kim had held on for the win, the story would have still been focused on Ochoa and her lack of closing out tournaments. And on the eve of the LPGA's third major of the year, the world No. 1 would have hated to have those kinds of questions swirling around when she is still in pursuit of her first career major championship. Now, however, she goes to Pine Needles with an extra boost of confidence - and the fact that she finally notched her first playoff win in five tries.
HUNTING SEASON: A year after finishing second in this event, Hunter Mahan got things started in fine fashion by posting an 8-under 62 in Thursday's opening round at the Travelers. He then finished what he started in dramatic fashion, stuffing his approach shot on the first hole of a playoff to within a foot for his first PGA TOUR win.
Although the crowd was behind local fan favorite Jay Williamson, Mahan came up big despite almost giving away the tournament late in his round. Three-putt bogeys at the 16th and 17th gave away his two-shot lead and he came to the 18th needing birdie to force the playoff. He knocked his a approach to 7 feet and rolled in the birdie much to the chagrin of Williamson. He now finds himself with a trip to Hawaii to start the 2008 season at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
EMOTIONAL VICTORY: Virginia Tech student Drew Weaver defeated Australia's Tim Stewart, 2 and 1, to become the first American to win the British Amateur tournament since 1979. With the victory, the 20-year-old earned an invitation to the British Open at Carnoustie in Scotland next month and will also be teeing it up in next year's Masters Tournament.
Following his emotional win, Weaver promptly dedicated his victory to the 32 victims who lost their lives on the Blacksburg, Va., campus back in April, in what was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Said Weaver of his win, "I've been proud to represent the college here this week and to give them something positive." Pretty heady stuff for a 20-year-old amateur.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The head greenskeeper at Carnoustie, criticized by some golfers at the 1999 British Open for the outrageously difficult course set-up, was recently suspended from his duties; John Daly won the Telus World Skins event for the second straight year; Stewart Cink and J.J. Henry reeled off six consecutive birdies on the back nine Tuesday en route to a one-stroke victory over Brad Faxon and Zach Johnson in the CVS Caremark Charity Classic in the Rhode Island; and Angel Cabrera returned to wild celebrations in his native Argentina following the country's first major victory in 40 years.
Here's betting that most players hope Carnoustie greenskeeper John Philp's suspension lasts through July 22nd; Daly's played in 12 PGA TOUR events this season and has managed to win a mere $117, 728. His haul in the Skins game was $220,000; While Cink and Henry took the top prize, the all-ladies team of Juli Inkster and Natalie Gublis finished ninth in the 10-team field; Cabrera was last seen sticking his mug and the U.S. Open trophy through a sunroof while driving throught the streets of Buenos Aires.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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