ANOTHER CHOI-CE VICTORY On a mistake-filled Sunday at Congressional Country Club, K.J. Choi made just enough birdies -- including one from a greenside bunker on 17 -- to win his second event of the season. Choi finished two clear of Steve Stricker to capture the inaugural AT&T National.
Choi first wins Jack Nicklaus' event, the Memorial. Now he has Tiger's title. Will the similarities between Tiger and Jack ever cease?
HOST WITHOUT THE MOST: Tiger Woods played this past week for the first time since the birth of his daughter, and for the first time as a tournament host of an official PGA TOUR event. Woods struggled with his putter the majority of the week. He opened in 4-over 74 -- a round complete with four three-putts and 34 overall -- yet still managed to tie for sixth,
Woods didn't look particularly good in his first event since the arrival of Sam Alexis, but we're pretty sure fatherhood won't completely ruin his career. For once, winning wasn’t at the top of Tiger’s priority list at Congressional. We're also pretty sure 'winning' will move up a couple of notches on said list when he plays again at Carnoustie.
DR. DIRT IN THE HOUSE Brad Bryant became a major champion Sunday when he captured the U.S. Senior Open at Whistling Straits. Bryant shot 4-under 68 to defeat Ben Crenshaw by three in the Champions Tour's third major championship -- of five -- of the season.
Bryant has made the most out of his career mulligan. He had only one top-20 finish in 20 career major championship starts on the PGA TOUR, and had only one career victory in 20 full seasons. He is now a four-time Champions Tour winner over the last year-and-a-half, and a major champion. The $470,000 he collected was more than double his largest TOUR paycheck.
STRAIT DOWN THE DRAIN Ultimately, however, the 2007 U.S. Senior Open will be remembered by many for Tom Watson's loss rather than for Bryant's win. Watson led by three after 10 holes of his final round. He then completely fell apart. Watson double-bogeyed 11, bogeyed 12 and 13, double-bogeyed 16 and double-bogeyed 18. That added up to a back-nine 43 and a fourth-place finish, five behind Bryant.
Watson talked like a man of destiny after taking the 54-hole lead. "Maybe it's my time," he said. But some times, some things just aren't meant to be. Watson, a three-time Senior Open runner-up, went from the Watson of old to the old Tom Watson in just one hole Sunday. Fortunately for him, nothing he does as a senior will overshadow what he accomplished in his prime.
ALLEN DOH!-YLE: Bidding for an unprecedented third consecutive U.S. Senior Open title, Allen Doyle opened in 11-over 83 at Whistling Straits. He followed with an even-par 72, but missed the cut by seven strokes.
Doyle wasn’t the only notable player to take an early flight out of Wisconsin. Hale Irwin missed the cut for the first time ever in a Champions Tour major. He needed an 8-foot birdie on the final hole to keep alive his major cuts made streak on the senior circuit, but pushed it. The 62-year-old then said he was taking off three weeks to sort out whatever was ailing his game. Perhaps he should just look at his driver’s license. His ailment may be his age.
LEFTY JUST NOT RIGHT: Phil Mickelson shot rounds of 73-74 to miss the cut by two at the AT&T National. Mickelson failed to make a birdie in the first round and finished double bogey-double bogey in Round 2. It marked the first time since 1995 that he’d gone three straight TOUR events without making it to the weekend.
Mickelson was riding high after his PLAYERS Championship win. And then he injured his left wrist in a practice round at Oakmont. He's now off to play the Scottish Open, but, more importantly, prepare for the Open Championship. Given his Open history and his current condition, it would seem unlikely that he will challenge at Carnoustie.
HOW 'BOUT THEM APPLES: Stuart Appleby led by two strokes entering the final round of the AT&T. Four holes in, however, he found himself two down. He was 6 over for the day after just seven holes and eventually shot 6-over 76 to tie for third, six back of Choi.
Entering this year, Appleby had won four of five PGA TOUR events when leading after 54 holes. Then came the Masters, where he led through three rounds, but closed in 75 to tie for seventh. Now, he's 0 for his last 2. Sundays have not been kind to the Aussie in '07. He ranked 151st on TOUR in final-round scoring average -- before this week.
OPEN INVITATION: A pair of qualifiers were held this past week for the Open Championship. Some of the notable names to get through out of the American site, Oakland Hills, were Sean O’Hair, Duffy Waldorf, Ryan Moore, Charley Hoffman, Jerry Kelly and Matt Kuchar. Englishman Nick Dougherty, who led after the first-round of the U.S. Open, and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez made it out of Sunningdale in Berkshire, England.
Hopefully, the R&A will avoid the major mistake they made at Sunningdale, where play had to be suspended to change a hole placement on the par-3 fourth. The hole, which was placed on a slope, was deemed "unplayable" after Ricardo González five-putted and Brett Rumford four-putted after hitting his tee shot to within two feet. Eight players had to play the hole over. The R&A apologized, but according to one player in The Times, they “couldn’t run a bath.”
MONTY'S HAPPY -- FOR NOW Colin Montgomerie made seven birdies and two clutch pars Sunday en route to winning his first European Tour event in nearly two years. Monty closed in 5-under 65 at the K Club to defeat fellow Ryder Cupper Niclas Fasth at the Smurfit Kappa European Open.
Monty survived a pair of iffy tee shots on the par-3 17th and par-3 18th holes. The nerves were apparent, but so was his championship grit. The K Club is the site of last year’s Ryder Cup, so there must have been a little magic for Europe’s Cup hero. Too bad Carnoustie has never hosted a Ryder Cup.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Jean Van de Velde opted not to try and qualify for this year’s British Open at Carnoustie due to a ongoing illness; Mickelson nearly hit Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with an errant approach shot on Friday at Congressional; Hank Kuehne was seen cheering courtside for girlfriend Venus Williams during her run to a fourth Wimbledon title; A Tennessee man carded two hole-in-ones during one round; And a golf course in the Pocono’s is being investigated for allowing strippers on the course during a golf outing.
Doctor’s believe the mysterious illness befalling Van de Velde could be a rare form of Barry Burn Syndrome; Lefty has provided plenty of thrills through the years and getting tackled by a group of Secret Service personnel would have ranked high up on the list; Kuehne saw more green on the courts of Wimbledon than he has seen this year in the form of cash - he currently ranks 177th on the Nationwide Tour’s money list with just $8,518; the two aces made by Mark Converse didn’t come on some muni or executive course, but rather on the formidable Harbour Town Golf Links; And reports about strippers on the course said passersby could see the alleged hijinx with the naked eye.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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