STRICKLY BUSINESS: Steve Stricker finally capitalized on a big chance to win a big tournament, rallying late Sunday to capture The Barclays. A 54-hole leader for the first time in nine years, Stricker birdied four of his final five holes to lock up the first PGA TOUR Playoffs event, and move into first place in the race for the $10 million bonus prize.
A great finish and great result for one of the TOUR's great guys. Stricker went through a hellish time in his career and often wondered if he would ever win again. He had a few chances earlier this year -- two of them at majors -- but played poorly on Sunday every time. This time, though, he came through. And it could pay off in a really big way.
MEET ME IN BOSTON: There was a story within the story at The Barclays. While Steve Stricker was busy taking over first place in the FedExCup standings, others were just trying to stay alive for the upcoming Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston. Rich Beem and Doug LaBelle II were the only two players who moved from the outside, into the top 120 to qualify for the second Playoff event.
Congratulations to both, but Doug LaBelle? He's had one top-10 all year and that came in his first event, at the Sony Open. How is he even in the "playoffs," let alone advancing into Round 2?
ROMANCING THE SWEDE: Annika Sorenstam this past weekend accepted the wedding proposal of Mike McGee, who also happens to be the Managing Director for the ANNIKA brand of businesses. It will be Sorenstam's second marriage.
A wedding date has not been set, but you can rule out four weeks in 2008; eight weeks if she plans on pal Eldrick attending. No word yet on if Callaway will start printing Mrs. 59 on Annika's personal golf balls instead of Ms. 59.
USA! USA! USA!: Team USA was finalized Sunday night after the Safeway Classic as Solheim Cup team captain Betsy King chose Laura Diaz and Nicole Castrale as her two additional picks for this year's match in Sweden.
Though only dating back to 1990, the Solheim Cup has quickly gained in popularity and usually provides the potential for a couple of cat fights between the teams. Adding the fiery Morgan Pressel, a rookie who qualified for the U.S. team, certainly won't douse the flames in any way. A bit of combustion might be a good thing this year -- in terms of attracting some extra eyes -- as the event is being contested opposite the TOUR Championship.
DOING IT THE SAFE WAY: Lorena Ochoa won the Safeway Classic on Sunday, her third straight win and sixth on the season. Ochoa got off to a rough start in the final round, but four birdies in a seven-hole stretch during the middle part gave her the cushion she needed.
Ochoa's rise to power had been a steady burn, slowly gaining on and then finally surpassing Annika the Great. But now it has become a wildfire seemingly out of control. The question now is, Will she lose again in 2007? And, Will she be invited to the McGee-Sorenstam wedding?
NOT SO FUNNY: Bill Murray, star of 'Caddyshack' and the annual AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, was picked up by police in Stockholm for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol while riding around in a golf cart.
Alcohol? Not marijuana? Surprising coming from our old friend Carl Spackler, who once offered this little gem - "This is a hybrid. This is a cross, ah, of Bluegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Featherbed Bent, and Northern California Sensemilia. The amazing stuff about this is, that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus-belt that night on this stuff."
LIKE FATHER, LIKE... WELL, MAYBE NOT: Stefan Langer accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in The KLM Open in the Netherlands and shot an opening-round 98. His father, Bernhard, posted a 3-under 67, a difference of 31 shots.
The elder Langer skipped out on The Barclays, for which he had qualified, to play at the same event as his son. What was supposed to unfold into a feel good story of a legendary, two-time Masters champion and his son playing alongside each other, instead turned into feel awful story about a legendary, two-time Masters champion and his son playing alongside each other.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Andrew Coltart fired a back-nine 27 in Rd. 1 of the KLM Open; Denis Watson won for the second time on the Champions Tour, doing so in a 7-man playoff; Michelle Wie missed another cut - her fourth MC in five attempts this year on the LPGA; Colt Knost won the U.S. Amateur to go along with his U.S. Publinx title he captured earlier in the summer; And Peter Jacobsen offered a $5,000 reward for the return of golf clubs that were stolen out of his garage.
While Coltart's scorecard was a thing of beauty, couldn't he have dug a little deeper and birdied the last two holes - hack!; Watson went birdie-birdie in the playoff to beat some big-time Senior names; The Big Wiesy has officially become the Big Uneasy; Who knew the U.S. Am was even being played this week?; And instead of $5K, Jake should offer up a free round with him impersonating Craig Stadler and Stadler himself. Oh, what fun! Especially after Stadler just lost in a seven-man playoff.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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