Backspin Wildfires Both Real and Imagined


Editor's Note: In Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
CHOP THIS UP TO PATIENCE: It took five days, but after waiting nearly four full seasons, it was all worth it. Daniel Chopra claimed his first PGA TOUR title Monday, winning the weather-delayed Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro. Chopra was tied for the lead when darkness suspended play Sunday, but came out the following morning and played his final three holes in 1 under for a one-shot triumph.
Backspin The Fall Series has pretty much played out like expected, with a mixture of proven TOUR winners (Leonard, Campbell) breaking winless droughts and first-time champions (McNeill, Chopra). There is only one tournament left for players to earn their keep, and keep their cards. And then the real money grab begins.
ON THE MOVE: Chopra moved from 104th on the money list to 46th. Shigeki Maruyama, who finished co-runner-up, went from 137th to 103rd. And Cameron Beckman went from 128th to 118th.
Backspin Beckman was fighting to stay inside the top 150 when the Fall Series began, but a tie for third in Las Vegas and a tie for fifth this past week have him pretty much locked in for 2008. Meanwhile, Ted Purdy is now the bubble boy at No. 125, leading J.B. Holmes by just over $4,000. Kevin Stadler missed the cut at the Ginn to fall from 125th to 127th, more than $21K back of Purdy.
NEVER TOO EARLY TO TALK RYDER CUP: Captains Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo came together for a press conference in Louisville, Ky., to promote the 2008 Ryder Cup, now just one year out. The two captains posed for photo ops and answered many questions, ranging from strategy to team chemistry to their own experiences from past Ryder Cups.
Backspin Former on-course rivals turned colleagues for ABC Sports' golf coverage, the two quick-witted major champions are back to opposing one another; though, not with the same intensity as their playing days. If you are scoring at home, this round went to 'Zinger as he tried not to let Faldo off the hook when the European captain attempted to brush off a controversial question about Colin Montgomerie.
REPEAT AND NOT TO REPEAT: Jim Thorpe was the last man in the field for the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. And he was the last man standing. Thorpe successfully defended his title, shooting a tournament record 20 under to win by three strokes over Denis Watson and Fred Funk.
Backspin While there was a repeat performance in the event, such was not the case in the season-long Cup race. Loren Roberts, who butchered the final hole a year ago to hand the Cup title to Jay Haas, held on this year for the $1 million annuity. And so end another scintillating season on the senior set.
WILDFIRES: Massive wildfires swept throughout the state of California, causing hundreds of thousands of people to be evacuated, including Phil Mickelson's family who lives in Rancho Santa Fe near San Diego. The fires also threatened the golf course that will play host to this week's Nationwide Tour Championship.
Backspin The Nationwide Tour Championship, slated for Barona Creek in Lakeside, Calif., will be played as scheduled. But the first stage of PGA TOUR Q-school was moved from Carlton Oaks GC near San Diego to the Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale due to poor air quality. Meanwhile, Mickelson's house reportedly escaped any serious damage.
WARNING: FLAMABLE: If fire was personified it would be named Suzann Pettersen. The Norwegian almost blew a seven-shot lead, but eagled the 72nd hole to win by one stroke over Laura Davies at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
Backspin Pettersen's victory was her second in a row, her third in her last four starts, and her fifth overall for the season. There are only three tournaments remaining on the 2007 LPGA schedule. Pettersen can't win Player of the Year, as Lorena Ochoa has already wrapped up that points title, but perhaps she can keep her momentum heading into the ADT Championship finale and set up a Sunday showdown with the world's No. 1.
REIGN IN SPAIN: Frenchman Gregory Bourdy captured his first European Tour title by winning the Mallorca Classic in Madrid, Spain. Bourdy's three-birdie, no-bogey final round was good enough to give him a two-stroke triumph.
Backspin Congratulations to Bourdy, but the main story involved Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard shot 3-over 73 Sunday to tie for 16th. It was yet another frustrating final round for Garcia, and marked the first time in the last four years that he has finished outside the top 2 in this event. Wonder who he blamed for this one?
JUST BECAUSE YOU DONT SEE ME : Despite rumors to the contrary, Hank Haney is still Tiger Woods' swing coach. 'I'm still on the payroll,' he told Insider Brian Hewitt this past week.
Backspin Haney has been spending time at home with his wife, who is recovering from an illness, while Woods is reportedly spending his time 'skiing and chilling on his yacht.' Odds are you won't see Woods play a TOUR event until the Buick Invitational in late January 2008. Guess we should expect to see Haney by his side before then.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Arron Oberholser pulled out of the World Cup due to a hand injury; John Daly applied for, but was not awarded a sponsor's invite into this week's TOUR finale at Disney; Keep an eye on Jay Williamson this week. Williamson will have a familiar face on his bag at Disney -- GOLF CHANNEL's Kraig Kann.
Backspin Has any event fallen farther, faster in terms of mass appeal than the World Cup? The new U.S. team is Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum. Seriously; Good for the people at the Children's Miracle Network Classic. Exemptions should to go to appreciative players who are willing to prove that they deserved a spot in the field, not Daly, who withdrew with no reason given prior to the fourth round at the Ginn (which awarded him an exemption) and will once again finish outside the top 180 on the money list; Hopefully, Kraig will not get dumped mid-round like one of Williamson's other caddies this year.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Ginn sur Mer Classic
  • Full Coverage - Charles Schwab Cup Championship
  • More Headlines