BIG EASY'S BIG REVELATION: A week after a dramatic high in notching his first win in over 3 ½ years on the PGA TOUR, Ernie Els revealed to GOLF CHANNEL's Rich Lerner that his 5-year-old son, Ben, is suffering from autism.
Els didn't make the cut at Innisbrook, but as Lerner aptly pointed out in his story, by going public with such a extremely personal family matter, 'Ernie had struck perhaps the most important shot of his life.' All the tough losses to Tiger in the past hardly seem too important to worry about at this point and time. As Els said, “It’s (autism) a change of life, a change of priorities." And it surely is a cause his peers will likely rally around.
BAD COURSE MANAGEMENT: Current Nationwide Tour player Tripp Isenhour was charged last Wednesday with cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird. The charge stems from an incident in which Isenhour repeatedly took aim at the bird while trying to film a golf video.
Like pretty much everything in society, people are lining up on both sides of this issue. On one side, here is a quote from Mark Calcavecchia, "It's a bad break for the bird, but it sounds like there are a lot of other things people should be worried about." And the other side of the issue, Humane Society executive vice president Michael Markarian, "Americans have no tolerance for cruelty to animals. Such a petty, mean spirited act against a wild bird is inexcusable and prosecutors are right to hold Isenhour accountable to the law." With criminal charges being pressed expect this story to stick around for a while.
PODS PERSON: Sean O'Hair posted a final-round 2-under 69 Sunday at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club and it was good enough to earn him his second career PGA TOUR title. Stewart Cink, the 54-hole leader, collapsed coming down the stretch with a pair of bogeys and a double bogey, late.
It seems the last time we saw much of O'Hair was when he was paired with Phil Mickelson in the final group at last year's PLAYERS Championship - and the resulting two shots into the water at 17 that led to a quadruple-bogey 7. Ahhh, but time heals all wounds. And a $954,000 first-place check can also help the healing process. Probably even better than time.
YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!: Bernhard Langer won his second Champions Tour event at the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, Calif. Langer needed seven extra holes to outlast Jay Haas in a memorable playoff that has become the norm on the senior circuit.
As has been mentioned every single week in this space, the Champions Tour is quite honestly the most exciting sporting event week in and week out in the sporting world - granted, if you are a golf lover. This past week? A mind-boggling seven-hole playoff! Do yourself a favor and make the Champions Tour a part of your 'Must See TV.' You will not be disappointed. Just check out the previous 2008 events if you doubt it.
BETTER DAYS?: India’s Arjun Atwal bettered Peter Hedblom on the second hole of a playoff to win the Malaysian Open. Atwal had gone five years since his last win, which actually came in 2003 at this very same tournament.
Atwal’s win came courtesy of a stellar final-round score of 8-under-par 64 to finish at 18 under. Atwal’s victory comes a few weeks after he was reportedly cleared over an alleged high-speed car race that left one driver dead, and it couldn’t have come any sooner. However, a recent report from Sports Illustrated says Atwal has not been cleared. Stay tuned.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU FLIRT WITH:England's Nick Dougherty started his first round at the Malaysian Open by posting nine birdies in his first 13 holes and nearly ended up shooting 59. Dougherty parred the last five holes and ended up with a 62.
Despite his great opening round, Dougherty ended up losing, and losing by quite a large margin - seven strokes. It isn’t everyday you see a player shoot a 62 in the first round of a tournament, not have any rounds over par, and still lose by more than a six pack; but hey, that’s golf. And a cruel mistress indeed.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: John Daly, playing in the PODS Championship on a sponsor’s exemption, used Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach John Gruden as his caddie in the first round of the tournament; U.S. Solheim Cup captain Beth Daniel named Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins as her assistants for the 2009 matches outside Chicago.
While the fans in Tampa no doubt enjoyed seeing their NFL coach between the ropes, ‘Chucky’ couldn’t keep J.D. from again missing another cut; Mallon and Robbins, both major champions, have combined to play in 14 Solheim Cups and are good friends with Daniel - an easy and smart choices for the captain.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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