HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, DADDY: Henrik Stenson emerged from the pack Sunday at The Players to become just the third European-born golfer to win the prestigious event. With most everyone cracking in the final round heat, the Swede shot a bogey-free, 6-under 66 to win by four over Englishman Ian Poulter.
Before Padraig Harrington enjoyed major stature, Stenson was regarded by many as the top European player. He still doesn't have a major title to his credit but he does have a very impressive resume: one Players title; one WGC-Match Play title; five European Tour victories; and two Ryder Cup appearances. He now also has a three-year exemption into the Masters and a five-year PGA Tour exemption, should he choose to accept it (he's not currently a Tour member).
THE AGONY OF DEFEAT: Alex Cejka began the final round at TPC Sawgrass with a five-shot lead and saw it evaporate by the fourth hole. The Czech-born German finished with an 7-over 79 to tie for ninth.
It was evident on the very first hole Sunday that Cejka could have be leading by 10 and would have struggled to hold on. The pressure of trying to win The Players, playing alongside Tiger Woods – whatever it was, he unraveled early and never, um, raveled back up. There will be better days for Cejka. There will have to be.
I FEEL YOU, ALEX: Tiger Woods started the final round five back of Cejka, watched his playing companion crumble like a Ritz cracker before his eyes, and still couldn't mount a charge. Woods shot 1-over 73 to finish in solo eighth place, seven back of Stenson (one ahead of Cejka).
Apparently Tiger Woods had his knee surgery in the same Crystal Chamber that sapped Superman's powers. For the second week in a row, Woods had a chance to win on Sunday and was less threatening than a Sinbad comedy routine. Here's an idea for Tiger: play more tournaments. Get in some extra competitive reps before Bethpage. We know you're not listening.
WOE IS ME: Defending champion Sergio Garcia made the cut on the number and then shot 73-69 over the weekend to tie for 22nd. No one has ever repeated as champion of The Players.
Listening to Sergio talk in his press conferences – before and during the tournament – was more depressing than reading Sylvia Plath. Good Lord, man: you're 29, a multi-millionaire, Ricardo Montalban with the ladies, and play golf for a living. Lighten up, Francis.
WOE IS US: Garcia wasn't the only big name who endured big disappointment at The Players. Phil Mickelson finished T-55; Ernie Els T-45; Padraig Harrington T-49; and Adam Scott missed yet another cut.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment – save for Cejka – came courtesy Retief Goosen. The two-time U.S. Open champion shared the lead at one point in the final round, but played his final six holes in 5 over to tie for 22nd. Goosen's days of being a "major" factor may have come to a screeching halt at Pinehurst in 2005.
HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU: Kenny Perry played the first two rounds in a group with Angel Cabrera, the man who beat him in a playoff at this year's Masters. Perry, who admitted it was very difficult to concentrate, shot 73-71 to barely survive the even-par cut. Cabrera, meanwhile, opened in 72-65 to challenge for the lead. Once the two were separated, however, Perry shot 68-74 to Cabrera's 77-71. Ultimately, Perry finished one shot back of his Augusta nemesis.
Groupings over the first two rounds of PGA Tour events are "randomly "selected by a computer. Raymond Babbitt's television viewing habits are more random than this. We get that the Tour wants to create cute pairings for their "major" like the PGA Championship does. But this isn't a major and it wasn't cute. It was actually kind of mean. Or, as Perry put it, "Just sad."
HOORAY, BEER: Cristie Kerr claimed her 12th career LPGA title at the Michelob Ultra Open. Kerr, the 2005 winner of this event, birdied the 15th hole to break away from the competition. She finished with a closing 1-under 70 and a two-shot win over In-Kyung Kim.
Meanwhile, Lorena Ochoa led by three shots through two rounds, before shooting back-to-back 74s to finish in 10th place. That was the second most bizarre thing of the week at Kingsmill. The first? Watching Kerr celebrate by pouring beer over her own head. Who does that?
PSYCHEDELIC SECOND: John Daly shot four rounds in the 60s, with his closing performance his best score of the week, a 6-under 66, to finish co-runner-up at the Italian Open. The finish was his best on any tour since he lost the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship in a playoff to Tiger Woods.
First of all, that's great news for JD and his supporters. Secondly, let's hope there weren't any $5,000 slot machines near the course. And thirdly, let's hope he can bring this kind of game back to the States – and keep those Abbie Hoffman pants in Europe.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Skins Game officials announced that they would not contest an event this year due to the ailing economy. ... SBS has taken over as title sponsor of the PGA Tour's season-opening event. ... Daniel Vancsik won the Italian Open by six over Daly and two others, if you were interested. ... CBS Sports golf analyst David Feherty apologized for morbid comments he made in a magazine about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Was it the economy or the fact that last year's edition included K.J. Choi, Stephen Ames, Rocco Mediate and Phil Mickelson? Might as well kill it for good. ...The Tour let Mercedes-Benz out of its contract a year early, and got SBS for a decade. ... We didn't think you were. ... It's actually amazing that this is the first time we can remember Feherty getting in trouble for something he said.
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