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John Daly

I'M BACK ... BUT WAS I EVER REALLY GONE?: John Daly announced that he would be competing in this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and that his amateur partner would be Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Due to his status as a major champion, Daly did not need a sponsor's exemption to get into the field.

 
BackspinDennis Hopper stayed dry in 'Hoosiers' longer than Daly stayed away from golf. Granted he's not using a sponsor's exemption at Pebble, but he's still taking up a spot. Unfortunately, Daly's dramatic performance in the Torrey Pines parking lot was not recognized by the Academy Award nominating committee as it was deemed less believable than Matt Damon as a South African rugby player.

Tom Watson
 
TOM THE TALKER:  One week after saying Tiger Woods needed to be more humble upon his return, Tom Watson took another shot at Woods during a press conference at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Watson, who reiterated that Woods needed to display humility, said Woods lacked the character of past golfing greats like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson.

BackspinWatson has seemingly been more vocal of Woods' temperament on the golf course than his behavior off it. Maybe that's because Watson wasn't exactly a model citizen during his hey day. But the real issue is: Where was all this public criticism prior to the events of last Thanksgiving? Fans and even a few writers took Woods to task over his use of blue language and penchant for throwing clubs, but I don't recall many, if any, players speaking up. But now that the man is down, it's finally time to get your kicks in? Maybe Watson is still bitter that he lost the Big Brother battle to Mark O'Meara when Woods turned pro.

Tom Watson
 

TOM THE PLAYER:
Tom Watson closed in 4-under 68 Sunday at the Emirates Golf Club to finish in a tie for eighth at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The 60-year-old finished at 6 under par and beat the likes of Paul Casey, Ross Fisher, Charl Schwartzel and Robert Karlsson.
 
Backspin
Playing, rather than lecturing, is what Watson does best. And he seems to do it better than anywhere on the European Tour. It's implausible to imagine Watson barnstorming the globe on the European circuit for an entire year, but it would be interesting to see how he would fare. This latest performance only makes fans more excited to see the old man tackle the Old Course in July.
Steve Stricker

TRUST ME ON THIS: A year after losing a heart-breaker at Riviera Country Club, Steve Stricker held on for victory at the Northern Trust Open. Stricker had a six-shot lead through 54 holes, but saw that advantage dwindle to just two through five holes of the final round. He composed himself, however, and defeated Luke Donald by that same two-stroke margin.

 

BackspinStricker almost became the sixth player in Tour history to blow at least a six-shot, final-round lead. Instead, he's a champion for the fourth time in less than a year and the new No. 2 on the Official World Golf Ranking. It's a spot well earned, for a well liked and well respect guy, but Stricker still feels more like a No. 3 than a No. 2. Phil Mickelson may have started 2010 a little shaky, but given his finish to '09, the fact that he's taken down Tiger Woods head-to-head recently, and the feeling that he is more of a threat in the majors, makes Mickelson No. 2 in theory, if not reality.
Tim Fichem

SEE THE FUTURE: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem met with Tour players Tuesday night at Riviera Country Club, where conversation centered on the Ping Eye 2 wedge. After the meeting Finchem said there were three options available relating to the controversial club: 1) Do nothing and monitor how many players use the wedge. 2) Work out an agreement with Ping chairman and CEO John Solheim. 3) Create a local rule that would disallow its use at Tour events.


BackspinNothing, however, is likely to happen anytime soon. It's amazing that Finchem, a man who reportedly makes well in excess of $5 million a year, didn't have the foresight to see this problem, despite being warned of such a possibility by John Solheim. Maybe Finchem needs a psychic on his staff. Or, maybe he needs to stop believing his own rhetoric, that life is perfect on the PGA Tour, and be more aware of surrounding dangers.

Miguel Angel Jimenez

PONYTAIL POWER: Miguel Angel Jimenez made a 4-foot par putt to defeat Lee Westwood on the third hole of sudden death and capture the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Westwood missed a putt to win in regulation and then missed a 5-foot putt for par just prior to Jimenez sealing victory.

BackspinThis has to make European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie happy. Monty is in need of some veteran leadership on his team and Jimenez, who has played in three prior Cups – two winners – provides just that. Unfortunately, he also brings with him a career 2-7-3 record, including a mark of 0-3-0 in singles. But we're sure Monty, someone with such a positive outlook on everything, is not focused on the negative.

Jim Thorpe

DOUBLE STANDARD?: Jim Thorpe was suspended by the PGA Tour via e-mail Friday. Thorpe is slated to start a one-year jail sentence April 1 for failing to pay nearly $2 million in taxes. He had hoped to play in Champions Tour events prior to his sentence, including this week's Ace Group Classic.

BackspinIs there a double standard here? Certainly, Thorpe's case is unique to others in which players have been suspended by the Tour because his involves jail time. But if players can be suspended for conduct detrimental to the Tour or conduct unbecoming a professional, why didn't Tiger Woods face sanctions? The answer is rather obvious, but worth discussing.
Ty Votaw and Sophie Gustafson

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Former LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw and LPGA player Sophie Gustafson have officially divorced. ... Standout Australian amateur Daniel Nisbet was given an 18-month ban for possession of an anabolic steroid. ... Anthony Kim gave Jessica Alba putting tips on the 'Jay Leno Show.' ... Paul Goydos, Davis Love III, Tom Lehman and Jeff Sluman were announced as Corey Pavin's assistant captains for this year's U.S. Ryder Cup team. ... Steve Williams denied reports that his boss, Tiger Woods, would be returning to competition at the World Match Play in two weeks.
 
Backspin
Plenty of smart-ass comments could be made here, but divorce is never funny. ... What is funny is the notion that golf is a 100-percent clean sport. ... If I wasn't concentrating so hard on Alba, I would have recognized how monotoned Kim is. ... Love the selection of Goydos; wish he could make the team as a player. ... The Match Play is sponsored by Accenture, who dropped Woods like a leper late last year. No chance he was ever playing that tournament – at least for this year.