WHO KILLED THE LIGHTS?: For the first time in nearly 20 years, the PGA TOUR took a week off in the middle of the season. They pick up this week is Mississippi for the Viking Classic, opposite of the 37th Ryder Cup Matches.
Commissioner Tim Finchem built this break into the schedule last November so certain players would not have to compete four straight weeks in the FedExCup and then head straight to Valhalla for the Ryder Cup (really it was just to try and get Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to play in all the Playoffs events). But true to form, the TOUR will still have a tournament during a major event, when even some of the players would rather watch the Matches.
BACK TO SCHOOL: Michelle Wie, who was not able to earn her LPGA card by playing on sponsor’s exemptions, has entered the LPGA Qualifying School and will play the first stage this week in California on the course where she first rose to fame. Wie, who turns 19 in October, has not won an event since the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links in 2003 at age 13.
The story of Wie's career has been well documented, but still it is hard to believe that only two years ago she had at least a share of the lead on the back nine of three majors. For the first time in a long time, though, she is finally making the right decision by going to Q-School.
WELCOME BACK: Meanwhile, in real LPGA action, Angel Stanford won the inaugural Bell Mirco Classic, despite shooting 1-over 73 in the final round. The victory was Stanford’s second on tour and first since 2003.
Stanford also became the fourth different American to win on the LPGA this year and the second in a row. And she gave her victory speech in perfect English.
MODEL GAME: Fahion model/professional golfer Anna Rawson held a share of the first-round lead in Alabama after opening in 5-under-par 67. She followed that, however, with rounds of 73-75-69 to tie for 10th.
The result was Rawson's best career finish on the LPGA. The high-fashion blonde is trying to prove to people that she's more than just a pretty face. The tour, of course, would welcome her pretty face near the top of the leaderboard any time.
WARMING UP IN STYLE: Robert Karlsson grabbed the lead after the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship and never relinquished the top spot, winning by two shots for his first victory of the season.
Already having a solid year – a remarkable five consecutive top-4 finishes in one stretch – the tall Swede made good on his decision to play the week before the Ryder Cup. Captain Nick Faldo must certainly be pleased to see one of his players coming into Valhalla beaming with the kind of confidence that comes only from a win.
CHAMPION'S TOUR:R.W. Eaks successfully defended his Greater Hickory Classic title, carding a final round 1-under 71 on a windy Sunday en route to a four-stroke victory over Tom Jenkins and Tom Kite.
Eaks sure does like Rock Barn Golf and Spa. The 56-year old has not finished worse than second there in the past three years, fired a 61 in Round 2, which is the lowest round all season on the Champions Tour, and had only one bogey all week on his way to victory. Maybe it's time that Eaks looks into buying some real estate in the area.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: England’s Laura Davies successfully defended her Austrian title, shooting a 4-under-par 68 on Sunday for her second straight win ... Chris Tidland fired a 7-under 64 in the final round to cruise to his first Nationwide Tour victory at the Boise Open ... Remnants of Hurricane Ike damaged parts of Valhalla, knocking over a camera tower on the 12th hole.
After the win, Davies 'pulled a Kenny Perry' saying, "I want to get my confidence back; I want to be ready to go again next year and be in the Solheim Cup. That is a big thing for me next year." ... With the win, Tidland moved into the top 25 players on the money list, who at the end of the season will earn 2009 PGA TOUR cards ... Repairs have already been made in preparation for this week’s Ryder Cup as the long-range forecast is promising for the rest of the week with mostly sunny weather expected.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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