YES WIE CAN: Michelle Wie earned her first LPGA title, birdieing the final hole to win the Lorena Ochoa Invitational by two strokes over Paula Creamer. Wie, who entered the event with four top-3 finishes on the season, shot 3-under 69 Sunday to secure that previously elusive maiden trophy.
I don't lean one way or the other towards liking Wie, but she's great for the sport. She's by far the most recognizable female golfer in the U.S. That she's a polarizing figure only enhances her mass appeal. Her success – especially if she can become a dominating, Tiger Woods-like figure – gives the tour its best chance to succeed. So, good for Wie. Good for the LPGA. Good for women's golf.
BWERE OF TIGER: Tiger Woods won the JBWere Masters, shooting 4-under 68 Sunday for a two-stroke victory in Melbourne, Australia. The victory was Woods' seventh world-wide on the season and the 82nd of his career around the globe. It was his first, however, on the continent.
Woods earned his $3 million appearance fee and then some. It was just a week ago in the spot we joked – half-joked – that Woods had lost his edge. Seems he quickly regained it, even if he did so against Francois Delamontange and the fifth best left-handed player in the world. Woods has one more tournament on his 2009 schedule, his own Chevron World Challenge in two weeks. Then it's three months off – and three months to figure out how to beat that Mickelson fella.
AMES TO PLEASE: Stephen Ames captured the PGA Tour season finale, defeating George McNeill and Justin Leonard in a playoff at the Children's Miracle Network Classic. The 45-year-old shot 8-under 64 on Disney's Magnolia Course to overcome a three-stroke deficit and work his way into his first playoff on Tour. He then birdied the second extra hole for his fourth career Tour title.
Aside from Ames taking home the $828,000 first-place check, a few other players walked away winners. Jimmy Walker and Nicholas Thompson both started the week outside the top 125 on the money list, but finished well enough to earn their Tour cards for next season. Former PGA champion Rich Beem also shot 68-68 over the weekend at the Magic Kingdom to secure his spot inside the magic number.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: David Duval failed to earn exempt status on the PGA Tour for 2010 after missing the cut at the Children's Miracle Network Classic. Duval started the week at 125th on the money list but shot 76-73 and ultimately finished 130th. He will have conditional status on Tour next year and would have to get through the final stage of Q-School to earn full status.
For those of you hoping the U.S. Open was Duval's version of 'Pulp Fiction' and he would make a John Travolta-like comeback you'll have to settle for 'Look Who's Talking.' Bethpage was just a one-off. The good news, though, is that if Duval is ever to win again it will likely come at a major, somewhere where even par is a good score and 74 doesn't kill you. Duval may never have a full career resurrection, but maybe he can have a 'Look Who's Talking Too.'
JUST SAY NO: Doug Barron took the PGA Tour to federal court in Memphis, Tenn., trying to get a judge to issue an injunction that would allow him to play in the upcoming second stage of Tour Q-School. Barron, 40, was the first player to be suspended under the Tour's anti-doping policy. He received a one-year banishment.
Barron was still waiting late Sunday evening for a ruling. Neither party, though, comes off as the overwhelming good guy. Barron was told he wasn't allowed to compete on Tour while taking medication to boost his testosterone level, and he did. That's a violation. On the other hand, Barron played in only one event on Tour in 2009 and he just happened to get 'randomly' tested? That's pretty shady. The fact that commissioner Tim Finchem has complete autonomy to decide a person's fate if they test positive for recreational drugs doesn't wash either. Trust is definitely a big issue.
THE RACE IS ALMOST OVER: Gregory Bourdy won the European Tour's UBS Hong Kong Open by two strokes. The triumph was the third of the Frenchman's career and booked him a spot in the upcoming finale, the Dubai World Championship. Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, finished runner-up and gained a slight lead over Lee Westwood atop the tour's money list. The winner of the inaugural Race to Dubai will collect an additional $1.5 million.
The Race to Dubai seemed fairly exciting when it was first announced. Fortunately, McIlroy and Westwood are providing some flavor or it could have all of the thrill of a 'Green Acres' remake. We wondered at the beginning of the year if this concept would be better than the FedEx Cup Playoffs. It isn't. The purse was cut by 25 percent, PGA Tour players didn't get as involved as anticipated, and publicity surrounding the RTD mirrored that of a straight-to-DVD movie. Of course, McIlroy doesn't have a problem with it. The bonus money he makes off of this will help him pay for his new Lamborghini.
IN MEMORY: Mallory Code died Monday at a Tampa-area hospital after a life-long battle with cystic fibrosis. She was 25. Code helped her high school team win a state title in golf and accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Florida. She won multiple amateur titles and graduated from UF in August with an English degree. [Above photos courtesy: gatorzone.com]
We became familiar with Code four years ago. She was an exceptional and brave young woman who never once asked, 'Why me?' She played the piano, scored 1,340 on her SATs, danced tap and ballet, loved football, and recently started a Web site that helps families save money on groceries with links to online coupons. She will be greatly missed and forever remembered by all the lives she touched in her 25 years.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Nick Faldo was officially knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. ... Kevin Streelman won the $1 milllion Kodak Challenge prize. ... Duval and Robert Garrigus were the two players to fall out of the top 125 on the money list after the Disney event.
He's not an official British Knight without the shoes. ... Streelman made the right scores on the right holes this year. It might appear to be blind, stupid luck, but Streelman was well aware of his situation down the stretch and came through. ... Hard to feel sorry for people who made over $620,000 this year.