A Walk-Off Masters Invite

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 7, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
MASTERFUL PERFORMANCE: Lorena Ochoa pulled away from the field Sunday afternoon to win the LPGA Tour's first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship by five strokes. It was Ochoa's second straight major championship, following her victory in last season's Women's British Open at St. Andrews.
Backspin Some still are not comfortable with Ochoa being labeled the greatest player in the women's game, especially when it was just a short time ago that the same was being said of Annika Sorenstam. But facts are facts, and the fact is Ochoa clearly is not only the most dominate player on the LPGA Tour by far, but perhaps one of the most dominate players in all of sports at this moment. Though this week might be the playing of the actual Masters, it was Ochoa herself who was masterful this past week. Two final points: Ochoa, although facing final round pressure as the leader, shot the day's low score (5 under); she was also the only player to shoot under par for all four days. Facts are facts.

WHAT IF?: Annika Sorenstam posted a final-round 4-under 68 to finish five strokes adrift of Ochoa at the Kraft Nabisco. At one point during the final round, however, Annika had gotten to within three shots of her rivals lead before Ochoa gradually pulled away.
Backspin The 'What If?' factor here is the illness that befell Sorenstam during Saturday's third round, where she was almost forced to walk off the course and withdraw. If not for a brutal stretch of four bogeys in a five hole stretch that no doubt was caused by her nausea, it would have given golf fans one helluva Sunday show - Ochoa and Sorenstam grouped together in the final round of a major. But instead, all we were left with was a big, giant 'What if?'

WALK-OFF INVITE: Johnson Wagner held off a slew of challengers late Sunday afternoon - as well as his own nerves - to win the Shell Houston Open. It was his first-ever PGA TOUR victory and with it came an automatic two-year exemption as well as a trip to this week's Masters.
Backspin For Wagner, what a major difference a win makes. Not only does this lock up his TOUR card for two more years - which is huge, considering he came into Houston ranked 193rd on the money list - but it also fulfills an obvious lifelong dream of playing in the Masters. Missing the cut in six of his previous nine events to start the season, a stunned Wagner summed up his feelings thusly, 'I dont care if I shoot 90 both days and miss the cut. Im so excited to be there (Augusta) and its just a dream come true.' Be careful, Johnson; those greens at Augusta can quickly become a nightmare.

WHERE'S WALDO?: There are a few familiar faces that will not be amongst the azaleas for the years first mens major. Davis Love III headlines the list of players we are used to see playing at the Masters. Joining Love on the cut list is Colin Montgomerie, who has played at Augusta in 15 of the last 16 years.
Backspin With Augusta week upon us, it will indeed be odd to not see DL3s name on the leaderboard at a major - seeing as he hasnt missed one since the 1990 U.S. Open - a remarkable run of 70 in a row. As for Monty, he had some cheeky words for Augustas selection committee, pontificating that if he were from China or Japan he would have been selected for the event, based on worldwide television rights. Point taken, Monty, but having to rely on a special invite isn't your style. Is it?

CHEVRON WITH TIG-RON: Tiger Woods landed a new title sponsor for his holiday tournament in southern California, signing a five-year deal with Chevron. The Chevron World Challenge will be held Dec. 18-21 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Backspin Tiger's event is based on the designs of raising money and developing programs to support his education-based Tiger Woods Foundation. And with gas prices slowly approaching four bucks a gallon, it seems like the Tiger Woods-Chevron partnership is a smart match because, soon enough, even one the world's richest athletes will need a possible discount when filling up his gas tank.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Spain's Alejandro Canizares missed the cut at the Shell Houston Open after posting a 12 at the par-4 18th hole on Friday; Gregory Bourdy won the Estoril Open in Portugal in a playoff to earn his maiden European Tour title.
Backspin We were surprised to see Canizares with a 12 on his card, as we thought John Daly had bought the rights to any scores in double digits; Question: if a player wins an event in Portugal a week before the Masters does it make a noise? Actually, yes, especially if you defeat a world-class player such as England's David Howell in a playoff.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Shell Houston Open
  • Full Coverage - Kraft Nabisco Champ.
  • More Headlines
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    OB tee shot, bunker trouble dooms Rahm to MC

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:24 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The key to surviving Carnoustie is avoiding the bunkers.

    Jon Rahm found three bunkers to close out the front nine Friday, the start of a triple bogey-double-bogey run that led to a second-round 78 and missed cut at The Open.

    “All of them were as bad a lie as they could have been,” he said. “Besides that, things didn’t happen. I can’t give an explanation, really. I don’t know.”

    Rahm’s troubles started on the seventh hole, a par 4 with a steady left-to-right wind. Out of bounds loomed left, and Rahm, who primarily plays a cut shot, hadn’t missed left all week. This time, his ball didn’t curve, and the OB tee shot led to a triple.

    “Whenever I start missing shots to the left,” he said, “it’s really hard for me to play.”  

    After a career-best fourth-place finish at the Masters, Rahm has now missed the cut in consecutive majors.

    “Right now I’m not in any mental state to think about what happened, to be honest,” he said.

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    Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.

    Bernhard Langer did not.

    The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.

    "You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."

    Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.

    "I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."

    Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.

    As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.

    "I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."

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    Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

    Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

    Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

    Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

    “To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

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    Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

    Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

    Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.