Backspin Faldo Called Out

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2007, 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.
 
SCHOOL'S OUT FOR MCNEILL: George McNeill, the 2006 Q-school medalist, earned his first PGA TOUR win, capturing the Frys.com Open in Las Vegas by four shots. McNeill shot no worse than 5-under 67 all week in reaching 23 under par.
 
Backspin Until this past week, only proven TOUR winners had claimed Fall Series titles: Steve Flesch (Turning Stone); Chad Campbell (Viking Classic); and Justin Leonard (Texas Open). McNeiil became the first player to earn more than a moral victory (moving from 122nd to 59th on the money list); he earned his first TOUR title and won't have to worry about Q-school for at least two more years.
 
PARTING GIFTS: There were, however, a few moral victories claimed in Vegas. D.J. Trahan finished runner-up to McNeill, and in the process went from 126th in earnings to 81st. Cameron Beckman finished third, going from 147th to 128th. Kent Jones jumped up 11 spots to 141st, but it could have been much better for a guy who annually languishes around the financial cut line. Jones, who at one point in the final round was in third place, triple-bogeyed the par-5 16th to finish tied for 10th.
 
Backspin The Fall Series doesn't have the star power of the FedExCup, but compelling stories -- for the hard-core golf fan -- are far more plentiful. For a number of players, it's like Q-school every week, so that they can avoid the real deal next month.
 
NO SHOCK; PLENTY OF AWE: One week after losing to Suzann Pettersen in a playoff, Lorena Ochoa defeated her rival -- and 18 other elite players -- in the Samsung World Championship. Ochoa was tied with Pettersen entering the final round, but shot 66 to the Norwegian's 72, to earn a repeat victory in the event.
 
Backspin Few players can handle the pressure of being No. 1. Ochoa is one of them. This was her seventh win of the season and her ninth consecutive top-3 finish on the LPGA. Thanks to past performances by Tiger and Annika, these numbers don't seem shocking, but they should inspire awe.
 
MORE WOE FOR WIE: Meanwhile, down near the bottom of the leaderboard was Michelle Wie. Playing on her final sponsor's exemption of the year, Wie opened in 79 -- on her 18th birthday -- and concluded with rounds of 79-77-71 to finish one shot out of last place in the field of 20.
 
Backspin Wie said at the beginning of the week that she wished she hadn't played at all this year. Actually, she could have gotten her wish had she not withdrawn late in first round at the Ginn Tribute, where she was on the verge of posting 88 and being banned from LPGA events for the remainder of the season. But play she did, 21 official rounds on the PGA and LPGA tours, with a stroke average of 76.7. If this golf thing doesn't work out, at least she should have a degree from Stanford, in a few years, to fall back on.
 
RYDERS ON A STORM OF CONTROVERSY: Bernard Gallacher, a former victorious European Ryder Cup captain, called out Nick Faldo, saying the current European skipper should not have gone public with his recent criticism of Colin Montgomerie. Faldo, who captained the winning Great Britain and Ireland squad at the Seve Trophy, said in an interview with The Times that he was disappointed in Monty for only going to two of the five team meetings and not sufficiently rooting on his teammates at the end of the competition.
 
Backspin Basically, Gallacher called Faldo a hypocrite, saying in various European newspaper reports, 'I never felt Nick was a real team player but I accepted that as a captain because he gave you points.' The Ryder Cup is now like the Super Bowl, in that the lead-up to the event is far more entertaining than the competition itself.
 
FUN AND GAMES?: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger told GOLF CHANNEL's Rich Lerner in a phone interview last week that the laid back attitude that the Americans present at the Presidents Cup doesn't translate to the other biennial competition. It doesnt work that way at the Ryder Cup,' Azinger said. 'If you win you won and broke the drought. Lose and you didnt just lose, you lost AGAIN and you #@%*#!
 
Backspin Did we mention that the lead-up to the Ryder Cup is better than the event itself? With Azinger and Faldo as the captains, the 2008 edition could be the most compelling ever -- at least until they actually play.
 
THE KING OF WETWORTH: Ernie Els won his seventh career title at the HSBC World Match Play Championship, defeating reigning U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, 6 and 4, in the finals at Wentworth Club.
 
Backspin Cabrera called Els 'The king of Wentworth,' and well he is. But where does he go from here? Els has long dominated, not only this event, but competition outside of the U.S. We won't know if there is any significance to this victory until he plays again on the PGA TOUR -- which isn't expected to be until the TOUR nears Florida in 2008.
 
HEY, ROOKIE: John Cook made his Champions Tour debut this past week in the Administaff Small Business Classic, modestly tying for 39th. It was a good week for several past TOUR notables, as the top 20 included the names of O'Meara, Kite, Haas, Crenshaw, Bean, Sluman, Beck, Funk and Zoeller.
 
Backspin But it was a great week for Bernhard Langer. Playing at Augusta Pines Golf Club, no less, the two-time Masters champion opened in 10-under 62. He cruised from there to an eight-shot victory in just his fourth start on the senior circuit.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Associated Press reported that Tiger Woods' caddie Steve Williams has donated more than $1 million to a New Zealand hospital to help fund the rebuilding and expansion of its oncology and hematology wards; Greg Norman, who was last Thursday inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, will pay for World Golf Hall of Fame chief executive Jack Peter to travel to Sydney to perform compatriot Kel Nagle's induction on Dec.15; David Duval plans to play in the Del Webb Father-Son Challenge with his wife's son, Deano, a senior in high school.
 
Backspin Nice to see someone as financially fortunate as Williams giving back; Same can be said for Norman, as the 87-year-old Nagle is unable to travel to the U.S. for the official induction ceremony in November; Getting to play in the Father-Son is one of the little-known perks to being a major champion.
 
Related Links:
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    M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

    LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

    Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

    Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

    Marina Alex was second after a 68.


    Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


    So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

    Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

    Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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    Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

    By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

    He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

    ''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

    Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

    They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

    Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.


    Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

    Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

    Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

    It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

    Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

    The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

    Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

    ''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

    The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

    ''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

    The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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    Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

    By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

    It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

    Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

    When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

    It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

    Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

    Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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    Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

    ''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

    On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

    ''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

    Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

    ''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


    Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


    Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

    ''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

    Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

    First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.