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:
  • Full Coverage - Frys.com Open in Las Vegas
  • Full Coverage - Samsung Wolrd Championship
  • Full Coverage - HSBC World Match Play Championship
  • More Headlines
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

    Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

    Getty Images

    Cut Line: Farewell to the mouth that roared

    By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

    In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

    Made Cut

    Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

    “I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

    Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

    A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

    The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

    The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

    “I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

    Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

    “The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

    It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

    “It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

    Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

    For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

    Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

    Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

    It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


    Missed Cut

    By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

    Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

    While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

    Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

    Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.

    Getty Images

    S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

    SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

    Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

    Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

    ''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

    Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    ''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

    She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

    Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

    Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

    Getty Images

    'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

    By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

    JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

    At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

    With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

    Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

    The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

    Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

    Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

    ''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

    ''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

    Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

    ''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

    ''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

    Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.