Backspin FInchem Getting Beat Up

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
COG THRILL: Tiger Woods shot 8-under 63 Sunday to claim his fourth career BMW Championship title, and in the process move into first place on the FedExCup Playoffs points list.
Backspin It's not surprising that Tiger could skip the first Playoffs event and still have the overall lead going into the finale. What may come as a bit of a shock, however, is the fact that Tiger is now only two victories behind Arnold Palmer on the all-time PGA TOUR wins list. This was Tiger's 60th career TOUR title -- before the age of 32. He also moved his official TOUR earnings to over $75 million.
STAYING ALIVE: Steve Stricker continued his amazing comeback this past week finishing solo third to give himself a chance to win the $10 million bonus. Stricker will enter the finale 3,133 points behind Woods, with 10,300 points going to the TOUR Championship winner.
BackspinTechnically, there are five players still alive to win the big pot, but Rory Sabbatini and K.J. Choi would need separate meteors to fall on Woods, Stricker and Phil Mickelson in order to finish first. It will ultimately come down to those three players, which should make for a compelling finale.
FINCHEM FIRESTORM: PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem had to weather quite the firestorm last week after enduring Phil Mickelsons withdrawal from the BMW; a sudden avalanche of complaints from other TOUR players about the perceived lack of communication between the two parties; and the weekend announcement that heat had wrecked the putting surfaces at East Lake, site of the TOUR Championship.
BackspinFinchem is one cool cat and has done a solid job as commissioner of the PGA TOUR ' well, with a little help from a guy named Eldrick. Sports fans once hated the idea of expanding the Major League Baseball playoffs from four teams to eight. They also initially hated instant replay in football. But Finchem and Co. are without a doubt on the right track with the end-of-the-season playoffs. Tweaks? Sure. Lots of tweaks? Probably so. Going in the right direction? No doubt.
PHILLING LEFT(Y) OUT: After dropping his Finchem bombshell just moments after his impressive win over Woods at the Deutsche Bank, Mickelson officially announced his withdrawal from the BMW Championship on Tuesday.
BackspinOnce again, Mickelson showed that things are never dull when he is in the picture. Mickelson did his best to shoot down FInchem in his post-victory interview, and then acted as if the bullets weren't intended for the commisioner when announcing his BMW withdrawal. Overall, the only person who was wounded in this battle was Mickelson. His absence may have cost him $10 million -- and some good PR.
UMBRELLA, PLEASE: The LPGA Tour's 54-hole NW Arkansas Championship was cursed from the get go. Massive rains left the course unplayable for most of the weekend, forcing the tour to shorten the event to just 18 holes and label it a 'non-event.'
BackspinIt's a small miracle this kind of stuff doesn't happen all the time in golf. When you play a sport that is literally in the hands of Mother Nature, it's a blessing when a full tournament is completed. Just a hunch, but we suspect the 'golfing gods' and Mother Nature must run in the same social circles.
USA! USA! USA!: Jonathan Moore hit a pure 4-iron to 4 feet for eagle on the 18th hole to give the Americans the final point they needed Sunday to capture the Walker Cup, the first time in 16 years they brought back the Cup from across the pond.
BackspinThe victory, bolstered by NCAA champ Jamie Lovemark from USC and Colt Knost, the U.S. Amateur champ, showed their mettle down the stretch, becoming the first U.S. squad to bring home the Cup from foreign soil since a certain team with the likes of Phil Mickelson and David Duval won at Portmarnock back in 1991. Which leads us to this: USA! USA! USA!
YOU WANT DRAMA?: Brett Rumford drained a 30-foot chip from off the green on the first playoff hole to beat Phillip Archer at the Omega European Masters. It was Australian's first victory since the 2004 Irish Open.
BackspinPerhaps lost in the shuffle because of the FedExCup going on in the States is the fact that the European Tour rarely lacks for excitement. The past four weeks are a case in point: Mikko Ilonen birdies the 72nd hole to win the Scandinavian Masters; Ross Fisher wins the KLM Open on the final hole with a birdie; Marc Warren captures the Johnnie Walker Championship with birdie on the second playoff hole; and then Rumfords heroics on Sunday. Shameless plug alert! All this action is seen live each week on the GOLF CHANNEL!
THE LIGHTER SIDE: Sue McMeekin of Satsop and Les Bell of Montesano, Wash., had an usual partner for seven of their nine holes at the Oaksridge Golf Course -- an Emu. Yes, thats right, an Emu. That would be the flightless bird, second only in size among avians to the ostrich, that can grow to more than 5 feet in size.
BackspinIf youve ever ventured out by yourself to play some golf, youve no doubt encountered plenty of odd characters along the way. Some you have enjoyed playing with, while some have made you wish you would have stayed at home and finished mowing the lawn. But an Emu? Who wouldnt love to have that golfing story? The giant bird apparently followed the ladies for quite a while, watching each swing and sometimes walking between them or standing directly in front of them.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tadd Fujikawa missed the cut last week at the Omega; Fiddlesticks C.C. landed the 2010 USGA Senior Women's Amateur; Robert Allenbys caddie, Matthew 'Bussy' Tritton, quit during the middle of Fridays second round of the BMW Championship.
BackspinFujikawa may have missed the cut but he went out in grand style - making an albatross on his final hole, holing out a 3-wood from 285 yards on the par-5 18th; Normally, the announcement of the site of a future U.S. Senior Women's Amateur event wouldn't garner a spot in the 'In Case You Missed It' files, but when the name of the golf club is called Fiddlesticks, well, you can see why; Allenby seemed to be quite proud of the fact that yet another caddie had quit on him. Heres thinking the Aussie will never be up for a Boss of the Year award.
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    Five-time Open champ Thompson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia - Golf Australia says the family of five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has announced his death. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win the British Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit. he won nine times in 1985.

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    USC's Gaston leaves to become head coach at A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.