Backspin Good for Daly Woe is Wie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In our new feature, Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
MAJOR RELIEF: Cristie Kerr played bogey-free golf over the final nine holes Sunday at Pine Needles, and made one clutch birdie to win her first major championship. Kerr's birdie on the par-4 14th gave her a one-shot lead, which she turned into a two-stroke victory at the U.S. Women's Open.
BackspinWith all of the talk surrounding Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie and so many more on the LPGA Tour, Kerr has been overlooked over the last couple of years. That should change, as Kerr will most certainly enjoy reminding everyone - should they forget - that she is now a major champion.
MAJOR HEADACHE: Ochoa was just one shot back with two holes to play, but a bogey at the par-4 17th dropped her out of contention for her first major title. She finished tied for second with 18-year-old rookie Angela Park.
BackspinOchoa may be No. 1 in the world, but she is now 0-for-22 in majors played. The worst part about her play on Sunday was not that she didn't win, but that she didn't look very steady coming down the stretch.
WOE IS WIE: For the second time in three tournaments, Michelle Wie withdrew, citing an injury to her left wrist. Wie dropped out after nine holes of her second round in the U.S. Women's Open. She was 17 over for the tournament at the time of her withdrawal, having opened in 11-over 82.
BackspinAfter walking off the course, a teary-eyed Wie said she was uncertain about her future. She might as well have been speaking for everyone else. It could be a while before we see her again, and it could be even longer before she plays like her old self again.
JOURNEYMAN FINDS HIS WAY: Brian Bateman made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to secure a one-stroke victory at the Buick Open, his first PGA TOUR win. The $882,000 he earned moved him from 204th on the money list to 68th.
BackspinAround the time the leaders made the turn on Sunday, there were no fewer than 25 players tied or within three strokes of the lead. And who should emerge but a 34-year-old Q-school regular. Goes to show the depth of talent on TOUR.
FINALLY, SOME GOOD NEWS: Fifteen players managed to finish inside the top 10 at the Buick. Just on the outskirts was John Daly. Daly shot four rounds under par at Warwick Hills to tie for 16th, his first top-20 finish of the year.
BackspinFor once, Daly gets a Backspin mention based on his play. Prior to the Buick, Daly had played 12 events with no top-20s, five missed cuts and three withdrawals. Other players, like Jason Gore (T2), Justin Leonard (T2), Marco Dawson (T5) and Steve Elkington (T5) also enoyed their best finishes of the season. And that Bateman guy, too.
UNHAPPY RETURN: Karrie Webb won the U.S.Women's Open at Pine Needles in 2001. Six years later, upon her return, she missed the cut. Webb shot 12-over 83 in the first round, the highest score in her career. She followed with a 71 and missed the cut by six strokes.
BackspinWhile Webb was the biggest surprise to miss the cut, she wasn't the only big name on that list. Two-time Open champion Juli Inkster and LPGA Championship winner Suzann Pettersen were also notable absentees over the final two rounds.
WEATHER WORRIES: Most of the first two rounds of the Women's Open was plagued by inclement weather. The first round carried over into Friday, which pushed Round 2 into Saturday and Round 3 into Sunday. The rain and lightning subsided over the weekend, however, to allow the tournament to finish on schedule
BackspinThis year's Open had a Wimbledon-like feel -- with all of the weather delays, you never really knew who was in what round on what day. Perhaps the worst part of it was that fans were relegated to watching tape-delayed action or no action at all on Saturday, as NBC ended its coverage at 6:00 p.m.
ACTING LIKE A 12-YEAR-OLD: Alexis Thompson, 12, was the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. She wasn't able to make the cut, however, shooting 76-82 to miss the mark by 11 strokes.
BackspinThompson may not have played the final two rounds, but she did make it to the weekend as her second round was postponed into Saturday. While she would have liked to have played better, Thompson was thrilled with the experience, providing the perfect example of someone who plays for the love of the game.
TIGER AND PHIL: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both announced last Wednesday that they will be competing in this week's AT&T National, which is hosted by Woods. Neither man has competed since the U.S. Open. Woods has been busy being a father, while Mickelson has been nursing an injured left wrist.
BackspinThe last two weeks on TOUR might have been competitive, but there is nothing like the excitement and anticipation produced when the top 2 players in the world are in the same field. Tiger's pre-tournament press conference might be the most compelling this week, but Phil will have the most questions to answer on the course.
NEARLY GATOR BAIT: A Tennessee man who lost his ball in a golf course pond nearly lost a limb when an 11-foot alligator latched onto his arm and pulled him in, authorities said. Bruce Burger, 50, was trying to retrieve his ball from a pond on the sixth hole at the Lake Venice Golf Club in Venice, Fla., when the gator attacked. Burger managed to beat off the reptile and escape without being seriously injured.
BackspinIf you see a sign ... near a pond ... warning about alligators ... stay away. Leave the Pro-V1 behind. Really. Seriously.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Colin Montgomerie coughed up the final-round lead coming down the stretch in Paris; Bruce Vaughan, a Champions Tour rookie, made two aces in two days before the start of the Commerece Bank Championship; Lonnie Nielsen won the Commerce Bank for his first Champions win; Ochoa finally signed an endorsement deal with Ping; the USGA announced that the U.S. Women's Open is headed to Pebble Beach in 2014; a beachside guest house owned by Tiger Woods on his recently purchased compound in Jupiter, Fla., was destroyed by fire on Friday.
BackspinMontys stumble was complete with, you guessed it, problems with the gallery; Unfortunately for Vaughan, the aces came during practice rounds; An endorsement deal for the worlds top-ranked player? You think?; Not only are the women finally getting to play legendary Pebble Beach, but also are heading to storied St. Andrews for this year's Womens British Open; Luckily for Tiger, he still lives in Orlando.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
  • Full Coverage - Buick Open
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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.

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    Just like last year, Spieth in desperate need of a spark

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Jordan Spieth has arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a turnaround. Again.

    Spieth’s playoff victory last year over Daniel Berger, complete with a bunker hole-out and raucous celebration, went down as one of the most electrifying moments of 2017. It also propelled Spieth to some more major glory, as he won The Open in his very next start.

    So it’s easy to forget the state of Spieth’s game when he first stepped foot on the grounds of TPC River Highlands a year ago. Things were, quite plainly, not going well.

    He was struggling on the greens, even going so far as to switch putters at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He then failed to contend at Erin Hills, only netting a T-35 finish thanks to a final-round 69 that came hours before the leaders teed off.

    So here we are again, with Spieth in search of a spark after a series of underwhelming performances that included last week’s effort at Shinnecock Hills, where he bogeyed the last two holes of his second round to miss the cut by a shot. Except this time, the climb back to the top may be even steeper than it was a year ago.

    “I’m not sure where the state of my game is right now,” Spieth said. “If I strike the ball the way I have been this year, then the results are coming. But the last couple weeks I’ve played Muirfield and then the (U.S.) Open, and I hit the ball really poorly and didn’t give myself that many opportunities to let the putter do the work.”

    While many big names play sporadically in the time between the Masters and U.S. Open, Spieth remained as busy as ever thanks to the Tour’s swing through Texas. So even after failing to contend much in the spring outside of a memorable finale in Augusta, and even after struggling for much of his week at TPC Sawgrass, Spieth looked out at his schedule and saw a myriad of possible turning points.

    There was the AT&T Byron Nelson, played in his hometown and at a venue on which he was one of only a handful with any experience (T-21). Then a trip across town to Colonial, where he had beaten all but two players in a three-year stretch (T-32).

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Throw in the missed cuts at Muirfield Village and Shinnecock Hills, and Spieth has made it to the last leg of a six-event stretch that has included only one off week and, to date, zero chances to contend come Sunday.

    “I think here this week, the key for me is just to get out in the first round and try not to do too much,” Spieth said. “I mean, 90-plus percent of the tournaments the last two years I’ve thrown out my chances to win a golf tournament on Thursday. I’ve had too much to do from here on.”

    That was certainly the case last week on Long Island, where Spieth’s hopes for a fourth major title evaporated well before course conditions became a focal point over the weekend. He was 4 over through his first two holes and spent much of the next 34 stuck in a fit of frustration. He gave himself a glimmer of hope with four late birdies Friday followed by a pair of bogeys that snuffed it out with equal speed.

    Spieth has continued to preach patience throughout the year, but there’s no getting around some eye-popping stats; he's 188th on Tour this year in strokes gained: putting and 93rd in fairways hit. It can foster a pressure to find a cure-all in any given week, especially given how quickly he got a middling summer back on track last year.

    “It’s something that you fight, sure,” Spieth said. “It’s been that way just about every tournament except Muirfield, because then you go to the U.S. Open and think you don’t even have to shoot under par to win this golf tournament. So as much as that kind of comes into your head, it’s not bothering me this time. I’m going to try and have fun, and make progress.”

    After this week, Spieth will have some down time with family before making the trip overseas to Carnoustie. He plans to have a few private dinners accompanied by the claret jug, one last toast to last year’s success before turning the trophy back over to the R&A.

    But even Spieth admitted that as it pertains to his chances to follow in Brooks Koepka’s footsteps by successfully defending a major title, he’ll be greatly aided by working his way into the mix this weekend. It represents the last chance in this early-summer swing to get his name back on the leaderboard, an opportunity to light fire to a pedestrian campaign like he did a year ago.

    No pressure.

    “It’s your basic stuff that sometimes gets off, that the harder you try to get them back on sometimes, the worse it gets,” Spieth said. “It can be frustrating, or you can just kind of wait for it to come to you. I think I’m OK with where things are, whether it’s the rest of this year or next year. I feel like there are good scores coming.”