Backspin Natalie Finally Wins

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 30, 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.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T!: Natalie Gulbis was having her most trying year as a professional coming into the Evian Masters. An ongoing injury had limited the amount of events she had entered, as well as forcing her to withdraw from two of her last three tournaments. But time heals all wounds -- and so does winning. Gulbis earned her first-ever LPGA Tour title by defeating Jeong Jang on the first hole of sudden death.
BackspinThis win happily means the end of comparisons to Anna Kournikova - someone who is all style and no substance. This win will also help get some detractors off her back, and will give the LPGA Tour even more reason to use her as a promotional tool. And it certainly won't hurt her swimsuit calendar sales.
OH, CANADA: Jim Furyk became the first player since Jim Ferrier in 1951 to successfully defend his title in the Canadian Open. Furyk used a birdie-par-birdie-ACE start Sunday to propel himself to his first win of the season and the 13th of his PGA TOUR career.
BackspinFuryk received plenty of applause just for showing up to defend his title. And he received a nice big check ($900,000) and another trophy for doing so. This was a big victory for Furyk, who had four top-3s on the year - and no wins - entering this week's event. He puts himself in position to win so often that it can be very discouraging when he repeatedly doesn't get the job done. This time, however, he took care of business.
OH, MIKE: Mike Weir, Canadas favorite golfing son, tied for 34th in his National Open. Weir, who has never won the Canadian Open -- and never really had much success in it -- admitted to being disappointed in his performance, saying he 'expected more' this past week.
BackspinWeir missed a big opportunity to impress this week. Not just his home fans, but International Presidents Cup captain Gary Player. The Presidents Cup will be contested in Montreal in approximately two months, and Weir still resides outside the top 15, with the top 10 automatically qualifying. Some feel Weir deserves a free pass into this years competition, seeing that it is being held in his home country. Player, however, says hes not ready to punch that ticket.
NERVOUS VICTORY: Tom Watson Sunday added a third Sr. British Open title to his five Open titles on the regular tour. Watson won at Muirfield, site of his 1980 Open Championship victory, defeating Mark OMeara and Stewart Ginn by a single stroke.
BackspinIt shouldnt have been that close. Watson led by three playing the final hole, but made double-bogey after hitting driver into a pot bunker. Watson had two double-bogeys on the inward half, and had three in his back-nine meltdown at the U.S. Senior Open a month ago. At the British Open, Sergio Garcia whined about having to play against more than just the field. Wait until he has to battle the field, plus 57-year-old frayed nerves.
NICK'S BIG DEBUT: Nick Faldo made his Champions Tour debut at the Senior Open Championship. After a solid start on Thursday, Faldo faded, finishing in a tie for 14th. In a post-round interview with ABC Sports, he made it clear that this was not the beginning of a new competitive career.
BackspinMuirfield, the site of two of Faldo's three Open Championship wins, looked to be the perfect fit for his senior debut. His opening round 3-under 68 no doubt revived his competitive juices as he found himself tied for the lead. However, difficult, windy conditions stymied his game and showed the obvious rust that comes along with talking about golf and not playing it.
WIE A BIT WOBBLY - AGAIN: Michelle Wie opened in 73-71 and was just seven shots off the lead as the ladies went into weekend play at the Evian Masters. The good play was short-lived, though, as Wie went 16 over par on the final two days to finish third-to-last among those making the cut.
BackspinWie came to France hoping to possibly turn the corner on what has been an awful year thus far. Her second-round 71 marked the first time she had broken par since the final round of this event a year ago. She then followed that with yet another round in the 80s, replete with five bogeys and FOUR double bogeys. Undaunted, she will be back at it this week at the Ricoh Women's British Open.
BIG WIN, SMALLER STAGE: Andres Romero cruised to a three-shot victory at the Deutsche Bank Players' Championship of Europe. His win was set-up by a flawless third-round 63 that included five birdies and two eagles.
BackspinYou might remember Romero, the little-known Argentine who almost crashed the party at Carnoustie two weeks ago. Instead of letting his meltdown on the 17th hole that ultimately cost him the Open Championship get him down, the 25-year-old Romero bounced back in splendid fashion with his maiden European Tour title. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. And richer. He collected $810,000 for his triumph and a five-year tour exemption.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Hunter Mahan recorded three eagles in his first round at the Canadian Open, two of which were hole-outs from the fairway; Jeff Sluman was tabbed once again as vice-captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team; Chris Thompson fired an opening-round 60 in the Nationwide Tour; Cory Whitsett won five consecutive holes en route to an 8-and-7 victory over Anthony Paolucci to win the U.S. Junior Amateur; On the girls' side, Kristen Park beat Ayaka Kaneko, 4 and 3, to become the fourth-youngest winner in the history of the U.S. Jr. Girls Amateur.
BackspinMahan became the first player to record three eagles in a round on the PGA TOUR in 2007 and the 21st player to accomplish the feat since 1980; This will be the third straight time Sluman will assist the Golden Bear at the biennial Presidents Cup; Unfortunately for Thompson, after flirting with a 59 Thursday, he shot a not-nearly-as-impressive, even-par 71 Friday and lost a lead he would never regain; Park was competing for the first time ever in a match-play format.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Canadian Open
  • Full Coverage - Evian Masters
  • Full Coverage - Senior Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

    By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

    FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

    Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

    Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

    Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

    Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

    Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

    ''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

    The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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    Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

    After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

    Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    “The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

    Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

    Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

    His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

    “When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

    Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

    Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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    Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

    By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

    The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

    Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

    Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

    He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

    There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

    In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

    So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

    The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

    Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

    When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

    Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

    Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

    Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

    “The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

    This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

    The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

    It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

    “The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

    Pay per view does that.

    “You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

    If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

    Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

    Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

    Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

    By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

    AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

    District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

    Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

    Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

    Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.