Backspin Tigers Romp Davies Dig

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 17, 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.
OH, NO HE DIDN'T?: Oh, yes he did. Tiger Woods won the the TOUR Championship in predictably easy fashion, pretty much lapping the field en route to a record-breaking eight-stroke win at East Lake. It was Tiger's second win at the TOUR Championship, his last coming in 1999.
BackspinAlthough it is somewhat surprising that Tiger has only won this premiere PGA TOUR event only twice in his career, not surprising is how he completely beat down this elite field. He beat the Masters champion, Zach Johnson, by eight strokes; British Open champ Padraig Harrington by 16 strokes; and world No. 2 Phil Mickelson by a whopping 18 strokes. Tiger eats 'elite' for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
FEDEXCUP: THE CURTAIN COMES DOWN: Tiger, who caused quite a stir by skipping the first-ever Playoff event at The Barclays at Westchester, ultimately made that a mute point by finishing off the inaugural FedExCup Playoffs atop the points list - by a wide, Tiger-like margin over runner-up Steve Stricker.
BackspinAll the talk. All the promotion. All the hype. And all the bickering. And all for no reason. In the three events Tiger played, he finished first, second and first, thank you very much. Sure there will be tweaks to the Playoff format, even though it did well in providing much needed excitement to the end of the PGA TOUR's 'regular season.' But like Micheal Jordan back in his heyday, the only tweak the TOUR can't make involves the inevitability of Tiger kissing the trophy.
SINGULARLY SENSATIONAL: The U.S. Solheim Cup team won going away on Sunday, coming from behind on the final day to make the final victory margin 16-12. It marked just their second-ever victory on foreign soil.
BackspinComing into the matches, the U.S. squad, like their Ryder Cup brethren back in the day, looked like the easy favorites on paper. And much like their Ryder Cup peers (back in the day and currently), they struggled with the foursomes and four-ball matches, trailing the competition going into the singles. But lo and behold, the ladies thoroughly enjoyed their American-style singles expertise in typical fashion, winning eight of the 12 singles matches on the final day.
NAME TAG PLEASE: England's Laura Davies, stirred the pot a bit prior to the opening matches in response to a question about how she tried to get fired up playing against the American team. Said the affable Davies, 'We're all good friends now. Except for maybe that one.'
BackspinHmmm. Thanks, Laura. The fact that she declined to name a name left the rest of us to go down the roster to try out figure out this mystery. She did get us started on the man, er, woman hunt by saying that it wasn't her elder, Juli Inkster. It makes for a good board game however - give it a shot by going through the American team to see who you think 'that one' could be. Fun for all ages!
NO SERIOUSLY, THESE GUYS ARE GOOD!: The facts and stats: Lee Westwood shot a 61 in Germany on Thursday; R.W. Eaks fired a 63 in his opening round on the Champions Tour; Zach Johnson posted an eye-popping 10-under 60 on Saturday in Atlanta; and then, of course, there are Tiger's scorecards for the week: 64, 63, 64, 66 - breaking the TOUR Championship record by six shots.
BackspinYikes! Just when you finally break 90 for the first time at your local muni, you look up at the TV in the clubhouse and see these insane numbers on the screen. Quickly, and rightfully so, your dreams of making it to the PGA TOUR or Champions Tour are smashed. Seriously, believe the commercials - these guys are good!
AN HONOR THAT'S AN HONOR: Hal Sutton was honored on Wednesday as the recipient of the the Payne Stewart Award, given annually to the player who reflects Stewart's respect for golf traditions, his charitable work and presentation in dress.
Backspin Sutton, winner of 14 PGA TOUR career events, joins the esteemed company of past winners Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (2000); Ben Crenshaw (2001); Nick Price (2002); Tom Watson (2003); Jay Haas (2004); Brad Faxon (2005); and Gary Player (2006). Sutton, who has drifted away from the bright lights emitted from TOUR life, no doubt considers this one of the greatest awards in his lifetime.
THE EAGLE HAS LANDED: Soarin' Soren Hansen eagled two of his final nine holes in Germany to win the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Cologne, Germany. It was Hansen's second career tour victory.
BackspinThe field this past week was limited to just 78 players and it included the likes of Retief Goosen, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Michael Campbell, John Daly and a host of notable Ryder Cup players. And, of course, none of them won. Perhaps now with the PGA TOUR's FedExCup in the books, the light will shine a little more on the European side. And maybe one of its stars will actually get a win.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: R.W. Eaks won for the second time on the Champions Tour this past week, holding off none other than 2006 Player of the Year Jay Haas; Phil Mickelson announced the first project of his newly formed golf course design company; Kyle Thompson won for the second time on the Nationwide Tour.
Backspin It didn't take long for Eaks to play the greedy card, saying, 'Winning earlier this year, I still didn't believe I could win. Now that I've won twice, I can't wait to win a third time.' But that's just R Dub being R Dub; Oh, and the site for Mickelson's new course? Just a mere 90 miles away from Tiger's own first American course in N.C.; This gives Thompson six more events to join Nick Flanagan as a winner of the PGA TOUR's 'Battlefield Promotion.'
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - TOUR Championship
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup
  • More Headlines
  • Getty Images

    Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:59 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.

    Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.

    Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.

    “I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”

    Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.

    The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.

    “If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”

    Getty Images

    Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:50 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.

    Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.

    Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):

    7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger

    Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson

    Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.

    12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox

    This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.

    1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas

    This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.

    Getty Images

    Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 5:30 pm

    There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream:

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream:

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Purse: $7 million

    Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)

    Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

    Notables in the field

    Jordan Spieth

    • Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week

    • 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)

    • Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)

    Brooks Koepka

    • Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)

    • First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)

    • First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)

    Justin Thomas

    • Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)

    • Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)

    Rory McIlroy

    • Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)

    • Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)

    Jason Day

    • Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)

    • Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season

    Patrick Reed

    • Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018

    • Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)

    Getty Images

    Day 'disappointed' in USGA's handling of course, Phil

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:16 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Jason Day had the weekend off following a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but that didn’t prevent the Aussie from keeping an eye on all the drama that unfolded at Shinnecock Hills.

    The former world No. 1 found it “disappointing,” – with “it” being both the deterioration of a major championship setup and the fallout from Phil Mickelson’s putter slap during the third round.

    Day is hoping to bounce back from an early exit at this week’s Travelers Championship, but before turning his attention to TPC River Highlands he shared that the brunt of his disappointment stemmed from the USGA’s inability to keep Shinnecock playable during the third round and their subsequent decision to water it down for the tournament’s conclusion.

    “It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    But Day’s frustration also tied back to Mickelson’s head-turning decision to hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round, and the USGA’s subsequent ruling that the actions merited a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.

    “It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”

    USGA officials explained over the weekend that Mickelson’s actions explicitly fell under Rule 14-5, which called for a two-shot addition and turned his score of 8 into a 10, rather than Rule 1-2 or Rule 33-7 that could have resulted in disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules.

    Day felt it was unfortunate that all of Saturday’s drama deflected attention from a world-class performance from Brooks Koepka en route to a successful title defense, but when it comes to the handling of the Mickelson controversy he believes the USGA could have made good use of a mulligan.

    “It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil,” Day said. “But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”