Backspin Troubled Waters for Shark

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 20, 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.
HITTING THE PAUSE BUTTON: Citing exhaustion, Tiger Woods announced he would be skipping The Barclays at Westchester Country Club, the first event in the new FedExCup playoff.
BackspinExhaustion, huh? Isn't this the same guy who says he's just as fresh after a round in 100-degree heat as before it? With Woods winning the WGC-Bridgestone and PGA Championship in back-to-back starts, the PGA TOUR was ready to ride that wave of momentum into their first-ever playoffs. Then Tiger took his golf ball and went home. You can add another name to the long list of phrases used to describe the world's No. 1: party pooper.
GOIN' LOW IN GREENSBORO: Brandt Snekeder started five off the lead Sunday in Greensboro, but birdies on his first two holes were a harbinger of things to come: nine birdies total for a final-round 63 to capture his maiden PGA TOUR title at the Wyndham Championship.
BackspinSimply put: it was the all-time greatest final round in the last event of a regular season in PGA TOUR history. Granted, it was also the first such thing, as the TOUR has labeled all the events leading up to the FedExCup playoff as their 'regular season.' Snedeker wins the pennant! Snedeker wins the pennant! Snedeker ... well not quite.
YOU'RE OFFICIALLY INVITED: Jeff Overton, Shigeki Maruyama and Anders Hansen all wisely played in the Wyndham Championship and were rewarded with their good finishes by vaulting into the top-144 on the FedExCup points list.
BackspinThe Greensboro event suddenly has a real good thing going - just like tailgating before the big game, er, playoffs. The fans are treated to birdies and eagles dropping from all over the Forest Oaks Country Club and the players - well, some players, like Overton, Maruyama and Hansen - are treated to a shot at $10 million.
MAJOR HEADACHE: As reported by the Associated Press and according to her lawyers, Greg Norman has cut off his wife's credit cards and held 'hostage' other disputed money and property in a contentious yearlong divorce.
BackspinOne can imagine that Norman probably yearns for the days of yore. Like, say, the final round of the 1996 Masters; his wonderful afternoon spent at Augusta with Larry Mize back in 1987; and maybe even ol' pal Bob Tway showing him some pointers on how to get out of greenside bunkers at Inverness. Even those experiences must be better than this current one.
NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: Mexico's Lorena Ochoa won the Canadian Women's Open by three stokes over American Paula Creamer. It was Ochoa's second straight win and her fifth of the season.
BackspinAlthough Ochoa took over the No. 1 world ranking from Annika Sorenstam back in April, she wasn't necessarily viewed as the real No. 1 until she finally won her first major three weeks ago at the Women's British Open at St. Andrews. After this win, there will be little doubt from anyone as to who is the new grand dame of women's golf.
COPY THAT: Nick Flanagan won for the third time this year on the Nationwide Tour, shooting a Snedeker-like 63 (7 under) to win the Xerox Classic. The win moved Flanagan to second on the 2007 Nationwide money list. But, more importantaly, moved him to the PGA TOUR.
BackspinThree wins and you're in. Flanagan might not be able to play for the next four weeks on the PGA TOUR, but he should have plenty of opportunities to play the seven Fall Series events. The Aussie is finally living up to all the promise that came along with his 2003 U.S. Amateur triumph.
TRADITION: Mark McNulty pulled away from the field early in the final round to win the JELD-WEN Tradition, the fourth of five majors on the Champions Tour schedule. It was the Zimbabweans first career major victory.
BackspinVying for attention in a week that saw Ochoa win her second straight event and a wild shootout at the PGA TOUR's Wyndham Championship, the JELD-WEN Tradition kinda flew under the radar. McNulty's win may have been a bit more exciting if Tom Watson could have been in the mix. Or had it been remotely competitive on Sunday.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: John Daly played in the Scandinavian Masters this past week but missed the cut; Phil Mickelson participated in his foundation's annual back-to-school shopping spree; Michelle Wie missed another cut; and Tiger announced plans for his first course design project in the U.S.
BackspinNo worries about the missed cut for Daly. He probably made more money for just showing up than everybody but the winner; Some call Mickelson a phony. Pretty good bet that 1000s of kids in the San Diego area would beg to differ; Wie missing a cut is fast becoming the norm and not a surprising news story; It'll be interesting to see if Woods' new course will be open to the public given his past stance on making golf available to everyone.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Wyndham Championship
  • Full Coverage - Canadian Women's Open
  • Full Coverage - JELD-WEN Tradition
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    Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.

    TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.

    He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.

    “Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.

    The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.

    “Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”

    Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.

    “Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”

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    Only putting is holding McIlroy back

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:48 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.

    McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.

    McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”

    McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.

    “I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”

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    Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home

    By Tim RosaforteJune 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

    Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."

    “It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”

    Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.

    He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.

    At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.

    Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida

    “This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”

    We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.

    Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”

    He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”

    He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”

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    Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:10 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.

    Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.

    Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.

    Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.

    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”

    Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.

    “So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”

    Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.

    “For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”