Backspin Wedding Bells for Annika

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
 
STRICKLY BUSINESS: Steve Stricker finally capitalized on a big chance to win a big tournament, rallying late Sunday to capture The Barclays. A 54-hole leader for the first time in nine years, Stricker birdied four of his final five holes to lock up the first PGA TOUR Playoffs event, and move into first place in the race for the $10 million bonus prize.
 
BackspinA great finish and great result for one of the TOUR's great guys. Stricker went through a hellish time in his career and often wondered if he would ever win again. He had a few chances earlier this year -- two of them at majors -- but played poorly on Sunday every time. This time, though, he came through. And it could pay off in a really big way.
 
MEET ME IN BOSTON: There was a story within the story at The Barclays. While Steve Stricker was busy taking over first place in the FedExCup standings, others were just trying to stay alive for the upcoming Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston. Rich Beem and Doug LaBelle II were the only two players who moved from the outside, into the top 120 to qualify for the second Playoff event.
 
BackspinCongratulations to both, but Doug LaBelle? He's had one top-10 all year and that came in his first event, at the Sony Open. How is he even in the 'playoffs,' let alone advancing into Round 2?
 
ROMANCING THE SWEDE: Annika Sorenstam this past weekend accepted the wedding proposal of Mike McGee, who also happens to be the Managing Director for the ANNIKA brand of businesses. It will be Sorenstam's second marriage.
 
Backspin A wedding date has not been set, but you can rule out four weeks in 2008; eight weeks if she plans on pal Eldrick attending. No word yet on if Callaway will start printing Mrs. 59 on Annika's personal golf balls instead of Ms. 59.
 
USA! USA! USA!: Team USA was finalized Sunday night after the Safeway Classic as Solheim Cup team captain Betsy King chose Laura Diaz and Nicole Castrale as her two additional picks for this year's match in Sweden.
 
BackspinThough only dating back to 1990, the Solheim Cup has quickly gained in popularity and usually provides the potential for a couple of cat fights between the teams. Adding the fiery Morgan Pressel, a rookie who qualified for the U.S. team, certainly won't douse the flames in any way. A bit of combustion might be a good thing this year -- in terms of attracting some extra eyes -- as the event is being contested opposite the TOUR Championship.
 
DOING IT THE SAFE WAY: Lorena Ochoa won the Safeway Classic on Sunday, her third straight win and sixth on the season. Ochoa got off to a rough start in the final round, but four birdies in a seven-hole stretch during the middle part gave her the cushion she needed.
 
BackspinOchoa's rise to power had been a steady burn, slowly gaining on and then finally surpassing Annika the Great. But now it has become a wildfire seemingly out of control. The question now is, Will she lose again in 2007? And, Will she be invited to the McGee-Sorenstam wedding?
 
NOT SO FUNNY: Bill Murray, star of 'Caddyshack' and the annual AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, was picked up by police in Stockholm for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol while riding around in a golf cart.
 
BackspinAlcohol? Not marijuana? Surprising coming from our old friend Carl Spackler, who once offered this little gem - 'This is a hybrid. This is a cross, ah, of Bluegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Featherbed Bent, and Northern California Sensemilia. The amazing stuff about this is, that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus-belt that night on this stuff.'
 
LIKE FATHER, LIKE... WELL, MAYBE NOT: Stefan Langer accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in The KLM Open in the Netherlands and shot an opening-round 98. His father, Bernhard, posted a 3-under 67, a difference of 31 shots.
 
Backspin The elder Langer skipped out on The Barclays, for which he had qualified, to play at the same event as his son. What was supposed to unfold into a feel good story of a legendary, two-time Masters champion and his son playing alongside each other, instead turned into feel awful story about a legendary, two-time Masters champion and his son playing alongside each other.
 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Andrew Coltart fired a back-nine 27 in Rd. 1 of the KLM Open; Denis Watson won for the second time on the Champions Tour, doing so in a 7-man playoff; Michelle Wie missed another cut - her fourth MC in five attempts this year on the LPGA; Colt Knost won the U.S. Amateur to go along with his U.S. Publinx title he captured earlier in the summer; And Peter Jacobsen offered a $5,000 reward for the return of golf clubs that were stolen out of his garage.
 
Backspin While Coltart's scorecard was a thing of beauty, couldn't he have dug a little deeper and birdied the last two holes - hack!; Watson went birdie-birdie in the playoff to beat some big-time Senior names; The Big Wiesy has officially become the Big Uneasy; Who knew the U.S. Am was even being played this week?; And instead of $5K, Jake should offer up a free round with him impersonating Craig Stadler and Stadler himself. Oh, what fun! Especially after Stadler just lost in a seven-man playoff.
 
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    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.

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    Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

    By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

    There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

    Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

    In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

    “It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

    “That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”