Backspin Wie Woods Making News

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 22, 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.
WEIR NO. 1: Mike Weir captured the Fry's Electronics Open Sunday, making a 6-foot par putt on the final hole to defeat Australian Mark Hensby by a stroke. The victory was Weir's eighth on the PGA TOUR, but his first since the Nissan Open in February 2004.
Backspin It's been a wonderful month for Weir. First he knocks off Tiger Woods in singles play at the Presidents Cup. Then he wins an official PGA TOUR event for the first time in well over three years. He's now up to 30th in the world ranking, with an eye on a return to the top 10.
SHORT TRIP HOME: Phil Mickelson returned to action in his former hometown of Scottsdale and missed the cut. Mickelson, who was using new Callaway irons this past week, made a triple bogey on his 16th hole of the second round en route to missing weekend play by a stroke.
Backspin Mickelson only competed because of his association with Grayhawk Golf Club. He certainly wasn't doing it for the money or the practice. This isn't the last we will see of the world's No. 2-ranked player, however. He will be playing -- and taking the whole family with him -- in Singapore and China. That would count as a hectic silly season for Lefty, which means it's not likely he will be playing in the 2008 season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championships.
LPGA TOUR: Thirty-six-hole leader Suzann Pettersen was declared the winner of the LPGA Tour's Hana-Bank Kolon Championship, when high winds and cold weather conspired to make the course greens unplayable. Pettersen became the first non-South Korean to capture this event in its 6-year history.
Backspin Fans vehemently protested the tour's decision to cancel the final round. This is the only LPGA event in the country (one that has produced a host of tour winners over the last few years) and fans had come from all corners to see some of the tour's best. There is no arguing, however, that Pettersen is the game's second best player. This was her fourth win of the year and her second in three weeks.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: John Cook, competing in just his second career event on the Champions Tour, won for the first time since the 2001 Reno-Tahoe Open on the PGA TOUR by capturing the AT&T Championship.
Backspin Cook beat good friend Mark O'Meara, Tom Kite, Loren Roberts and Fred Funk. As good as it was for Cook to taste victory again, this week might have been better for the tour. No offense to the Lonnie Nielsens of the world, but the senior set is in dire need of more finishes in which past, notable PGA TOUR winners are battling for the title -- and finishing first (like last week's Champions champion Bernhard Langer).
GRAND FINISH: Angel Cabrera won the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in a playoff over Padraig Harrington. The U.S. Open champion defeated the British Open champion thanks to a birdie-eagle finish in regulation and another birdie on the third extra hole.
Backspin Nice comeback for Cabrera, who began the final round triple bogey-bogey. Even nicer was the fact that he received $600,000 for winning a two-day, four-man tournament, played at a luxury resort in Bermuda. Tough life.
TIGER GATORADE: It was announced this past week that Tiger Woods and Gatorade have formed a power alliance. Gatorade said it will introduce 'Gatorade Tiger' in March, with more products to follow. Woods even picked out the flavors himself, with the drink available in a cherry blend, citrus blend and grape.
Backspin Woods didn't compete in the Grand Slam. What's 600 grand when people will pay you millions just to use their product and make a few commercials? Woods reportedly will receive in the neighborhood of $100 million over the next five years from the sports drink company. That helps Woods move closer to the billionaires-only neighborhood.
AGENT ZERO: Greg Nared resigned as Michelle Wie's agent after less than a year on the job. Nared also resigned as the vice president of golf at the William Morris Agency, who hired him to manage the 18-year-old.
Backspin Sources close to the situation told Insider Brian Hewitt that the main reason Nared quit was because of disagreements with her parents. What a total disaster this year has been for Wie. This is only like the 8th worst thing that has happened to her professionally in 2008.
INFLATION CONCERNS: Poor Brett Quigley. He had surgery on his right knee to repair torn cartilage after the Deutsche Bank Championship in September. At the time he was 109th on the PGA TOUR money list. He's now 126th, about $20,000 outside the cut number -- but physically unable to play in the final two events. Even TOUR officials are astounded at the amount of money it will take for players to get their cards for 2008.
Backspin It may take a quarter-of-a-million dollars to play fully exempt golf on TOUR in 2008. It's easy to see how players can become so complacent carving out a nice life for themselves that they don't do what's necessary to become a TOUR winner. Too bad for Quigley; he all-but willing to go out there on one good leg to try and make enough money to finish inside the top 125. The good news is that he will get a Medical Extension next year to try and make up whatever his ultimate deficit will be.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Steve Webster claimed his second European Tour win in Portugal; Ron Whittaker won on the Nationwide Tour; Playing on the PGA TOUR for the first time since 2004, Brandel Chamblee missed the cut by three strokes; The PGA TOUR is reportedly considering moving the 2008 TOUR Championship to two weeks after the Ryder Cup instead of one week before it; The former Nissan Open at Riviera Country Club has a new sponsor.
Backspin Has the European Tour already started its 2008 season?; Whittaker lost in a playoff the week before. He's now up to 11th on the money list and assured a spot on the 2008 PGA TOUR; At least Brandel's still got his day gig; Why don't they just play the events at the same time? Finchem loves opposite-field events; The Northern Trust Open -- catchy.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Fry's Electronics Open
  • Full Coverage - Hana Bank-KOLON Championship
  • Full Coverage - PGA Grand Slam of Golf
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.