Backspin Wildfires Both Real and Imagined

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 29, 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.
CHOP THIS UP TO PATIENCE: It took five days, but after waiting nearly four full seasons, it was all worth it. Daniel Chopra claimed his first PGA TOUR title Monday, winning the weather-delayed Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro. Chopra was tied for the lead when darkness suspended play Sunday, but came out the following morning and played his final three holes in 1 under for a one-shot triumph.
Backspin The Fall Series has pretty much played out like expected, with a mixture of proven TOUR winners (Leonard, Campbell) breaking winless droughts and first-time champions (McNeill, Chopra). There is only one tournament left for players to earn their keep, and keep their cards. And then the real money grab begins.
ON THE MOVE: Chopra moved from 104th on the money list to 46th. Shigeki Maruyama, who finished co-runner-up, went from 137th to 103rd. And Cameron Beckman went from 128th to 118th.
Backspin Beckman was fighting to stay inside the top 150 when the Fall Series began, but a tie for third in Las Vegas and a tie for fifth this past week have him pretty much locked in for 2008. Meanwhile, Ted Purdy is now the bubble boy at No. 125, leading J.B. Holmes by just over $4,000. Kevin Stadler missed the cut at the Ginn to fall from 125th to 127th, more than $21K back of Purdy.
NEVER TOO EARLY TO TALK RYDER CUP: Captains Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo came together for a press conference in Louisville, Ky., to promote the 2008 Ryder Cup, now just one year out. The two captains posed for photo ops and answered many questions, ranging from strategy to team chemistry to their own experiences from past Ryder Cups.
Backspin Former on-course rivals turned colleagues for ABC Sports' golf coverage, the two quick-witted major champions are back to opposing one another; though, not with the same intensity as their playing days. If you are scoring at home, this round went to 'Zinger as he tried not to let Faldo off the hook when the European captain attempted to brush off a controversial question about Colin Montgomerie.
REPEAT AND NOT TO REPEAT: Jim Thorpe was the last man in the field for the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. And he was the last man standing. Thorpe successfully defended his title, shooting a tournament record 20 under to win by three strokes over Denis Watson and Fred Funk.
Backspin While there was a repeat performance in the event, such was not the case in the season-long Cup race. Loren Roberts, who butchered the final hole a year ago to hand the Cup title to Jay Haas, held on this year for the $1 million annuity. And so end another scintillating season on the senior set.
WILDFIRES: Massive wildfires swept throughout the state of California, causing hundreds of thousands of people to be evacuated, including Phil Mickelson's family who lives in Rancho Santa Fe near San Diego. The fires also threatened the golf course that will play host to this week's Nationwide Tour Championship.
Backspin The Nationwide Tour Championship, slated for Barona Creek in Lakeside, Calif., will be played as scheduled. But the first stage of PGA TOUR Q-school was moved from Carlton Oaks GC near San Diego to the Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale due to poor air quality. Meanwhile, Mickelson's house reportedly escaped any serious damage.
WARNING: FLAMABLE: If fire was personified it would be named Suzann Pettersen. The Norwegian almost blew a seven-shot lead, but eagled the 72nd hole to win by one stroke over Laura Davies at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
Backspin Pettersen's victory was her second in a row, her third in her last four starts, and her fifth overall for the season. There are only three tournaments remaining on the 2007 LPGA schedule. Pettersen can't win Player of the Year, as Lorena Ochoa has already wrapped up that points title, but perhaps she can keep her momentum heading into the ADT Championship finale and set up a Sunday showdown with the world's No. 1.
REIGN IN SPAIN: Frenchman Gregory Bourdy captured his first European Tour title by winning the Mallorca Classic in Madrid, Spain. Bourdy's three-birdie, no-bogey final round was good enough to give him a two-stroke triumph.
Backspin Congratulations to Bourdy, but the main story involved Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard shot 3-over 73 Sunday to tie for 16th. It was yet another frustrating final round for Garcia, and marked the first time in the last four years that he has finished outside the top 2 in this event. Wonder who he blamed for this one?
JUST BECAUSE YOU DONT SEE ME : Despite rumors to the contrary, Hank Haney is still Tiger Woods' swing coach. 'I'm still on the payroll,' he told Insider Brian Hewitt this past week.
Backspin Haney has been spending time at home with his wife, who is recovering from an illness, while Woods is reportedly spending his time 'skiing and chilling on his yacht.' Odds are you won't see Woods play a TOUR event until the Buick Invitational in late January 2008. Guess we should expect to see Haney by his side before then.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Arron Oberholser pulled out of the World Cup due to a hand injury; John Daly applied for, but was not awarded a sponsor's invite into this week's TOUR finale at Disney; Keep an eye on Jay Williamson this week. Williamson will have a familiar face on his bag at Disney -- GOLF CHANNEL's Kraig Kann.
Backspin Has any event fallen farther, faster in terms of mass appeal than the World Cup? The new U.S. team is Boo Weekley and Heath Slocum. Seriously; Good for the people at the Children's Miracle Network Classic. Exemptions should to go to appreciative players who are willing to prove that they deserved a spot in the field, not Daly, who withdrew with no reason given prior to the fourth round at the Ginn (which awarded him an exemption) and will once again finish outside the top 180 on the money list; Hopefully, Kraig will not get dumped mid-round like one of Williamson's other caddies this year.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Ginn sur Mer Classic
  • Full Coverage - Charles Schwab Cup Championship
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    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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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.

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    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.