The Big Picture for Big Easy

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 10, 2008, 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.
BIG EASY'S BIG REVELATION: A week after a dramatic high in notching his first win in over 3 years on the PGA TOUR, Ernie Els revealed to GOLF CHANNEL's Rich Lerner that his 5-year-old son, Ben, is suffering from autism.
Backspin Els didn't make the cut at Innisbrook, but as Lerner aptly pointed out in his story, by going public with such a extremely personal family matter, 'Ernie had struck perhaps the most important shot of his life.' All the tough losses to Tiger in the past hardly seem too important to worry about at this point and time. As Els said, Its (autism) a change of life, a change of priorities.' And it surely is a cause his peers will likely rally around.
BAD COURSE MANAGEMENT: Current Nationwide Tour player Tripp Isenhour was charged last Wednesday with cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird. The charge stems from an incident in which Isenhour repeatedly took aim at the bird while trying to film a golf video.
Backspin Like pretty much everything in society, people are lining up on both sides of this issue. On one side, here is a quote from Mark Calcavecchia, 'It's a bad break for the bird, but it sounds like there are a lot of other things people should be worried about.' And the other side of the issue, Humane Society executive vice president Michael Markarian, 'Americans have no tolerance for cruelty to animals. Such a petty, mean spirited act against a wild bird is inexcusable and prosecutors are right to hold Isenhour accountable to the law.' With criminal charges being pressed expect this story to stick around for a while.

PODS PERSON: Sean O'Hair posted a final-round 2-under 69 Sunday at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club and it was good enough to earn him his second career PGA TOUR title. Stewart Cink, the 54-hole leader, collapsed coming down the stretch with a pair of bogeys and a double bogey, late.
Backspin It seems the last time we saw much of O'Hair was when he was paired with Phil Mickelson in the final group at last year's PLAYERS Championship - and the resulting two shots into the water at 17 that led to a quadruple-bogey 7. Ahhh, but time heals all wounds. And a $954,000 first-place check can also help the healing process. Probably even better than time.

YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!: Bernhard Langer won his second Champions Tour event at the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, Calif. Langer needed seven extra holes to outlast Jay Haas in a memorable playoff that has become the norm on the senior circuit.
Backspin As has been mentioned every single week in this space, the Champions Tour is quite honestly the most exciting sporting event week in and week out in the sporting world - granted, if you are a golf lover. This past week? A mind-boggling seven-hole playoff! Do yourself a favor and make the Champions Tour a part of your 'Must See TV.' You will not be disappointed. Just check out the previous 2008 events if you doubt it.

BETTER DAYS?: Indias Arjun Atwal bettered Peter Hedblom on the second hole of a playoff to win the Malaysian Open. Atwal had gone five years since his last win, which actually came in 2003 at this very same tournament.
Backspin Atwals win came courtesy of a stellar final-round score of 8-under-par 64 to finish at 18 under. Atwals victory comes a few weeks after he was reportedly cleared over an alleged high-speed car race that left one driver dead, and it couldnt have come any sooner. However, a recent report from Sports Illustrated says Atwal has not been cleared. Stay tuned.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU FLIRT WITH:England's Nick Dougherty started his first round at the Malaysian Open by posting nine birdies in his first 13 holes and nearly ended up shooting 59. Dougherty parred the last five holes and ended up with a 62.
BackspinDespite his great opening round, Dougherty ended up losing, and losing by quite a large margin - seven strokes. It isnt everyday you see a player shoot a 62 in the first round of a tournament, not have any rounds over par, and still lose by more than a six pack; but hey, thats golf. And a cruel mistress indeed.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: John Daly, playing in the PODS Championship on a sponsors exemption, used Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach John Gruden as his caddie in the first round of the tournament; U.S. Solheim Cup captain Beth Daniel named Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins as her assistants for the 2009 matches outside Chicago.
BackspinWhile the fans in Tampa no doubt enjoyed seeing their NFL coach between the ropes, Chucky couldnt keep J.D. from again missing another cut; Mallon and Robbins, both major champions, have combined to play in 14 Solheim Cups and are good friends with Daniel - an easy and smart choices for the captain.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PODS Championship
  • Full Coverage - Toshiba Classic
  • Full Coverage - Malaysian Open
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  • LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

    By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

    LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

    View this post on Instagram

    Finally got it down lol

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

    Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

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    How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.

    Getty Images

    Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

    By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

    In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

    “Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

    Click here for a look at all three episodes in the series, as well as past Golf Lives films (check out the trailer below).

    And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 

    FILM 1

    Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

    Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 

    FILM 2

    Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

    The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 

    FILM 3

    Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

    In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.

    Getty Images

    Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

    By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

    Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

    Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

    It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.

    Updated Official World Golf Ranking

    Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

    There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

    Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

    With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

    Getty Images

    USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

    By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

    Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

    The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

    “We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

    Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

    The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

    “These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.