Big wins bigger money

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.
ALL REAVVED UP: Chez Reavie captured his first PGA TOUR crown, winning the RBC Canadian Open by a solid three strokes. The win gets Reavie, a former U.S. Public Links champion, an invitation to the upcoming PGA Championship.
Backspin Reavie's win was surprising, but not as unexpected as Anthony Kim's defeat. Kim, who was looking for his third win of the season, was just one back to begin the final round. But a five-bogey, one-birdie 75 in the final round placed him in a tie for eighth.

ALFIE!: Helen Alfredsson shot 63 on Friday and 67 on Sunday, then outlasted a pair of other players to capture the Evian Masters outside of Paris, France. The win was Alfredssons sixth on the LPGA and first since 2003.
Backspin The veteran birdied her final two holes to get into a playoff with Angela Park and Na Yeon Choi. In the extra session, she birdied the third extra hole for the win. Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr all finished inside the top 10, while Annika Sorenstam shot her best round of the week on Sunday ' all good news as the ladies enter the final major of their season, the Ricoh Womens British Open.

THEY CALL ME BRUCE: Bruce Vaughan defeated John Cook on the first hole of sudden death to win the Senior Open Championship at Royal Troon. The victory was Vaughans first on the 50-and-over circuit.
Backspin Vaughan not only beat Cook, but held off Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman and Tom Watson ' players who combined for 12 majors on the regular tour. Thats great news for Vaughan, but not necessarily for the Champions Tour, who was denied a big name winner in a big name event.

DRINK AND BE MERRY: Padraig Harrington met with the media Monday and revealed that he and company partied until 4 a.m. following his second consecutive Open Championship victory. The first choice of drink out of the claret jug? The same as it was last year: John Smiths Smooth Bitter.
Backspin Harrington also revealed that he now has his sights set on joining the greats of the game by adding a third major title to his resume, possibly something other than the Open Championship. With 13 European Tour victories, two PGA TOUR titles, two major championship triumphs, and one Order of Merit crown, the Irishman is moving in a positive direction towards the World Golf Hall of Fame.

JUST CANT GET ENOUGH: It was announced Monday that Michelle Wie will compete once again on the PGA TOUR in the upcoming Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, which will be contested opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Backspin Apparently three good rounds on the LPGA warrant an invite to the PGA TOUR. We have to admit, we didnt see this one coming. We figured there was no way Wie would play on the PGA TOUR this year; and no way anyone would offer her an exemption. But we were wrong. Or is it: Wie is wrong? Either way, it doesnt seem right.

DONT FORGET YOUR SUNGLASSES: David Duval will join Wie in Reno. Its his first appearance in the event since 2005, when he shot 82-77 to miss the cut. This will be Duvals 14th event of the season. He has made two cuts.
Backspin Yes, but those two cuts have come over his last three starts. Duval played solidly for three rounds of the Open Championship. A third-round 83, however, in gale force winds, ultimately relegated him to a tie for 39th. Still, he did get to play four rounds. The more he plays, it would seem, the better he will one day become ' or re-become (is that a word?).

DOLLARS AND NON-SENSE: Forbes published its list of top money-making female athletes this past week. The top 4 athletes were from the world of tennis, while No. 5 was from golf ' Michelle Wie.
Backspin Wie was said to earn $12 million annually ' pretty much exclusively from her endorsements, which include Nike and Sony. Annika Sorenstam was No. 6 with $11 million; Lorena Ochoa No. 7 with $10 million; and Paula Creamer was No. 10 with $6 million. This is like the rookie pay scale in the NFL, where players who have achieved nothing professionally get paid extensively more than those far more accomplished.

NOW ILL BE AN AMATEUR FOREVER: The son of former New York City major Rudy Giuliani is suing Duke University, claiming he was wrongfully kicked off the team. Giuliani says that because he was cut from the team, his chances of becoming a professional golfer were hurt.
Backspin Um, usually when youre cut from a team it means you werent good enough to be on that team. Still, its not like he got kicked off the basketball team, and therefore it hurt his chances of being drafted. Its golf, for Petes sake. You can turn pro whenever you want. Look, I just did it!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Cameron Peck defeated fellow 17-year-old Evan Beck to win the U.S. Junior Amateur title 13-year-old Alexis Thompson captured the Girls Junior Amateur crown Mikael Lundberg won his second Russian Open title on the European Tour.
Backspin Peck crushed Beck, 10 and 8, the largest margin of victory since the event moved to a 36-hole final four years ago Thompson was the second-youngest winner in the history of the tournament Nice win by Lundberg, but even more impressive were the bikini-clad caddies.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' RBC Canadian Open
  • Full Coverage ' Evian Masters
  • Full Coverage ' Senior Open Championship
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    Path down the not-so straight and narrow

    By Brandel ChambleeApril 24, 2018, 6:30 pm

    Try as I might, I can’t remember a single one of my professors at the University of Texas asking me what we would like to be tested on. What I would have given if my freshman classical lit teacher, Miss Gross (really her name), had asked if we preferred Hemingway, the master of the short story, to the Russian novelist who apparently got paid by the word, Leo Tolstoy. The innate laziness of students, individual bias and consensus, as it turns out, runs counter to the academic goals of professors and Miss Gross had the temerity to think she knew better than her students what curriculum would be appropriate for a proper education.

    She was right, of course, but “consensus” has become much more en vogue, as the world via social media bows to groupthink. This has become more evident in universities, politics and even golf, where the game has become almost unrecognizable from what it once was. 

    The top-five players in the world (Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose) rank 128th, 126th, 108th, 127th and 100th, respectively, in driving accuracy. The top-five players in the world are pitiful at what Ben Hogan called the single most important shot in golf. Hogan looked at his target through a scope, these players use a scattergun. Yes, I know we now have something called strokes gained: off the tee, but given the current status of the game that is just a metric to tell us who the longest, straightest, most crooked players are. 

    The hardest thing to do in golf is to hit the ball long AND straight. 

    Hogan not only understood this, he obsessed over the idea and spent a lifetime building a golf swing that allowed him to hit the ball as far as he could and as straight as he possibly could. His only metric was the ribbon width fairway of a U.S. Open. The reason Hogan would be sick to his stomach if he walked up and down the ranges of PGA Tour events today is because many of the golf swings are built for half of this equation, to hit the ball long. In fairness this is not the player’s fault, at least not as far as they know. 

    The most popular golf course architect remains Alister MacKenzie, a man who died over 80 years ago. MacKenzie’s guiding philosophy was to build courses that brought the greatest pleasure to the greatest number and his work, aesthetic gems like Cypress Point and Augusta National, built on ocean cliffs and on a former nursery farm, have gained immense and lasting fame. 

    But perhaps more enduring, and I argue more damaging to the professional game, is his philosophy of design to appeal to the greatest number. 

    Wanting to imitate links golf, MacKenzie favored little rough, few fairway bunkers, the imitation of nature for aesthetic appeal and rolling greens and surrounds. Testing professional golfers was never the primary objective. Understandable given that when MacKenzie was designing golf courses the game was, besides being much harder than it is now, relatively new in the United States. Making it more popular was the goal. 

    Players, professional and amateur, loved the forgiving nature of his designs, and budding architects wanting to imitate MacKenzie’s work, adopted philosophies along similar lines. To this day when having a debate with a group of Tour players or golf course architect nerds, the consensus will be to have little or graduated rough off of the tee, “to allow for the recovery” they will say, followed by “to give the greatest pleasure to the greatest number.”

    The year MacKenzie died, 1934, was notable: it was the year what is now called the Masters began, it was the first year the PGA Tour began recognizing the leading money winner and, far less widely known, it was the first year of a three-and-a-half decade reign for Joseph C. Dey as executive director of the USGA.

    “From the moment I met him I could tell he was in charge of the game of golf,” Jack Nicklaus once said about Dey.

    Dey shepherded golf in the United States and almost single-handedly instituted a uniform code of rules for the USGA and the R&A and helped start five USGA championships and four international team competitions. Beyond that, he was the man in charge of setting up the courses for the U.S. Open. 

    His course setups were not built around consensus, they were driven by one simple overriding philosophy: to find the one player who was most in control of his emotions, mind and golf shots. U.S. Opens were often punishing to the best players and unforgiving, both off of the tee and around the green. There was no thought to the recovery, which is by definition bowing to the next shot. U.S. Opens were about great execution of the shot at hand, right here and now. The demands of precision were intimidating but they made the best players think. Hogan, in particular, thought longer and harder than anyone about the demands of a U.S. Open, and conquering them. 

    Hogan had a Euclidean determination to build a golf swing that would withstand the greatest pressure in the game, U.S. Open pressure. What he built was an immaculate marriage of tenacity and technique, a swing that transfigured the game and remains the single most compelling example of beauty in golf. Now try to imagine what his swing would have looked like if driving the ball straight were of very little importance.

    Sure Hogan gets credit for building the golf swing, but Dey should get the assist. If the executive director of the USGA had sought a consensus and conferred with the players, it’s doubtful that his setups would have been as demanding. Necessity being the mother of invention though, Hogan invented something nobody had ever seen before or since. 

    Which brings me back to the state of the game today, where players flail away with impunity off of the tee, claiming to be great drivers of the ball because of something called strokes gained: off of the tee. The implications here are far reaching, far more than just being able to scatter shots all over a course and still win. 

    Because golf course setups have become far more forgiving – owing to the MacKenzie philosophy, incessant complaints and suggestions of the players and to the social media chorus that we want more birdies ­– players seek to launch shots as high as they can, with as little spin as they can, with as long of a driver as they can handle. Distance has become a means to an end so much, that many are crying for a roll back of the ball when all that needs to happen is to roll back to an era when one man had the guts and the acuity to not listen to the players, or the pervading philosophy of fairness.

    Imagine if the U.S. Open and several other events returned to this demanding philosophy. Players out of necessity would choose balls that spun more, heads that were smaller so they could shape shots, shots that would start lower for more control and golf swings would evolve to find the balance of distance and accuracy. In time an athlete would come along who could solve the puzzle of how to hit the ball far and straight. 

    Players are not hitting the ball so far today because that’s the way the game is going, they are doing so because the set ups of golf courses do not make them think. 

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    Finau returns to action 3 weeks after Masters injury

    By Ryan LavnerApril 24, 2018, 6:22 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – Nearly three weeks have passed since Tony Finau suffered a gruesome high-ankle sprain while celebrating a hole-in-one at the Masters.

    And to some surprise, he’s already back on the course.

    Finau was on the range at TPC Louisiana on Tuesday morning, preparing to return to competition alongside fellow Utah resident Daniel Summerhays at the Zurich Classic. After a half-hour warmup session in which he was able to shift into his left side, he walked slowly but without a limp.

    “The only way we’re going to know where we’re at with the mobility is to continue to do what my foot normally does – and that’s walking and playing golf,” he said. “With this golf course and the setup of the tournament” – a flat course, with two days of alternate shot – “what better way to gauge where we’re at than by playing this tournament?”

    Finau said that he mostly tried to stay off his injured ankle and foot the week after the Masters. Last week was more physical therapy and strength training, to test his limits. He’s been working with the Utah Jazz trainers, as well as the physical therapists at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center, to return to the Tour as quickly as possible.

    “The journey is far from over as far as dealing with the foot,” he said. “I’ve dealt with ankle injuries before, and they can linger. I don’t think it’s going to be 100 percent for a while, but I do feel like it’s ready to go and play and compete and continue to get better as I do that.”

    Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos

    Finau said he was shocked by the amount of support he received after his fluke injury in the Par 3 Contest – “A lot of guys who I didn’t know had my number reached out” – and that he only posted the gruesome photos of his leg after the Masters, so that fans knew what he endured to tie for 10th (including a Sunday 66) in his first start at Augusta.    

    “I didn’t want anybody to think that I had excuses,” he said. “I’m there to play. I was ready to play once my tee time came around. Obviously people knew the scenario I was dealing with, but after the fact people could respect the process I had to go through throughout the week, during the round, after the round, taping it, and then seeing the condition it was in.

    “Hopefully people were able to respect what I was able to do with limited action on my left side.”  

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    Longtime pals Furyk, Duval the 'rustiest' Zurich team

    By Ryan LavnerApril 24, 2018, 5:58 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – Jim Furyk and David Duval are the winningest two-man team here at the Zurich Classic, combining for 30 PGA Tour titles during their careers.

    These days, they’re also known for something else.

    “We’re probably the rustiest team in the field,” Duval said with a laugh Tuesday. “Certainly the least rounds played.”

    Of the 80 teams in the field at TPC Louisiana, the Furyk-Duval partnership may have raised the most eyebrows.

    Furyk, 47, has scaled back his schedule over the past few years, after dealing with a variety of injuries. As the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, he also has more on his mind than choosing clubs and reading greens. Duval, 46, has made only 11 Tour starts since 2014, transitioning instead to the broadcast booth.

    Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos

    And yet they’re here, together, paired for just the second time in a Tour event. Furyk found that hard to believe. Of the dozens of rounds these two aging warriors have played over the past two-plus decades, they teed it up together in only one Tour event – the 2002 Invensys Classic at Las Vegas.

    “I know we played a lot on Mondays and Tuesdays,” Furyk said. “So playing in a tournament, that’s going back 15 years ago. I can’t remember last week who I played with, so …”

    More vivid are his memories of their time together on what was then known as the Nike Tour.

    “We had a span there where I think we played eight to 10 weeks in a row and we played practice rounds together,” Furyk said.

    Duval mentioned the idea of teaming up at the Zurich last year, and Furyk accepted. This is just a one-off, a chance for old friends to reconnect, even if their own expectations are low.  

    “When the folks out there go play golf, their idea of golf is hanging out with their buddies, right? Folks that they love playing golf with, enjoy being around,” Furyk said. “That’s what this event gives us. To get back together is really what it’s all about.”

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    By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 24, 2018, 4:30 pm

     New Golf Channel Travel Series, Golf Advisor Round Trip, and Fan Trip Experiences Highlight Additions

     Preview Clip: Golf Advisor Round Trip: Danzante Bay

    ORLANDO, Fla. (April 24, 2018) – The leading source of golf course ratings and reviews, Golf Advisor, is expanding how it super-serves the traveling golfer. The Golf Advisor portfolio now will include a new Golf Channel travel series and premium travel experiences at world-class resorts and clubs.

    “Since founding Golf Advisor in 2014, the site has grown dramatically to become the number-one course rating and review platform in the game. Golfer’s opinions are complemented with a veteran staff of writers, including Matt Ginella, Bradley Klein and Brandon Tucker, that provide expert travel advice on how to maximize your experience,” said Mike Lowe, vice president and general manager, Golf Advisor. “Now, we are excited to be elevating the brand and its offerings to not only showcase some of the most exciting golf destinations in the world on Golf Channel, but also to allow the traveling golfer to come along with us.”

    Premiering May 2 at 8 p.m. ET, Golf Advisor Round Trip, will be a 30-minute series taking viewers around the world to showcase amazing golfing destinations. Matt Ginella, who has traveled more than a million miles since he began reporting for Golf Channel in 2013, will serve as series host and become Golf Advisor’s Editor-at-Large.

    “There is no better education than travel, and it’s a buyer’s market in the world of destination golf,” Ginella said. “It’s a dream come true for me, my crew and the entire Golf Advisor team to be given the chance to inform, inspire and entertain our viewers and followers, alike, and to tell the stories about the places they may venture to next.”

    In addition to his role as television host, Ginella also joins an expert Golf Advisor editorial team, including award-winning golf travel, history and architecture journalist Bradley S. Klein, Senior Managing Editor Brandon Tucker and other leading voices in golf travel.

    The Golf Advisor Round Trip premiere episode will visit the stunningly beautiful Danzante Bay on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, and will feature its dramatically picturesque golf course that runs through beaches, cliffs and canyons, and was designed by famed architect Rees Jones. Watch a clip from the show Here.

    Other destinations scheduled to be featured on Golf Advisor Round Trip in 2018 include:

    • Big Cedar Lodge, a wilderness resort experience in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.
    • Reynolds Lake Oconee, golf in the rolling lake country of northern Georgia.
    • Myrtle Beach, S.C., one of the world’s most popular golfing destinations offering more than 90 courses.
    • Ireland, one of the world’s most popular international golfing destinations and home to some of the most iconic golf courses.

    Golf Advisor Getaways will provide opportunities for individuals and groups to travel with Ginella and other Golf Advisor personalities to the destinations featured on the Golf Channel series. They will serve as host and trip “captain,” responsible for organizing itineraries that not only include great golf, but also destination side-trips, entertainment and varied dining experiences. More information can be found on how to join these trips at

    Scheduled Golf Advisor Getaways in 2018 include:

    • Sept. 9-12:  Big Cedar Lodge
    • Oct. 14-17:  Reynolds Lake Oconee
    • Dec. 6-9:  Danzante Bay

    As a rapidly growing digital destination for the avid golfer, Golf Advisor has achieved record growth in the last year, highlighted by all-time records across various key metrics (pages views +16%; unique visitors +32%). The site features more than 700,000 user-generated golf course reviews of more than 15,000 golf courses around the world from its active community of golfers, as well as its popular Best of Lists.

     -NBC Sports Group-