Dont Count em Out

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2008, 5:00 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.
WE'VE MISSED YOU: Annika Sorenstam held off a slew of pursuers and posted a gritty 3-under 69 in the final round to win the LPGA Tour's season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay. The victory marked the 70th of her career, and more importantly, her first win in 17 injury-prone months.
Backspin What a way for the LPGA to start the season, with Annika back in the winner's circle. Not sure which was a more dramatic turn of events from last year - Lorena Ochoa's meteoric rise to the top or Annika's almost unfathomable fall from her perch atop the women's game. But just one event into 2008, Sorenstam served notice to Ochoa and golf fans everywhere that she is still a driving force in the game. Game on!

RIVIERA RE-DO: Phil Mickelson withstood a strong challenge from Jeff Quinney in Sunday's final round to hang on and win the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. With his 33rd PGA TOUR victory, Lefty moved into the 13th spot on the TOUR's all-time career win list.
Backspin Where do we begin? The fact that Phil lost in a playoff here at Riviera last year and was able to come back and make amends? The fact that just last week he took an 11 on the 14th on Friday at Pebble Beach which caused him to miss the cut? Or the fact that in three straight weeks his line reads like this - playoff runner-up at FBR; MC at Pebble; first-ever win at famed Riviera? 'What Will Phil Do Next?' is still the greatest television commercial concept ever.

MATCH PLAY MATCH UPS: The WGC-Match Play Championship field and first-round pairings were officially announced Sunday evening. This is the 10th year of the tournament and Tiger Woods goes in as the event's overall No. 1 seed. Mickelson is the second seed, Steve Stricker the third and Ernie Els the No. 4.
Backspin A quick glance at the bracket offers up quite a few intriguing first round match-ups: the first and foremost involving Tiger and J.B. Holmes, who is coming off a big win in a playoff over world No. 2 Mickelson in Scottsdale; Jim Furyk and Ryder Cup match play extraordinaire Colin Montgomerie; Luke Donald and Nick Dougherty - two of England's brightest young stars; 2006 Match Play champ Geoff Ogilvy and 2005 Match Play champ David Toms; and finally, Sweden's Niclas Fasth up against Australia's Richard Sterne. OK, just kidding about the last one. No offense Niclas and Richard.

NEW SENIOR KING?: Scott Hoch drained a birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to get himself into a four-man playoff at Champions Tour's The ACE Group Classic . He then drained another birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win for the second straight week.
Backspin As stated last week right here in Backspin, the Champions Tour is flat out in the business of exciting finishes. A four-man playoff? Why not? Truth is, it would have been a five-man playoff if not for three-time major champion Nick Price just missing a birdie putt on 18 that would have gotten him into the mix. As for Hoch, a few more back-to-back wins like this will forever make people forgot that awful nickname he earned from the 1989 Masters. No, no it won't.

HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD: Felipe Aguilar of Chile won the European Tour's Indonesian Open - his first career win - with a birdie on the 72nd hole. Finishing runner-up was India's Jeev Milka Singh, who had a one-stroke lead heading to the 18th before a bogey handed to trophy over to Aguilar.
Backspin This was the second straight week that a virtual unknown has won on the European Tour, following S.S.P. Chowrasia's breakthrough victory last week in India. These two winners are coming off the heels of back-to-back weeks that the Euro Tour saw Adam Scott win in Qatar and world No. 1 Tiger Woods crowned champion in Dubai. Some tournament organizers just don't have the luck or timing that other organizers do.

RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY...: Darron Stiles birdied the final hole to win by a stroke at the rain-soaked New Zealand PGA. The American tallied a 36-hole score of 10 under as inclement weather wiped out both the second and third rounds of play. Due to this fact organizers said that the victory would not be recognized as an official tour win, although Stiles did collect first-place prize money.
Backspin Why it was determined that Darron Stiles triumph Sunday was not an official win seems somewhat silly. Last we checked, Stiles doesnt control the weather, and on top of that, he had to travel halfway around the world to play in the event. But the American didnt let that rain on his parade, stating, 'It may have been just the second round but today felt every bit as pressure packed as in a normal fourth round Sunday.'

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Mickelson again made headlines by his mode of transportation to Riviera Country Club in L.A., choosing to fly instead of drive from his home in Rancho Santa Fe; John Daly, in on yet another sponsor's exemption, actually played all four rounds of a tournament for the first time in his last seven starts.
Backspin Phil's flights of fancy were perhaps unorthodox, but who knows, maybe he's just trying to rack up on the frequent flyer miles so he can get a few extra free flights to scout out Augusta in the upcoming months; Big John may have made it all four rounds, but that didn't turn out to be a good thing, as he bogeyed six of his first nine holes on Sunday en route to a 5-over-par 76 and a tie for second to last place.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Northern Trust Open
  • Full Coverage - SBS Open
  • Full Coverage - The ACE Group Classic
  • More Headlines
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    OB tee shot, bunker trouble dooms Rahm to MC

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:24 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The key to surviving Carnoustie is avoiding the bunkers.

    Jon Rahm found three bunkers to close out the front nine Friday, the start of a triple bogey-double-bogey run that led to a second-round 78 and missed cut at The Open.

    “All of them were as bad a lie as they could have been,” he said. “Besides that, things didn’t happen. I can’t give an explanation, really. I don’t know.”

    Rahm’s troubles started on the seventh hole, a par 4 with a steady left-to-right wind. Out of bounds loomed left, and Rahm, who primarily plays a cut shot, hadn’t missed left all week. This time, his ball didn’t curve, and the OB tee shot led to a triple.

    “Whenever I start missing shots to the left,” he said, “it’s really hard for me to play.”  

    After a career-best fourth-place finish at the Masters, Rahm has now missed the cut in consecutive majors.

    “Right now I’m not in any mental state to think about what happened, to be honest,” he said.

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    Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.

    Bernhard Langer did not.

    The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.

    "You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."

    Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.

    "I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."

    Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.

    As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.

    "I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."

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    Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

    Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

    Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

    Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

    “To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

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    Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

    By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

    Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

    Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.