Efficiency and Controversy

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 15, 2009, 4:00 am
Greg Norman and Fred Couples

BEING PICKED ON: Presidents Cup captains Greg Norman and Fred Couples announced their wildcard selections last week. U.S. captain Couples picked Hunter Mahan and Lucas Glover, while International captain Norman went with Ryo Ishikawa of Japan and fellow Aussie Adam Scott.
Backspin Couples had long said that Mahan and Glover were his men, which means only Steve Stricker was happier to see Scott Verplank fail to win the Deutsche Bank Championship. Norman, however, never tipped his hand. Many saw Ishikawa as an option, if only because no one else really stood out and he does have five wins this year on the Japanese Tour - plus broad international appeal. Scott, though, was a major surprise since he's had such a horrible season. Norman's picks further showcased the Presidents Cup as entertainment over serious competition.
Rory Sabbatini

MOUTH RUNS EFFICIENTLY: Rory Sabbatini took exception to Greg Norman's Presidents Cup captain's selections, or at least over the fact that he failed to receive a courtesy call to say he would not be chosen. Sabbatini voiced his displeasure to the media after shooting 5-under 66 to take the first-round lead in the BMW Championship. He then shot 70-72-74 to tie for 18th.
Backspin Sabbatini is a very talented player, unfortunately he tends to go blah, blah, blah, then we go pffft, and he goes thppp. He had reason to be upset that he wasn't selected or didn't get a phone call or whatever, but, as is usually the case, he failed to handle the situation appropriately. Good thing he doesn't care what anyone else thinks.
Tiger Woods

MY HOUSE(S): Tiger Woods won the BMW Championship by eight strokes. Woods was aided greatly by a course-record 9-under 62 Saturday, which gave him a seven-shot advantage entering the final round. The victory was Woods' sixth of the season and first of the '09 playoffs. He regained the No. 1 spot on the FedEx Cup points standings with one event, the Tour Championship, remaining.
Backspin Woods has re-established his dominance on his favorite tracks. He won at Bay Hill [victory No. 6 on that course], Muirfield Village [No. 4], Firestone [No. 7] and now Cog Hill [No. 5]. Surprisingly, it's the first time in his career that he's won on all four courses in the same year. The only other regular PGA Tour venue he likes as much or more than these is Torrey Pines, and he was sidelined for this year's Buick Invitational. Nick Watney thanks him for that.

Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods

30 ROCK: The BMW pared the FedEx Cup playoffs down to the final 30 participants. These 30 will have their points restructured, meaning anyone who is currently inside the top five still has a chance to win the $10 million bonus with a victory at the Tour Championship.
Backspin The top five are, in order: Tiger Woods, Stever Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Heath Slocum. Among those failing to qualify fo the Tour Championship include: Ian Poulter (No. 31), Rory Sabbatini (34), Anthony Kim (35), Sergio Garcia (38), defending champion Camilo Villegas (42), and Davis Love III (51).
Arnold Palmer

80 ROCK: Arnold Palmer celebrated his 80th birthday Thursday Sept. 10, the same day the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children marked its 20th anniversary. Palmer spent the week leading up to his birthday being honored at the hospital, attending a few celebratory dinners and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game.
Backspin You have to travel far and wide to find anyone who has anything negative to say about Palmer [assuming you don't talk to Ken Venturi]. Eighty years. That's 29,220 days, including leap years. And we wish him many, many more.

Jiyai Shin and Angela Stanford

JI, I'M GOOD: Ji Yai Shin won the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship in a playoff over Angela Stanford and Sun Young Yoo. The win was Shin's third of the season. She took over the No. 1 spot on the money list, the No. 1 spot on the Player of the Year ranking and the No. 1 spot on the Rookie of the Year ranking.
Backspin Congratulations to Shin, but it was a bummer to see Stanford lose. She got off to a great start this season but then struggled upon learning that her mother, Nan, had breast cancer. Since the Solheim Cup, however, she has gone T-8, T-2, T-2. Her mom was on hand this week and was able to witness Angela eagle the par-5 18th to join the three-way playoff. Shin proved to be too much, though, as she was the only player to birdie the second extra hole.

Lorena Ochoa

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR US LATELY?: Lorena Ochoa was met with some critical questions during a trip last week to her native Mexico while promoting a charity event. Local media queried Ochoa on her lack of wins this season (two) and the dramatic decrease in her lead atop of the world golf rankings. Ochoa was defensive in her remarks, saying 'I’m not going to answer any questions about my results.'

Backspin Americans can't imagine the scrutiny that successful foreign players endure. They're not just sports figures, they're national icons. The hopes of a country are saddled on their shoulders. As Ochoa or someone like Ai Miyazato can tell you, this is not hyperbole. Their success is their homeland's success. It is understandable to wonder why Ochoa is not producing the results she has in the last few years. It is not, however, acceptable to be disappointed in her for one less-than-stellar season.

Sandra Gal

BODY OF WORK: Sandra Gal made some news both on and off the course this past week. First, it was announced that she, Christina Kim and Anna Grzebien were going to appear semi-nude in the Oct. 19 'Bodies' edition of 'ESPN The Magazine.' Gal then opened in 7-under 64 to lead after the first round of the P&G event.
Backspin Gal closed in 76-70 to tie for 15th. Kim finished T-54, while Grzebien was T-65. People will debate whether or not this kind of exposure [pun intended] is good for the tour. It is. The LPGA needs publicity surrounding its players, not involving its commissioner, its sponsors or its schedule. It doesn't have the luxury of marketing players based solely on their performances; it needs other avenues. And sexuality promotes well. It should be noted, however, that the decision to pose for the magazine was made by the individuals, not the tour. And it's up to the players, more so than the tour, to prove there is substance behind the style.
U.S. Walker Cup team

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Americans defeated Great Britain and Ireland, 16 1/2 - 9 1/2, in the 42nd Walker Cup at Merion Golf Club. ... Josh Teater won for the first time on the Nationwide Tour at the Utah Championship. ... James Kingston defeated Anders Hansen in a playoff to win the European Tour's Mercedes-Benz Championship.
Backspin That's three wins in a row for the Yanks, who have a 34-7-1 record in the event. It might be time to invite continental Europe into the fray. ... Teater earned $99K and moved from 21st to eighth on the money list. ... Kingston's opening round of 5-under 67 included an eagle and a triple bogey.
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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”